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Hoarding disorder - any kids/family members? - Page 2

post #21 of 135
Thread Starter 
I just saw the trailer for a documentary on one family's struggle with hoarding disorder, called My Mother's Garden. It is gut-wrenching but SO relevant. The film is in post-production right now.

http://www.seethrough-films.com/mmg/
post #22 of 135
That made me cry That reminds me of this site http://squalorsurvivors.com/index.shtml On the squalor survivors site it even says you shouldn't clean up someone's stuff behind their back because of results like that. For a hoarder, the crap (even the outright garbage) is some sort of safety net. It's comforting. To have it all be gone suddenly, without warning, can snap someone. Because really, the hoarding is a symptom of problems, not the cause. Even if you do clean it all up and they are happy, it's just going to come back again if the cause isn't addressed (whether that be emotional problems, OCD, whatever).

Though at the same time, I'm not totally knocking her kids. It said the house was going to be taken away from her by the city and they just didn't know what to do so they did what they thought was right.

As for neat hoarders, I think it counts too. It's still hoarding. My mom says my great aunt was a very neat housekeeper but had tons of stuff hoarded away, all neat and oraganized. She once showed my mom that she had a bunch of cans of coffee she bought because they were on sale. What got my mom was that Aunt and her dh didn't drink coffee so how is that saving any money? Maybe it was the need to acquire but it was also the need to have things on hand. I think it's like an alcoholic. Someone can have a good job, isn't driving drunk, isn't laying in the gutter, and still be an alcoholic. If they need to drink and can't stop themselves then they are still an alcoholic even if they aren't as dramatic and obvious as the person vomiting on their bosses shoes.
post #23 of 135
Wow. That was so sad.
post #24 of 135
I truly believe my MIL is a hoarder. Every single closet in her home is packed full of clothes (some over 40 years old), boxes of stuff, all kinds of junk. In an upstairs bedroom there are several shelves crammed with OTC medications and vitamins, some of which expired more than ten years ago. In the basement, more clothes, junk, etc. Not to mention two chest freezers and two refriderators filled to bursting. Some of the contents of the freezers has been in there for twenty years. There are shelves packed with canned goods-some of which are so old and have sat so long the contents have EATEN through the cans and leaked all over. Tons of packaged foods as well.

MIL subscribes to three daily newspapers and several magazines, most of which she doesn't read, so at any given time there what appears to be several feet of reading material piled up on the coffee table, dining room table, and sofa. It drives FIL nuts, but when he tries to throw them out or cancel some of the subscriptions, she gets very upset.

There is just sooo much STUFF everywhere. DH and his sibs joke about it, but don't seem to think it's a big deal. My own home certainly isn't the paragon of cleanliness and order, heck, right now it looks like a whirlwind went through it. I try not to worry about the ILs too much because while the house is packed to a the rafters, there aren't actually living in filth or anything. But I have said to DH in 20-25 years or so when his parents are gone, guess who will have herculean task of cleaning out their house? Then the color kind of drains from his face.
post #25 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC
That made me cry That reminds me of this site http://squalorsurvivors.com/index.shtml On the squalor survivors site it even says you shouldn't clean up someone's stuff behind their back because of results like that. For a hoarder, the crap (even the outright garbage) is some sort of safety net. It's comforting. To have it all be gone suddenly, without warning, can snap someone. Because really, the hoarding is a symptom of problems, not the cause. Even if you do clean it all up and they are happy, it's just going to come back again if the cause isn't addressed (whether that be emotional problems, OCD, whatever).
This is so very true! I hadn't slipped over that very thin line from super cluttery to hoarding. I call myself a hoarder in my blog because frankly that's where I was headed and that's where I was psychologically--if someone had taken all my stuff away without my knowledge, I can see that I would have snapped. It's painful and frustrating and yes, heartbreaking.

I thank the deities that I don't have true squalor--I never got into saving cans or rotten stuff, but I have hoarded food (and found expired stuff...long expired, many packages of the same thing).

I'm on a two-week clutter busting binge and it feels great, which tells me that I picked the right time. If I hadn't been ready for this, I would be in bad shape in my head. Instead, I'm feeling light and airy and hopeful.

Be kind to the hoarder in your life...
post #26 of 135
My mom is a hoarder. You could see the tendencies when I was growing up but until my dad died when I was 19, he kept things in check. But the house was still embarrassing to bring friends to and such. Now it is out of control. We cannot stay there. There is no room, even on a floor for us to sleep. My mom has a HUGE 4 bedroom house and cannot even get to her own bed. She sleeps on the couch. Often on top of newspapers and such. My sister also has a room in the house that is not just filled with stuff (literally, to the ceiling) but it is also rotting from the inside out. Her own apartment is OK though.... My mom wants to sell her house and move to a condo. The house is in great disrepair after years and years of not being able to get to the places that need repair. She also has cats that urinate everywhere (why does that seem to be a theme?). It is very awkward when we are in town. It is bad enough dealing with the embarrassment of bringing my dh into her house. But with dd still on the floor a lot, I cannot bear to have her there. The same thing happens every time. I resolve to be a good daughter and try bringing the whole family over to visit. But I only last about 2 hours before I come up with some excuse or suggestion for doing something elsewhere.

There is nothing to say or do that will change my mom. She does not see a problem. She will resolve to dig out a room. That will take months. Every time I will call her on the phone she will say she is "working on" a room. And it will be the same room for months before she names another one. But then we will visit and the stuff in the first room might be slightly moved around but all the same stuff, including the garbage, cat pee, and dust, will still be there. She seemingly cannot throw anything out.

She often sends me HUGE boxes of stuff she found around her house that she thinks I can use. Really gross stuff. Recently she sent me a toaster oven box filled with old paper napkins. There were napkins from every birthday party or holiday that ever occurred in our house. Plus random fast food napkins and regular store napkins. All of them slightly stained or mildewed. Some even look like they were used many many years ago. Several packages had moths. I have learned long ago to always open these boxes outside. Ironically, she knows we never use paper napkins, even for camping or parties. Of course I tossed the entire thing. But I cannot imagine spending an entire day sorting and packing these up, then spending $15 to mail it only so I can spend $1 throwing it away at the dump. I get a box like this at least once a week. Very seldom do I find something that I can keep for any reason. She doe snot have a job. This is what she does all day. My sister gets the same boxes. She got paper plates instead of napkins though.....

The ironic thing is that she has nothing from my childhood. She did not hoard cute pictures I drew. No dolls or old toys. No memorable outfits. Even the family photos were ruined and tossed years ago. I just do not get it.

Can you tell I am at my wit's end?

I can see the same tendencies in myself. But so far I have swung so far the other way that they have not had a chance to grow. Luckily we are broke and very busy so there is no time or money to collect stuff. I did note that when we moved the last time that my "save" pile was far too big. Dh and I quickly purged about 1/2 of our belongings. Dh is happy to do this as he does not want me to ever get like my mom. So far I have been able to funnel my OCD tendencies towards cleaning and decluttering. I can not handle things being out of place. I hope it stays that way.

Meanwhile I have nightmares at night that my mom is going to run away and leave my sister and I to take care of her molding house. ick.
post #27 of 135
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by miss_sonja
I'm on a two-week clutter busting binge and it feels great, which tells me that I picked the right time. If I hadn't been ready for this, I would be in bad shape in my head. Instead, I'm feeling light and airy and hopeful. ...
I'm glad to hear it's going well for you! It sounds like you're doing great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by miss_sonja
Be kind to the hoarder in your life...
I agree with this, but I think children of hoarders also need to be kind to themselves. Especially if they grew up in a hoard house, they may never have learned to do this. It's ok to feel frustration, anger, resentment, and even disgust. It's also ok to feel compassion, love, understanding and worry. I feel all of these things whenever I think about my mom's living conditions. I understand she has a mental disorder, and try to keep compassion above all else, but to deny the other emotions are there would be a disservice to myself.

Also, there may come a time when family members feel they must act to preserve the health and life of the hoarder. I completely understand why the kids in the documentary acted, and may get there soon myself. I don't think any of us would undertake such action lightly. I agree with what you're saying about being compassionate and considerate of the hoarder's feelings, but sometimes there is no good choice.
post #28 of 135
I was almost crying watching that.

My MIL was a hoarder (with cats). I did not visit her house before she died (of cancer - not related to the house) and my DH and his friend cleaned it up. I understand that it looked like the woman's in the movie but with more stuff outside and the house was much bigger so more stuff inside. She slept on a mattress on the floor downstairs. DH filled 4 dumpsters with her stuff. She def. got worse over the years as it wasn't like that when he was a child. After he became and adult, it got worse and worse until she didn't want him to visit, didn't have any friends over, and only very grugingly let him and his friend clean sometimes in the yard. She had about 30 cats that were indoor/outdoor.

While I understand how upset the mom in the movie was "Why didn't you help me slowly to do this?" there is no slowly. If you try to do it slowly, by the time you've gotten rid of some stuff, the hoarder has gotten just as much new stuff to replace it.

I do think they should have told her BEFORE she went home so that it wasn't such a shock. My heart goes out to that family, and to those of you here dealing with it.
post #29 of 135
Yooper and Pikki...so sad.
post #30 of 135
I watched the trailer too. That is very close to what we are dealing with. However, if it came to the township taking my mom's home, I think we would let them. It would be the same trauma on my mom except she can blame them instead of us. Does that make me evil? And you are right there is no "slowly". My sister I dream that the house will burn down (with my mom getting out safely, of course). She would start all over again with a different living space, but we would have a few years of almost-normal..... It is so sad. My dad designed that house. My parents built it themselves. And now it is just a giant litter box and garbage dump. Why can't she see that?!?!?!?!?

I was in the second hand stores (we have 4!) around town today looking for a popsicle mold (ours broke last week). I see myself drawn to the plastic knock-off tuppeware and cool retro luggage. 1970's waffle irons almost give me the chills. I have to remind myself every single day that I do not need it. None of it. In fact, I could probably go 5 years and not buy one single thing and be fine. I repeat this daily. I make myself check the second hand stores for things I need. I always have a list and rarely deviate from it. I do this because I need to save money, I hate causing more "stuff" to be manufactured, and often what I need is something I only need once or twice and can just give back to Goodwill afterwards. But I also do it to keep myself in check. I do it so I walk out of the store empty-handed and know that is possible.
post #31 of 135
My uncle definitely had this (among other things). He died recently and we had to clean out his trailer. Because I had just closed on my house, it was a convenient place to bring all the saleable items so we could get the trailer cleaned out as fast as possible. Ugh, I was starting to feel like a hoarder myself with all the crap everywhere. I just had a big sale last weekend and got rid of all the non-ebayable stuff. I feel so much better.

After having gone through that experience, everyone in my family was a little bit 'innoculated' against this.

I remember when my grandmother died and my grandfather sold the house - forcing my uncle to find somewhere else to live - he was crazy about not giving up half the crap my grandparents had that he just didn't need. He kept their boat and three trailers rusting in his trailer lot. He kept a drill press (huge machine) from the machine shop in his trailer. His living room had piles of metal and tools and bits from the shop. He couldn't part with it. My mom would say that she would like something (which he didn't remotely need) and he'd say "I was counting on that!" - its honestly become a family joke. He was an incredibly stubborn man and I imagine that goes along with the disorder from what I've read here.
post #32 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
However, if it came to the township taking my mom's home, I think we would let them. It would be the same trauma on my mom except she can blame them instead of us. Does that make me evil?
No, you're not evil. That was my first thought too when watching that video.
post #33 of 135
Yooper,

I saw our family in your post down to the cats peeing everywhere.

These posts and the trailer have brought many painful feelings up for me. I have not been to my parents house since Christmas 2003, so I don't know what the situation is truly like now. Apparently the house had a lot of damage due to termites and water getting in (house in only 11 years old), so they had to have a lot of work done. I don't know if this has improved or worsened the situation.

It is so difficult because my mom is a great person. I love to be around her and have her be with my son, but it is so hard to visit. We were planning a visit in September, but instead have decided to go on a family vacation instead with my parents and my immediate family. I'm really looking forward to it.
post #34 of 135
My parents are horders. They live in a good size old craftsman style home, that could be beaufitul. Unfortunately, it's a storage shed. The basement, two rooms on the main floor, the garage and the attic are all filled with crap to the point the rooms not accessible. The rest of the house is full of trails. It makes me so sad, especially that my three younger brothers are living there. It was bad when I lived there, but it has gotten so much worse!
My sister and I called DHS on our parents, they cleaned up a little. I didn't want them to get in trouble, but it makes me so mad that they just slipped through the cracks. I was terrified that their house would end up on the news, but I could handle that if I knew that they might be forced to get counseling and figure out why they do this. They have no desire to though. It's very frustrating. Epecially that DHS saw no poblems with children living there. :
I have a lot of feelings about it, and I think it really contributed to the low self esteem I have suffered. My mil is also a hoarder, but she is much more functional. My husband has serious packrat tendencies. He will hang onto everything! I frequently throw things away behind his back. Sometimes I feel it with myself and I will go on random purges. Go through things and find 10 things to get rid of. I do hang on to too much stuff. I have art supplies, and bins of fabric. I have a storage bin where I save clothes for Quillan for a few seasons ahead. I try not to get anything that he couldn't wear for years. I have put myself on a "crap" diet. Until I can figure out what to do with the things I have, I'm not getting anything else. (Excluding food!)
post #35 of 135
I have been thinking about this thread a lot.

I think this tendency runs in my family and I'm not sure how much I am afflicted with it. Our own house has a basement and it is so full of "storage" stuff, we can''t use the space for a rec room like we would like to. On Saturday we (I) cleaned out a corner of the basement by taking everything outside and sorting.....garbage, save for upcoming consignment sale (that was a small box) and putting a few things away properly (shelf for toys that were scattered about). It is unbelievable. I save some baby clothes, cloth diapers, some kitchen stuff that doesn't in the kitchen (limited cupboard space). We have 2 or 3 more sections to really clean out...porr dh can't even get to his workbench.

My sister is a hoarder...we have always joked about this, I never knew there was a name for it. Her basement was the same way....you could barely walk down there...piles of baby toys when her kids were 8 and up. She used to collect beanie babies and has tubs of them....really, we joke that she is the "Queen of Target Clearance". My mom grew up during the Depression, she saved stuff.....but things like food and old vacuum's She didn't save trash per se, and she didn't save our childhood things in any meaningful way. It scares me to think I could become like that when my kids grew up That seems to be a theme.
post #36 of 135
momof1sofar, thanks for starting this thread. I think this thread is my biggest inspiration for all the de-cluttering I'm doing right now. I don't want to turn into my mom. Actually, I think a lot of what I am now (especially the way I parent) is based on that desire. That sounds sad (and I guess it is) but I'm generally a pretty happy person so I guess it's ok (and my mom is wonderful in many ways, it's just that her parenting and housekeeping both stand out like sore thumbs).

Anyway, yeah, I've been thinking of this thread a lot too even though I'm pretty sure my mom is not technically a hoarder. But maybe she is. She *says* she can get rid of her stuff and claims to be doing it, but then, her house has been like that for decades now so maybe she's just kidding herself. I sent her some scary pictures I found on squalor survivors and have been talking to her about all the de-cluttering I'm doing and she's inspired to do more. She says she wants to make a set date to have me over for tea and that this will inspire her to get moving. We'll see.

I am *not* sharing my blog with any family. First because they'll see things they gave us, but second because I think my mom's reaction would be "oh, you could use that" "you could sell that" "your sister could use that", etc.

I started a thread on warehouse stores and nikijr summed it up well for me. Why buy one of something when you can buy 6? That's my mom. I never really thought of that before this week when she asked if I wanted to go to Costco with her. I don't want to go because I don't want to have to find places to store supersize packages of stuff around here. My mom loves it though. Of course, sometimes the stuff never even makes it out of her car trunk and rides around with her for months (so much fun when she forgets perishable items back there!).

Whenever I ask her to pick me up something from the store (a regular store) she brings back multiples. This morning my kids were playing with the stamp set my mom bought ds for his birthday. She bought him about 50 stamps and 6 ink pads. Yes, that was nice of her, but it's overwhelming. And she does this with many things, it's not just a one time present she went overboard on.

It's like they think that if one is good, then 6 is better, 12 is great and 50 is fantastic. They don't think about where it will go.

I definitely have the tendencies myself which is why this thread keeps drawing me back. I don't want to end up like my mom or like some of these movie or picture links. Looking around, I'm really not in danger of it, but still, I want more peace around here. Less stuff.
post #37 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC
I want more peace around here. Less stuff.
Amen, sister. No matter how cool the stuff may be, peace will always be more valuable. This thread is such the ultimate motivation.
post #38 of 135
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShannonCC
Anyway, yeah, I've been thinking of this thread a lot too even though I'm pretty sure my mom is not technically a hoarder. But maybe she is. She *says* she can get rid of her stuff and claims to be doing it, but then, her house has been like that for decades now so maybe she's just kidding herself.
I think you should read this part over. People with all sorts of addictions claim that they can stop. But you notice that they don't. And as I mentioned in response to the My Mother's Garden trailer, even if she is getting rid of stuff, if her house has been that way for decades it's because she brings in new stuff for all the old stuff she gets rid of.

post #39 of 135
Yeah, she definitely does bring in new stuff all the time (like my Costco example). And she always has a reason her house is a mess. When we were there it was because of us kids Now she says it's because of the two other adults she lives with. Now sure, they are bad too. Really it's the three of them together, but it's not like she's this neat person living with slobs.

I think I'm hung up on the garbage thing though. My mom *does* take out the garbage. And you can walk through her house, it's just got stuff piled up against the walls and on surfaces so there's not a lot of free space but there's enough to walk. And the basement, garage and attic are junked but still, you can walk in them. Yeah, it sucks.

I feel bad actually that I gave something to my sister recently. I was getting rid of a kitchen faucet (new) and told my mom to see if sis wanted it. That was before I read this thread (or before it hit home). The other day I told dh that sis won't put it in will she? She'll just toss the faucet into her house and *mean* to put it in but not get to it. Now I feel like I gave an alcoholic a six pack or something.

Man, I feel all creeped out now and have this huge desire to throw out half the stuff in my house.
post #40 of 135
I'm subbing to this thread. My mom is a hoarder - it's really bad at her house which is the one I grew up in. There is no place to sit, every room (and it's a 5/6 bedroom house!) is crammed full of stuff. Like a PP said she is always "working on" things but never getting rid of stuff. My dad recently left and I feel part of the reason is because he finally got fed up with it never getting better, only worse. I know I have inherited some hoarding/cluttering tendancies but I am really working on overcoming them. Since I discovered freecycle I can get rid of things more easily. It helps me to know that someone is using an item if it still usefull. I just hate throwing things away. But I don't want my boys growing up in the same kind of environment I did so I have to stay on top of this. I'm going to go back and read the rest of the thread and follow the links when I have the time.
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