A woman offered free house-cleaning for people with depression, and the tweet went viral amid soaring mental illness rates

A woman offered free house-cleaning for people with depression, and the tweet went viral amid soaring mental illness rates
Mica Binkley
  • Depression rates are soaring in the US during the pandemic.
  • People with depression can feel trapped in a vicious cycle of low energy, making menial tasks overwhelming.
  • Mica Binkley, who lives in Memphis and has struggled with depression, decided to offer help to others, and her tweet went viral.

Mica Binkley, a Twitter user in Memphis, offered to clean people's homes if they're struggling with a depressive episode, and the tweet went viral.

Binkley has just over 1,000 followers, but her tweet got over 37,000 likes over 7,000 retweets.

Twitter users praised the 29-year-old - some people were inspired to retweet and offer the same services, and some send her money for cleaning supplies.
Experts told Insider there's a reason it resonated. While a pandemic can bring a lot of stress and tragedy, it can also motivate people to help others.

Around 17.3 million people in the US have had at least one major depressive episode, according to a 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. And rates of depression have risen in the pandemic.

While some people with depression can go to work, many have trouble starting menial tasks, Craig Sawchuk, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic, told Insider. But there are steps you can take to pull yourself out of the haze.

Binkley knows what it's like: she developed depression after experiencing birth control side effects

Six years ago, Binkley got a Depo-Provera birth control shot and the side effects took a toll: she lost her hair, gained 52 pounds, and, as a result, became depressed.

"And from there, it was the downward spiral," Binkley told Insider. Binkley avoided friends, stayed in bed for days at a time, and stopped cleaning her room. This dark period lasted two years.

After a depressive episode, Binkley said she would find herself in a messy room and say to herself: "'Why did I let it get this bad? I'm disgusting and nasty.' And then, of course, the negative self-talk literally can trigger another episode."

Binkley's idea came from a video she saw on TikTok in late March of a little boy cooking. In the comments, people were critiquing his dirty stove.

It stung Binkley, who thought of all those low moments, before she recovered from depression with psychotherapy, when cleaning the stove feels like an insurmountable task. She thought of the boy and his family, and the strong chance, given the rising rates of mental illness across the US, that his parents may also be stuck in that vicious cycle. So she decided to offer help.

When Binkley wrote the tweet, she thought it would circulate in Memphis, but it went viral in an hour.

The majority of cleaning requests have come from college students, and some Twitter users asked for help in a reply.

Binkley plans on cleaning in four-hour shifts on the weekends. Her first shift is this weekend, and she plans on volunteering for the foreseeable future.
Overall, she wants people going through depression to know: "You're loved, we need you here, and just hang tight."

Why basic tasks can feel overwhelming when you've had a depressive episode

The vicious cycle that Binkley described is common for people with depression, Sawchuk told Insider.

Depression, he said, is downregulating emotion, draining your energy and motivation, which then impairs your ability to do menial tasks.

"The 'why bother?' feeling leads to 'why bother?' thinking and then leads to 'why bother?' doing," Sawchuk said.

Start small, plan a shower, and schedule regular Zoom calls with friends

Sawchuk said rather than wait until you're in a good mood to do tasks, doing tasks can make you in a good mood. Even if your entire house is a mess, Sawchuk said to start small and tackle a specific area for 10 minutes.

"It's less about how much you get done, and more about engagement. That's really the key to get started." You can also make cleaning more fun by Zooming with a friend or playing music, Sawchuk said.

Another step is to start your day with a shower and get dressed. "Even if that's all you do, that is way better than staying in your pajamas for most of the day," Sawchuk said.

Sawchuk said to also identify healthy relationships in your life and schedule regular Zoom meetings.

Beyond chores and starting a routine, Sawchuk said your primary care doctor can refer you to counseling or prescribe medication.