Adult ADHD and Disorganization: My Messy House

by Deborah Gray Patient Expert

As I mentioned in a previous SharePost, I tend to collect paper into piles. I wish it was just paper that ended up that way, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Let's take a tour of the house I share with my son and husband.

Living room - there's a pile behind my desk chair. I'm not sure what it is. I think it's a combination of books I've had to look at recently and my son's drawings. I can't decide what to do with the drawings. They're the ones he does in afterschool daycare, and since no one helps him like they did in preschool, these are not anything special. Of course, they're special because he does them, but are they worth keeping? Since I can't decide what to do with them, they accumulate.

Dining room. The main problem with this room is, and always has been, the big table. It's the best place to do homework, crafts, pay bills, wrap books to be mailed - you name it. So of course everything you can think of ends up here and tends to stay here. I've created a tiny bit of order by keeping school supplies in one willow basket, mailing supplies in another.

Bedroom. One the big problems is the area next to my side of the bed. Always has been. I tend to accumulate a pile of books, magazines and mail that needs to be filed. At some points, it's actually hard to make the bed without stepping on the pile, since it gets so big. Then there are also piles of clean clothes all over the room that somehow don't make it to the closet and onto a hanger or into a drawer.

I could blame this on Multiple Sclerosis. To be fair to myself, that's part of it. I have a tendency to pull muscles when I lean over to pick something up, and running around putting things away is tiring. I don't have a heck of a lot of spare energy. However, it's not like this is something new. When I was in college, visitors to my room were amazed by how most of my closet and bookshelf ended up on the floor.

I really, really hate having a messy house. It's not that I don't want to be neat - quite the opposite. As proof, I present the titles of the most recent organizing books on my shelf (some of them have been given away after I got tired of them sitting on my shelf, mutely reproachful):

  • Unclutter Your Home

  • Organizing Plain and Simple

  • Confessions of an Organized Homemaker

  • If You Haven't Got the Time to Do It Right, When Will You Find the Time to Do It?

Whenever I've stayed with my parents (we came to visit a lot before we moved out here from Connecticut), I always kept things picked up. Probably not to their standards, but still, much better and more consistently than I do when I have no outside pressure, like hosts or roommates. So I know that I'm capable of it.

If you have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or live with someone who does. this picture is probably pretty familiar. Maybe you're frustrated with the situation. I know I am.

I think the first step is identifying the trouble areas, which I've done. Now, I somehow need to devise a plan of attack that works for me and try out some of those organizing tricks I've read about. Like only touching something once. Instead of throwing my coat on the couch when I come in, I should hang it up. Get it? I would have touched it twice if it first went on the couch and then (eventually) into the closet.

I'm going to pull together some of these organizing ideas, try them out, and let you know how I do. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them

Deborah Gray
Meet Our Writer
Deborah Gray

Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.