Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I think I can. I think I can.

My asthma has been acting up a bit today. It's because I forgot to wear a mask while cleaning the curtains in my bedroom yesterday. I was afraid of that. As a result, I haven't been able to do as much as I would like without coughing up a storm. So I've taken it a little easier today.

When I have a day when I'm not able to accomplish as much as I'd like, I do try to remind myself of the fact that I'm a hoarder and that I need to keep on task, so I can get out of this rut. So I did 'homework' today in the form of watching the latest Hoarders episode. It was an update (filmed a year later) on 4 different people that they'd helped in the first season.

Of the four, there was one complete failure. The home looked just as bad as it did before the show went in and helped the family out, but in all fairness, there was such a resistance to the cleaning at the time that the crew was not able to completely clean the house up when they were there initially. It apparently didn't take long for the woman to fill the house back up, and she now faces jail time, if she isn't able to get the house cleaned within the time frame given. At the rate of progress she's making, it looks like she's probably going to serve time.

The second situation was similar to the first in that the crew was not able to completely clean this man's property. He is still getting citations on a weekly basis to get things cleaned up for 'criminal littering'. He has several acres, and he has literal tons of metal scrap, old appliances and vehicles. If I remember correctly, he has 17 vehicles in all. That's the bad news. The good news is that he hasn't added a lot to the mess. He's added 2 semi trailers and a refrigerator, so that in and of itself is progress. However, he hasn't gotten rid of enough, and he may lose his property, if he doesn't clean it up.

The third situation involves a woman who hoards food. And while she did not completely get her home finished when they were there, she has maintained for the most part. You can still see her floors, tabletop and counters. However, she also still has food in the refrigerator and freezer that is outdated by 6 months or more, and she insists that it's not bad. That she'll throw it out, if she's worried about it. And while I do believe that some expiration dates are included just to make people buy things more quickly, I would be afraid to eat most things that were outdated by more than 6 months or that were growing green fuzzies on them.

The last situation is the only one that seems to be a complete success story at this time. It's a young man with an alcoholic father. When Hoarders came to their house and cleaned it out, they found hundreds upon hundreds of wine bottles from the dad's drinking stash. They were empty, but he'd consumed the contents of each one. He was drunk the entire time the crew was there. The young man is now going to college and the father has stopped drinking wine entirely and seems to be getting his life together. He's still drinking a couple of beers every day, but he was clearly not drunk during this interview like he was a year before.

It was eye-opening to say the least. It's scary to think the recidivism rate is so high amongst hoarders. But I can't help but think that a lot of it has to do with how willing the person was to participate in the initial cleanup in the first place. I really do think that a person has to be willing to make the changes themselves, or they won't be successful, and even then it's going to be a daily struggle.

I know that there are days it's easier for me physically and mentally than other days. I also know that I want to be free of clutter and the hoarding mess from the very depths of my soul. Due to circumstances, it may take longer than I'd like it to take to get all the way to the goal, but I will get there.

It will happen.


  1. I think you'll have a better success rate than they will... simply because you are willing and wanting to do this, whereas the vast majority (in my opinion) of the people on TV have been "forced" into doing this.

    You will persevere. One little bag, box, or even item at a time.

  2. Sounds terrible! I had no idea "Criminal littering?"
    You are doing this yourself , for youself so I think your success will be permanent. Also you are doing this slowly , the MAde for TV interventions are a rush in "do it for them " thing where I don't see that the people learn much . I think your way is a far more sensible approach

  3. sounds so serious I've seen the TLC series on hoarders and it looked very stressful to me. Your doing great and have a good attitude that is way more then half the battle. Your going to succeed I know it.

    My husband loves decluttering.. I'm sure I would be more attached to things but I saw how easily he and his mom decluttered when we first met I remember thinking oh you can just throw things out or donate. The first time we helped his mom move many years ago. My mom loves to keep things. Now I'm great at parting with things I gave away all my baby things before I got pregnent with Taylor .. I needed to get new stuff but my friends came through with most of it any ways clothes and all. Keep up the good work your new found space will bring you some peace and be easier on your asthma it's much easier to clean and dust with less stuff around.

  4. It will happen, I have only known you a very short time and I think you are amazing and I am sure that you can achieve your goal. Being aware that it might take longer is fine, not a problem. Keep going and don't waste time beating yourself up about any bad days, you can't change them. Keep going!


  5. Forgot to let you know buzz said hi (to infinity and beyond and so on) ;)

  6. I am proud of you for acknowledging and doing something about your hoarding.

  7. You'll get there - determination and patience seems to be a reality for you & I'm guessing that's a pretty big stick to shake at hoarding! Thanks for your comment for Ava & we wish you and your family the best too.

  8. Jennifer-The shows seem horribly stressful to me as well. Hoarders does more so than Hoarding Buried Alive. The second show is more of a documentary, and it takes place over the course of several weeks. In my opinion, the people seem much more apt to succeed on this show than the other.

    Fern-I know. Huh? I gooled 'criminal littering' and there are laws in most states. And the scary thing - it can be a FELONY!

    Sherry - I'm glad you learned by accident that things can be tossed or donated. When you wait until you're my age, it can be a daunting lesson! :o)

    rm - Thanks. I'm done beating myself up when I have bad days. It happens. It's the long term that I'm keeping focused on. And thanks for giving me Buzz's message! :)

    Thank you, Kristi.

    Amanda - Thank you. I just have to remember that I don't need to stop and decorate the stick! ;o)


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