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Jokamo's story

I don't really know where to start. I have a lot in common with many of the Squalor Survivors members: Bipolar, PTSD, OCD, chaotic childhood, failed first marriage, lots of shame. I have a Master of Science in Nursing, emphasis Community Health, and have worked ICU several years. Right now, I have qualified for social security disability, which should start next month. I'm only 37, and it seems like I'm at the end of my rope.

I have a great husband, a wonderful man I will call KungFu Husband. He's funny, we love each other, and he is the reason I don't feel like a complete failure. Neither of us has any children, even though we would like to, but I can't see me even being able to take care of a cat or a houseplant right now.

I am the oldest of three, have a younger brother who has gone back to school (Yay Lawschool!) and a sister (the youngest at 30) who has a PhD in pharmacy. The night our father died, our sister was spending the night with our parents. Daddy just fell out of bed, massive heart attack, and was gone in seconds...but she was the one who was there, trying to do CPR, begging him not to be gone. That was horrible for her, and sent her into a tailspin that she's been struggling to pull out of for more than a year now. It's been pretty hard on the rest of us, too, dealing with our own grief and trying to handle hers as well.

Very seldom has my living space ever been "nice." More like a revolting, smelly disaster with unwelcome surprises at every turn. During my first marriage, I'd say our home hovered back and forth between level 3 and level 4 squalor. KFH and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment in a just-barely-rundown complex. It's actually a nice place, with plenty of friendly people and not a lot of ruckus, which is good in a college town.

I spend a lot of time not knowing whether to laugh or cry because of my mess. I want to keep a spotless house, like my mom. I know all the health reasons that my mess is bad. I am so lucky that KFH does not fuss about it; he just steps over the piles, helps me clean from time to time, and tells me he loves me every day. I would be very proud to have the place really nice when he comes in from work. Sometimes I don't feel up to cooking, so he brings burgers home; sometimes the kitchen is impossible to cook in, so he brings burgers home.

We eat a lot of freaking burgers!

I'm tired of it. I know that the disability checks will almost double our monthly income, which we can use to pay down some of our debt and hopefully be able to afford better groceries, like fresh fruits and vegetables. But it won't matter if we have healthier groceries if we can't get to the fridge because there are piles of garbage in the way. I want to do better, both for KFH's sake and my own. Hopefully I can learn from Squalor Survivors and find a permanent way out of the grossness.