Clutter and Depression

Sep 29, 2018

Most of the people I work with are dynamic ladies who want to take their life or relationship to a new level. This client was completely different, a broken man with a shattered heart.

On the outside, he was fit, handsome and apparently had everything going for him. Inside he was in pieces. His long marriage had ended despite him doing everything possible to save it. He had then thrown his hopes and dreams into a new relationship which had ended abruptly. He was stuck physically, financially and emotionally with no obvious way out.

Although only in his early 40s, my client genuinely believed his life was over. He had lost hope of ever becoming a father and could not conceive of anyone replacing the ‘perfect girlfriend’ who had ended their relationship without explanation.

On a preliminary visit it was clear my client had decanted much of the furniture from his marital home into his rental house, along with pictures, photos, mementos and even a heart shaped dried flower arrangement. There was no room to move.

Items blocked the stairs and doorways and the energy was absolutely stifling. It was overwhelming to spend more than a couple of minutes inside the house. No wonder he felt trapped.

As I asked about his clutter he became emotional. Every piece of furniture and each item had its own story and all led back to his marriage or the doomed relationship. “Tell me about this” I asked him, gesturing to the dusty dried flower arrangement on the kitchen wall. He replied “I bought it for my wife to reassure her I loved her when she was having a bad time”. “And how does it make you feel now?” I asked. He shrugged – “It cost a lot of money so I kept it, it just fills a space on the wall.”

And that, dear reader, is why clearing ‘stuff’ which reminds you of a past relationship or sad times is essential. My client had been divorced 4 years but every morning as he slalomed his way around his clutter into the kitchen his subconscious mind triggered a memory of everything he had lost. He began each day with a feeling of utter devastation.

At this stage my client felt parting with anything he had managed to keep from the marriage was not an option. Even the dried flowers had to stay!

Depression and clutter create a symbiotic spiral which seems impossible to escape until tiny positive changes allow the process to start.

On that first visit we spent 40 minutes dealing with surface mess and some unhelpful self-sabotaging items… like the postcard on the landing window with the message “Don’t give up”. The subconscious mind does not recognize negative words so it ignores “Don’t” and just sees the words “Give Up” which was exactly what my client had done.

Once he understood this, he felt ready to part with the postcard and replace it with a more positive image.

A week later my client called to say he had sold a couple of things which had given him some welcome cash. He felt different and ‘a bit better’. He planned to take a day off to clear some more stuff.

My client had chosen to stay in his rut because he believed it would bring his ex girlfriend back. Now he accepted his clutter meant there was no space for a healthy romance with anyone at all. He was ready to deal with it.

The first thing to go was the dried flower heart. The kitchen breathed a sigh of relief! We filled a couple of dustbins and took a car load of stuff to the charity shop and tip. It wasn’t much, but at last it was possible to stand in the living room without feeling one’s life was being sucked away by Harry Potter’s dementors.

Most clients throw themselves into clearing the bulk of their clutter in just one or two days, working at it until it’s gone. It’s a “plunge pool” way of turning life around quickly and efficiently. However, depression needs to be managed differently.  

This client feels safer taking baby steps towards creating his new life and being emotionally ready for a loving relationship. He clears a little more each day and as he does so, he is recovering his focus, self esteem and smile. He even notices when he is making excuses and does something about it.

If clutter is holding you back from the life you deserve, take steps to change your situation now and, like my client, enjoy your new sense of freedom.