Cleaning and Wellness

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • I was thinking more about all the work I did recently with my brothers and their wives, helping my parents clean their windows and clear out brush around their yard in anticipation of the winter. It was a friendly, although tiring day. My parents seemed the most energetic of any of us! And boy, we did not dare miss a spot on those windows!


    Thinking about that cleaning weekend, I revisited my notes from the wellness summit I attended last month. It occurred to me that those of us with mood disorders don't talk about the importance of keeping things shipshape and tidy. You can always tell from the state of my house how I'm doing. If the laundry hasn't been done for a while or the mail has stacked up on the table, it's a pretty clear sign that things aren't going well.

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    The discipline of "taking care" seems to be an important issue in our lives: taking care of our mental health ... taking care of our physical health ... taking care of our homes, our families and our jobs. I think the discipline it takes to "take care," even when we don't feel like it, may be one of those recovery practices that trips us up every once in a while.


    I remember a weekend when I called my sister Barbie, who lived with bipolar disorder, to see how she was doing. She told me she was feeling "yucky." She had to clean and was just putting it off and was sitting there feeling "yucky." She thought avoiding the unpleasant chore would make her feel better, but it actually made her feel worse-and for a longer time. I wonder how often we all do something like that....?


    At any rate, Barbie and I made a promise. She told me the one chore she had to do that she most dreaded doing (some painting in the bathroom), and I promised to call her in one hour to see how far she had gotten on the job. She promised to stop thinking about doing it and just do that one thing. When I called an hour later, she was annoyed-at me-for interrupting her painting! Once she got started doing, she was enjoying the look of the clean, fresh walls.


    Getting started-doing anything-seems the hardest thing to me. Maybe we can promise each other to just stop thinking and start doing-start taking care of our home, our work, our family and our lives.


    Does the discipline of "taking care" and "doing" trip you up sometimes, too? What are some of the things that help get you back on track?

Published On: October 24, 2007