Completely bonkers avoidance at home 🙈

goblin

New Here
I'm so frustrated with myself anymore. My apartment is like a sad trash heap, which is nothing new, but a huuuuuge source of shame for me. It feels totally paralyzing to even look around sometimes. I don't know where to start. I don't want anyone to know how I've been living in here. I'd rather die than receive a visitor.

And the shame I feel creates its own vortex of avoidance. I brought home groceries two days ago and had three items that needed refrigeration. I placed them on the counter and kept meaning to put them away, but I knew that I needed to clean old things out of the fridge and I didn't want to think about how gross I am ... and it spiraled into impossibility. Now I've got perished perishables that I literally just bought on my counter all because I was, what, too afraid to open my fridge to see the other spoiled food? Crazy. Crazy crazy crazy.

I hate me so much sometimes.
 

goblin

New Here
Thanks for hearing my yelp for help. I hate the way it feels to live in an apartment that reflects my mental health problems so much everywhere I look.

I want to:
  1. Put all the trash into trash bags and bring them to the bins downstairs.
  2. Get all the dishes clean.
  3. Put all of the stacks of fabric (supplies for my business) into containers -- clear off the couch, bed, and coffee table.
  4. Clear the way between the kitchen and living room.
  5. Unpack the boxes that I moved in with over a year ago.
  6. Vacuum the carpet.
Listing it out doesn't really make it less overwhelming. Every part of what I need to do seems huge and impossible. It isn't, but it feels that way. I get really messed up about cleaning and unpacking. I have a tendency to just hide from it ... literally. I stay in bed and don't look around very much. I wish I could just pull the blanket over my head and sleep instead of thinking about it at all.

I'm sure I need help. I have no idea what kind.
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
I've had success with telling myself I only need to do one tiny thing. Its overwhelming to tell yourself you have to do it all now. And feeling overwhelmed keeps you stuck.

Doing one tiny thing feels manageable even on a bad day.

Fairly often I manage to do more than one thing once I've started. But not now always, and that's OK.

It's still good to do one thing over staying stuck and overwhelmed.

When I feel like I just don't know where to start, I choose a place to start - eg in the kitchen, the place to start is the sink. Because once the sink is clear, it's much easier to get stuff done.

In a bedroom, the place to start is right at the door into the room.

Just pick up one thing, and either bin it or put it where it belongs. Choose a thing that you know where yo put it first.

I grew up with a Dad who hoards, have lived the past near w decades with a man who hoards. And since my Dad died 3 years ago, have had more and more of a hoarding type issue myself.

I've read bits and pieces of books, they are helpful. FlyLady, is motivating and organising.

Well wishes. :)
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I totally agree with @Teasel , break it down into achievable tasks.
Is there one small task that feels do-able? Like washing two dishes and putting them away, rather than all the dishes. Or putting 5 items into the trash and taking them out, rather than all the items.
And maybe congratulating yourself for that. Rather than thinking of all the other stuff that you want to achieve.

We can congratulate you on here for those achievements! Whilst they might seem small, they will be massive. Because if you chip away at it, little by little, you'll start to see the difference and it'll get easier and easier?

Do you have a therapist?

I don't know if this helps or not but my mother in law struggled with hoarding. She let my partner clean things out now and then, and me a little. And she then let a social worker help a bit. But she didn't let other people help, partly, I think I don't know, because she felt ashamed. People wanted to help her.

Would talking through what's stopping you from inviting people over or telling people about your home, would that help? Or is that too much? Because there may be people that want to help by washing the dishes or taking the trash out? If this feels too much, just ignore my post.
 
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goblin

New Here
Thanks, folks, for the advice and support. I feel super awkward posting about this kind of thing. It probably doesn't sound very PTSD related, but it most definitely is for me. It's partly that I am just overwhelmed in all things because I'm digging into past trauma really aggressively with my therapist. And it's partly that my brain is an expert at making instantaneous links between objects (everything in the house) and painful memories. When the PTSD flares up in me, pretty much everything is a trigger, so I end up just hiding ... from everything.

You're right that I shouldn't think of cleaning my apartment as one big task ... or even just a few medium-sized tasks. It's a whole bunch of little tiny tasks ... and I should do one or two at a time rather than freaking out about how huuuuuge the whole ordeal is.

Honestly, having posted here about it makes me feel like I'm a bit accountable ... I don't want to ignore good advice and I *do* want to be able to update the thread with a happy post about how I've accomplished something. It would feel great to be comfortable in my tidy home, drinking some tea from a clean mug and typing a triumphant thank-you message for y'all having given me the push I needed.
 

ladee

MyPTSD Pro
Since my son died, my apartment looks like a bomb went off in it. I honestly didn't SEE how bad it had gotten cluttered because I was so deep in grief nothing else mattered.

I have to do the 'one small thing'. It does help to not feel that I am a first class slob. I am depressed and overwhelmed by feelings I can't control. So my living space just sort of projects how I feel. Chaotic. No rhythm. No movement. Because that is where I am in life right now.

I too will not let anyone in my apartment. I have art supplies everywhere in my work area. It's my organized disorganized clutter. I totally understand how you feel.

One small thing a day does help. It really does. Sending hugs of understanding.
 

void

MyPTSD Pro
@goblin

For a life-time of reasons, I understand. Of course not fully, but quite a bit.

You have identified the core of it all, when you said...

"my brain is an expert at making instantaneous links between objects (everything in the house) and painful memories. When the PTSD flares up in me, pretty much everything is a trigger, so I end up just hiding ... from everything."

Very few people with severe avoidance and/or hoarding-like behaviour will ever have insight into the following cycle.

Object---->emotional link/connection----->causes overwhelm*------>shut-down/avoidance

*overwhelm can be understood through the Window Of Arousal concept

It is not the objects in your home or what you need to do with them that is at issue here. The issue is that the objects triggers emotions/cognitions that you feel you can't manage and so you avoid/shut down. You are not avoiding the object or the task which needs to be performed but the emotions which were connected to the object.

Learning to detect and regulate your level of physiological arousal is difficult. Identifying this as the core of the issue is the starting point. I think you already have more insight than most.

Hoarding is never about too many physical objects it is always an issue of emotional dysregulation in connection to physical objects.

May you find progress in your complex situation.
 
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goblin

New Here
I just did 30 minutes of cleaning up and it made a visible difference. Whoa.

I read all of your responses on this thread, gritted my teeth, and got to work. So here I am too say THANK YOU for the support here. It's invaluable. I'm kinda looking forward to getting more done later tonight.
 
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