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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How do I know, if I'm a hoarder? Pt 1 - Acquiring

Over the last couple of years, I've noticed 2 recurring searches that bring people to my blog. The first is something along the line of, "How do I know, if I'm a hoarder?" The second is variations along the line of, "Where do I start/How do I start to dehoard?"

I will try over the next few days to answer these questions to the best of my ability.

In my opinion, if a person is searching about information on whether or not they are a hoarder, the chance is they have a problem. It's only a matter of degree. 

I realized that I had a hoarding problem after watching Hoarders the very first time. I physically felt the anxiety the participants in the show felt when someone would try to help them discard things. Whether it was someone demanding that something be thrown, a family member chiding or ridiculing them for saving something, or touching their things, I felt their anxiety. I could feel my heart rate noticeably increase, my palms begin to get sweaty, and my stomach start to flip. It scared me, because I saw myself in the people on the screen. 

I was taught to trust my gut, and I knew. 

I. just. knew.

Several years prior, I recognized I had a major problem with acquiring. I loved shopping, and if I found something that I thought was  good buy, I would buy every item like it on the shelf when 1 or 2 would have been enough. 

I was obsessed with bargains. 

If for some reason I didn't buy an item I'd thought about buying when I was out and about, I wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind. Seriously. The thought that I had to have it would wake me out of a dead sleep, and I would go on the hunt for it the following day. If I was too late and the thing was gone, I'd feel like I'd lost something. The feeling of loss was very unsettling. 

If I was able to actually buy the item when I went back to the store, I would be elated. Giddy, even. But it didn't last long. I would often be disappointed within a day or two of bringing my purchases home. At times I would come to my senses and return my purchases, but more often than not something would prevent me from returning things to the store. 

I didn't enjoy using those things that I knew I shouldn't have bought. If I bought 6 of the exact t-shirt in different colors for the girls I would feel guilty about it when I would get them dressed. Even if the clothes were as little as $1 each, I would feel guilty over having bought as many as I did, because I knew they could never wear them often enough to wear them out. 

I hated myself for being so weak.

I noticed on the hoarding shows that most of the homes had bag up on bag upon bag of purchases that had been dropped when they were brought in the house and totally forgotten. I recognized that was part of the hoarding behavior, and I recognized that I had struggled with that very issue for years. 

From time to time I find myself slipping into the same mindset I had when I was acquiring. When I notice that I'm debating buying more of something than I need or we can use, I purposely stop and ask myself, if I really want or need the things in my shopping basket. Thankfully, I don't find myself in the position often, and 99 times out of 100 I put the items back on the shelf. 

Years ago when the acquiring was so out of control, I went shopping several times a week. Now it's rare, if I go shopping more often than once every 2 weeks. I have noticed that the longer the time between shopping trips the harder time I have saying no at the register. Being mindful of this, I often window shop online to exercise my 'no' muscle and keep it strong. I put things in my online shopping cart and then never go through the checkout process.

I don't want to go back to unhealthy habits again. 


  1. I too window shop to resist the urge to over buy when I finally do get to go shopping. Even then I always catch myself when heading to the register and force myself to pull out all the "fun" things I threw in the cart but really don't need.

  2. I think that I am getting The Big Picture!
    After reading your post today I am more sure than ever sure I have a problem.

  3. I think you have come so far and worked too hard to let old habits creep up on you !

  4. I have often done the whole retail therapy thing in the past. I found what kept me in check was placing the items in the cart, then making the way AROUND the store, several times, instead of going directly to the register.

    I found that by the time I made it to pay, I didn't really want the item anymore.

  5. Hey, just found this blog, thanks! I've only poked around a bit, but I need this, I'm glad you're here!

  6. Abigail, It really does help, doesn't it? And I'm the same as you. I get rid of stuff on the way up to the register, too, and once I'm up there putting things up there to be even more selective. The clerk occasionally ends up with one or two things to put back for me.

    Pat {{{{hugs}}}}. You can get through this. I'll be here to help, if I can.

    Thanks Fern. I won't let them creep back in full force. As you've said, I've come too far!

    Julianna, that happens to me all the time, too. I love when I don't want something by the time I get to the register. And I take the long way around the store, too. It gives me time to decide whether or not I really want to spend the money on something.

  7. I don't over buy stuff as I can't afford it but when I have cash I spend it quickly with no evidence on what it was I love a tidy home but my problem is I keep stuff like old clothes and store them in cupboards old magazines letters papers cards absolute rubbish , to the naked eye my house is tidy but look around closely I've hidden rubbish everywhere . I have no issue getting rid of the stuff it's actually getting around the cant be bothered to want to do it. I'm not lazy as the rest of my house is clean and tidy I just collect n hoard stuff n hide it . Today I decided to rearrange my bedroom and iv got 3 black bag full and 2 large boxes of stuff that is pointless , my mum is going to take it to the skip as I'd just find somewhere else for it:/


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