U n d e r s t a n d i n g 
O.C. H O A R D I N G .D

Basic Info. Why & What do People Hoard. Treatments. Literature & Links. Support. Tips& Tricks.

   About the Personal Stories.
   Stories From People Who Hoard.
   From People Who Know Someone Who Hoards.
   Add a Personal Story.


A Woman of 26.
I Just Realized I Am a Recovering Hoarder.
Tim's Story.
About My Late Father...
The Recovering of a Hoarder.
Difficult Childhood.

A Woman of 26.

I am a 26 year old mother and wife, this hoarding ocd stuff was just brought to my attention accidentally 2 days ago via the discovery channel. I nearly hit the roof when I saw that this was a type of disorder. I have collected from the very beginning; my mother tried to throw away my old cloth doll, I cried because it hurt her feelings, we put her in a shoe box and buried her, I dug her up because she would hate me for burying her, I still have her, she is in shreds.

When I was a teenager I would chew the same piece of gum for days until my friends gave me grief about it so I would chew it till I got home then put the piece in a glass vase, when it was full I was starting on another when my mother made me throw it away. I have nearly every school paper I have every done, my mom began saving them for me when I was in Kindergarten, then I saved them on my own, especially this one math class that I cheated my way through because I felt guilty for not learning and knew I might need to learn it some day. ( every page is in my file cabinet)

I cry when I get rid of my children's baby clothes ( I know there are babies out there who need them) Clothes that no longer fit me, water jugs (you never know when a natural disaster might hit and leave us without water yet the jugs are empty and I don't fill them because I hate tasting plastic in my water, also I might need the jugs to cut in half to make mini green houses for the garden that I never plant ( I have hundreds of seed packets from years ago even and am aware that seeds loose there ability to germinate but I cant bare not giving them a chance.

I wrote down every tiny little thing when I was pregnant with my first child, I have a written account of every hiccup he ever had in utero. My reasoning is that I am sentimental, that is why I keep every thing personal to my kids and I, I even have my ex-husbands teddy bear from when he was a boy because he was going to throw it away. How sad. He's in the closet next to my teddy bear. !

I recently began to get into scrap booking where you crop your pictures and put them in an album, I keep all the scraps so I can look back and see what is in the background and on the walls etc. it might be important some day for evidence or something. I have magazines galore because I rip the pages out and some day I am going to scan them all into my computer so I can read them someday and use all the tips and ideas and recipes. The only thing that keeps me from filling my house with plants and books is my budget, I do get at least on of each a month, I have all of my mothers college books because I love learning and they have great info in them, I open one or two a year and flip through the pages. My son counted all my plants a year ago, I had 100, I hardly ever get around to watering them because it takes so long, I feel so guilty when I see them wilting but I just look away, I...
(This story sadly was truncated and if the person who wrote could resend the entire story, we would be much obliged.)


Top of Page.

I just realized I am a recovering hoarder.

It's amazing how you can live a certain way and not realize what you are doing. All my life I have been a hoarder, and I just now realized it. It is so weird, like my eyes have suddenly been opened.

It started when I was very young. My mom would get in my room and clean, throwing away everything, and I would feel so devastated. I can't even begin to describe the horrible feeling that would come over me because my mom threw out something I would need later. I always felt like she threw away a part of me.

I was sent to a shrink, though now I'm not sure why. I always told myself that it was because of my mom and stepdad's divorce. Perhaps it was because I couldn't get my clutter under control. I can remember the Doctor trying to advise me, so I could finally clean my room. He told me to store my stuff in shoe boxes. To this day I have a thing for shoe boxes.

My whole life was a big battle between my mother and I about keeping my room clean. It got so bad that my mom and step dad took my room away from me and made me sleep in the basement and garage. I had to sleep on the cold, cement floor because I didn't deserve a room. My mom threatened me with juvenile, but it didn't matter, I couldn't keep it clean. I was sent to a foster home because social services felt that I was being neglected. (Much more went on in that house, and going to foster care was a blessing.)

Then I went to live with my real dad. I never knew my dad until I was ten years old. Living with my dad was a whole other world. My dad and his new family were hoarders too, so I fit right in. No more being forced to clean because the whole house looked like a bigger and much worse version of my room. Hoarding was a bigger problem for my sister than it was for me. You couldn't even get into her room. Compared to her room, I had small pockets of clutter. My sister never would have had a room, if she had lived with my mom.

For the first time I felt relief. No one hassled me to clean my room. My sister and I shared a room, and I kept my half neater than she did. After awhile I felt that the mess was hopeless and uncontrollable. I would try to clean up their mess, and never even made a dent. It began to depress me and I felt out of control. They hoarded books, animals, plants, and clothing. The basement was filled with so much stuff, that there was only a small path. When we moved all of it fit into a barn, but all of it was junk.

So I grew up, got married and I now have a house of my own. I hoard books, magazines, and old clothes. I have kept my hoarding contained to one room in the house. My experience with my dad's hoarding bothered me so much that I refused to live in the same type of conditions. My hoarding still is a part of my life, though it is contained in one room. My husband keeps nothing, so he has balanced me. My hoarding caused problems between us at first. He would throw things away and it would be just like I was a kid again. We've been together a long time, and I think he's accepted that my hoarding is just a part of my personality. As long as I keep my mess out of the living room, and the rest of the house, things are okay between us. When he cleaned out the refrigerator, it would send me into spasms of anxiety and guilt. I still can't stand to have him in my junk room for fear he will do a cleaning raid. When I say he has accepted my hoarding, he has to a certain extent, but I have tried to control it. I'm not as bad as I used to be.

Things have gotten better for me as far as eliminating the clutter. I have joined Fly lady and my life is better than it has ever been. I'm living with less clutter. I haven't completed cleaning out the junk room yet. I've been working on it for ten years now. I've thrown away a lot, but still have more to go. I'm an artist and a crafter, so I keep the magazines as sources of inspiration. I save fabric because I'm fascinated by quilts, and plan to make another some day. More and more I have realized I don't make any art because of my mess room. I either get sidetracked cleaning or I can't find my supplies. I have gotten to the point where I can throw out bags of magazines without even opening them up and looking. That is a big step for me.

All my life I have kept a journal, and the BIG ISSUE for me was cleaning up my stuff. Now I realize that it will probably always be an issue for me, but it is a smaller one than before. I no longer hate my self. I always felt that I was not worth much. If anyone else saw what a slob I was they would hate me too. it has taken years, but I'm learning to let go. I'm learning to get rid of what I don't need. I'm learning all I need is within me. There is hope. I know this because I've always felt hopeless, and now I don't.

I'm still a hoarder, and I will always be a hoarder. Throwing things away is not easy, but it has gotten easier. Some things I can't throw away today, but tomorrow I can. Soon the only things I have left will be the things I love, the things I choose to keep in my life. I no longer have to keep things. I choose what I want in my life. Choosing gives me power. Realizing this has made the struggle of my life clearer. My eyes are open now, and I will never return to my old way of life.


Top of Page.

Tim's Story.

When I was a kid my parents worked in the far east (east Asia) and I was sent at age 8 to boarding school in England.
Once a year I flew out to visit my parents and the other two holidays were a pretty haphazard and often last minute arrangement to go stay with complete strangers at a so called holiday home. Needless to say most of these people cared little for me or my possessions being in it solely for the money. Thus I would often find that my toys etc would need to be sent on to my next place and often were broken in transit. Also I had a very cold hearted and unloving mother who routinely cleared the decks of everything and that included my few toys.

I well remember one year I flew out and when I asked where my dinky toys were (toy cars ) I was told they had been given to the blind children's charity . I was very upset by this but at the same time had to agree that it would be unkind to demand them back..
I think that day was a real turning point . I decided that from then on I would hang on to my stuff through thick and thin. Now i am 54 years old and my house is a total tip , great piles of books mags and newspapers piled all over the place.
I am a widower and only my daughter lives with me now. She gets very upset by the mess and wont invite her friends around. I feel very guilty about this and often promise I will change but I never do except for a short token effort.

I suffered very badly for thirty years from agoraphobia and found it very hard to go out , bad panic attacks in crowded places etc and I think there may be some connection but I don't know how. I have had years of drugs and shrinks with no real benefit and am only better due to a common easing of the problem as I came up to 50 apart from reading material most of which I have never got round to actually reading. I have a large number of toy cars and plastic aircraft kits two things that i had taken away the most when I was a kid (surprise! ) and a very large vinyl record collection. At least now I no longer go to car boot sales which were irresistible at one time I still regularly look around charity shops and almost always end up buying a good book that one should read. But the chances are I wont or may just flick through it.
I expect mine is a common enough case.


Top of Page.

About My Late Father...

I'm a hoarder, but not very severe, and I got it from my father. He's now passed on, and I must confess my feelings of guilt and grief over all the fights we had about the mess. From around 1980 to around 2000, the house was a mess. It was basically just like that described by the 26 year old woman, except fewer properties.

The fights over the mess were awful. We all loved him, but, spent so much time cleaning out space for ourselves, that I felt like my life was not my own. I screamed at him about the mess, and he just would apologize and promise to try and "thin out" the mess, and then accuse my mother of losing bond certificates during a purge. He'd pick through the trash and pull up stuff I'd tossed, and I'd just get in a huff and re-dispose of it angrily. He's also pick through my personal papers and integrate my letters and private stuff into his hoarding. I got very secretive about my life, and resented his intrusions. He had no sense of borders, and neither did I. Maybe he knew, and was embarrassed too; we never talked about it. To this very moment, I am sorry for fighting so hard with my dad... but what could I do? I was just a kid, trying to feel normal, and not doing a very good job of it.

My mother has some hoarding tendencies too. She doesn't like to see the end of things either, so, we have two tubes of toothpaste out on the counter. She likes to have things "out" instead of put away, so it always looks cluttered. She can't seem to help but buy lots of food (and insists on feeding people) so we became a bit overweight.

I have some tendencies as well. I used to pick up furniture and other junk and use it. I'd collect things, like comics, and never let go of them. I have a hard time disposing of boxes and other things. I'm indiscriminate with my spending, sometimes. I have a lot of books. I notice that I'm attracted to hoarder women, who have chaotic lives, and have a bad habit of "collecting" people. That's my biggest anxiety these days. A few years ago, I got into an online support group for hoarders and clutterers, and it's helped immensely. It's one of the best things I've ever done in my life.

Two years prior to his death, my father had a stroke, and lost a lot of brain function. Despite this, several months into his recovery, he was at it again, going through the trash and collecting the junk mail, which he now could not read. During this time, I felt so sad for the man, and really came to understand that it was beyond his control. Before he regained the ability to speak in sentences, or write his name, he could pick out the "good stuff" in the piles. Before he died, though, I think he came to terms with all of us, and spent a little less time on his trash, and more time with his grandkids and his family.

I'm sharing this story, mainly for the other fathers out there who hoard. Especially if you're young, please, seek some help. It'll help improve your relationship with your kids. You live only once, and to spend it caught up in the chaos of stuff, it's just a sadness that will never end.


Top of Page.

The Recovering of a Hoarder.

I am fascinated by this, and suffer as a hoarder. It is totally debilitating, and very few people understand. I know I hoard because I am still mourning the loss of my parents in 1999 and 2000. I know I have a fear of throwing away sentimental items that remind me of them and of better times. I am crushed that they will not be around to see me married and to see my children, but at 39 that won't happen if I don't start tossing things.

See, I know this stuff intellectually, but emotionally it isn't any easier. I have a huge emotional need to "save" a part of my mother for my future daughter, and for myself right now as well. I was not ready to say goodbye. And it only seems to get easier by millimeters per day. I'm 39 and I want a life. I have taken over a large house that my grandparents and parents really struggled to maintain--I don't want to let them down---drop the ball--not be able to pick up the torch and carry it. But to maintain my house, I first have to clear it out---and it's just painful. Sometimes the emotional pain of discarding years and years of my mother's things actually causes muscular pain in my joints.

I also know that in addition to hoarding, I am still suffering from some type of grievance depression(guilt associated) I presume. I just have to throw stuff away---I know this, but I just don't FEEL it. I can't seem to make myself FEEL that it is alright. I think this condition really has made me feel trapped in using material things to remember "the way we were." This is not good. And so, I have decided to throw away 5 large plastic garbage bags of things per day, until my house is clear and useable again. I don't know how I am going to manage this. This is going to hurt like HELL, but I will try to keep you informed of my progress if you're interested. It's a 14 room house, a lifetime of memories and happier days, 4 years of stagnating grief, but 1 strong spark of desire to move on.

Wish me luck.
Mia Scot!

Top of Page.

Difficult Childhood.

Thank you for accepting my story. here goes.

My parents were deaf and very poor. It was hard for a deaf person to earn a good living in the fifties. We three children were sexually abused, mine being the longest, seven years. Our parents never punished the person who did this. Meanwhile they drank and fought often while we stole things and got into trouble with the law. We were poor scrawny,cute kids that everyone felt sorry for. Once our mother tried to send us away. She did not hoard things but she was very stingy with her money.

Every summer while growing up we were shipped off to our strict grand parents house. I don't remember having any toys, we just did a lot of make believe. Because I wet the bed I had to sleep in another room on a cold leather sofa without any covering. There my uncle still abused me and no one protected me. Much more happened later but I won't get into it.

My parents would always sign birthday cards with their name instead of mom and dad. I felt so unattached to everyone and thing. Having a form of autism didn't help me either.

We all grew up but now that our folks are gone we kids don't really see each other. But one thing we do is like our stuff. My sister is the worst she has spent thousands of dollars on things. My problem is different though. Some how by going to garage sales and flea markets is doesn't seem so bad when I buy and buy. I will buy something then rearrange my entire living room to fit it in. I rearrange things almost everyday. I leave pictures and shelves laying on the floor. I never seem to want the house to feel complete. I save books,clothes, toys,picture frames, and plain old jewelry and stuff of my parents. I am surprised I made it this far but I know I could not have without god. He is my source of strength every day and I believe that I will overcome this.

        Top of Page       

2002 All Rights Reserved
Understanding Hoarding
Disclaimer     References     FeedBack