Moving: something that is supposed to allow people a new lease on life (pun intended) and pave the way for some major clean-out/donations. Unless  you have a condition called PPTSD (packing post traumatic stress disorder), of which I have recently added to the long list of other mental health diagnoses I’ve accumulated over the years.

Changing spaces for me is stressful. I enjoy absolutely zero about the process, the people involved, and the heat. Always the heat. No one moves in the dead of winter. For whatever reason, moving only happens in the blazing fires of summertime, when you have the least patience and the most anger. I’m supposed to be packing today, for instance, and instead I am dubiously procrastinating, bitching on paper about how much I hate it. That is how averse I am to the idea. I’d rather complain to myself about moving than actually get started working. I blame it on my long battle with PPTSD.

Honestly, it wouldn’t be as bad if I didn’t have so much worthless crap. It’s not like I’ve accumulated nice pieces of furniture over the years. Everything in my apartment is either donated or bought at a discount. Or donated at a discount.  (On a side note, apparently I’m a cause for donation, kind of like those infomercials you see on TV about the starving kids in some god-forsaken country no one knows the name of. I am worthy of pity. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so broke for so long. Or maybe it’s because my mom didn’t like the idea of me using a sleeping bag and cardboard box as the central elements of my living room feng shui ).

Take the stools in my kitchen for instance. My first college apartment “came with them” (aka left by a previous tenant) and they may or may not have stuck by my side through medical school. And you can be rest assured they are making the trek to residency with me too. They may be the most expensive pieces of furniture I have. Hell, I don’t think I could part with those stolen stools for anything. I came by them honestly.

Artwork? That’s a joke. I think I should have stock in Big Lots due to the amount of crappy prints I’ve garnered of theirs over the past eight years. Stuff you see in hallways in mediocre hotels. Nothing too flashy, nothing too good- always a bargain. What can I say? I’d rather have stupid prints on my walls than nothing at all. Which is probably what the décor manager at these mediocre hotel chains says when she (or he) slaps another “peaceful lake and trees” print up on the wall in front of the elevators. Give people something to take their mind off their ridiculously mediocre surroundings. Bingo! Ladies and gentlemen, my apartment.

I’ve also lived in some crazy places. Some might call them “jail cell” relics. My single apartment in Tallahassee for instance. After all my college friends flew the coop to get jobs or get more degreed, I stuck around and was on my own for the first time ever. Never having lived by myself, I figured the more frugal the better and I could save a ton of money by just taking a vow of poverty for the remainder of my time in Tally. What I happened upon was Collegewood, and anyone who has lived in Tallahassee knows that name. Directly across from the law school, these 12X12 barracks were literally walled with cinder block. I have no clue what possessed me to think living in a dungeon would be conducive to non-depressive thoughts throughout the beginning of medical school. Ironically, living surrounded by stressed-out, amped-up law students was good for my morale. First, it allowed me to seem smart when talking to them because even though I knew nothing of the subject matter I was supposed to be studying, they knew even less and second, it gave me a heads up as to the generation of litigators I would be no doubt facing in the future.  Not necessarily in that order.

I learned a lot about myself during those two years in prison. For instance, there was no central AC in the apartments, and the only form of reprieve from the 100 degree Tallahassee summer heat was a wall unit that was completely energy inefficient. My first utility bill was $200. What was the point of living a life of monk-like poverty if it cost my weight in gold to cool down the place? That was when I decided to cut off the AC during the evening hours, when it dipped to a chilly 85 degrees outside. I think I lost a lot of weight that summer, because my mom may have made some “visible ribcage for the first time since high school” references when she saw me after my boards.

The PPTSD has only gotten worse. I wish I could give some of this stuff accumulated away. It is clearly weighing me down. I am starting to actually pity the movers when, year after year, my amount of “things” increases and, year after year, I refuse to lift a finger as they struggle to load my box full of video cassettes and tapes into the truck. Then there was the year that I had to hire a one-armed mover and his sidekick. Needless to say, my PPTSD has deep roots.

In short, moving should be cathartic. Instead, it’s Satan’s time of glee. I dread sloppily throwing my stuff into garbage bags, loosely packing my plates and cups, taking all the $20 prints off the walls, and blaming the movers for anything that breaks, when it’s clearly my fault. It should be a time for self-reflection, decision making, and selfless giving to those less fortunate. Instead, I have to haggle with myself over giving away the romper I haven’t worn since junior year of high school. Back when rompers weren’t even cute. I have a disease!

I think musical genius and lyrical master Eminem said it best: “Tonight, I’m cleaning out my closet” (of course his was a metaphor for living a life of abuse at the hands of his crazy mom, but I mean it literally). It’s finally time to get down to business and throw away those old scuffed hooker stilettos that got one use at a Halloween party in 2007. Now that I think about it- even those have sentimental value. Nevermind.

Like I said, PPTSD is a real, legitimate disease, and might even make it into the DSM-22. I implore you to help anyone you know who suffers from PPTSD with their issues. The best way to treat: head to their residence, bring them something to eat, and pack up all their stuff for them. I’m telling you, as a doctor, it’s the only way. And be careful with those stools!