I did a declutter challenge this quarantine and it helped me with my bipolar disorder

et’s face it: A lot of us hold on to things we don’t need. We hoard because we think: “I might need that later on” or “This could be useful someday.” And it reaches the point where we have teetering towers of belongings that serve no purpose or are totally obsolete. And it’s unfortunate that we have all this clutter hanging around, cluttering even our brains. The more stuff we see in our vicinity, the more we think: Where’d that come from? Where did I put that thing? Where’s the earring that matches that one? Why is my sweater out!?

A lot of our environment can very much match our inner selves. Where there is clutter, there may be a state of clutter in the mind, too. Which is why I took on Humble’s decluttering challenge, a challenge that was put together both by Humble’s Josef Werker and Niña Opida, and Renelyn Tan, a certified KonMari consultant.

“A lot of people are at home and anxious and unsure of what to do, leading to clutter,” Tan said. She then formulated the challenge so people could make use of their energy and make their spaces a little tidier. “Hopefully at the end of the challenge, people gain a little more peace of mind.”

Josef and Nina agreed, that at the end of decluttering they felt more productive and less stressed about everything.

The challenge was simple, take 7 days to re-organize certain things following the Konmari method with a twist of the time limit. I even added my own personal challenges: My personal goal was to finally get rid of my ex’s things.

Day 1 was about planning. And this was my plan of action:

I was lucky because I’d already sorted through my papers and refrigerator before the challenge, but it was still a lot to take on. I’d like to think I love beautiful things, so I love hoarding clothes and makeup. And I knew those had to go. I’m also very very sentimental and hold on to my exes’ things. So I definitely had to let those go.

The first thing I did was go through my clothing. Here is a very exposing look into my closet:

Yes, I know, it’s embarrassing. But would you believe that I got rid of so much?

(Check out the pile of clothes underneath, that’s how much I got rid of)

I had to modify the method because my bed wasn’t physically big enough for all the useless clothes I still own (I had a ton of jerseys and old softball uniforms and equipment, too, it wasn’t read for the pile). All this hoarding was bad for the environment anyway if I just decided to toss them out. So donation was the best way to go.

When it came to my exes’ shirts, I sat on the ground. I had a few shirts, had a jacket. And I kept them close to me “in case one day…” But then realized that the entire “I might need it in case” rhetoric was the same as my hoarding rhetoric. So I finally put them away. I cried as I did, but I was proud of myself.

Eventually, I was able to free up some space and I felt so much better.

The boxes at the bottom were gone and better stored. And now I can stand inside the closet again when I need stuff. It’s a miracle! I haven’t been able to do this in years! Even Renelyn says that before decluttering, she used to be a shopaholic, but now only buys what she needs.

The next day was books. I love to read. I love to read. So having to figure out which books had to go broke my heart. “Can’t I keep all of them?” I cried to myself, taking each one out of its place in my shelves. But like Renelyn says I must “learn what’s really valuable.” So I had to donate some of my books for sure.

A peek at one of my bookshelves:

Not in the video was the pile of books beside my bed that I’d been reading on and off. I fixed those eventually.

What I found out was I had a lot more books than I remembered having in my own room. When I was taking them out to organize by genre, I was shocked that I had to take up more than one deskspace! I had to start piling them on the bed by genre to get them at least a little organized before I could put them back up again.

Eventually, after a few hours, we alphabetized everyone and did everything by genre. I’m talking poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and then general fantasy books like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones having their own dedicated section. I was so exhausted from this but felt so accomplished, knowing I’d know where to look if I needed a book.

Makeup was also cleared up (although unfortunately the files corrupted as I was transferring them). 🙁 But here is the finished product compared to what it looked like before.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

(My table’s just very old so it doesn’t look so clean–I promise I’m in the process of getting a new one).

Thankfully we’d fixed all our papers and refrigerator and pantry before all this so we didn’t have to go through that process. But I realized how much paper we’d use up because we’d print something wrong or how much plastic we used from the groceries. So we made the eco bag switch and turned pages around for art!

Last came the sentimental stuff. And this was the stuff I didn’t always have the heart to take videos of. I tried to read some letters out loud, but I became too emotional I couldn’t push through. But there were photos of exes, letters from people I no longer associated with, and all that. And I decided, for my peace of mind, to let go. Josef and Nina were right, letting go of these things made me feel lighter and, ultimately better.

Saying goodbye was difficult–but necessary. I was glad I did it eventually. I had a good cry, but after, I came out stronger.

This entire exercise in decluttering taught me that my mind is just as important as the rest of me. I have Bipolar I Disorder, and a lot of the time it gets the best of me and makes me feel like I’m not normal. But this act of cleaning, this act of decluttering, and unclogging my life has been so cathartic that it felt like it helped re-organize even the mess that my mind sometimes is.

With my disorder, I am sometimes depressed and I am sometimes so overzealous it’s scary. And with both, the clutter around my doesn’t help. My depression deepens, my mania worsens because I’m surrounded by distractions. But this cleaning has been so helpful.

And not only that, it’s a way to promote circular living, sustainable living. Keeping only what you need to let others have what they need, too. And being able to get rid of clutter, you are able to use the things you really were meant to use, lessening the burden on Mother Nature. I didn’t know that something as self-motivated as trying to bring peace to my inner self would make the planet happy, too.

If you want to do the same, you can definitely contact Humble and start your own decluttering journey.

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