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Dealing w/ Decluttering Anxiety (Hoarding Tendancies?)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have MAJOR anxiety about donating or throwing away lots of different types of things. When I know things are being thrown away or going to charity, I have anxiety attacks - full blown, nausea, crying and shaking anxiety attacks sometimes. I'm wondering what strategies you ladies have for dealing with feelings of anxiety in getting rid other things you don't need. Mostly, I have this issue with things that might have sentimental attachment, like baby items, kids art/paperwork, things like that. However, sometimes it's just about things I think I might need sometime in the future. And sometimes it's things that don't seem to have a reason.

I have not let this affect me as much as it could have - I could see if I didn't really make myself aware of this and deal with it that it might evolve into more of a true hoarding situation. However, there is some major decluttering that needs to happen in my house and I have a mini-anxiety attack just writing this post and thinking about parting with things. I do have a history of anxiety/OCD issues, so this is not really that unusual for me but I really do love when I have a space that is neat and clean so I'd like to get this more under control.

Thanks for any help or tips you can offer!
post #2 of 9
What have you done to help with anxiety/OCD issues in the past? Could you use whatever works to help you now?

I am thinking about hiring a professional organizer to help me work through my clutter. Some of them I am finding say that they will work with hoarders, specifically. If that's an option for you, it might help. They are probably used to dealing with true hoarders and so would have no problem helping you before it gets to that point.

The main thing that helps me deal with sentimental things is my digital camera. I take photos of everything-- art work, even things like a flower pot my dd decorated (but I still haven't donated it). I take pics of my girls in my favorite outfits and only keep 1 or 2 newborn things.

The other thing that helps is that I get rid of all of my older dd's drawings quickly before I have time to get attached. We have 1 folder and what fits, we keep. Otherwise we recycle it.
post #3 of 9
Here's a post by Crayfish that has some good thoughts about this subject: http://www.mothering.com/discussions...92&postcount=9

I agree that the camera is helpful. Take pictures of all the things you want to remember.

A couple strategies that help when I'm indecisive: imagine the joy that someone less fortunate will get when they find my donations at the thrift store. It feels good to help people.

Imagine how light and freeing it will feel to have a clean house. Also, since I'm not stressing about "stuff," what will I be able to do? Make nicer meals from scratch? Sit on the floor and play with my kids? Dust off my own hobbies?

And this is a big one for me, since I grew up in a very distressing, hoarding house (my mother is one): Imagine my children being proud of their space, of them bringing their friends home and their friends feeling comfortable and secure with our family.

And then I tell myself, it's. only. stuff. It's not people, it's not memories, it's not experiences, it's not relationships (all the things I value and want to value). It's just stuff, that comes and goes. Decluttering is a way to be kind to yourself, your family and the earth.
post #4 of 9
Same question I asked someone else-- is there another person, a relative or someone, who is putting pressure on you to keep things for them? Or is it all from inside?
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I forgot about the camera trick - that has helped before. The only thing I've done that's really helped with the anxiety/OCD has been meds, and I'm not willing to do that again unless it gets really bad, which I don't think it is right now.

No one else is wanting me to hold onto stuff - in fact, my DH wants me to get rid of stuff. This is all me
post #6 of 9
It's really hard to let go of things, isn't it? I've battled that so many times!!! Finally I have to ask myself...if these things are bringing me joy, or getting in the way of my joy? Then once I get started I do great! (for about an hour)

Good luck mama
post #7 of 9
FWIW, the homeopathic remedy called "Arsenicum album" helps me with my anxiety. It doesn't make it go away, so much as takes it down a notch so I can better deal with it, on my own, it seems.

Anyway, I was going to suggest the camera idea. Also, what about watching shows like hoarders? sometimes looking at it from an observers angle might help you to think "omg, I don't want to end up there..." more blatantly.
post #8 of 9
what crayfish said. with practice it gets easier to declutter. much easier.

next. focus on the goals of decluttering. a healthy home for your children. a clean play area for your children. positive learning examples of a normal relationship with stuff. It may be easier to donate/toss when you identify the thing as in the way of your goal.
post #9 of 9
I know this post is old, but was looking through archives and had a suggestion. I've found Kava tea to be a big help for when my anxiety is acute, but I don't want to take xanax. I prefer the "Kava Stress Relief" by Yogi brand. It can be hard to find, so I stock up when I do come across it.
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