Yesterday was an intense roller-coaster ride of emotions.Shortly before midday I hit a low point. Not an everyday lull in my enthusiasm, or a mildly blue moment – I was overtaken by darkness, and feeling an almost suicidal level of despair. This is not an exaggeration; I know what that feels like, and what those words really mean. It took me my surprise. It took me over. While I struggled in the sticky mess, tangled in despair, and unable to find any fucks to give, a soft defeated inner voice tried her hardest to pull me back. “This is emotion; it lacks substance unless you give it substance.” “Begin again.” “This will pass.” I not only didn’t give a fuck, I couldn’t remember at all why I should. Bleak.

As I arrived home from what, in the moment, seemed like a fairly pointless waste of time (my annual physical), I let my Traveling Partner know I would be going offline to take care of myself and to avoid spreading my vile mood like plague. He offered understanding, compassion, and support. He cracked a tender understanding joke. He’s having his own experience, and as much as I am able, I return that loving support, and endeavor not to “weaponize” my emotional experience. I approach the apartment, already prepared for the person with the pressure washer cleaning the building exterior and sidewalks; the landlady alerts me of these things, these days, in advance so that I am not taken by surprise. I find room for gratitude and appreciation, but it does nothing to lift my mood.

I sat down with a cup of coffee, a notepad, and an attentive eye and begin making a list of the housekeeping details I would like to handle. The list grows. I begin weeping intermittently. I don’t make any effort to stop it. I just don’t care. I pause, aware for a moment with more than usual clarity that I am indeed in A Very Bad Place and that steps are in order. I remind myself to let my friends next door that I’m in that bad place, and to check on me later “if things sound too quiet” or… just because. I don’t get the chance; my phone nags at me briefly to attend to a message from them. We end up hanging out and talking about… house work. Room mate drama over housekeeping is such a mundane real-life challenge of adulthood that it’s no surprise to hear that there are such challenges next door… and… I’m preparing for my own afternoon of housekeeping, facing some loose similarities in dealing with the woman in the mirror, who I hadn’t noticed had been slacking off a bit. I also hadn’t noticed I’d dropped my highly effective habit of making a to do list each day. What the hell? When did that happen?

As we converse, I mention I figured I’d been a little overly casual about the housekeeping, myself, for… “about two weeks, maybe”. I flipped back in the notepad on which I was making a new list. Nope. A month. A month ago I’d stop making lists. Just… stopped. Damn it. I laugh. My friends laugh with me. We drink coffee together. We talk about chores. We talk about the way our inner narrative and our assumptions change our perspective. We talk about “theory of mind” and how we tend to assume people generally think as we do, know what we know, and make decisions in the same way. We walk about compassion. We talk about explicit communication. We talk about boundary setting. We talk about life – and we talk about The School of Life (great videos!) We lift each other up through affection community and conversation. When they leave, I feel… able to go on.

“Go on” is exactly what I do; I get on with the housework. I tidy. I organize. I clean. I really clean. My mood begins to lift. Details that were dragging me down, in the background, begin to lift me up as the apartment takes on that well-cared for, detailed, tidy, orderly appearance that I love. Small tasks, large tasks, general tidying, deep cleaning – all of it matters if I am “feeling disordered”. Each task lovingly handled from start to finish, satisfying once completed, builds the foundation for the task that follows.

An hour or so of connected social interaction, and another hour or so of household chores, my mood completely turned around. I felt connected, present, and capable. The bleakness and despair of the morning were behind me. By the end of the day the apartment feels great. It is tidy and clean and orderly. I like order. It gives me a rest from the chaos still lurking within.

Today? Today I begin again. 🙂