Whimsy Manor – a lesson in anxiety

On Friday settlement went through for my former home, the somewhat amusingly titled Whimsy Manor. I owned Whimsy Manor for twelve years, most of which were filled with a sense of having compromised and being very anxious around maintenance issues. I bought Whimsy Manor in 2008 because I wasn’t assertive. I moved to Canberra in 2007 and shared a house with someone who turned out to be a horrible bully. If this happened now I would simply say ‘screw you, I’m moving out’ and go to another rental but then I was afraid of the bully’s reaction. I figured I had to buy a property to escape from her without upsetting her. At this stage I had only been working full-time for less than two years and didn’t have a lot of money for a deposit. I had two criteria for a property – it needed to be near a bus route and cheap. I only looked at four properties and realised what was to become Whimsy Manor satisfied with my strict and limited criteria. I didn’t like it and there was evidence of water damage in the bedroom and kitchen but I figured I had no choice. It was bullying and being controlled or buying a property I didn’t really want. I bought the property.

At first things went sort of OK. I didn’t like my property but it hadn’t done anything horrible yet. Then in 2009 the flat upstairs had a leak form their shower. The damp came down my kitchen wall and my anxiety went through the roof. This was not helped by the fact that the owner of the flat above was reluctant to fix it. 

Finally that issue got fixed but soon afterwards something worse happened. My shower was leaking through the wall. I saw water marks in the bedroom. I called a plumber and they said my shower would need replacing. I didn’t have a lot of savings so this was a big deal. I got quotes for showers but I didn’t know what I needed. My anxiety was off the chart. When the tiller and plumber finally did their job one of them made a mistake. They both blamed each other. I didn’t care who was responsible but I did care that there was a huge hole in my bathroom where the shower should be for some weeks. Not having many close friends that I felt comfortable asking to use their shower I washed with a bucket of warm water, soap and a flannel. I started to catastrophise that the apartment would be destroyed and I would be left with a mortgage on an uninhabitable property. The anxiety was constant. For me anxiety had an additional little quirk. If I get really anxious over a period of time I develop psychosis. This is what happened in 2010. It happened gradually so I didn’t realised that I was in trouble. Eventually I ended up in hospital. I was unwell for another three years, 

Then something happened which was a gift from the heavens – Mr Kitty came into my life. In early 2013 I asked a friend who was a cat rescue woman to find me a kitty. She did and Mr Kitty became my chief therapist and best friend. He was an indoors only kitty so when I came home from work he would be there for me with purrs and smooches. A transformation happened. I started to call my compromise apartment with the leaks and water damage Whimsy Manor. I put art up all over the walls. The apartment became a friend and a good thing. Mr Kitty was the essence of Whimsy Manor. I avoided taking time off work for mental illness for another six years.

Late last year I was talking with a levelly friend. She put an idea in my mind. It was both a good and a bad Idea. The good bit was that I could sell Whimsy Manor and buy a nicer one. The bad bit was that as Whimsy Manor was over 40 years old it would probably soon need ongoing maintenance. At that moment I decided to buy another one. I knew I needed a new kitchen as mine was original with the unit and one of the doors was missing. I researched kitchen renovations and booked a company to do it. This was very stressful but I was determined to be OK. It would have been fine but for the kitchen sink. The kitchen was a non standard shape and I needed to order a special sink. The plumber assured me it wold be there but the day they did the renovation it had not arrived. I was horrified. What is the taps somehow came on and there was no sink? It would flood the kitchen! I was very stressed. Added to this I was having trouble at work and I had just started on ADHD meds which people with schizophrenia – like me – are not recommenced to take, even if my psychiatrist thought it was OK. The outcome was that I spent the next eight months very unwell and in hospital and residential services. I didn’t work for six months.

I was still determined to sell Whimsy Manor and buy a new one. Possibly ill-advisedly, when I was about to be discharged from hospital, I contacted a real estate agent. He advised me to get the Whimsy Manor painted and carpeted and then put it on the market. He recommended living in a rental wile this was happening so that is what I did. I moved into the rental a week before I was discharged. My anxiety about Whimsy Manor decreased through my not living there. Tragically Mr Kitty passed away in February. This left a big void at Whimsy Manor. It lost all its character. I just wanted it gone. The last vestiges of homeliness had gone with the passing of its most important inhabitant.  

My experience of putting Whimsy Manor on the market was amazing. It was advertised on 26 June and settlement was on 14 August – just six weeks later. Selling a property is very stressful. The day of settlement I was filled with extreme anxiety but I’m feeling much happier now. I am relieved that it is gone. I feel like Frodo after the One Ring was thrown into Mount Doom!

I don’t know if when I buy a new house I will be so anxious. I am anxious about my rental so possibly it will be similarly challenging. It makes me realise I need to use strategies to manage anxiety rather than avoiding any stressful situations. I will be buying a more recent apartment so maintenance is likely to be less of an issue. I am actually looking forward to finding my new home. I think buying will be less stressful than selling. Selling property has lots of variables, most of which are outside the seller’s control. I have had a very stressful six weeks and am very glad Whimsy Manor is no longer mine.  And yes, autistic people with schizophrenia can buy – and sell – property. I am grateful to have my lovely job which gives me the opportunity to buy property. Not a day goes by when I’m not appreciative of that. 

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