Sometime in the past week or so, I hit a funk. I decided to catch a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning and it quickly became a few extra hours. It can easily be dismissed as having a lazy day. Or a lazy week. Or a month. It doesn’t bother me that much, at first at least. It only bothers me when it gets out of hand.
The reasons behind the funks can vary, but the feeling is always the same: Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Tired. Frustrated. In summary, not giving a fuck. I stopped giving a fuck years ago, but the feeling is more aggressive nowadays. When you can go without taking a quick shower for three days, you know you’ve reached peak apathy. It’s also the time when you know that you need to take a goddamn bath.
It’s clear at this point that the funks need to be addressed, but they always take a backseat to everything else. It didn’t seem like too much of an issue. It can be worked around, or helped out with other things. It’s no big deal.
And then I couldn’t write a damn thing.
* * *
It’s hard enough to find the time to write. It’s even worse when you can’t find the motivation. The funk muddles the process, makes it excruciating to get through. It’s a miracle to concentrate on anything for more than a minute. I stare at the screen, willing the words to arrive before I give up and move on to something else. Anything else. Even then, the breaks turn into a distraction from getting anything done, then to an excuse to not do anything at all.
Part of it is the perfectionist in me. I get so caught up in the idea of what I want to write that I get nothing done. The other part is that I live in a house that is never quiet. Calm has no place in this house when family is in it. I’m used to chaos, but this chaos has no order. It shows no mercy and for what I know, there’s no end to it. After a while, despite my struggles, the chaos seeps into my calm and warps it into something disgusting. Something toxic. Writing becomes the last thing I want to do.
* * *
It doesn’t take long for the funk to manifest itself. My bedroom serves as an indicator of what I’m going through. When it gets bad—when I can’t walk the two feet from my bed to my door without tripping over whatever the hell my cat knocked over this time—that’s the sign that I’m in a bad place.
I was scrolling aimlessly through my Facebook feed two summers ago when I came to this realization. A friend who was probably going through her own funk mentioned how the state of your room usually represents the state of your mind. It spoke to me for obvious reasons; my bedroom was currently a biohazard and I was behind on my writing. Before I came across the post, I never fully considered that my lack of motivation could be something else.
It was in the comments of that post that I found the solution to that problem. A minor solution, at least.
* * *
Once you get past the title of the website, Unfuck Your Habitat is a helpful kick in the ass. Browse long enough and you’ll come across a section titled “The Depression/Messy House Cycle”. I don’t recall finding the page on my first visit; I remember looking it up on Tumblr and finding post after post of before and after photos of bedrooms, kitchens, closets. I came across a challenge that sounded like a good place to start: make your bed as soon as you wake up.
The morning after, I started making my bed. The first attempt was sloppy; the bedsheet was hanging off my mattress haphazardly, the pillows were lumpy and in need of pillowcases, and an eighth of it was taken up by books and clothes I haven’t bothered to put away yet. But it was still an attempt.
Over time, I started putting in more of an effort. I tucked in the sheets. I removed the large pile of books from the foot of my bed to its proper place on my desk. Eventually, I began making efforts to keep my desk organized, put my clothes away properly, vacuum the floor. The room was still messy, but I could at least see the bottom of my floor now.
* * *
On the worst day of my current funk, I spent the better part of my morning staring aimlessly into space under the guise of watching terrible movies. Maybe it was the movie itself or I got tired of doing nothing, but whatever the reason I reached for my phone, set the timer for twenty minutes, and began clearing the floor. I set the timer a few more times, cleaning up the room until I got tired of setting the timer.
Obviously, tidying up your space doesn’t solve everything. It helps me get out of my funk, but it doesn’t keep it from returning. I’m still in that funk from last week, and while I’m back to getting out of bed the moment I wake up, it’s still a struggle to focus on the important things. It’s still a process, but I’m okay with that.
Lily Caraballo is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles and a figure model. She is a staff member of Lunch Ticket, a former contributor for Black Girl Nerds, and is featured in the anthology My Body, My Words: A Collection of Bodies. She lives in Los Angeles with her cat.