I'm Drowning In Clutter, And It's Taking A Toll On My Mental Health

by Jennifer Rosen-Heinz
A worried woman looking at the camera with clutter on the desk in front of her.
Jennifer Rosen Heinz

I opened the door to the fridge and burst into tears.

This weekend, while I was MIA, hiding in the bedroom, exhausted, my husband had cleaned the refrigerator. The glass shelves were gleaming. The yogurts were all in a row.

Jennifer Rosen Heinz

I live with chaos. Chaos in the world. Chaos in my house. And apparently, again and again I choose to address the chaos in the world and not the chaos in my house.

Usually, the amount of chaos is manageable enough to overlook. Piles of laundry, folded, that I need to badger the kids to put away. That fucking pile of papers which comes home on the daily in my third-grader’s backpack. Lego dioramas or mini reading forts she’s constructed from a blanket and some chairs.

But now, the chaos is too much. I’m behind in sorting through the kids’ outgrown clothes (and OMG, can I just say what a fucking chore this is? I’m perpetually trying to judge: This fits them in the waist but not in the length. How long are their arms now? Fuck.)

I’m behind in laundry (dirty and clean, natch).

And I have an overwhelming desire to just have a dumpster delivered, put every loose object in it, and watch it being hauled away. I’m fine with the idea of not having any of it.

Oh, and when my cleaning woman came this past week, the vacuum died on her. So half of my house hasn’t been vacuumed for going on three weeks.

I’m not good in general keeping up with this shit even on a good day/week/year, but I’m officially at rock bottom.

I don’t want to go into a litany of what I’ve been doing instead of all this, but suffice it to say, these past two weeks have made it look like I’m normally standing still in comparison.

The irony of this situation would be hilarious if it didn’t make me want to dissolve into hot, salty sobs, and pull the covers over my head. I spend so much time doing my work, taking care of volunteer projects, and trying to keep everyone in my family in motion, I have had nothing left for my physical environment. I’m on a bender of having been focused too much outside my home, and now I’m snapping back, recoiling with the violence of one of those sharp-as-fuck builders’ tape measures.

So today, I will start my new mission: unclogging my life. I can’t do all the things that make me feel good and connected and creative if I can’t see over the mountain range of piles of clutter. I need to be swift and vicious in my culling. My garbage and recycling and goodwill bags must overfloweth. I have to push out to get some space to breathe.

And I have to do it myself, without anyone in the house. No child to stop me from tossing some broken piece of crappy toy. No husband to have his way of doing things. (He’s great at doing things to perfection, but right now, I need speed).

I’m going to go download the new P!nk album and get out the garbage bags. I will be the Moses of my house, parting the sea and clearing a dry path to the promised land. The land where I don’t have to close my eyes to find a moment’s rest. Reverse Hurricane Jennifer is drinking all the coffee and coming to town.

Meet me down at the curb. I’ll be relocating the mountains out there. They will be majestic as fuck because they will be going, going, gone.