It’s frustrating having executive dysfunction. My house is a disaster and I know it. There’s recycling that hasn’t gone out, there’s trash beside the bin that fell out that nobody picked up. There’s dishes everywhere, and the laundry only got done by the grace of my housemate doing all my laundry as a Valentine’s gift for my husband and me.
And it’s driving me insane.
I ache to have a house that I feel good coming home to, one that’s tidy and clean (but not necessarily spotless) and where the floor doesn’t have dog hair bunnies in every corner. I want the top of my fridge and microwave to be clean instead of jammed with junk that has no other home.
And people tell me “Well, if you want that sort of house, you have to keep it that way” like I didn’t know I have to clean the house to have a clean house.
There’s not much accounting for mental illness. In a mania, I can bake a hundred cookies, a cake, and three pans of cornbread but I cannot focus on the idea of folding a towel. I can do what I’m told to do- “Wash and rinse the plates and put them on the towel” is about as complicated as I can manage, manic or not- but I cannot wrap my brain around large ideas, big tasks, or multi-step projects, unless it’s written down in baby steps so I can reference it repeatedly.
It makes me feel stupid and useless, to know that I can’t do dishes without a step by step tutorial and adult supervision. I can’t do anything requiring extensive steps without step-by-step instructions. Recipes? Got this. “Clean the living room?” How? Where do you start? How do you clean a whole room?
I used to think “I must just not remember how to do chores from when I was a kid”. But no matter how many times you tell me “Just put things where they go and sweep up”, I just cannot wrap my brain around it. Clean the living room for me looks like this:
“Pick up all the dishes, put them in the sink, pick up the laundry and put it in the hamper. Put away books. Put away toys. Sweep. Vacuum. Clean off the piano. Put away the DVD’s. Put away the games. Put away food. Organize couch blankets. Pull out chair. Sweep behind chair. Put chair back. Sweep under the couch. Put away new toys. Put away new dishes. Put away new laundry. Wipe altar with a damp cloth. Dry altar. Sweep, and vacuum again.”
And then it looks like someone tell me this, ad nauseum, over and over, as my broken, messed up brain forgets over and over the simplest instructions. Put dishes in sink. Get distracted by other dishes, start to wash them. Get distracted by a dirty washcloth, start a load of laundry. Be tired, sit down, rest, get up, forget how to clean, start from the beginning of the list again.
I hate it.
So I know my house is a wreck, and it makes me feel terrible. I don’t need someone telling me “Oh, it’s just simple, just put things away when you’re done with them!” because it doesn’t work that way. I wish it worked that way. I’m glad for you that your brain lets it work that way. But I just want to not dread coming home.