Schizoaffective Disorder Makes it Hard to Clean My Home

May 30, 2019 Elizabeth Caudy

My schizoaffective disorder makes it hard for me to clean my home. I do little things here and there, though. I regularly take out the garbage and the recycling and I do a bit of dusting. But it’s not enough. My apartment is still very messy. It’s messy to the point where my husband Tom and I don’t have people over. It’s really embarrassing to say to friends, “We can’t have you over because our apartment is too messy.” We just don’t invite friends over.

Because of My Schizoaffective Disorder, I Don’t Trust Myself to Clean

I’m not sure why my schizoaffective disorder affects my ability to clean my apartment. It’s as if I don’t know how to clean. I think part of this is because in my 20s when I should have been learning to take care of a home, I was living with my parents and grappling with the very debilitating diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.

Another problem is that I don’t trust myself. I’m afraid I’ll do the cleaning “wrong.” My therapist has pointed out to me that there is no wrong way to clean. Still, I’m afraid.

I feel that I’m the one who should do the cleaning, not because I’m the woman and Tom’s the man but because Tom works full-time and I don’t. Also, Tom does the cooking and I don’t know how to cook.

So, as I said before, I do my best to do what I can with the garbage and the recycling. Even just doing that causes my schizoaffective anxiety to flare up—but I do it anyway. Dusting and sweeping are two things I should be doing more, but, to be perfectly honest, doing them scares me. I don’t know why. I do try my best to tackle them when I can.

It doesn’t help that, lately, my schizoaffective depression is so bad I can barely get out of bed. My anxiety and depression feed off of each other. I did get up to write this article today, though, so that’s something.

I’m Embarrassed My Schizoaffective Disorder Keeps Me from Cleaning

It’s been embarrassing to write this article. I feel as though I sound like a lazy slob. At the same time, the fact that it’s embarrassing is exactly why I had to write it. I’m sure other people’s mental illnesses make it hard for them to clean—or to do other simple things, like showering and washing their hair. If you have trouble practicing basic self-care or doing simple tasks, I would love to read about your difficulties or suggestions in the comments below.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2019, May 30). Schizoaffective Disorder Makes it Hard to Clean My Home, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, December 6 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

December, 5 2020 at 6:24 pm

I have Schizoaffective disorder as well. I have no motivation to clean my house and it is awful and nasty. I don't feel so alone after reading this article. Sometimes I can barely cope with basic life skills. Other times I do ok. I wish you all the best as you navigate these choppy waters that are mental illness.

December, 7 2020 at 11:23 am

Dear Rebecca, Thank you for your comment. I am so glad reading my article made you feel less alone. I wish you all the best, too! --Elizabeth

Nicky H.
January, 10 2020 at 6:43 am

I’m really going through it too. I was never a good cleaner, but now it’s just non-existent. I hate that my husband has to do everything but my avolition is so severe that I can’t do anything at all. And my personal grooming is out the window. I used to be meticulous when it comes to my appearance. Now I’m lucky if I change my clothes in the week. Schizoaffective disorder has stolen my life.

June, 17 2019 at 12:20 pm

My house is filthy and I have no motivation whatsoever. Even though I know that the house being dirty makes my depression and anxiety worse, I still can't deal with it.

June, 4 2019 at 5:00 pm

You are not lazy. I have many of the same difficulties showering and drying my hair. I also struggle with cleaning my apartment. I thought I was lazy but I am not because I obsess on how I can do these things and stay safe. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences. You give me hope because you do write this column and by reading your experiences I have hope. Thank you.

June, 3 2019 at 12:00 pm

Hi Elizabeth
I have schizoaffective no-polar type.
I can relate to everything you and Deana wrote. Some of the stuff that has helped me are DBT/CBT skills over many many years. for inspiration and affirmations. I can't keep up with her cleaning plan but I can do some of the stuff she suggests. Decluttering is a big issue for me. She has a simple method of using a timer (15 or 2min) to do tasks. Pacing is important for me because of several medical issues. So this helps me. Not everyday but it helps. She's got such a good message. I have a motto for myself Having a clean house is not a moral issue! I am not a bad person! I don't have people over either. Not just because of the state of my house but because of safety issues. Right now I have to consider having help come in because my HB(hubby) can't keep up with all the care I need and take care of the house. I am terrified! But it needs serious consideration. As far as noise, I get what your saying Deana. I use ear plugs my daughter uses noise cancelling ear phones. I can do this because I have dogs that bark at everything! Lol Can you consider a alarm system?
I want to thank you both for sharing. I'm going to be 65 soon. I've had over 40yrs of therapy and psycho education classes. See if your community mental health agency offers anything like this. The classes helped me more than anything.
God bless you both!

June, 3 2019 at 2:08 pm

Dear Catherine,
Thank you so much for your comment. I like your motto! All the comments I've been getting on this post make me feel that I'm not alone, so thanks for being a part of that! DBT and CBT help me a lot, too. I recently finished a class on DBT, and I've also taken a class on mindfulness, so classes help me, too. Thanks again for your comment!

Deanna deprez
June, 2 2019 at 4:27 am

I rarely clean and when I do, it takes at least 3 hrs to clean my efficiency. Dirty dishes, dirty clothes all over the floor. Filthy bedding. I'm fortunate not to have roaches or bedbugs, because it looks like I should. It's like a huge effort just to get up and get started. But it's so disheartening to look at day in and day out. I'm bipolar 1. I take Klonopin for anxiety and I need it a lot in big part because of the cleaning. My self care just evaporated one day. One day I was showering at least every other day, and now it's up to 7 days. I've always been scrupulous about washing my face but now the lack of showering is causing me not to bother washing my face. I try hard to keep up with the teeth. I'll wear the same clothes for 4 days at a time. I've been having lots of intrusive thoughts that make me so miserable. I've finally decided to get therapy. I'm holding decades of guilt that is interfering with my whole day, every day. Pop up thoughts that I'm bad, have been so rotten in my life.
Well, i enjoyed your article, it helped me. Thank you for listening.

May, 30 2019 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for sharing. I love hearing about your journey and how you cope with everything. I have similar fears when it comes to cleaning. The noise of the Vacuum really bothers me. I don't know why it scares me so much but it is hard to make myself clean because of the sound. I like being able to hear everything and the sound of the vacuum makes it so I can't hear the sounds around me that give me comfort. I don't like not being able to hear if a door opens or if the floor squeaks. I really appreciate your posts. It helps me realize I am not alone in my fears. Thank you for inspiring me.

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