Couch Cat: Being messy is not a good sign

06 September 2019
Author   Jackie Wilson Asheeke
The lack of care and concern about hygiene or junk accumulation may indicate that something negative is going on inside someone’s head. I have decided that I will stop nagging folks in my house about keeping the place clean and neat. 
Instead, I will talk to them about what vexes their minds and hearts.  Something is not ok when people don’t mind stepping over trash, sleeping on refuse-covered beds, or throwing used things on the floor.
I cannot understand how people can pass by a used bag of chips or an old newspaper that has blown in front of their property and not stop to pick it up. How can people invite their friends to watch television in a messy sitting room? I mean really. I have seen people move ‘stuff’ to one side of the sofa to make a place where they can sit rather than take the 10 minutes needed to put those things away.
It distresses me to see someone cooking in an unclean kitchen.  It is bad news when yesterday’s dishes are still in the sink, the trash is not put out and the floor hasn’t seen a broom in a week.
How can someone sleep in a bed heaped with mounds of unwashed clothes?  It is yucky to lay on sheets that are so dirty they can stand up in a corner.  It is nasty to see desiccated food remnants all over the place.
It drives me insane to constantly remind my children to put out the trash and recycling on time. Don’t they smell that stale, old garbage in the air?
Due to water concerns, I got rid of my dishwasher years ago. That makes everyone in my house responsible for doing dishes.  The sink must be clear throughout the day and hard-to-clean dishes must be soaked.  Is it me or is it gross to go to bed while your kitchen counters are covered with crumbs and sticky blobs?
Cleaning the fridge (and the microwave) with disinfectant must be done regularly.  There is nothing more revolting than finding ancient leftovers at the back of the refrigerator or freezer that has become an unrecognizable science experiment in a food container. 
Psychologists say that there is something detrimental going on inside people’s minds and hearts when they are messy.  They claim that messiness can sometimes be a sign of depression. Depressed people often feel too fatigued or hopeless to keep up with routine household tasks.  This has made me change tactics. Instead of nagging about cleaning-up, I ask, what’s on your mind and how can I help?
When I am down and would like to drown in denial, I make myself get up and take on a housekeeping or gardening task.  This gives me a pleasing sense of accomplishment and that makes me feel better. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I am empowered to do something for myself.
Instead of nagging those living with you about cleaning up or punishing them if they don’t, rather, sit with them empathetically and talk to them. Try to encourage them to talk about getting out of the doldrums and how to love yourself again. It will not be easy.  Outside people or counsellors may need to have regular chats with a messy person.
Nothing says, “I don’t care” more than an über-messy bedroom. Though it may be difficult, even when depressed, people still must be cajoled to sweep, mop, wash-up and throw trash away.  Regaining control and order in your immediate surroundings can help steady your life. 


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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