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Anyone else live with a hoarder?

(274 Posts)
WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 15:30:06

Dh is a lovely man and I am very lucky to have him but the hoarding is driving me crazy.

He has the ability to clutter a room within seconds. When we moved into this house the agreement was the loft room is his to use as he pleases (ie fill with useless shit).
He struggles to throw anything away, is a world class procrastinator and seems to see the value in every bit of tat and random item of paper work imaginable. Any hint that I may organise or heaven forbid throw something away is extremely stressful for him.

What really pisses me off is that if we have people round they must not be allowed upstairs incase they see his ever expanding messy hoard. Why is it ok for me and dd to put up with this but others can't be allowed to see it?

Grrr. Anyway we are making small amounts of progress tidying up and he is even ebaying some stuff.

Is anyone else in the same boat?

Fairenuff Sun 30-Jun-13 19:07:42

The problem is that you both agreed the amount of space he could use and he broke the agreement. I think, as a consequence, you should be free to throw away anything that is not contained in the agreed space.

Also, hiding it from friends and neighbours is actually enabling this behaviour. I think you should tell him that people will be going upstairs in your house and if they see a load of stuff cluttering the place up, you will tell them that it's his. Otherwise he can continue to hide behind his denial.

If you don't confront this it will just continue. Eventually the house will fill up. Do you really want to live like this? It's not fair, why does he get to chose the rules?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 19:12:57

horse you sound beyond pissed off, nice to know it not just me who wants the whole lot to go up in smoke.

notsuch I do throw some things away but the fallout is so unpleasant. He gets so angry and then starts routing through the bin outside (its disgusting). Things have improved slowly over time. I also struggle to understand how attached he gets to stuff.
He reacts to my throwing away a stack of useless old Game magazines the way a normal person would to me throwing away a brand new tv they had just bought.

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 19:21:16

I can't chuck stuff without him noticing 'cause it's all in our bedroom so would be obvious.
What I have done in the past is bag it all up and chuck it in the garage. Last did thst 5yrs ago and it's slowly built up again. He's a devil for putting reading material (newspapers, mags, brochures etc) in liyyle poles in the hall, kitchen, living room.
If it hasn't moved in a day or two I chuck it down his side of the bed with the rest of his crap.

Fairenuff Sun 30-Jun-13 19:21:23

The thing is, so what if he gets angry. You know that it's irrational anger. Tell him that if he doesn't want you to throw stuff away, he should stop cluttering up your house. Why doesn't he hire a storage unit and keep it all there, or something? If you give in to him, it will only get worse.

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 19:22:09

* little piles. Grrr damn phone!!!

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 19:23:57

I don't care about the garage being full to bursting as it's not in the house. Can't stand clutter in my house though.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:26:53

I think it's very easy to say just throw his stuff away when you don't actually love with someone like this. It's very hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.
In fact I think it's pretty similar to saying "chin up" to someone with depression or offering warm milk and a lavender pillow to someone with insomnia.
It's really a very difficult situation to be in.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:28:02

*live with someone. Although I do love him in spite of his stuff! wink

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 19:32:35

A couple of things -

Do you see hoarding as a mental health problem - or just 'bad behaviour'? when does being messy and lazy cross the line?

I struggle with this myself. notsuch - why didn't I throw away the first newspaper? Because it's always being kept for something. That article he means to read, or he wants to keep, but doesn't cut out and file, so keeps the whole newspaper.

Or I get an angry response and am told he'll 'do it when does the other stuff' or when he gets time. And very quickly, it becomes part of a pile with other stuff in - a personal letter, something from hmrc, a couple of books, what looks like a load of scrap paper to me... and then it has become part of the house.

How much right do I have to basically go through his things and decide for myself what has value and what doesn't? And before anyone says I'm making a rod for my own back if I don't...

Why is it my job to tidy and organise not just mine and the kids's stuff, but also his? we both work, I am in no sense the sahm or homemaker or housewife. This is why his constant dumping of stuff on surfaces and floors makes me furious. Even just sweeping it all into a cardboard box and dumping it in his room means work for me (and if I have touched or organised or thrown things away, it means I can be blamed when he can't find something. Which happens a lot, as it would do when you have SO much stuff, unsorted, with no actual place or home to be kept in).

I really think you have to experience this to know what it is like.

Fairenuff Sun 30-Jun-13 19:34:16

Love should go both ways though Cardiff. He should respect her right to be able to live comfortably without being surrounded by mess and to be able to invite friends and family to stay. She has already respected his 'need' to hoard by agreeing that a whole room be given over to hoarding.

There has to be compromise and if the hoarder cannot or will not contain their mess to the agreed spaces, then they are not compromising.

clutterhoarder Sun 30-Jun-13 19:36:15

I'm a hoarder in the process of moving house.

my ex has chucked me out as he can't cope with me anymore.

my family are all hoarders - my mum and dad are the worst.

I've always said that mum and dad's hoards have kept my hoarding from getting out of hand. It's been more like clutter most of my life.

This last year we've argued more before splitting up. I starting hoarding more as our situation got more stressful.

I recognised it was getting bad and tried to sort it but felt like I didn't have the time.

I was able to stop adding to my hoard and then have gradually worked on reducing it. I was feeling happy at my pace but my partner kept pushing for a faster pace.

I worked on one area at a time and didn't overdo it.

I see my clutter as a way of coping with stress so I think if I do enjoyable things that make me happy then I can let go of my stuff more easily.

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 19:38:28

x-post with CuNetballteam there, sorry. Yes, I agree.

So many people have said to me 'make him put it into storage then - he'll soon sort it out if he has to pay for it.'

He didn't. He stored more useless stuff in there than if he had kept it in the house - and because he is also very bad with money (doesn't earn much, doesn't keep track of it, gets very worried about it but doesn't open bank statements and deal with things) he just let the direct debit keep going out of his account and once in a while would get very down about what he saw as another unavoidable expense.

And still, each surface and corner of the house started to fill up again. Hoarding doesn't STOP, it is a process.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:40:46

jeans - I definitely see it as a mental health issue. He's not messy per se like me and DS are! In other aspects of life he is ordered and logical.

And I absolutely agree with you about it not being your responsibility as his partner to throw things away for him. I know what you mean. I think it's important to encourage him to take small steps. I make small compromises often. And I give my DP deadlines. For example, I tell him he can keep five out of the twenty cardboard boxes he has stashed down the back of his chair. And he has two days to choose which ones, or I choose for him. And then I might not choose to keep any of them! grin

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:44:08

Ooh, don't get me started on storage units. At one point MIL had three! shock

She is down to one small one now but it's busting at the seams!

And the worst thing is DP recognises his mum has a problem, but genuinely doesn't think he's headed the same way.

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 19:45:01

Throw stuff out when they're not home? Even just sneaking out 1 carrier bag every time they are out would help. And if they've got too much crap to fit in their room/shed, tough - they need to let something go.

You need to be careful with that. It may look like an abandoned heap, but lots of churning goes on, and if something doesn't show up where it should the churning can go hyper and very very stressed out.

If you get caught throwing something away, god help you. Because it isn't a good bet that it will be forgiven and forgotten in time.

I throw away a carrier bag of old paper, just empty envelope with non exicting stamps, junk mail etc when I was 16. There was a stray penny or two mixed up in there too.

At 36 it was still being dragged up (with tears, accusations and general high voltage upset) as evidence that I was a wrongun, who not only threw away "important papers" but also MONEY!

The issue is a lot more than the stuff. And it's too much to ask the other people in the house to reslove what really needs consistent, extensive therapy in the more severe cases.

In retoropect I wish I'd got past our collective shame over the state of the house and gone and asked our GP if he could point us in the direction of help.

Sunnysummer Sun 30-Jun-13 19:48:10

My uncle is a hoarder and after he moved into my grandmother's family-owned house (and filled it!) we got professional help, as he was no longer allowing most of the family into the house.

My mum contacted a professional organiser who works a lot with hoarders, and she put her in touch with a psychologist she often worked with. Their first tip for support people for the cleanup was to NEVER throw anything away without the hoarder's permission - it fuels the insecurity that is at the base of most hoarding, and you can guarantee that the person will end up replacing it, often with even more things.

It was incredibly hard work, as because he needed to be in charge and feel safe, it meant one session every two weeks and took the best part of the year - he also only allowed a few of us to help, as he was either embarrassed in front of some others or worried that they would throw too much out after previous experiences. It was worth it overall, though it was no quick fix and he does continue to accumulate things (apparently this is also very normal).

They way they worked was to have alternate weeks where he had a counselling session one week and a clearup the next. We made piles to keep, donate, sell, recycle and throw away - he was much happier to get rid of things if they were being donated and recycled, so we were pretty loose with the definitions of what could be used here (sorry to the recycling depots of our area!),

They added the rule that once he'd allocated to the piles he was not allowed to return and take things back, and at the beginning they didn't even allow him to touch items as they were allocated - he had to look and then tell the organiser/one of us, who moved it.

Hopefully some of these tactics might be useful - I would definitely recommend contacting someone to help, if that is financially possible and if he can agree. It took a lot of the personal strain out of a very tough time. Good luck hmm

Fairenuff Sun 30-Jun-13 19:51:10

Do hoarders who don't get help eventually end up on their own? Because, unless they confront the problem, it just gets worse and worse to the extent that whole rooms become full and unusable.

The impact on relationships is severe. It's so selfish to expect others to live like that, that most relationships break down, so I understand?

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 19:55:05

Do hoarders who don't get help eventually end up on their own?

My mother has.

Reading the yahoo group COH (children of hoarders) it doesn't appear uncommon.

The ones with people who stay...there does sometimes appear to be either a shared issue or an enableing issue involved.

Trazzletoes Sun 30-Jun-13 20:03:55

Hello, my DM is a hoarder. We don't usually live together but she's been with us since October (my DS is unwell) and neither I nor DH are usually tidy but I'm working on it. And she frequently now sabotages my efforts to declutter and tidy. It's exhausting.

She's asked for help with her own house. I've tried to help her but when push comes to shove she won't do anything about it. I can't see that it is ever going to get any better tbh.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 20:04:01

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:26:53
I think it's very easy to say just throw his stuff away when you don't actually love with someone like this. It's very hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.
In fact I think it's pretty similar to saying "chin up" to someone with depression or offering warm milk and a lavender pillow to someone with insomnia.
It's really a very difficult situation to be in.

cardiff I think this is such a good point, it is more of a mental illness than most people realise. The attachment to stuff 90% of it is rubbish is extraordinary

jeans the just use storage thing pisses me off too. If we won the lottery and bought a mansion an unchecked dh would fill it with crap within a few years. If we won the euro millions and we bought the biggest house in Britain he would fill it in 5 years.

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 20:04:27

My DH will probably end up alone 'cause I'm not sure I'll keep tolerating it tbh.

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 20:05:11

It's so selfish to expect others to live like that

Selfish I think is too...simplistic. I think selfishness (what ever it costs Don't Touch My Stuff! Don't Talk About The Stuff! Don't Act Like The Stuff Is an Issue and Make Me Feel Bad! Let's Pretend All The Mess is Your Fault!) is an unavoidable consequence of the issue, rather than selfishness being the actual issue. And I do believe many people with hoarding issues suffer terribly knowing it is casuing the people they love real pain.

Having said that it can bring you to your knees to know you lag in a very poor second over piles and piles of crap.

Hard to feel truely loved when a somewhat musty pile of Family Circle circa 1975-1979 (bought in bulk from a charity shop) appear take precidence over your need not to drown in suffocating stuff and see a person you love build actual walls around themself, to protect themself from the world.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 20:05:38

Well MIL lives alone, except for her dog, but I guess he doesn't have much choice in the matter!

If I'm going to be completely honest, if DP hasn't got a handle on it by the time DS leaves home it could become a bit of a deal breaker. But DS is only 5 so there is plenty of time yet.

I hope it's something we can work on together, as a family.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 20:10:36

fairenuff I think a lot of hoarders do end up alone. I really hope this doesn't happy with dh and I as I love him, he has lots of great qualities and is a great dad. At the moment life is good for us, so he seems to be more able to part with is crap than he did years ago, I just hope that continues.

My main hope is that his is quite proud and he is a good dad. As dd grows up she will want friends to stay over and play in her room (upstairs). I think this will encourage him to declutter and stay tidy more than anything.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 20:13:26

horse I'm really sorry your relationship is not doing well. Is there any chance of going to relate and getting him to admit there is a problem and start to get help?

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