Anxiety Hack: Visual Organization for Mental Organization

“Holy fuck.” I cuss under my breath, running around the house, jumping from one task to another.

“Is everything okay?” my partner asks. He already knows the answer to this since he’s seen this before on multiple occasions.

“The clutter is driving me crazy. I have a million things to do. I have to get groceries, do laundry, pack Arya’s lunch for school. Shit, I still need to RSVP to that birthday party she’s going to.” I groan and put my hands on my face as if to slow down my brain which is currently in rapid fire mode.

“Sam,” My partner starts using his dom voice so he knows I’m paying attention. I take my hands on my face and look at him. “first I need you to take a deep breath.”

I do as I’m told.

“Good girl.” He smiles and pulls out his phone, opening his notepad. “Okay, what are all the things you need to do tonight.”


I’ve never been the most organized person. Ask my dad and step mom. I was a young teenager when I made the decision to move to their house to flee my mother’s crushing grip on my life. My room was utter chaos. If it ever did manage to get cleaned, it lasted no more than a week. It drove them absolutely crazy.

Me? I was fine with it. I would sleep soundly every night next to my purse, game cases, papers, textbooks, clothes and a collection of other things. That was just my bed. My floor was an even layer of all of the above amongst other things.

Motherhood changed me. Which is ironic when you think about it. Someone once told me ‘Trying to clean the house when you have a child is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos’. I’ve never heard something more accurate. Trying to teach a 4 year old to clean up after themselves is an uphill battle. She’s getting there. More on that another day.

I have major control issues and I acknowledge that. The state of my house is the one thing that I do feel as though I have control over. If I don’t have order, I lose it. Pile work, groceries, and other day to day responsibilities on top of that? Prepare for a panic attack.

When I was with a previous partner, if I didn’t go to the grocery store, we wouldn’t have food (though if we were needing something for that night or the next morning he would run out and get it. I more so mean big grocery shops). If I didn’t do the dishes, they sat in the sink. If I didn’t do laundry, then no one would have clothes for the week. I had been so overwhelmed that I gave up. I had lost control. Anxiety spiraled into depression. That’s when I had been at my absolute lowest. It got to a point where I was no longer taking care of myself. Any energy I had left was making sure my child’s needs were met. While she was fed, clothed and happy, I still wasn’t the mother I had wanted to be.

My current partner does a vocal list as he pats himself down every time he leaves the house:

“Cell phone, keys, wallet, vape, vape fluid.”

If anything from that list of must-haves for the day is missing, he’s able to catch it right there. I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve been halfway to work and I was missing at least one of those things and had to turn back around. Once we started living together, I never forgot anything at home again.

My roommate at the time purchased a large dry erase board. He would write down any short term or long term tasks he would need to complete. It helped him organize his day to day life and to keep himself on track. We were welcome to use it too, so my partner would start making lists of things we would need to do. If it was cleaning, he would write down everything I said that needed to be tidied, wiped down and washed. He wrote down when we had places to go, things we needed to buy. He would then split up all of the tasks between the both of us that I was originally going to take on myself.

Every day seemed to get easier and easier. Anxiety attacks would get few and far in between. For the first time in 4 years I could feel my head start to clear. I had more energy to spend on being an emotionally available mother, as well as the time to spend on myself.

Every time I would get close to an emotional overload, he would grab a dry erase marker (or open his phones memo pad if we weren’t home) and write down all the tasks that need to be completed.

I had never really considered the impact of seeing all my thoughts written out. No overwhelming fear that I’m going to forget something, or god forbid, that I won’t sit down until 11pm. It has made my life increasingly less difficult. For once I finally feel like I have control of something.


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