Today is a day where I have woken up earlier than usual because I went to bed earlier than usual. Having looked at my watch, I lay there thinking about how I would describe my depression. I lay there for thirty minutes or so going through aspects of my life examples that are affected before I glance again at the watch. Normally I have to lever myself out of bed to get myself quickly dressed and mentally prepared to do some tidying. Yes, it is an official tidying slot rather than one of the extras my partner is always wanting to add in. Today though I am aware that I have the time to do something positive in order to challenge the depression.

There have been a number of things coming and going in my mind regarding my environment. I am fleetingly bothered that I haven’t gathered my clean clothes together, that I haven’t put away the clothes that have made it to my bedroom, that jumpers that are accumulating in the corner, that the clothes to be washed are piling up. I am also bothered about the state of my hair. It needs tidying. Whereas clothes are a relatively easy thing to process, trimming my hair isn’t. My clothes have a defined place to be whether it is waiting to be washed, hanging up to dry, or put into piles readying to be folded and sorted away.  These are clearly defined steps and the inertial barrier is more about the energy required to get going and knowing when enough is enough.

Hair cutting seems more complex to me. The build up takes longer. I need to be in the right mood. I need the house to be empty. I need my shaver to be charged. I need a spare morning. I need reasonable light. I need patience. Ideally it is done just before the room is hoovered. I like to cut before I have a shower so I can get rid of all the “splinters” that stick to my skin. And it is not like my haircuts are anything to write home about. Unfortunately I seemed to have picked up the cultural programming that finds a thick full head of hair that is impeccably trimmed desirable. The same goes for beards. My hair is thin, soft and pretty much non-existent on top. My beard is patchy and uneven. Still one can have neat and tidy hair even if there is not much of it. Well it takes more skill than I have, and I really don’t like others touching my head. I also don’t like my psoriasis patches scraped by steel combs. I guess I could develop a working relationship with someone that doesn’t mind silence (is that even taught at hair-dressing school?) but that feels too much compared to getting a shaver and trimming most of my hair off.

Needless to say, I expect, but I got up and tidied away my clothes. The clean clothes that have already been folded. The clothes that had been washed but not folded yet. The jumpers that had piled up. I sorted through clothes that need a wash, a combination of sniff and crumble testing, and made a pile on the floor. I tried to make single socks into matched pairs. I accepted that clothes that hadn’t been worn enough could still go in the washing. I hung up two jackets. I then put my wash on. Except that not everything fitted into the machine, so a smaller pile was returned to the bedroom.

It is now time to do my official tidying. Fifteen minutes of tidying up an area agreed on with my partner. Today it is back to the kitchen side. This usually mean sorting through envelopes and letters to decide whether they need to be filed, shredded or recycled whole. It is a time not only of sorting into piles but hopefully acting on those piles too. Progress needs to be seen to be made. As I am putting some paper into the recycle bins my wife asks me about a pile of magazines she has pulled out of our “current reading material” holder. The general rule is that a magazine needs to be kept for a year before it hits the recycling pile though I like to decide this for myself since there may be an “interesting” article I still want to read. But I am already doing something and making decisions about magazines is going to push my brain to painful places so I tell my wife that I don’t want to take on the extra task at the moment. Besides, glancing at my watch, we have been tidying for nearly twenty minutes and so I have fulfilled my task and can now stop at any time. I finish what I am doing anyway.

I tell my wife about the energy that I have been putting in tidying my clothes before doing this tidying. She likes me to tell her of my achievements because she often doesn’t notice and it is important to her that I am doing positive things. I don’t find it easy to “blow my own trumpet”. In my head I suppose I have got up early and made an effort to counteract my depression. By tidying up my clothes, I have done something that is not only positive for me but eases her anxiety around untidy spaces. She says, “good” then follows it up with, “we need to find more time to tidy” or something like that. I guess I am looking for support and appreciation, but I don’t feel like that has happened. I try to communicate my disquiet. I point out that it would have been better for me if she had just left it at good. The second part feels like a criticism, like my efforts are inadequate.

And the simple fact is that my efforts are not good enough for my partner. I should be tidying all the time automatically. Yes it takes effort, but it is effort that must be expended because there is no other way to be. Leaving things to later is bad because later may never arrive. I have sympathy for this because I too find it better to do something now but the fact is that often I can’t achieve something right away because I need to recover from the thing that has just happened. I can’t wash up immediately after eating the meal I just cooked because I need to recover something I have lost first to cooking, and then to sharing a meal with other people. My mind needs to reset something before I can handle the task of washing up.

I leave the room with my anger and hurt. I find my writing spot on the sofa, sit down and cross my arms. I want my wife to see the situation from my point of view but that doesn’t seem possible at the moment. I am reminded of the times she asks me to see things from her point of view and I said that I can’t because it doesn’t make sense to me. Times when logic rules over emotion because I feel nothing leaving logic my only path to follow. My watch vibrates to tell me that I have had less sleep that I prefer but that the quality was good. This reminds me of the decision I made to get up early this morning and to do something. I thought about writing then, but perhaps I should write about what just happened rather than glimpses of depression.

The dog comes in and looks at me expectantly. I know he is desperate to lie across my lap. Two paws go up on the sofa, but I tell him to get down. I see disappointment in his eyes before he looks at the carpet, slowly lowering his legs to settle into a tight swirl at my feet. I grab my laptop, open it and turn it on.