bipolar parent

How to Clean When Your Brain is a Mess, part III

This is part three of a three-part series.
Part I | Part II | Part III

A clutter-filled environment weighs on the mind and wears you out.  We’ve talked about why messes grow like fungi in some homes (hint: brain wiring!) as well as a few plans of attack, but what about when you’re in a mood state?


Remember Your Priorities: Drag yourself out of bed. Step into the shower, and then just stand there for a while. Take all the hot water you need. It’s okay to slump. Wash your hair, and brush your teeth. Put your shoes on. Eat something small and protein-filled (yogurt, eggs, nuts). Drink a tall glass of water.

You need to take care of yourself before even thinking of attempting chores. When you don’t feel good, the pile of dirty clothes looms like a mountain—one you can still step around on the way to bed or the computer chair.

So first take care of yourself, and then face that armful of laundry. Don’t worry about separating; just toss it into the washer. Don’t add bleach, and make sure to set an alarm when you need to change it over. Fold the clothes when they’re dry. If that’s all you can handle, crawl back into bed. Try again tomorrow, but do two chores instead of one. Then three, and so on.

Get Help: If you are able to afford it, a maid service may be a wonderful investment for you. I know a few people who pay for this privilege, and they all report that they pick up before their maid arrives due to guilt. If that what’s motivates you, then go for it!

Credit to flickr user Omnidu. Used with permission.
Credit to flickr user Omnidu. Used with permission.

Similarly, if you have a partner or roommate, split the chores down the middle. Figure out which tasks you each hate doing and which you don’t, and then discuss who takes what. You can also set a rotating schedule if you get bored with doing the same task week after week.

Speak to your partner when you feel anxious or stressed, because that will affect how much you can take on around the house.  Give them the same courtesy–they’re human, too!  And try to be kind to each other.  If a chore doesn’t get done, then it doesn’t get done. Just try again tomorrow.


Cleaning during a hypomanic or manic episode is similar to cleaning while depressed. You have to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed. The difference is that you now have the energy to start up a new project and leave in the middle. If you’re like me, you’ll only end up irritated and turning in circles by the end of the day.

Cut Distractions: Wear some headphones while the kids are at school. Try to work on the same task for three songs, and then switch immediately to another one—regardless of the unfinished state of the first task. After two or three tasks, sit down for fifteen minutes. Drink a large glass of water as slowly as you can. Breathe. Then get back to work on the first task.

Credit to flickr user Natalie R. Used with permission.
Credit to flickr user Natalie R. Used with permission.

Put Things Away: I have a friend who only has a few color-coded dishes per person in her household. Each person washes their own and puts it away. This doesn’t work for me, because I’ll order pizza until I’m broke, but if you’re able to keep your sink empty, go for it!

Similarly, if you take a book out, try to reshelf it. Then it will be one more item not taking up space–and not just in the physical realm.  You have to remember where you left it and why you took it out in the first place, which taxes your already over-crowded brain.

Best of luck tackling your house while struggling through a mood state.  Even though it’s not so much ‘tackling’ as ‘limping to the end zone with a couple of dishes,’ any progress made is time well-spent.  Don’t be too hard on yourself!

5 thoughts on “How to Clean When Your Brain is a Mess, part III

  1. Where is part 2 please? The links don’t work on either part 1 and 3. I’ve really been encouraged by part 1 and felt I ought to read 2 before 3 lol.
    Thanks for this.


    1. Hello! I’m glad you enjoyed part one, and I’m also happy that you were able to find part two eventually, but I’m so sorry the links didn’t work. I’ll fix that immediately. Thanks for reading!


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