• All donations and upgrades are manually verified and approved within 24hrs.
  • Upgrades are ongoing. Learn how to save your bookmarked posts.

How do you avoid avoidance?

#13
I started. I did not start with the first item on my list. I realized if I can do anything, I should. So I did.

For years I have had a shoe tote hanging on my closet door. The shoes that were in it were ones that I no longer wear. Meanwhile the shoes I have been wearing have been hanging around under my bed. So I threw out the old ones and put the newer ones in the shoe tote.
Good job! How does it feel to have finally gotten it done (assuming you've been meaning to for a long time)?

And I wouldn't say you need to start at the top of your list. I tried that and that overwhelmed me and even the list itself caused me to be overwhelmed and I got nothing done cause when I am overwhelmed I shut down. If you need a list and if that helps you, cool. I'd just give yourself permission to skip around on that list. I'd try sort the list in order of smallest to biggest, smallest being first. Then you can see the real small ones that you can do to start you off that'll just take 15 or 30 mins max. And I think you'll find that even though you focused on just doing that one small task, as you become motivated, you'll start knocking several off the list at the same time not even realizing until after that all got knocked off the list, you know? I just wouldn't aim for several personally, it's just what happened (if I had a list that is) as I got "into it" if you will.
 
#14
I am so tired of living in a cluttered home. I just don't feel like doing ANYTHING. Dust is in a lot of places, even though I do dust occasionally.
I am in the same boat and have been for years.

I have no clue which thrift stores are open and taking donations. So I am kind of at a standstill on this project. Any suggestions?
Have you called around? Not sure where you are, but here the Goodwill is open and taking donations.

Avoidance as a PTSD symptom?

Meaning that something about the project is either a trigger/stressor or is raising your stress-cup levels?
For me, it ended up being more about depression. I could do NOTHING. I am still in that place a lot.

started that list of what needs to be done. I have three items on it so far. Even though it is only a list, I get this overwhelmed kind of thing happen to me and I shut down.
I keep a notebook around and make a list for the week between Tuesday and Monday. It used to make me crazy when I didn't get something done, but now I just like being able to cross off what I did do. And if I did something not on the list? I added it so I could cross it off. LOL

My therapist helped me focus on just one thing.
Sounds like this worked for you. At the beginning and for a very long time, this wasn't even something I could do. More about depression than PTSD, I think.

it was still too much. So we had to break it down to just clean out one box. Just do 3 dishes.
Was this useful? What I discovered is that I would get very upset because I didn't finish.

For years I have had a shoe tote hanging on my closet door. The shoes that were in it were ones that I no longer wear. Meanwhile the shoes I have been wearing have been hanging around under my bed. So I threw out the old ones and put the newer ones in the shoe tote.
This is fantastic! One thing at a time. Good job!
 
Thread starter #15
I lost my list somewhere in the clutter last night. I looked and looked for it everywhere. Finally I saw it on a pile of stuff that had fallen down off my rocking chair arm. Now the arms of that chair are like mini tables. So I have to stop putting things on them.

So I decided to put my list in the kitchen drawer to keep it safe.
 
#16
Was this useful? What I discovered is that I would get very upset because I didn't finish
It was because finishing wasn't the goal. Starting something was. And I allowed to let myself be proud of myself for that small amount and it built on itself as that feeling then motivated me to do more and so on.

My closet as well as cleaning out the stuff from the other bedroom took nearly 3 months. I did it while working from home and while on calls. By that time it was stuck in my head (just one box at a time. Just throw away this one heavy thing etc) and now the other bedroom is cleaned out and everything in my closet is super organized. All the way to hanging my bags on a hook and rolling up socks in a small plastic bin. It looks amazing. When the entire closet front to back was stuffed (a walk in) and was taller then me with junk. Is now fully clean, organized, and usable again. All one box at a time.

I'd say work on giving yourself permission to not finish a task. Starting and doing a small bit is great and should be celebrated. That said, these are things I worked on with my therapist. So maybe getting your (and @Changing4Best your) therapist involved in this process? It has helped me so much to work on this in therapy!
 
Thread starter #17
Yes, this came up in therapy this week. That has also helped me to start on this project.

I need a list because I don't remember well. The list is so that when I observe something that needs doing, I won't forget it.

I agree, I should celebrate every step i take, half dones, completed or even just added to my list.
 
#18
I lost my list somewhere in the clutter last night. I looked and looked for it everywhere. Finally I saw it on a pile of stuff that had fallen down off my rocking chair arm. Now the arms of that chair are like mini tables. So I have to stop putting things on them.

So I decided to put my list in the kitchen drawer to keep it safe.
As a suggestion...

The USMC taught me HOW to clean... but an ex-boyfriend (great guy, super OCD) taught me how to make things look clean.

2 tricks
- Clear & clean all flat surfaces, every day (IE, DONT put things on flat surfaces, as a general rule. Things still get set down, of course, but clearing them off daily keeps them from becoming :confused: piles o’junk displays).
- Anything you DO have on flat surfaces? Place at right angles to each other.

It drives my mom a leeeeetle bit crazy, that she’s constantly batting the mess back with a stick, spending hours and hours cleaning and cleaning, and I can walk in and 10 minutes later the room LOOKS clean. Even if it’s not. It’s the flat surface trick. Start with your 2nd biggest flat surface (IE not the floor, but probably your kitchen counters or table). Take everything off of it, doesn’t matter where you set it, just DONT put them away. Everything off. In a pile. Wipe the surface clean. Put the things back you want to live there -at right angles to each other- and THEN start putting everything else away. It gives you this big happy shining clean place right off the bat, to look at and feel happy about, whilst you sort the pile. Either way you still have to sort the pile, but this way front-loads the sense of accomplishment & ahhhhh CLEAN! :D feeling whilst you do it.

One new flat surface per day, plus the 30 seconds it takes to swipe clean yesterday’s flat surface... will give you little islands of clutter-free bliss, that gradually take over your whole apartment... and once it’s all done? Only takes about 15 minutes a day to keep that way.
 
Thread starter #19
I worked on the place a lot in the last few days. It looks a lot better. It still needs work, but I felt comfortable enough to invite someone in yesterday. I had my toenail removed yesterday, so I am taking it easy today. I made my bed though, yay! I pray that I can just keep at it.
 
#20
@Changing4Best
You seem to be on the right track. 🙂

A kind suggestion, if I may...

Realize that the core issue is not the objects in your apt, it is not the clutter. The core issue is the avoidance of the emotions that you begin to feel when you try to face the task at hand. You mentioned the feeling of overwhelm when you try to face the clutter. The space between when you consider cleaning the apt and when you feel overwhelmed is the key.

Though it happens VERY quickly, there are emotions in that space. Feelings of inadequacy, self-judgment, sadness, self-loathing, self-directed anger, shame, etc... Though it happens in seconds, it is these emotions that you are avoiding, not the clutter.

So the process becomes, how can I notice and face and accept these feelings so that I don't become overwhelmed and shut down? It is a process of learning the emotion self regulation that many of us were never taught as we developed as children. This is the journey of PTSD.

May peace replace your pain.
 
#22
I agree that there are emotions involved. I'm not sure which ones though, as some trauma is involved in this too. I was maybe two or three yrs old and my evil abuser made me stand on top of the kitchen stool to wash dishes. I of course broke one and got a beating. @void
Mine is connected to trauma too. I was forced to clean the entire house with a toothbrush and they'd come in with literally a white rag and they would dig around say like where the bath tub meets the corner and if there was anything found (which is usually cause who can clean there perfectly?) or anywhere else, I had to start all over. If the vacuum lines weren't perfect, even though I already vacuumed there, I had to start over. And I had to move the vacuum super slowly so it would pick up the most. Like, taking 5 min just to push it once. I was often awake all night and cleaning into the wee hours of the morning. Never being allowed to stop and rest. Then was punished because I didn't get it right the first time.

I think some of it is like "f*ck you! This is my house now" but most of it is avoiding the feelings that come up with cleaning. Which is why I brought it up in therapy and it's why we worked in therapy with it for so long. Probably a year while working on other things too. But it took a while to feel safe cleaning, at all. And thats why we took it at super small steps. Small steps I could do. And those small steps led up to bigger steps. I don't think I would of even started if not for working on this in therapy. Do you have a therapist? If so, I'd bring this up along with the trauma associated with it as that needs to be processed and worked on first. If not it's like paddling against a strong current, in my own opinion.
 
Top Bottom