Mess of Woe

"I remember you dressed in pale blue silk at Mass one Easter morning, yes, like a lady wearing a—piece of the—weather! Oh, how proudly you walked, too proudly!—But now you crouch and shuffle about barefooted; you live like a convict, dressed in the rags of a convict."
Father de Leo, The Rose Tattoo

A character is growing the Beard of Sorrow and indulging Drowning My Sorrows in his woe — both so seriously he Forgets to Eat. Naturally, he's not going to be picking up after himself.

May overlap Men Can't Keep House, because this trope is more male than female. Can also involve Rage Against the Reflection.

Compare Trash of the Titans, Seriously Scruffy and Room Full of Crazy. See also Skewed Priorities.


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  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: In 1973, Charles' neglect of his mansion is a reflection of how utterly forlorn he is. His bedroom and study are extremely cluttered, plus the grass on his estate is overgrown. Hank does his best to clean up some of the mess that Xavier carelessly leaves behind (at one point we see McCoy picking up empty liquor bottles).
  • A rare female example occurs in P.S. I Love You after the protagonist's husband dies. She stops leaving the house, eschews bathing or cleaning up the piling trash and dishes in favor of slumping around in her dead husband's shirts, reenacting old movies line-by-line. (Luckily he knew she'd react this way and has set a plan in motion to snap her out of it.)

     Fan Works  

  • In Child of the Storm, Harry shows signs of descending into this in chapter 72, and not without excellent reason. He saw the still warm corpse of Luna, who he'd been trying to protect - and consequently blamed himself for not instantly shutting off the HYDRA troops as soon as they came into range - went into a full-on firefight, was killed by being stabbed through the heart before being violently resurrected by the Phoenix, which then went on a rampage, barely eating, barely leaving his room and apparently not bathing. Carol snaps him out of it - and makes him take a shower.
  • In Your Servant Mistress, Maleficent shows mild signs of this. A wilted potted plant and the fact that she seems to eat only noodles with tomato sauce are the most prominent indicators. It seems to have been the normal state of things ever since Stefan raped her. She gets better.


  • Happens to Harry Dresden in the space between the books Grave Peril and Summer Knight in The Dresden Files due to traumatic events in Grave Peril. Not that it was especially tidy to begin with, Harry being a perennial bachelor who doesn't receive many guests.
  • In Stephen King's Misery, Paul escapes from his room again after Annie has gone to her "Laughing Place." The house is a complete mess, due to Annie's having entered the depressive state of her manic-depressive disorder.
  • In Gottes Bodenpersonal:Eine Unwahrscheinliche Liebesgeschichte, both main characters enter this state of mind. While the psychologically healthy one merely loses his appetite and forgets to eat because he's worried, the other one, who has lots of issues, becomes a complete mess, unshaved, looking like a skeleton, and his flat is a mess, too. The other protagonist quickly remedies this when he comes for a visit.
  • In Bored of the Rings, this is why Sorhed's ex-wife Mazola became known as Schlob.

     Live Action TV  

  • In The BBC's The Musketeers Athos's room is full of many, many empty wine bottles, which are, aside from the bed (and a Mythology Gag to the book), the only decoration.
  • Bernard Black of Black Books is both unhealthily untidy and unhealthily attached to his assistant. When Manny resigns, the shop descends into biohazard territory, while Bernard himself nearly dies from a diet of slug pellets, oven cleaner and raw coffee.
    "Go round the green binbags. Then right till you get to the mouldy George Elliot. Then right, forward, forward, and then it's left at the dead badger."


  • In The Rose Tattoo, Serafina dresses herself very properly while her husband is alive. However, after he dies, she doesn't leave her house for years and wears only a dirty pink slip, having grown too fat to fit into her former clothes.

     Video Games  

  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen's apartment is a complete mess. Although the game implies he's also depressed about his unwilling augmentation as well as finding out his dog got euthanized not just about Megan's death.

     Visual Novel  

  • Happens to Takayuki in Rumbling Hearts after Haruka falls into coma. If it weren't for Mitsuki, his place would have been even worse off.

     Web Comics  

     Truth In Television  

  • Depression saps your will and makes doing simple things feel much harder than they are, seem pointless, or both. Cleaning can go the way of grooming.