“Woeful Washing: A Quick Step Laundry Guide for People with Depression” by Jamie Damm

Woeful Washing: A Quick Step Laundry Guide for People with Depression

Average Completion Time: Between 2.15 hours and 23 days

1. Identify that you need to do laundry. It may take a while for you to have enough dirty clothes because you’ve been rotating between two pairs of sweatpants, an old marching band long sleeve, and a pullover sweater your ex gave you during your freshman year of college. It doesn’t smell like them anymore, but you always wear it when you get into a mood like this. Stalk their mom’s Instagram page, even though it’s been two years, but don’t text them. It’s too late to give back the sweater anyway. Seriously, don’t send the text. Once you have accumulated enough clothes to need to do your laundry, wait approximately five days. Remember you need to do laundry, but it’s 1:37 A.M. and you’ve been watching TikToks for the past 51 minutes. Forget again. Wake up ten hours later with no memory of laundry. Repeat twice.


2. Once you remember you need to do laundry during the day, it’s a Tuesday. Your busiest day of the week. There isn’t enough time to do it in between your morning and afternoon Zoom classes, and you usually take a nap and walk the dog before your Tuesday night class. Your mom tells you “it’s good to get out of the house and get some fresh air”. You don’t even want to get out of bed. You don’t do the laundry.


3. It’s the weekend now and it feels like you have all the time in the world. You resolve to start on your homework before Sunday night. It doesn’t happen; you’ve never been good at change. Go to Target without a list and spend way too much money buying pint-sized Ben & Jerry’s, but damnit you deserve this. Sit in the parking lot and eat Half-Baked right out of the container. Afterwards, you feel disgusting. At dinner that night, you push around your food and your parents ask you to stop mumbling, please. You can’t help your voice is monotone. Sometimes, even talking feels like an effort.


4. When your room smells vaguely musty and your mom threatens to take your car away unless you start the laundry immediately, you know it’s time to start. You don’t know why she adds the car part in, it’s not like you can go anywhere in a pandemic. Read the tags/labels on your clothes. This is only necessary when you have new clothes. The t-shirts and shorts you’ve had since high school wash the same. You don’t really care either way.


5. Sort your clothes, dividing by color and material. Whites, pastels, and light grays into one pile and deeper colors (black, red, navy, brown) into another. Or don’t. In five minutes, they’re all going to be wet regardless. Take your clothes and put them into your hamper. Grab your phone and headphones before heading downstairs. Shuffle your music library between old Eminem, Hozier, and half of Taylor Swift’s album folklore.


6. As you load the clothes into the washer, turn the shirts if they’re inside out. Same with the socks. Find the shorts you thought went missing; they were just buried in the bottom of a pile of clothes in the back corner of your room. Find the sweatpants with the plum juice stain you got two weeks ago and remember how recently, every time you pick up a utility knife at work you imagine it gliding across your skin. Reassure yourself you wouldn’t actually do anything. Still, tell your best friend it scares you. It does. Then, tell your parents and how you really need to go back to therapy. Your mom makes a list of therapists and gives it to you after dinner. Call the first name the next morning. Pretend like this is different from the time in 6th grade when your English teacher saw your wrists and called your parents or the summer after 9th grade when you smashed a glass bottle against concrete and pressed the pieces into your palms.


a. A note on stains: if your clothes have a stain on it, use the Tide Spot Stick before putting it in the wash. This will usually work. If the stain is blood (sometimes when you’re anxious, you pick at the skin on your shoulders), soak in ice water before washing it. Try to ignore it when the blood doesn’t come out of your shirts.


7. Press all the right buttons (extra large load, cold/cold wash) for the water to start flowing into the washer. Grab the bottle of detergent and pour one 2/3 cupful onto your clothes, moving in a counterclockwise direction. The measurement does not have to be exact. Rinse the Arm and Hammer-blue stain from the cup under the cold water. Close the lid of the washer.


8. Do not set a timer; it will be done in about an hour. Remember how the washers at school would only take 30 minutes for washers and 30 minutes in the dryer. Try not to think about what you would be doing at school, if you were there. Fail.


9. If it’s the morning, lay on your bed aimlessly, definitely procrastinating your homework. If it’s the afternoon, do the same, but take a nap. Sleep for 15 minutes or 2 hours. It’s your choice. You end up staying up too late anyway, you could use the sleep. If you do fall asleep, you will wake up by your mother pounding on your door. It’s an afternoon alarm you know well. Tell her how depression makes you tired, she will not understand how you are half-joking and half-serious.


10. Slump downstairs, bleary-eyed. Pull your damp clothes from the washer, stuck together by mildew, and throw them into the dryer. Do not use a dryer sheet, even though your parents do, you do not see the point to them. Set the dryer for 50 minutes. They will be warm when they come out. When you pull on a newly dried shirt, the warmth of it makes you smile for the first time in days.


11. Either fold your clothes right away, rolling your shirts and placing them in pyramid stacks on your bed, or forget about them for about one or three hours. If this happens, the clothes probably won’t get folded and put away, but they’ll stay in the hamper on the floor of your room, clean. Really put in effort to take your clothes out of the dryer right after it finishes.

Fold all of your clothes, remind yourself to try to match up your socks. You’ve been meaning to get better at that. Put the clean clothes away into your dresser drawers. The dirty clothes on the floor still need to be washed; you’ll need to do another load of laundry. This time start on it right away.


12. Congratulate yourself on doing laundry. Repeat as necessary.