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Depression and the house

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
So, let's talk about the link between these two.

I've been reading a lot about light and SAD (which I get) so I've opening drapes and keeping lights on (yes, my electric bill has gone up and it's cold in here - it's a trade off).

I'm looking around this house and wondering how much I'm affected by my surroundings? The clutter, yes. That's #1 on the list to take care of.

Other things though. Like many of the walls are white. Boring, dingy white. Unless you count the crayon and pencil drawings : I hate it.

I have this urge to go out and get some obnoxiously day glo yellow paint and just slather the whole house in it.

Ok, totally disjointed, but I'm not editing. Tell me your thoughts and what you've done to brighten up your house and make yourself feel better.
post #2 of 63
De-cluttering is the most important. We know that implementing a clutter-less, mess-free lifestyle is a majot transformation that takes time so that is an ongoing effort.

We rearranged furniture so that it both less boring and more people friendly. Put couches on angles and things instgead of the box-round-the-tv configuration. Our living room feels like a serene environment now rahter than a tv-watching room. Got rid of the 'paths around and to things' setup. Beds are against walls, no longer two separate areas in living room, kitchen table against wall--the more open spaces feel nicer and more relaxing and less maze-like

Occassional fresh flowers. They aren't that expensive and are part of the grocery shopping.

If oyu have the time and energy and money definiteyl get a fish tank. Ideally one that is at least 10 gallons, preferably 20 or more. The bubbling water is incredibly calming and fish are *very* realxing to watch. I integrated fish into my life when I went through a *very* bad patch of depression/anxiety/self-injury a couple of years back. I had noticed that every psych ward common room, every therapist's office and every other psych care place had a tank so I did some reading. It *really* helps. That and keepign plants around is better than drugs for keeping me undepressed. I don't have or need one right nwo and don't have the space for one, but I can't emphasize enough how drastic a difference this can make in one's calm and happiness.

Full spectrum lighting is good.

Some houseplants--but not a billion little ones.
post #3 of 63
I know my house is depressing at times like today

Part of it is all I seem to do is clean up only to turn around to do it again.

I need to do more de cluttering and give everything thing a home.

A lack of $$ to do things around the house also adds to my frusteration.

Today is a no good day
post #4 of 63
Been there, mama...

I moved to the cold north from the sunny south five years ago, and winter depression was the pitts the first few years. The state of my home really was making it worse. We did some crazy/drastic things that worked. I'm still not fond of the winters, but now we cope just fine... no depression!

1) Downsized & Decluttered
Seriously. From a 2,400 sq. ft. house with a full basement, two-car garage and an out building to a 1,200 sq. ft. co-op apartment with almost no storage. We sold about half of our furniture and 3/4 of our crap. We love our home now. Easy to pick up/clean, and I continue to declutter to maintain the zen.

2) Decorated
This was very important for me. Our co-op doesn't get a lot of natural light in the winter. I did paint my front hall and nursery sunny yellow. Restoration Hardware has awesome paint colors, esp. the yellow... go take some chips. You can have them color-matched if RH's paint is too spendy. I painted my bathroom sky blue, including the ceiling. There is no natural light in there, but it is one of my favorite rooms. Painting any ceiling blue is very cheering, and it will make the room seem much larger, especially if you pair it with the warm sunny yellow walls. I love Puddle blue from Martha Stewart's line at Sherwyn-Williams. I also bought large, colorful rag rugs from the Crate & Barrel online outlet for the more neutrally toned rooms and put up some Peruvian/Mexican artwork (bright, happy primary colors, this stuff is *warm*). Your home should make you smile. Find what makes ~you~ happy and do it.

3) Dressed
I learned to dress for the weather. This took *four years* to figure out. Wool, down, and windpro fleece are my friends. I go outside everyday for at least a 10 minute walk with the children. Big sanity saver. We need the fresh air and exercise more than we need to stay out of the cold. If we are sick, I open the window a crack and go stand by it to get some fresh air. Fresh air seems to be as important as color and light for us.

4) Exercised
Yes, that. I had to get creative since I'm a home-schooling sahm with an attached toddler. Dd1 and I like to jump rope together (in the house, good cardio and rhymes ) and do yoga together while the little one naps. I try to go out to yoga class 2-3 times a week after the girls are asleep. Another sanity saver. Mama time... ahhhhh...

Hope you find your winter groove...
post #5 of 63
Ahhhh yes. The dreaded messy house depression. It seems to set in here at least 3 times a week. I always tell myself that I "will not let the state of my house affect my mind". But it does! Everytime. Luckily, I have a DH who totally gets it and cleans up for me all the time.

Klondikesky...I really appreciated all of your "action items". We just bought a house last year, and after a couple of months, I realized that it was too big. Even though we only have 1600 sq. ft...it's too much. I have been longing to get into a small 1BR apt (we co-sleep)...and to sell everything. But, for now, I can't see how it would be a good move financially. Frustrating! I literally plan out my small apt. in my mind ... often I can't wait until it can be made a reality.

We finally toured a health club...I know this will help. We haven't worked out for about 3 years...but before that, we did everyday. It's so hard to get in the groove though ... once you've been out of it for awhile!

Anyway...I'm looking forward to other posts. This is something I struggle with all the time.
post #6 of 63
Thread Starter 
"no good day". i like that (I mean, not the no good part, but the expression fits)

I've lived in NJ my whole life. I only realized about 2 years ago that I get SAD. I always thought it was just post Christmas letdown. I finally realized it was that the Christmas frenzy was keeping me up.

And it was only last year that I finally realized and said outloud that I HATE winter. We have a few pine trees and evergreen bushes in our yard but otherwise the world just looks dead. I love the deciduous trees the rest of the year but in Winter they're just depressing. I'm definitely going to plant more evergreens this year (as budget allows of course but last year I noticed Home Depot had some 4 foot evergreen bushes for only about $20 or so).

This year my mom and I got in a fight just before Christmas so that made it all worse (I didn't get my Christmas high because of it). Also, the last time we got icy rain I was walking the dog and fell hard. I now totally get how older people break their hips, I'm surprised I didn't! But now when it's icy out (like the last few days) I'm sort of scared to leave the house. Our walk is well shoveled and salted but not everyone's is (as the kids and I found out last night while trying to take a walk).

All that to say I know for me the house isn't *causing* the depression but I think it's adding to it. Or at least, it could help to counteract it if I fixed it up a bit.

I joined Flylady again last night. I've been on and off that list so many times over the years But when I follow it, it actually works. Just, after awhile, I get resentful of having to do it and I slack off. But hey, at least the initial "oh boy, I just joined" high might take me into February
post #7 of 63
I think SAD affects everyone to some degree (at least up here in the frozen North). ETA: It's been cold here but very sunny, this could have something to do with my boost (see below)

I'd go for the paint color! I'm ready to paint my North facing Livingroom RED!. A couple of gallons of new paint and a new color will give you exercise and a great sense of accomplishment.

I cleared off the diningroom/kitchen table last night and got a huge boost from this small victory.
post #8 of 63
yes yes yes to small victories! WINTER SUCKS! And its been mild here in NY. But mild here without snow means its just mud,ugh. Now there is snow, it was in the teens this weekend but going back to 40's this week. And you know what, when I took the dog out last night, freezing my BUTT off, the snow was that twinkly sparkly looking stuff. I actually smiled!

And now the house: the clutter has got to go. I am drowning in papers. and laundry.and toys.

I agree with paint colors if you can. We are using historical paint colors, and they are really VIBRANT. Not what you'd think of from the 1800's. My kitchen is yellow with tan trim, my hallways are a warm beige with white trim and a really warm red/maroon door. My ds room is navy and grey, dd's is peachy with "magenta"trim. (her words, its raspberry) Next up is my dingy living room and bedroom. Both are dingy white, one OBNOXIOUS yellow trim, bedroom is blue.

That really helps also, because you HAVE to declutter to paint!
post #9 of 63
I've found just the opposite to be the case- the house seems to "fall apart" when I get depressed since I lack the energy to keep it clean.
post #10 of 63
ShannonCC--just had to respond before you did something rash

Dayglo yellow is just going to give you a headache on top of the blues.

What I've done, especially when the children are in a high need period and the house is suffering, is focus on the room and the view within the room that I see the most. For example, I've tried to keep the dining room table cleared with a candle going in the center or the mantle dusted with clutter cleared. It's like creating a little altar to my sanity in every room. I only focus on the view I see from my most likely seat and that is what I improve and patrol throughout the day. I am a visual person and this has helped immensely.

Off to read other's suggestions as I posted immediately to stop the yellow idea.
post #11 of 63
My whole family suffers when the house is messy. We currently have too much room too. But, won't be downsizing anytime soon. So we are decluttering and getting rid of a lot of stuff.

My DD seems to be extra sensitive to messes. She shoves clutter off any surface she can find, clears things off the couch, and gets very disruptive if the place is a mess.

I know sometimes I feel overwhelmed when the house gets out of hand. We are stuck at home most of the week and it gets to me sometimes.

We need to start exercising and getting out of the house everyday too. A change of scenery seems to do us all good.

Good luck. You are definately not alone.
post #12 of 63
Clutter and color seem to really have an effect on my mood.

I'm likely a bit of a SAD type as well although I thoroughly enjoy winter, I need to make a point of soaking in as much light as possible to stave off the blues (which I get when it rains for days on end with 40-50ish F. weather.)

I feel a strong need to purge the house in January and I will soon feel a strong pull toward preparing my garden for spring.

Debra Baker
post #13 of 63
Yes, I definitely feel better when the house is picked up. I'm doing the January declutter challenge and it makes me feel good. However, if I'm really feeling down it is hard to find the motivation to start cleaning even though I know I'll feel better in the end. Sometimes I put on some good cleaning music like an old Elvis Costello CD and try to "Pump it UP". Sometimes that doesn't work though and I have to just wait for the mood to strike.
post #14 of 63
Thank goodness I found this thread. You dont know how miserable I am. Its end of pregnancy depression on top of winter depression on top of the house looks like a bomb went off depression.....

i am going to paint my kitchen yellow!!! My hubby has been wanting to paint, but boring white, so I am going to talk him into yellow. and I love the idea of a blue bathroom. He is just scared of going for colors on the walls, but i think it sounds gorgeous!
I need to get out more. It just takes so much effort to get everyone dressed when its so cold....
I actually started a big deluttering last night, got rid of a bunch of toys, plus am going to pack away a bunch of collectible we have out on shelves collecting dust. One day I will have a new house and a hutch to put them in...
post #15 of 63
Originally Posted by Ruthla
I've found just the opposite to be the case- the house seems to "fall apart" when I get depressed since I lack the energy to keep it clean.

Some nights (errr most ) the baby gets me up more than 2 times and the next day I am too tired to want to keep up with my routine of cleaning. Then of course I get way behind and then depressed at the looks of my pig sty.

Then I drive my dh nuts complaining at the state of the house. Poor guy
post #16 of 63
We definitely go on little purging kicks when winter starts to close in. I always start off by slacking on the housework when I feel depressed, but then I come around and get fed up with the mess and go on a cleaning binge. DH does the same thing, but we never do it at the same time! Freecycle and Goodwill have been a wonderful way to get rid of the accumulated junk. You'd never think 1200 sq. feet with no attic and no basement could hold so much clutter, but it can. Oy. We're getting there. . . .

Painting made a HUGE difference this year. It's the first year we've been in our own place where we could dictate the colors of our walls, so we abandoned the institutional white with glee and went for colors based on the function and feel of the room. The kitchen is a sunny yellow with white trim. The dining room, living room, foyer, and hallway are a pale lavender with a wine-dark color trim. The office, where we both need to stay awake and concentrate, is the most fun: Nickelodeon-slime green with purple trim. It's alternately astounding and hideous, depending on who you ask. But we like it. The bedroom is a calm sage green with ivory trim, and the library is "blueberry buckle" blue -- a kind of hazy, soft blue -- with the same purple trim as the office. Somehow it all flows together.

No piece of furniture faces the TV and I think that's a good thing; everything's set up for easy conversation.

We have some cheerful winter plants, like holly with bright red berries, outside and that definitely helps too.
post #17 of 63
I just picked up a bouquet of flowers and they're sitting in a vase on my counter top because they make me smile.

I think flowers in the dead of winter are like a surprise hug from a long lost friend.

Debra Baker
post #18 of 63
Thread Starter 
Ruthla, it's circular for me. The messy house doesn't cause my depression but it definitely can add to it. And being depressed means the house gets messier. It goes round and round. But when I'm depressed and my dh cleans up, I do get a little lift from it so it does help. I'm just usually not able to keep it up when I'm depressed (and he just isn't home enough to do daily maintenence when I'm unable). Man, my head spins just thinking on this.

Bonbon, Ok, thanks I'm definitely thinking I want some yellow but probably more subdued than dayglo would be a better idea. Maybe a butter yellow. Or sunshiney.

I did go out today and buy bright yellow, orange and red yarn and I'm going to crochet an obnoxiously cheery curtain for the downstairs bathroom. At the least, staring at those colors as I crochet every night should perk me up a bit.

And the kids helped me clean I printed off a page of my control journal (from the last half dozen times I joined flylady ) and asked the kids if they wanted to help with my Flylady routine. My dd thinks Flylady is the coolest idea so she jumped up and said yes, So they dusted and I picked up for a good half hour.
post #19 of 63
I find there is a direct correlation between my immeadiate mood and the status of my house. My house, for the most part, looks like a disaster. The clutter and crayon markings, the crumbs and the dirty dishes...ugh(and we have a freekin' dishwasher!)
I am also a SAHM. I don't get out to talk to adults too much. I do find, however, that whenever we get the carpets cleaned...less furniture migrates back in the living room. I have a whole room's worth of furniture in my attic. I know it is because I get so tired of looking at the same space. I have change the color of my very large living room twice.(My husband says the next time I want to change I have to do it myself ) First cream, then light green, now dark blue.

I am doing very good at the moment decluttering and cleaning. Let's hope it stays this way. I am in such a better mood than I usually am right now. All because it's a little cleaner around here.

Didn't really have much to add. Just wanted to commiserate with you all.
post #20 of 63
I didn't get to read all the replies yet... but I will!

Decluttering is definetely a big thing!

Color on the walls is a big deal for dh and I. We cannot stand all white walls throughout the house. The only rooms that are not painted are the bathrooms and the laundry room. We have paint for them, though, they just aren't done yet.

Live plants help. It feels good to live in a house where other things are living and thriving.

I would like to get a fish tank, too. I think what the pp said about them is true.

Will come back and read more later...

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