Nesting dislocation syndrome is probably not a recognised mental condition. You won’t find it mentioned in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), for example. That bible of psychiatric medicine is now in its fifth reincarnation. But it doesn’t list nesting dislocation syndrome.

Nesting dislocation syndrome
Nesting dislocation syndrome

Nesting dislocation syndrome is nothing like empty nest syndrome. An ’empty nest’ happens when the last child in a family leaves home. That’s when some parents can feel as if their lives have lost meaning. Perhaps they feel deserted. They may have to search for something else to occupy their time. Some need new activities to replace cooking and cleaning for an adult child. They need another purpose.

empty nest syndrome
empty nest syndrome

An empty nest also implies that a once fully occupied bedroom becomes either a junk room or ‘the spare room’. It is a space waiting for new occupation.

Nesting dislocation syndrome has nothing to do with parental instinct. It is more about the disruption of one’s home (nest).

Watching television footage of refugees streaming from Syria into an unknown future nauseates me. Incarceration under barbarous conditions on offshore islands of people seeking asylum in Australia is a miscarriage of justice.

What must those people feel and think? What must it be like to be without a home or prospect of a home? To have no hope of settlement? My writer’s imagination cannot visualise that agony. I shut down.

Compared to their suffering, my discomfort is minor, although temporarily debilitating.

The phrase was coined by one of my sons-in-law. It describes a peculiar set of symptoms and behaviours that I exhibit when my home is disrupted. I don’t know if other people experience it. Some must.

Choosing to move is fun. I enjoy it and have moved often. My house-moves have always been for a good reason. One or two moves have been duds. But on the whole, I’ve recovered and made a new life.

Nesting dislocation syndrome strikes anywhere
Nesting dislocation syndrome can strike anywhere


Signs and symptoms of nesting dislocation syndrome

  • Anxiety because I know life will never return to normal
  • Fear that I will forget what normal ever meant
  • Nostalgia for the old order
  • Passionate longing for a return to order
  • Obsessive tidiness of whatever can be salvaged in the mess
  • Lack of concentration
  • Inability to read or write or garden or engage in craft projects
  • Less engagement in social media and not writing blog posts
  • Disinterest in social life generally
  • Exhaustion.

Nesting dislocation syndrome has a very rapid onset. I never anticipate when it will strike. In between, I forget how much it hurts.

But then it dissipates as quickly as it started. One day, I wake up and everything is as it should be. Birds sing. The sun shines. My world falls into place. Until the next time.

I would love to hear if other people also experience nesting dislocation syndrome. If they do, then perhaps we should start a movement to have it included in the DSM-6

Please leave a comment.



4 replies on “Nesting dislocation syndrome”

  1. Oh Dear MH, hope the recovery is swift and relatively painless. Rosiex

    1. Dear Rosemary, you know I am too much of a pessimist to expect a swift (or painless) recovery. But thank you for your kinds thoughts.

  2. I’m hearing you, it’s hard to explain but for me, I have both symptoms the first being empty nest syndrome, now into the third year. Don’t know that I will ever recover. Now I have symptoms of nesting dislocation having our home on the market and losing a job in one foul swoop. Life’s ugly sometimes x

    1. Rae, Sometimes it feels as if everything is conspiring to get you. Such an overwhelming scary feeling. I was almost glad when my kids left school. I’d been a ‘single supporting mother’ of six children for a couple of decades by the time the last one moved on, and I was glad to have my income to myself, and my house. After a while, when my children had separated and become adults, we became good friends. But the other things I really understand. Having a home on the market is distressing. I specially hate all that cleaning and tidying on the off chance that a bunch of strangers will come wandering through your home, the disappointment when no one makes an offer, and the desolation when they do. For me, moving house is about losing part of my identity and familiar surroundings. I feel as if I wither in the process. And losing a job also means losing part of your identity. I would be surprised if you didn’t feel quite raw, given all that. I hope it all resolves soon.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: