So far, I've covered several things that I have in common with those with hoarding issues. The last two things that come to mind are obsessive negative thoughts and trouble communicating.
I don't ever remember a time in my life that I haven't struggled with negativity. It often consumes my thoughts for days at a time. I can just be minding my own business and boom! Something creeps in and takes my thoughts captive.
I never know when it will strike, what will set it off, how long it will last, or what the topic will be. I just know it's incredibly discouraging. Most often, the thoughts I can't get out of my mind have to do with someone hurting someone I love. Like when I was preoccupied for several days with the way my in-laws had treated our family.
It's absolutely exhausting to relive the hurt over and over again. I'd rather just forget it, put it in the past, and leave it there never to be thought of again. But the thoughts aren't always about someone hurting me or my family. Sometimes, it's worry about things that I have done wrong. And believe me. I've got plenty of fodder for the thoughts that dance in my head.
When I was very young, (maybe 8?), I remember hearing someone in church saying that humans are in a constant state of sin. I took it very literally, and I couldn't sleep, eat or breathe for days after I heard that. I thought it meant that every single breath I took, every bite of food I ate, every thought I had, everything I did was a sin. I specifically remember breathing in and thinking, "Oh my goodness! I just sinned!" Breathing out and thinking, "Oh no! I did it again!" And I remember feeling very, very guilty.
The thoughts eventually stopped, but I'm not sure exactly how it happened. I don't know, if I asked Mom, if I was understanding it correctly, or if I mentioned it to one of my older brothers and sisters, and they explained it to me or what. I do remember feeling relieved when I was no longer struggling with the negative thoughts. They would, however, still come rushing back when I would get in trouble for doing something naughty.
And just to be perfectly clear, my parents had nothing to do with the negative self talk. I firmly believe it's something I was born with. Something in my personality. I don't blame anyone for it. Not even myself. At least I don't blame myself when I'm actually thinking clearly. I still fall victim to my pointing fingers when I'm in the middle of a mind assault, but I believe it is how my brain is wired. It just is who I am, and I need to learn to deal with it, so it's not a debilitating thing.
I've also struggled my entire life with communicating my thoughts. I've written before about how I've struggled with talking too much. I've been told more often than I can count to 'get to the point' or to hurry up and say what I had to say. I always feel so belittled when it happens, but I can't find the words at the moment to say, "That hurts my feelings, and I feel belittled. Please let me finish my thought."
And there are certain topics that get me riled to the point I feel like I can't put two words together and make any sense. I have definite thoughts or feelings about the subject, but it's like they get stuck in my head and can't make their way out of my mouth . If I go ahead and try to address the issue right then and there, I come across as being in attack mode, because I can't get the right words out. My frustration level increases, my voice raises, and I go right into a fight or flight response. I am rendered completely ineffective to defend my thoughts, and my anxiety level increases dramatically.
I've come to the conclusion that these will be lifelong struggles for me, but I also am hopeful that I will learn strategies for circumventing both situations before they get out of control.
I am more than my struggles.
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.