Jun 16, 2016 2
I hoard stuff. Anyone who has spent much time in my space will know that.
When I look at diagnostic surveys and photographic guides, I find I fall solidly into the ‘you might want to think about getting some help’ category. It’s not reality-television-bad, but it’s bad enough to hurt.
To provide some context, here are a few of the things I have done.
- Completely lost a room. At least twice. I forget how many times.
- Avoided having people around without preparatory time to haul piles into spare rooms and close doors.
- Spent months letting the laundry pile up, buying new underwear instead.
- Was repeatedly too scared to tackle what’s in the fridge, or in the sink, or in mysterious boxes.
- Failed to open mail. Piles and piles of mail. (You know what? They send you loads of warnings before they cut services off.)
- Failed to do my tax for years on end, the paperwork being lost in my piles of clutter.
- Lost a bunch of clothes when it rained inside and I just…left them there getting rained on.
- Never cleared my gutters (hence the inside rain).
- Climbed over piles of things to get to the front door.
- Slept on half of a double bed, while the clutter napped ominously on the other half.
Now apparently ‘admitting you have a problem’ is half the battle, but I’ve been admitting that for years and you know what? Admitting you have a problem doesn’t open boxes, plug up inside rain, or magically grant access to abandoned rooms. And, at least in my experience, it doesn’t make you feel much better about yourself either.
Thankfully, I know other people who have done this hoarding thing too. Brilliant, beautiful people who are great friends, great professionals, great human beings. And I know that they are no less great friends, great professionals, great human beings for having hoarded. And on occasion, some of them have been kind enough to let me help them sort a little of their hoard, and I am honoured by that. It is a hard thing to let people see the piles of stuff, and even harder to let them see one’s emotional reaction to tackling it.
Personally, I’ve fought my hoarding as well as I’ve been able, which hasn’t been all that well a lot of the time. Occasionally, I’ve had frantic bursts of energy and hired skips and filled them. From time to time, I’ve bravely emptied a handbag, typically discovering a muddle of medication, old receipts, and oozing nail polish at the bottom. I’ve researched treatment approaches and developed excellent organisational techniques…and then failed to apply them.
But this year, I think I may be turning a corner. I hope. I’m taking a new medication for some of my other issues, and it seems to be moderating my hoarding behaviours too, complementing K’s gentle life coaching, and the patience and absence of judgement offered by both my partners.
It seems nuts to think a small pill at night could keep the laundry under control, get dirty dishes into the dishwasher, pick the clothes off the floor, or start chipping away at the deep clutter – the drawers, cupboards, and containers that have been abandoned to their mysterious contents. But it appears that it may well do so.
Just got to clean those gutters. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just got to stop the rain.