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Mental Health and Regulation: Trying to Maintain Self-care While Moving

My husband and I have been moving this week, and our move has been quite stressful. You hear that something always goes wrong, sure, but when things repeatedly go wrong, one thing after another, it feels like your whole world is crumbling. And there’s so much to do that it’s easy to neglect the things that matter the most. Like practicing self-care.

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

It all started with having only one week to move. When we thought we’d have three. When we thought we’d have time to pack the old house and to get the new house ready. To paint the walls and to redo the floors. To make arrangements for the patio doors to be replaced and for the electrician to come. For someone to shock our algae-laden pool that the previous owners left untouched. It seemed everywhere I turned something needed to be done. And it became quickly overwhelming.

Whenever I’m immersed in a project like this, I’m in full go-mode. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I’m on autopilot until I crash. Surviving off of caffeine and what little food I’m able to stomach. Disconnecting from my emotions and from myself. It’s how I’ve always been and why my mental health suffers when I’m involved at this level. It’s why I try not to get to this level. This very intense, manic-like level. Where I work like a machine. Where my self-care needs are not met. 

The Move

Our move started to go downhill the day before our movers came when I packed my car to drive it to the new house and then it broke down. Thankfully in our driveway. Feeling trapped, I had my first panic attack of the move. My husband drove me to pick up my dad’s car, but by the time I got to my parents’ house, then back to my house and unloaded my car into my dad‘s car, it took hours. Time I didn’t have. After I made a drop off at our new house, I stopped to get us dinner, but because Chipotle didn’t have what I typically order, I was turned off and couldn’t eat. I worked nonstop until I crashed. I think I managed to get about four hours of sleep. Day one of our move and I already wasn’t able to maintain.

The next day, the movers showed up at 7:50 a.m. As much as I had gotten ready the night before, I wasn’t ready for them to be even 10 minutes early. And they were rushing me. One of them came into my yoga room, the room we told them they didn’t need to move anything from, and grabbed my room divider out of my hands. To try to help me even though I told him I had it. I felt so frazzled that I leaned something against a statue that had been my grandma’s and it hit the floor. A piece flew off. And I was immediately triggered. I ran out of the house in tears. He had rushed me. Overwhelmed me. Got into my space. My husband told the movers to take a break, and he comforted me. I sucked it up because we had to get it done. But it was lingering. And there was now tension between the movers and myself.

For the rest of the eight hours it took them to move us, the mover who had rushed me talked back to me. Was snappy with me. Wanted to have a conversation about everything. Small talk I despise, especially when trying to complete a task. He appeared offended by my direct, let’s-get-things-done nature, making him seem even more frustrated with me. My husband had to leave to run a time-sensitive errand, and he got stuck in traffic, so he was gone the majority of the time the movers were at our new house. They were careless with our things. Bumping them into walls to the point that pieces were falling off of our furniture. I wasn’t pleased, but I kept it to myself. At this point, I just wanted to job done.

I don’t remember much more of that day. I must have blocked it out. Still unable to meet my own needs. Still completely unregulated from the activities of the day. And the next few days wouldn’t prove to be much easier.

Our New House

Our new house was built in the 60s and needs some updates. Which we knew. What we didn’t know were the things we didn’t notice during the inspection. Things we never could’ve imagined. Like how, because the original handles are still in the shower, one of them gets too hot when the hot water is on. So you burn your hand every time you turn it. Or how the doors are too low to the ground to close over rugs or carpet. Or how all the closet doors are broken. Or how the electrical outlets won’t hold on to plugs. So the plugs randomly fall out. Which means that fans are shutting off. Equipment is running out. Making me want to flip out. We couldn’t even install our washer and dryer because the right plugs weren’t in place.

Even what had been updated isn’t working out. We have a brand-new kitchen, which was one of the things that sold us on the house. A kitchen that looks bright and shiny, but has a dark side. The kitchen cabinets are coming apart. Pieces are actually falling off. And, after putting all our things onto the shelves, I noticed one was dipping in the middle. Ready to cave. So now we’re afraid they may not even be bolted in properly. The sink’s faucet won’t allow us to attach a water filter. Which would be okay if we hadn’t taken out the screen thinking we could attach it, which broke, so now the water sprays everywhere. Our fridge is smaller than we’re used to, so we don’t have enough space to put our food. 

With no air conditioning, we went to open windows, but all the screens had been taken out. The screens were in the basement, but the piping had been removed that holds the screens in place. Metal piping in windows from the 60s. And when it was removed, it bent. My mom and I tried to get the screens back in, and my mom was able to get a few, but some windows wouldn’t even open. So now, in the middle of summer, we have no air and we can’t open most windows. We bought a dehumidifier for the house and it read 85 percent humidity. We’re essentially cooking. Something I don’t handle well. 

What’s Causing Me to Be Unregulated

Without air in the house, my body overheats quickly. And when my temperature is unregulated, my thoughts are too. My body can’t handle it. Things get overlapped. Lost. My body holds the heat. It swells. I feel like I’m bursting, ready to erupt. Like a volcano. No amount of water or exercise helps. Diet does, so at least that’s something I can control. But even taking a cold shower overstimulates me. So if I try to take a cold shower at night to cool off, it wakes me up again. So I either have to go to bed overheated or wide awake.

Through the windows we were able to open, I can hear my neighbors’ noises. Something I try to avoid. I like the air conditioning on and the windows shut because it helps me keep noise out. And I run box fans to block any noise I may have missed. I create my own noise-friendly environment. To feel safe. But in this house I have not been able to. So I don’t feel safe. From trucks passing by. From trees being cut down. From neighbors mowing their lawns and using their blowers. From all the things I was hoping to escape in our new house.

I’m having a difficult time taking care of myself during this move. I’m high maintenance enough; I don’t need a high-maintenance house too. I’m trying to practice self-care to stay regulated. To drink water, to exercise, to follow my sensory diet, to rest, to eat right. But while things still continue to go astray, my attempts become fainter and fainter. Sometimes it’s hard to be well when everything feels like it’s going wrong.

But while I may find myself often sitting on the floor crying, I guess at least I’m still getting back up. And taking care of myself when I can. And even with all its current problems, I know I am blessed to have a beautiful new home to take care of myself in. 

Image by Evren Ozdemir from Pixabay

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Mental Health and Regulation: Trying to Maintain Self-care While Moving

Jenna Grace

Jenna Grace is a neurodivergent writer and educator with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) diagnoses. She writes and speaks about topics including neurodiversity and SPD in order to help others and to explore new meaning. Visit her website or Twitter, @jennagracewrite.

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APA Reference
Grace, J. (2019). Mental Health and Regulation: Trying to Maintain Self-care While Moving. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Jun 2019
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