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.