Hoarders "R" Me

I am a hoarder. "What does that mean exactly?", you ask. Well, I hoard things...collect things...save things...store things...never throw things out...however you want to put it, I DO it.

I have done this since I was a small child. I can remember my mother telling me that I would have an avalanche in my room and they would never find me. It is not something I plan to do, it is who I am.

I have OCD, which is a stress disorder, and I have the hoarding side of it. I have thought about why I do this, a LOT! I try to NOT do it, no one wants to have piles of things around for no apparent reason. No one wants to be embarrassed to invite people over for fear of what they will think. If I get interested in a craft or anything I get the urge to buy everything that goes with that craft...if I find an author I really like I want all their books...if I get something from someone I want to keep all the parts of it (wrapping paper, boxes, bows, etc.)...that's the obsessive part and the compulsive part. When I get stressed it is even harder for me to toss stuff. There is something calming to me in having things around me. I start organizing things, but it becomes too overwhelming andI stop.

I tried putting some things in storage about a half hour from my home. What a fiasco that was! The closer to the storage place I got the more panic I felt. When I got there I could not put anything in that was mine. All the boxes stayed in the car and came right back home.

Don't get me wrong, in my mind and heart I KNOW it is crazy to live like this. Emotionally and physically I cannot NOT live like this. I saw a t.v. show about a woman like me. She was older (and they say it gets worse as you age) and her house was so full she had to sleep on the floor between tall piles of stuff. She had just paths to the bathroom and kitchen. She was evicted because she failed to comply with safety codes. I can see me being like that at some point. It scares me to death. I imagine what would happen if I died and family and friends had to clean out my stuff. They would not know what connection I felt to that rock, or that picture torn from a magazine, or why that 1 beaded earring moved me and I could not part with it. All they would see is stuff not my life.

I have tried making memory books and taking pictures of the things so that I could get rid of the actual item and take up less room. All that did was add a photo album of pictures to the rest of my stuff! lol

I am what they call a high functioning OCD. I do not have many rituals that others can see (okay, they see me seperate my M&M's and eat them by color!). I count everything in my head. Steps, corners, people, dotted lines in the road, letters in words, etc. Sometimes this attention to detail is a plus. I am good with people because I notice little things. I can "read" people well and make them laugh. I am good with kids and animals. At work I tend to clean up things...and have done house keeping as a job as a matter of fact. I have few friends that come to my home though. I do not trust others to not talk about me and my stuff. I am embarrassed to have them come here. I am ashamed that this side of my life has such a hold on me. In my worst days I see me dead, alone with no one finding me for weeks because I do not let people get close enough to know this side of me. Oddly, those days are far apart. I am actually a very "up" person. I did try the meds for OCD but they made me be NOT me. I tried counceling, and that did not work so well either.

I am afraid that someone will call that show where they come in and take everything out of your house and make you decide in half an hour what to sell, keep and toss. I would be a blubbering pool of jelly. lol  I did start throwing 1 item a day away...we will see how that goes. :-) I'll keep you posted.



ThankYouSir ThankYouSir
41-45, F
15 Responses Feb 10, 2009

Do you suffer from compulsive hoarding?
Do your hoarded items take up most the room in your house?
Has it begun to affect your life and your relationships?

If so, a British TV production company are looking to speak to people in the US and UK, about a new documentary that will sensitively explore the condition.

If you suffer from a hoarding addiction and would consider taking part, please contact kate.wilson@crackitproductions.co.uk for more details and a confidential chat. Alternatively please call +44207 612 3311.

Dear Thank You Sir, Thank you for a wonderful, honest, well-written message! 99% of it could have been written by me!! You said everything so well, and I appreciate that you and others who commented have expressed the feelings connected to ob<x>jects....that is my problem when trying to get rid of things. Sylkat

You are me and I am you. It's wonderful to know that someone out there is like me. Congrats on getting things out of the house. You are taking your steps and I am very happy to hear that. If you can do it so can I.

Boy, I am glad there are people like us to relate about hoarding. Mine came from my past of not having things. I would hate it if someone told me to get rid of my stuff, especially I spent money on it. You throwing something out one trash/thing a day would help your pile from getting so big. I think we all need a friendly support from people.

Ok people! I am working for the TV Show A&E Hoarders...and I would love to hear from you if you are indeed a hoarder...and consider you for the show....email directly to hmisterek@gmail.com

Someone who finally understands me! <br />
Thanks for posting this. I got a good laugh at how much<br />
our minds think alike. My boyfriend is a neat nick ( thankfully, bless his heart :-)<br />
I am sure I drive him crazy about things that I say...<br />
"I have keep that."<br />
"So & So could use it"<br />
"I might need that later."<br />
" I will wear it again." Ha ha ha.<br />
Or "it's too nice to throw out." <br />
Thank goodness for rubbermaid totes! LOL!

I was or probably still am a book hoarder. One day when I realized these books were taking up every available space, and my life was beginning to go into what I call "chaotic mode" plus my creativity when south, I knew I had to do something. What I loved most was becoming a nightmare for me in terms of productivity. I would buy the books, put them into piles, and then lose track of them then never get to read them because I would forget I had them. Sometimes I ended up buying duplicates. I finally made the decision to get this under control. My own confessions is here - Confessions of a Compulsive Book Hoarder and how I dealt with it. I wrote about it and put it up on Amazon for the Kindle to share with others. <br />
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I recently read the book, "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing" by Judith L. Rapoport, M.D. While a lot of it is not relevent to me there were a lot of parts where i said, "wow, they are writing about me!" One patient of this doctor said he most readily related to squirrels because they hoard like he does. A lot of the book talks about medications (it is an older book printed in 1989) but there is a lot of it that also talks about the fact that while people know intellectually that this is not "normal" and that they should get rid of stuff, they are unable to. Interesting anyway.

My father was a hoarder, although not as bad as some people. We could get around the house, but old stuff was stashed all over the place as we found out after he passed away.<br />
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I'm a hoarder too (yuck—hate that word!). I've got a problem with information and paper mainly. I can throw other things out more easily. I even brought 2 large bags of clothing to a clothes swap (can't remember a single thing that I got rid of now) and only brought a few nice things home (and I'm getting rid of the things that I haven't worn since the swap). I don't have any collections (ie. turtles or decorative items, well, maybe pillows). This problem is really debilitating and difficult since it's actually kept me from getting a job and moving ahead in my life lately. <br />
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I'm normal otherwise, generally high functioning and very skilled at many things, but I just can't get a handle on how to deal with this OCD issue. Tried seeing a therapist, but I couldn't take how he told me how he dealt with his clutter (I'm sure he didn't have this problem, so it didn't do me any good—stopped going there!!) when I wan't to know why I had this problem. I needed more insight into the cause of the problem.<br />
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The paper and magazines and articles and old artwork (I'm a designer/artist) has been piling up and I just feel like I need to read everything or look things over before I toss them out. I just don't have 50 years to do that!!! I know intellectually, that most of the stuff I can't part with is not really worth keeping, but I just can't bring myself to get rid of it. I also don't have a very good memory and I think that's part of why I hang on to stuff—to remember my life. <br />
Recently, I've taken to photographing things as well and then throwing it out (can do it sometimes) or giving them to others who might like them and it seems to make it easier. It seems to help.<br />
<br />
When I was younger, our family moved and in the process I lost a beloved stuffed animal (might that have affected how I feel about stuff?) It was kind of devastating at the time. As I child I really didn't have much stuff as far as I remember. My memory of my closet is that it was pretty sparse.<br />
<br />
Has anyone out there gotten help from any sort of therapy (ie. cognitive behaviour therapy, hypnosis, etc.)? Any insights into why we behave like this? Anyone seen the show 'Hoarders'? I don't have that much stuff as the people on that show, but I certainly relate to some of them, esp. the guy who was an information hoarder.<br />
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Would love to hear more thoughts...

You sound a lot like me.

I too fear that show. You now have to decide what's important to you in the next 10 minutes and you have to explain why... eeek! Why do they get to decide what I get to keep and why do I only get 10 minutes! I just don't think that fast! Eeeek!

well, throwing one thing away each day worked for about 2 weeks...miss one day and the next is so much easier...lol<br />
I have been organizing things more in my "spare" room...and will soon be moving some of the stuff from my living room into there so I will have more room in the living room. I hate change...but I am trying. MAybe I have spring fever...man do I wish I would get that so I could just clean from top to bottom.

my mother has this problem. She has rooms of her house that she can't walk in and used to have a shed he size of a barn, full of old clothes, old crafts, everything. Once she found out she had 4 vacuum cleaners when she went through her garage. <br />
I don't have hoarding disorder, but I do have other type of OCD and trying to organize things puts me in a real panic. I have to have my husband do these things for me.

well, so far the throwing one item a day away has gone well. Now I am going to try to toss two items each day. It sounds so easy! I asked a trusted friend to help me and he said to throw away 5 items and then tell him what they were. It took me about 2 hours to find just the right things that I could throw away. Try to tell someone that does not hoard WHY you kept the tags off the dogs Christmas gifts to begin with. (I was going to put them in the dogs "memory" books well duh! What else would you do with them?? LOL)<br />
I collect turtles as my "real" collection...I have over 2000...most are cataloged. I take pictures and write cards that tell who gave them to me, where they came from, what they are made of, if they are limited editions, etc. So eventually when I am gone someone can know which ones are valuable, and also why they were special to me. I have albums full of turtle pictures. Sometimes I just look in catalogs and cut out the turtles that i find, others are actual pictures of live turtles i have taken, or friends give me. I have Ninja turtles, turtle shirts, turtle shower curtain, black coral turtle necklace, crystal turtles, you name it I have it!<br />
So, I can totally connect with the purple collection!<br />
Thanks for letting me know I am not alone! :-)

I hoard as well, but only purple things. I love purple things. I take purple things whenever I see them. How weird it that. And, it has gotten worse with age for me.<br />
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I have a whole file drawer at home filled with all of the purple things I've collected over the years, and I have a special folder at work so I can have purple things there, too. Purple paperclips, purple post it notes, purple toys, purple candy (i can't bring myself to eat it sometimes).<br />
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When I'm having an especially bad day, I go to my drawer and take out my purple things one at a time until I feel better. I don't have as much at work, so it usually takes longer to feel better there.<br />
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I love the way purple makes me feel. I love wearing purple. I only use purple ink on any of my personal items. My boss won't let me use purple ink at work, though. I know, I know, how weird.

Hi. As I read your story, I kept thinking... "yep, yep, I do that,... that too." I've felt alot of what you described, tho I think maybe I've been able to let things go a little easier than you have. But I can definately relate. I'm also embarrassed to have people in my house. I've went so far as to not allow my cousin to come in when he just dropped by out of the blue. I hope that it doesn't get worse with age, for you or me. {{hugs}}