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Women with ADD/ADHD This forum is for women to discuss issues related to being a woman with AD/HD.

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Old 02-26-13, 08:49 PM
tynimart tynimart is offline
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EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

My house is a mess. Almost every room in my house is cluttered with anything and everything. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about cleaning. I can't do laundry because I don't have storage (dresser is a small hand me down). I can't get a new dresser because I'd need to move the old one and other furniture. I can't do that because there is too much mess to do it safely. I can't clean out my car because I don't have anywhere to put things in my house.

It's an endless cycle. It's not that I like having any of the stuff. I really want it gone. I'd love to get a got junk dumpster and go to town but those things are expensive. Another thing that slows me down is that I have to sort out the recyclables. That means I would have to stop and empty out bottles that have liquid and I always end up distracted and not finishing anything. Actually I get distracted when cleaning in general and have projects started in most rooms (worse when I take my Adderall)

The cleanest rooms in my house are my daughter's room and the kitchen. I refuse to let her room get messy. It's the one place we play and I don't have to worry about anything. I want to make sure she always has a place to have space to play like a kid should do.

Therapists haven't helped. I spent a year with my last one and she was unable to keep the disgust and shock when I opened up just a little about the mess. It hurt so bad to see that and now I'm not sure I could start all over.

So my question is what do I do? I can't keep living like this. It's not fair to me or my family. I function just enough, have just enough clothes clean, have just enough food for meals, etc. Has anything worked for you? Was there a type of therapist that worked best? Resources you used? Seriously, any suggestions would make the world of a difference.

Thanks for baring with me and reading this. I appreciate all of your suggestions and advice!
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Old 02-26-13, 09:16 PM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

I hear you and feel your pain

Are you taking medication currently?

If you are, my advice is to get up and start moving as soon as you feel your med working after taking it. Use that window of time that you feel energized to clean, organize and do as much as you can. It's a short window (about one hour, maybe a little more) but you can get a lot done if you want to. You can then use the rest of the time left (when the meds are working) on stuff that requires focus with less physical energy needed, like reading, studying etc.
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Old 02-27-13, 12:05 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

Are you a hoarder, or do you just have a disorganised home?
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Old 02-27-13, 06:00 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

you sound like my mum. she is always freaking out about the house being cluttered and messy and feeling guilty about it, but seems to have trouble getting started on decluttering.

Just start getting rid of what you don't need. If you have multiple of something, get rid of the extras. Give it all to charity. If you haven't read a book/played a cd/used random electronic equipment in a year, odds are you probably won't ever need the stuff, so buy a whole bunch of boxes/packing tape & just aim to fill one box every day, and before you know it your house will be decluttered.
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Old 02-27-13, 06:16 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

My resources = Flylady's slow building of routines, breaking things down into baby steps and loving myself enough to keep going.
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Old 02-27-13, 07:30 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

Maybe you don't have the right dose of Adderall.
Maybe Aderall isn't the right one for you?
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Old 02-27-13, 08:38 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

It can be very overwhelming trying to declutter an entire house. Maybe start small. Just do one room, or even just one cupboard or one drawer.
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Old 02-27-13, 09:52 AM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

I would pick one room and then pick one area of that room, and tackle it. Then move out and do the same thing until one room is done.
Repeat it every day.
Don't be afraid to throw things out.
If you need help and have the money, hire someone to help you and keep you on task.
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Old 02-28-13, 12:20 PM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

Not sure how I missed this post and didn't reply sooner! First thing you need to do is take a deep breath, and sit down. Now think real hard, do you want a clean house, are you embarrassed to have people over? Are you overly attached to your things? My house has been like too, multiple times. I moved multiple times to get rid of the mess with good intentions every time. That never worked, then I met my neat freak husband (who called me a hoarder on a few occasions). Nothing worked until 3 weeks ago when I got treatment for ADHD and decided that I really wanted the house clean. I am not a morning person and I wanted my mornings to relax not be stressed about the house, I wanted visitors to come over and not be stressed because I didn't want them to see my house. I did just move in July so I didn't have too much clutter accumulated (not too much for me anyways, you were still walking over piles everywhere). Since you say you have a lot if expensive things you don't want to throw away, why not start listing it for sale? Post it online. You will never have a clean home if its overfull. Here's what I did:

- I grabbed baskets, I dumped them right where they were and took baskets with me into the kitchen (this was my priority room, the one I wanted done first). First I emptied and filled my sink. I grabbed garbage bags and a cleaning rag. Started from one end and made my way through (never once did open cupboards or the fridge unless it was to put something away). I did one task at a time never straying from it until it was done. Fit as many dishes in the sink as you can and pile the rest by the sink. I then took one of my empty baskets and did a quick walk through the house to fill the basket with any dishes that were lying around. I brought them to the kitchen. I then grabbed my garbage bags and made a quick sweep of the kitchen putting all visible trash into the bag. In another basket I put things that didn't belong in the kitchen (this was key because if I left I would get side tracked and want to to do everything). By now I had some counter space ( what wasn't covered in dishes of course). Next was wash the dishes. This is REAL easy if you put some bleach in the water and let them soak. I let one sink full soak while doing things like cleaning counter tops, then wash them and leave them on a towel to dry. My goal was to do my dishes, have clean counters and floor before stopping. I will admit I threw away a bit of recycling that day because I couldn't be bothered with sorting I just wanted it clean. Here though we have to take in our recycling and get money for it.

- day 2 I did my 2 bathrooms, same process with baskets and garbage bags and rags. I threw away all half empty shampoo bottles, expired things, pretty much everything I didn't have a place for. Soaked everything in cleaner and washed it.

Day 3 my laundry room ( this was BAD) I went in there and standing in top of the massive pile of laundry I started sorting it into the hallway until the room was empty. I then wiped surfaces threw away old dryer sheets and lint and started the laundry. Everytime a load was dry I folded it as I was taking it out of the dryer (this was tedious because I HATE laundry) but I folded and put it where it belonged.

Day 4- my bedroom. I sorted the laundry like I did in the laundry room, went around with garbage bags and just gutted it! I was so tired of it at this point that so many things got trashed. I have no dresser only a closet so things got packed in there.

Day 5- I cleared the entry way and dining room.

It was a long process but doing one room at a time made it easier. I only finished my massive pile of laundry last week and cleaned my fridge. I'm still organizing cupboards. It takes less than an hour a day to maintain it! I do dishes twice, sweep twice, spray mop once, wipe my toilets and sink. I also vacuum twice a week and do laundry pretty much daily. It never ends but it's easy to maintain. When I don't take my meds on weekends I have no motivation to move so the fact that I keep up on it all week helps if it slides on the weekend.
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Old 02-28-13, 12:35 PM
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

Adderall does not help with cleaning my house. I have to blare really good music. I used to drink while I did it and that helped more than anything. Too bad I don't drink.
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Old 03-05-13, 11:26 PM
Ohiomom8 Ohiomom8 is offline
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Re: EXTREME disorganization. At the end of my rope

I feel your pain. I think the biggest issue is the need to hold on to objects. It sounds simple but multiply that by 1000 and you have a cluttered house. I wrestle with it, I see my family and friends with ADHD wrestle with it.

I think the clutter comes not because we are distracted, it doesn't help, but it is not the main cause. I think it is because we are so low energy wise, and emotionally (this can be because of years living with undiagnosed and treated ADHD or because of co-morbid depression, which you should check into as well). So, objects and buying stuff gives us a little excitement and relief from depression, boredom, etc. When you live at the top of the mountain, you don't need to pay for a view. We ADHD folks are often stuck in the valley while the rest of the world are at the top of the mountain.

The point is that buying things gives us a little lift. Then getting rid of things means giving up some of that. In addition because we have faulty memories, we hoard stuff because we might need something in a pinch. It happens all the time "I know I have a bag of chocolate chips here somewhere". It becomes an ingrained response. So, then we are stuck with a house full of stuff we perceive we need.

Then there are the emotional issues. We think "I can't get rid of that because so and so gave that to me". ADHD people can have over responsive emotions, not just anger. So, when an item has sentimental value we get overly emotional in response to it. Whereas someone else would look at something and think "oh, grandma gave that to me. Isn't it wonderful I have all these memories of her (meaning in their mind)" and throw away the object. Objects are not emotions or the people who give them to us. They are objects. We attach emotions to them. I watched a friend cry because I was helping her get rid of a book that had been her father's. It didn't have any special meaning. It just had been his. She had tons of his things, lots of special memories, and still couldn't get rid of the book. Our brains just process things differently and sometimes that is good and sometimes it makes us stuck.

So, where do we go from here. You have to do what is right for you and what works for one person does not always work for another. One person's ADHD is not like another. However, a lot of ADHD people have trouble cleaning/organizing because they have too much stuff and it is overwhelming and the mess just comes back. The best place is to really think about why you need everything you have. I used to wonder why some people can have a mattress on the floor and be happy and I needed a full suite of furniture with decor. As an aside, watch the documentary "Tiny Houses". These people do with very little.

Look at one object as an exercise to figure out why getting rid of something is hard. If it is too difficult emotionally and you recognize that it is a great beginning. Realize that the emotions you are feeling may be out of proportion to reality. Look at ways to reduce the strength of the emotion. You may never be okay with throwing away your daughters first t-shirt but look at ways to make it (possible). I stuff boxes full of stuff and stage them. They are in my garage for a while till I forget what is in them. Then I donate them (some organizations will pick it up).

Some things you are going to have to give yourself permission to do. If your recycling is overwhelming, give yourself permission to just throw it away till you figure out how to separate it (unless this is against the law in your area).

Monitor how much stuff you actually use. Do you have a favorite towel? Do you only use half of what is in the silverware drawer? Get rid of the rest. If you are like me, you think "if I get rid of the other towels I wont have one when they are dirty". Well then I realized that the towels were dirty because I couldn't face washing and folding twenty towels. Two towels I can do. So, the more you get rid of, the less you have to maintain. As my dad said "everything you bring into the house you have to maintain". Go camping or stay at a cabin. Look at how much fun you can have with very little stuff. You get to focus on what is important to you.

Monitor what comes in the house. Try to keep anything new from coming in. As you slowly get rid of stuff and keep things from coming in, it will get better.

Two more things, as I have gone on too long. I can't tell you what a difference medication has made for me. It is not a cure all but I can get off the couch now. I can at least make a start. It may or may not work for you but for many it is a God send. Second, I am so sorry your therapist made you feel bad. That is not a good therapist. No therapist should make you feel bad. Unfortunately, like apples, there are bad ones in every bunch. Please try again. Find a local ADHD support group. They can help you find a good therapist as well as give you tips that helped them with their clutter and mess.

Good luck. Don't stop trying. You will get there
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