Dark Night of the Sink, reprise

Daily Prompt: Those Dishes Won’t Do Themselves (Unfortunately) — What’s the household task you most dislike doing? Why do you think that is — is it the task itself, or something more?

When this prompt showed up this morning, I remembered the last time I wrote it and I would write the same post today, so I just copied and pasted it. I still don’t hate housework. None of the chores is odious to me, but as the Daily Prompt turns more and more into a “chore” that could change. However, this is the 21st anniversary of my nervous breakdown, May 12, 1994, so…


People who dislike housework may not understand it. I do understand it, and I don’t mind any of it. In a way, I wish I had more time for it and that I were taller and could do it better. You see, twenty years ago I suffered a nervous breakdown. The causes are unknown — it could have been a couple of things. I have my own theory, but this is NOT that blog.

It was, of course, awful. No one likes feeling that death is better than life, especially when one is in one’s right mind enough to see that there is no REASON to feel that way. Still, there it was. Life was dark and slow. I was incapable of things I’d done well for years and years. My decisions were off-target; I knew I was unreliable. I didn’t want to get out of bed but I didn’t want to stay there. This went on for a couple of months, slowly improving (PROZAC mainly, I think, as the conditions in my life were not improving) and one day I got up and went to the kitchen and washed the dishes. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but not only did I wash the dishes, I was proud of having done it. I had a major epiphany in that short half-hour, that in times of absolute confusion, doing a simple chore gives us a the power to improve our world. Sure, a small part of our world, but our world, still.

This is not to say that my house is ever clean (it isn’t; you don’t teach a double load of classes and live with big dogs if you want a clean house). No. But when I’m trying to figure something out or frustrated over something I cannot change or control, it usually helps to dust, vacuum, wash the dishes, put my clothes away, clean the bathroom, take out the trash. Housework doesn’t need a lot of mental acuity. It’s not a huge ethical dilemma. The efforts are always rewarding in a small — but direct — way. Housework is like writing to this particular daily prompt (again).



9 thoughts on “Dark Night of the Sink, reprise

  1. Garry likes dishes. He says it gives him a sense of having beaten back the dirt, of winning one small victory.

    For me, when times have been very dark, tasks that keep my world orderly have given a shape and form to a life that otherwise feels wildly chaotic. The darker life has been, the more important little tasks were. I’m glad you came out the other side. Climbing out of that pit is no simple matter and not everyone makes it back into the light.

  2. I must admit that I do not like house work except now and then. But I don’t leave dishes in the sink. I hate the smell of dishes that have been left to soak and the fact that the dishes are so much harder to clean. But I try to put everything away and keep things neat but I can not say my house is clean. It simply is not possible to keep a clean floor when one has dogs that are in and out of the house up to 6-7 times a day. They are spoiled but happy dogs.

    I’ve been in 2-3 depressions over the years and my saving grace was finding the right med and my animals. Now my pets keep me out of that deep pit.

  3. I don’t like housework, and I can’t say my house is ever house-and-garden. But I’m firmly of the belief that domestic chaos and grot is in itself depressing; dishes in the sink, unmade bed, piles of junk, scummy bathroom – claustrophobia!

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