Diagnosis helps woman understand messy house: "I used to be ashamed of my home"

Amy Christie

A woman used to be afraid of anyone seeing the inside of her house. The constant mess around her was disconcerting since she didn't intend to neglect cleaning. Plenty of times, she allowed the embarrassment to stop her from pursuing a positive motivation.

Once she was diagnosed with ADHD at 40, a lot of things started to make sense to her.

And she didn't feel sad about the way her house looked anymore. Instead, she set out to find a better way to deal with cleaning.

What are the details?

When the restrictions began, and she realized she would be spending a lot more time at home, Rhiannon Giles thought she would probably have everything nice and clean while doing job-related tasks.

"Well, my house will be clean at least, or that's how I saw it. Instead of having a chat at the watercooler or distracting myself with shiny things in the office, I imagined I would be taking a moment here and there to wash the spoons or do a load of laundry. It seems I'm always low on spoons," the woman said.

Rhiannon also revealed that she used to think there was probably one element that was stopping her from getting better at everything cleaning-related.

"All that stands between me and keeping my life together is this one, ever-shifting factor that could make it all better. As it turns out, the problem isn't the situation; the problem is me."

The woman admits she has never been someone who cleans up in little breaks. Instead, she leaves empty cans on the window sill and is constantly wondering if she might "fit one more thing on the pile of trash."

Laundry is also getting complicated at times.

"Laundry rarely gets to the washer without a multi-stop tour of my floor."

Unfortunately, no matter how hard she attempted to improve, the cleaning tasks just kept escaping her focus.

"It's not that I never clean. I simply wait until I get the time and energy to clean everything. I couldn't figure out why I would sometimes focus on cleaning, and other times I would step over the same dirty sock for one week," she explained.

As time went by, she began questioning why other people didn't seem to have this issue. "My house is always in a state of 'I'll get to that later.'"

The trash piling up wasn't just an uncomfortable sight; it also filled her with "an undercurrent of shame."

"And then I was diagnosed with ADHD, and everything made sense. I had ADHD as a child; I still have ADHD as a mom. In retrospect, it was obvious. While I suspected it, I was scared to seek a diagnosis. Instead, I internalized the idea that I couldn't complete tasks because I was lazy," the mother shared.

Rhiannon got the diagnosis right before turning 40, so this was an opportunity to take a step back and reconsider the bigger picture. And she realized that "a mess isn't an emergency, nor is it a moral failing."

The point was to stop blaming herself and avoid feeling like she was failing daily, and understand what was keeping her back from achieving her goals.

"I don't need to feel ashamed of the mess, but I need to recognize how it holds me back. I often point out to my kids that our difficulties are 'a reason, not an excuse.'"

She actually likes having a neat and tidy house, and the constant mess around her was slowly turning into stress and anxiety. Taking it gradually has helped her cope with the situation, and while a whole-house clean-up seems daunting at the moment, there are certainly times when she can get the energy to make her house look cozy.

"Sometimes I need to figure out what can help at the moment — for instance; at times; I work from a couch because my house is too messy. Later, I will clean 'just a little bit.' I try to convince myself it's ok to do only the dishes — it's a start anyway. I don't have to wait for the ideal time to clean the entire house," she said.

As she adapts to daily chores while motivating herself, the mother now understands that she is still a valuable person even if some part of cleaning up is left waiting or undone.

"I'm happier when my house is clean. My goal is to move toward my values, not shame. I am not less of a mother, woman, or person when school supplies and junk mail cover the table," she concluded.




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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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