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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?

nomdesw2 Sun 30-Jun-13 15:55:08

Yep. Me. Married 18 months, together a year before that, and it is becoming clear this is serious.

Not only that, but the "tidying" he does seems to have the effect of making my stuff unlocatable whilst not actually making anything any tidier...

No answers, sorry, but I share your pain. Half the house has disappeared behing boxes/piles of stuff...

I am a hoarder. We don't really recover, but we find ways of managing and mine is for the most part under control.

Step 1 is getting him to admit its a problem. Hoarders thrive on denial.

Step 2 is discovering the emotinal reasons behind his hoarding through counselling.

Step 3 is putting coping mechanisms in place to allow him to throw things away without turmoil.

nomdesw2 Sun 30-Jun-13 17:10:55

Can you expand on no 3 please teacake? How does a partner help, practically speaking?

(Feel a bit encouraged that we may have made some progress with 1)

Whenshe, is actual ebay selling happening? Or just preparatory cleaning/photographing/shuffling? You sound stressed

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 17:11:38

Yes, don't get me started angry

My advice would be to nip it in the bud ASAP. I wish I had sad

DH really struggles to throw anything away in case it might be useful. I've seriously pissed him off in the past by charity shopping or throwing things away, so now I pick my moments and gently suggest getting rid. I wouldn't mind so much if everything had a home, but it just 'floats' around the house.

He's adopted, and he now recognises that he gains comfort through attachments to objects and things. This is half the battle as said up thread.

And I can't deny that sometimes it's useful. He always can find just the right size of screw, or piece of plastic, or tub for our needs. But an awful lot is kept 'just in case' and without a home and the downside is a shit load of stuff unfortunately.

I think I've over compensated by getting rid of disproportionately more off my stuff, which makes me a little sad tbh.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:35:41

Sorry you are all suffering too but kind of glad it's not just me.

nomdes I am a bit stressed, am 23 weeks pregnant with dc2 and we need the space. We have a room for the new but it is full of crap at the moment. The good news is he actually has put stuff on eBay and we have had bids, so with any luck the stuff will actually leave the house.

princess it's good to hear from a hoarder, you can help us muster up some sympathy when the hoarding is really pissing us off.

I like your 3 step program idea. I think it has highlighted for me that I am pushing him into step 3 without addressing step 1 and 2 at all.

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 17:43:20

Yes. I tend to think of him as an 'accumulator' rather than a hoarder, only because hoarding to me implies some sort of thought and decision behind it. I know that's not the definition of it - but I think DP's accumulating is a mix of keeping things for some vague, unspecified future purpose (thus giving what it basically rubbish some sort of value, which keeps it from the bin) - it is partly that he does not sort through or organise things. So things that have real value (bank statements, family photographs, receipts) are lost in huge piles of old newspapers, empty envelopes, old fliers, notes, old invitations, broken electrical items etc etc. This stops him from easily just putting things in the recycling or the bin.

He also tends not to put clothes away, dumping them in heaps. And he has a lot of clothes.

I think he also has some intention of getting round to it all one day. When I challenge him about why he is keeping things, or why there are just great heaps of rubbish in his room, he always gets angry and tells me he's just been too busy to sort it all out. But he has boxes of things from college days 20 years ago that he has just moved from one address to another. No time to sort through it all in all of twenty years?

The 'not letting people upstairs' is something I've experienced. I too have tried to limit the accumulating to DP's work room, and the shed - but it just takes over. It happens on a 'micro' level as well as largescale. So surfaces are littered with scraps of paper - receipts that don't need to be kept and should go straight in the bin - handfuls of loose change, as he does not use a wallet so constantly empties his pockets whenever he walsk into the house - odd scraps and lids and pens and screws and batteries and endless, endless pieces of paper. A leaflet for a church someone has given him in the street, a charity letter he hasn't opened, etc etc. It just gets left there, and then more things arrive next to it or on top of it, and then it becomes a Pile Of Stuff, and apparently part of the architecture of our home.

We have been together for ten years and are in our second house now. The house move was extremely traumatic, as I made it clear that we were not just moving heaps of rubbish from one house to the next. I think I was only able to insist on this as nearly all of the money behind the move was mine, IYSWIM. He did throw some things away - he also just boxed up a lot of things, and they are currently sitting in his new work room. Where new piles of stuff are accumulating on top of them.

DP has a history of chronic depression but always refused to go for counselling or therapy, preferring just to take high doses of antidepressants. A few years ago he decided he was not depressed anymore, and stopped taking them. I think he is probably right, but who am I to know. I do think that he still has many 'habits' and thought patterns/responses etc of a depressed person, and I think the inability to manage his possessions and environment is part of that.

Which does leave me with a big problem - if he never sort help for his depression, he won't go for help with hoarding. As he doesn't even recognise it as such. It's just that he's 'too busy' to sort through things and throw stuff away.

I tried a few years ago to help by buying him some storage stuff from ikea. He was complaining that he didn't have anywhere to put things, and if he did then it would all be tidier, and he'd be able to find things. So I bought him the units he wanted. He started trying to sort through things ihis room, which admittedly was a huge task - then ground to a halt. Weeks later, I opened a drawer in his storage units, just to see if he had put anything in it. It was full of rubbish. As in, he had just scooped up some of the piles of crap lying around his room and stuffed it in the drawers. Hadn't sorted or thrown anything away.

I wish I had seen this problem for what it was earlier. I believed him when he said it was just lack of time, or that he was going to get round to it. But after ten years, I can see this will never happen. It isn't a containable problem, either. It's like a creeping fungus or damp, that comes out of his room and into every living space. I wish I knew what to do. As it is, all I do is periodically lose my temper, or scoop up a load of things, and just dump them in his room. Which can't really hold much more, it is crammed as it is.

Any thoughts? anyone else manage to do anything positive about this problem?

jeansthatfit Sun 30-Jun-13 17:44:30

teacake, I missed your post. I'd be grateful for any thoughts you have.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:45:57

horsemad re don't get me started grin and nip it in the bud sad it's far too late for that.

bill a lot of dh's stuff floats around the house too, the rest is buried under piles of crap so will never be used angry

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 17:53:37

jeans poor you (and poor me I identified with a lot in that post (not the depression though)). I remember when we moved house he actually moved a huge box of glass bottles and tin cans to our new house - it was all rubbish meant to be recycled angry

When we lived in a rented house I used to fanaticise about the house burning down and destroying all his crap.

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 30-Jun-13 17:56:34

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.

fridayfreedom Sun 30-Jun-13 18:00:44

Mine accumulates stuff too, mainly tools and stacks of paper. Gets mega stroppy when I make him sort it out!
I make sure that all the 'crap' goes to his garage , which is full but at least it isn't in the house,
I also lose stuff to the tip when he isn't here.
We moved boxes of his rubbish when we moved in, put it in the attic but I have gradually reduced it over the years!
What makes me really mad is that when his parents died he and his sister sorted the house . There was stuff she said should be kept but not in her three bed house, she lives alone! So guess who's attic it is in???

fridayfreedom Sun 30-Jun-13 18:01:54

Hopeful... I dream about skip hire!!

Blessyou Sun 30-Jun-13 18:07:03

Me, too. I have clutter tendencies but am not nearly as bad as him. I'm working on it.

One suggestion I had for him was we will put all DVDs (in this case) in a plastic box in the loft, sealed with a paper wrap which has the date on. If we don't open it for the next year, it can go to charity. This is working better than giving it straight over to charity. Not sure how he'll feel when the year is up, but I won't let him open it and look through, I will just take it without discussing with him! The agreement has been made.

googietheegg Sun 30-Jun-13 18:11:41

One of the best things we bought was an incinerator from b&q - only about £50 and its been great at motivating DH to burn stuff he doesn't actually need like old receipts etc. there's a whole man like fire thing it taps into I think and stops the piles growing toooooo much confused

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 18:16:27

If I'd known how bad it would be I'd never have married him.

I can't stand it. Feel like one day I'll flip and set fire to the lot.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 18:30:03

I can very much sympathise and relate to what you have written.

DP is very much a keeper of things. I think in his case it is very much hereditary. His mother's house is like the ones you see on the tv programmes about hoarding. Our house is full of things gathering dust which I am constantly itching to throw away. Similarly to you I find myself periodically losing my temper and then things get thrown away.

DP has recently not had very much work. This has actually been a godsend. I have insisted that he spends his time at home sorting out his stuff and to his credit, he is really trying.

I don't really have any answers for you though. I am very much a minimalist at heart. I find it extremely difficult to understand how a person can become so emotionally attached to "stuff."

You aren't alone though, I think it's far more common than most people think. smile

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:37:38

Why don't you all just throw stuff away?

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 18:47:51

Believe me, I have thrown things away.

He gets so angry and upset about it that I let him keep a lot of things just for the sake of a quiet life. You can guarantee that whatever I throw away he will go looking for the following day because he desperately needs it for some reason and then we have the mother of all rows!

We have reached a point now where if a newspaper gets to over a fortnight old I can throw it away and any receipts and train tickets for less than 10.00 are fair game as well. confused

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:52:35

Can't you just throw stuff away sneakily. If he can't find stuff just bluff and say it's there somewhere.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:53:14

I'd be fucked if I kept a newspaper longer than 24 hours, never mind a fortnight

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 18:55:28

Sorry to be unhelpful, i'm just trying to understand the condition. It puzzles me how it starts. I mEAN, with the newspaper for example, how were you ever persuaded NOT to throw the very first old newspaper away?

My STBXH was a hoarder. Every room was full of his stuff. He had boxes and boxes of videos he wouldn't get rid of, even though we didn't have a video player. He kept clothes that were 10years + old. He wouldn't throw away anything - it was a nightmare to be honest. Our garage was heaving after only living together for year.

I'm completely the opposite and found it very stressful to live with. I spent so much time looking for things (as did he in all truth), and whenever he went away with work I used to go into the garage or in his wardrobe and carefully 'weed' things out to try and keep on top of the problem.

Anyway, I live on my own now (we didn't split because of the hoarding I hasten to add) and I absolutely do not miss the huge amounts of crap he used to keep everywhere. Anyone who lives with someone like this has my full sympathy because it can be very stressful.

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Sun 30-Jun-13 19:05:31

Some stuff I can throw away sneakily and believe me, when a chance presents itself I do.

With the newspapers as an example, when we first got together I found the previous days paper left out on the arm of the chair and I revved it in the recycling. He gets home from work,
"Where's my paper?"
"What paper?"
"The one I left on my chair."
"In the bin."
"I'd not finished the sudoku. Don't throw my stuff away. Rah rah rah."

A week later there are five newspapers, so I say right I'm throwing these out. He wants to keep at least two of them so he can finish his bastard sudokus and then hang onto them "just in case."
When pressed for a reason for the "just in case" he normally comes up with something like wrapping up broken glass or packing stuff to sell on eBay.
You can always guarantee as well that if I get my way and all the newspapers get thrown out then I will break a glass the next day and have nothing to wrap it in. Cue "I told you so. Why do you always have to throw stuff away?" Aaaaarrrgghhh!!

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?

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 20:18:32

Whenshe - hell would freeze over before he admitted he has a problem.

I think it possibly stems from childhood - his father was in the forces and they moved every 2 years and so I imagine he couldn't keep endless amounts of stuff.

I was a hoarder the good news is I'm much better, the bad news is I've now switched to cleaning OCD.
It got to the stage I wouldn't let anyone upstairs in my house and it made me feel so ashamed , my mum helped me and I got rid of so much stuff and we organised the rest and the act of throwing out things I didn't need and the sheer enjoyment I had of all the new space made me totally obsessed with keeping it that way .

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Sun 30-Jun-13 20:20:22

If you google compulsive hoarders there are quite a few organisations that might be able to offer help.

Agree it's a type of mental illness, an OCD like behaviour which means it can be treated, possibly.

Viviennemary Sun 30-Jun-13 20:21:29

I'm a bit of a hoarder I admit. But I am trying hard to improve. By giving myself quotas of stuff. I tried to get rid of all books that didn't fit into one of my many bookcases and I've almost managed it. I now weed out magazines which I didn't used to do and the same with clothes. It's more difficult when your partner is the hoarder.

If hoarding gets out of control it can make life really hard. And I agree that it's a lot more common that people think.

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 20:24:20

This probably isn't new info for most, but there is a good collection of UK & generic links on this page.

I think, thinking back, I thought it was just us which was terribly isolating and encouraged the shame, whereas today it is much easier to connect to people in the same boat and get at least emotional supoort.

Thankfully there also seems to be more practical support as well

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Sun 30-Jun-13 20:27:47

horse when their stuff means more to them than you do it really hurts. So sorry hope this thread hasn't been really upsetting for you.

50shades well done on tackling the hoarding. I'm sat here thinking, wow imagine if I could switch dh's crazy attitude to hoarding into a crazy attitude towards cleaning (I know I'm evil). Was it the shame of having people see the mess that tipped you over. Dh is quite proud, he's happy for me to live in a complete tip but doesn't want others to see it.

notsuch I will have a look but don't think he will admit he has that severe a problem. He is (very slowly) getting rid of stuff. I just feel bad for him that it really causes him distress at the thought of getting rid if stuff. (Plus it pisses me of no end as well).

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 20:34:38

Thanks Whenshe - it is hurtful sad I just can't get my head around how a flyer for an open day somewhere 10yrs ago that we didn't even attend can be worthy of keeping. confused

Horsemad Sun 30-Jun-13 20:36:48

This is an awful thing to say, but if my DH died I'd actually chuck all his crap out before arranging his funeral shock

That's how bad it is for me.

Biscuitsareme Sun 30-Jun-13 20:46:45

Both my parents are hoarders. They are now divorced but not because of the hoarding. I remember being too ashamed to invite friends over as a teenager. My mum leaves bulky stuff, like furniture she's been given/ inherited, stacked up in weird places like the narrow corridor between doors to living and dining room and stairs, and she has precarious piles of papers on all table surfaces. These can't be moved because she's in the middle of sorting them out (ha!). I can't move any furniture etc out of the way because I might break it. My dad keeps train tickets from the 1990s. His mantra is 'you'll need a thing the day after you've thrown it away.

It's a control issue for them. They need 'their' stuff around them over which they, and they alone, have control.

I'm a second generations hoarder in that I find it difficult to organise where I keep stuff. I am married to a very tidy OH smile who's happy to sort my stuff for me grin .

I agree it's a mental health issue. Good luck OP!
I'll be watching this thread with interest.

CarpeVinum Sun 30-Jun-13 20:49:42

This is an awful thing to say

It's not an awful thing to say. I think it's pretty normal for people who have been oppressed to some extent by a hoard.

My mother lost her home, so moved over here to stay with us. And despite all my begging and threatening...shipped the hoard over too.

After she was gone, I dealt with the hoard before I dealt with anything else. I had to. It was bigger than me, but I had to kill the dragon in one fell swoop with a real urgency. Probably because I think I sort of saw it as an actual entity in its own right that would overtake me too if I didn't. It's presence was oppressive and physically painful to me. And I needed it gone as the absolute priority.

How you feel is perfectly normal for somebody in your position.

happydutchmummy Sun 30-Jun-13 20:50:18

My oh has endless trouble throwing things away, as it 'may be useful one day' or its actually 'worth quite a lot of money.'.... Our garage is full of essential stuff like VCR recorders, old fire alarm system and detector heads, boxes of odd shoes and god knows what else.

When we lived in his house I was too ashamed of the chaos in the living room to have friends over and do play dates, etc. I then inherited some money and brought my own place and told oh he was welcome to move in but his junk wasn't.... To be fair he did sort through some of it and took a car load to the skip but most of it has somehow followed him. It is not allowed in he house, unless it is somewhere that is 'his'space like his wardrobe, etc. hence why I now cannot fit dd bike in the garage, as its full of his stuff.

It causes real tension in our relationship because I'm a bit of a minimalist and he is so much towards the other extreme. When we were living at his I too felt like he was prioritising his stuff over me and dd. it was a factor in me buying my own place, so I could say my house, my rules....

Spiritedwolf Sun 30-Jun-13 22:05:20

I'm not a full on hoarder, but we do have more stuff than we can keep tidy. Things get moved from one place to another. I do go through fits of chucking things out but it's difficult so I can understand about the emotional attachment to stuff thing.

When I was pregnant with my DS (now nearly 11 months) I was pretty stressed about nesting, trying to create space for our new baby and associated necessary stuff. I struggled about whether to throw away a large pile of writing magazines. In my head, they were tied up to my desire to be a writer, and I had frantic thoughts that if I let them go, I never would be, or that I was throwing out fantastic advice that when I had read it seemed important but which I had now forgotton.

To put the magazines out for recycling I had to logically and emotionally detatch the idea of being a writer from a pile of old magazines. To be a writer I need to write, not spend hours/longer reading old magazines that I've already read. Yes they did have good tips/ideas etc, but nothing I wouldn't be able to find online, in the many books I have, or indeed in current issues of the magazines shoudl I wish to purchase them. Having that pile of magazines wasn't helping me to write at all, and they were taking up space that my much wanted baby needed!

So I find things related to dreams/ambitions difficult to part with, also things that I have wanted to use for a creative project difficult to let go because it feels a failure not to have completed them - of course having them around taking up space feels bad too. I also find it difficult to let go of things that others have given me as it seems ungrateful. So that's a lot of stuff taking up mental and physical space.

Maybe what stops it from becoming a horde is that I do value having space and order, so I try to keep on top of it but I could do better really. I think part of it is that I don't really trust myself to remember things, without the stuff that triggers those memories.

So I feel I can really sympathise with the emotional side of hoarding. I really get that getting rid of the hoard without permission would only cause the person to replace the stuff - because it is (or could be) filling an emotional void. Often people who hoard have lost something precious or lived through times when they had very little, so put value in everything.

What I don't really understand is the verbal abuse and disrespect people are saying they experience from their partners if they challange them about the hoard. It seems to me to be very controlling - throwing a temper tantrum over a newspaper, etc. Even when it is them who has overstepped the agreed limit of their hoarding (a room/loft/shed etc).

I don't think that people should feel they have to put up with being shouted at, or emotionally blackmailed over a newspaper. Maybe that's why severe hoarders end up alone. Surely it is the same as any emotional abuser, they may or may not have a condition (depression/alcholism/etc) which they are struggling with, but it doesn't excuse them from being controlling/abusive.

Trazzletoes Sun 30-Jun-13 22:14:21

biscuits a 2nd gen hoarder, eh? That sounds about a perfect description for me!

Yep whenshe took a full scale meltdown and me freaking out about people seeing the state things were in to make me realise I needed help, it needs to be handled kindly and sensitively as it causes great anxiety when people try to interfere with your hoard. My mum was so patient and kind and I gradually started to allow her to help.

Also I was pregnant and due my 3rd child and decided I needed to tackle it for their sakes, also the thought of having people round after the birth and them seeing the mess shamed me into it.

A tip that helped me is tackle a square metre a day with a bin bag and eventually it will all be under control. Trying to tackle it all at once is overwhelming .

When confronted about their hoard hoarders feel very shameful and it causes ridiculous levels of anxiety so although it doesn't excuse the behaviour of the hoarder when made to tackle it, it explains it a little.

LemonDrizzled Sun 30-Jun-13 23:40:08

My DP is a second generation hoarder whose wife left him because of his stuff. His parents have trashed their house due to excess stuff bringing ceilings down and blocking rooms. So they live with him and brought their stuff too...
I cannot even leave an overnight bag there. I can just fit in a toothbrush and some slippers.
I don't think I will be able to live with him. That makes me sad, but not as sad as living with the oppressive weight of broken electrical equipment, old newspapers, hundreds of Tshirts and shoes, and his hobby which currently has overflowed the garage onto the grass and a gazebo I bought him.
WIll he care enough about me to avoid going down the path of his parents? I don't know.

HollaAtMeBaby Mon 01-Jul-13 00:04:08

I think there's a very fine line between this being a psychological issue (anyone know whether hoarding made it into the recently published DSM-V "catalogue" of mental health problems?) and just bad behaviour. As Spiritedwolf says, anger is never justified. It's concerning that so many people here don't dare to throw anything away for fear of the hoarder's rage/blame. This board is full of women who restrict their behaviour to avoid triggering the fury of an unreasonable partner and they are consistently told that it is abusive, that they shouldn't feel frightened, that they should call Women's Aid and/or LTB, and rightly so IMO. I don't think hoarding should be a special case.

ChangingWoman Mon 01-Jul-13 01:05:52

I used to be an accidental hoarder / accumulator. Two things had to change before I could stop:

- I had to get rid of the idea that objects and papers might have some intrinsic value which I had forgotten or not realised. This was very emotional. I didn't tackle it by reason but by becoming more confident in my own judgment of what was important and what was not.

- I had to understand the concept of tidying. Genuinely, I did not understand that tidying meant that there was a place for every object and they should be put there. (As a child, I didn't know what my mum meant when she asked me to tidy up and would just shuffle things around and hoover until she seemed satisfied.) Now I have drawers, cupboards and bags designated for types of object and paper and timescales for which I keep most of them before disposal or recycling.

The first one was very difficult but the second was a revelation where I suddenly understood what everyone else seemed to have always known.

I agree changing woman on both of those points, I used to be a pile shuffler too but now I'm obsessed with buying storage etc, still an obsessive behaviour but makes my life much nicer to live.
I'd say its definitely on the OCD spectrum .

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 07:40:29

anyone know whether hoarding made it into the recently published DSM-V "catalogue" of mental health problems?

wiki says yes.

anger is never justified

I don't think that is reflected in treatment all that much. Certainly not in the style popularised by media outlets. I think there is still significant pressure on family members to prioritise the person with the issue, and make allowences for how that manifests, even when it is to their personal detriment and distinctly pain flavoured. But then again, that does rather seem to be the tactic used to compensate for "couldn't care less in the community" accross the whole spectrum of mental wellness issues, where the family is hog tied via love exploited to procure guilt and self sacrifice to pick up the slack of a system that doesn't have adequate funds and resources given the extent and volume of the need.

And then of course you have the Gen. Pub. who can accept to some extent that the person hoarding has a problem that is beyond "just" chucking stuff away as a solution. Yet they find it so much harder to look at the (typically untrained in coucelling/psycology)family members and heap blame on them for having let it get so bad, not resolving the problem and not having a magic wand that's makes evrything better.

I can see something like al-anon evolving over time for families. Just...these things take time, and so many people are stuck in a hard place in the now.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Mon 01-Jul-13 07:52:24

holla I think you have a point. I wouldn't for a moment say my partner is abusive. He gets angry and distressed but I wouldn't call it abuse more of a ridiculous overreaction.

If you had a treasured possession (photo album, amazing pair of shoes) and your dp threw it away you would be angry. This is how dp reacted once to my throwing away a bag of rubbish, I hadn't checked it and there was a whole pound coin in it shock.

He is getting better, it's just such a slow process.

What makes me worry is be hasn't really addressed the cause of his hoarding, I think he needs to deal with the psychological reasons behind it before there will be massive progress.

glastocat Mon 01-Jul-13 07:53:29

My father was a hoarder. When he died I had to clean out his two bedroom apartment, it took six people a week and was absolutely the most horrible thing I had to do. I lived in another country and he had hidden the extent of the problem, although I know his flat was a mess. I had hideous depression after his death, dealing with his flat certainly didn't help. On the plus side it has turned me into the complete opposite of a hoarder, I love getting rid of stuff, and when I emigrated earlier this year I found it massively liberating to get rid of most of my possessions. So, no advice aim afraid, only lots of sympathy.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Mon 01-Jul-13 07:56:37

carpe you seem to have a lot of experience in this (you poor poor thing). A lot of people have said the hoarders family are also hoarders, it this quite common.

Dh's parents are definately hoarders but have a big house and their kids have moved out so can keep communal areas clear. His grandmothers house was a complete disaster zone.

SoupDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 08:23:06

Have you watched the "hoarders" programmes? There was a series on BBC and (I think) channel 4. They may be on iPlayer/4 OD.

They were very informative and showed that the hoarders need help and support, not condemnation and sneaky throwing stuff away.

Fairenuff Mon 01-Jul-13 08:24:26

If you had a treasured possession (photo album, amazing pair of shoes) and your dp threw it away you would be angry

The difference is, that if your dp told you to clear up the album or shoes within the next two weeks or they would be thrown away, you would clear it up.

If these possessions are so important, for whatever reason, then the person who has to keep them should keep them in a place that does not infringe on family members space or sense of well being.

Whilst the hoarder gains comfort and a sense of calm being surrounded by all the mess, the partner is suffering stress and anxiety because they are surrounded by mess. Why is it weighted in the hoarder's favour. Why is their need greater?

People on this thread have said that they have been forced to leave relationships or have felt like setting their own house on fire. This is seriously stressful and no-one should have to live like that.

I can see something like al-anon evolving over time for families

Carpe why not use this thread, for partners of hoarders to come together to help and support each other. Share your experiences, what you have tried, what worked, what didn't, what professional help is out there, how to access it, etc?

SoupDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 08:24:28

I think telling a hoarder to tidy up is like telling someone with depression to cheer up.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 08:26:33

Hoarding can be "catching" in the sense it can be learned and absorbed . Not necessarily immediatly either. I'm following the story of one poor guy who "inherited" the hoard when his mother died. He had been living elesewhere, in a non hoarding fashion prior to that.

He has been churning in her home for at least two years now. He's stuck.

I and my sister have gone the other way. She keeps her local charity shop full of top notch stuff in a fairly ruthless but not "off the wall" sort of way. And I have an almost pathological fear of stuff which keeps our local dump in brisk business.

My house will get messy if I'm really busy, and if that happens when I'm feeling vulnerable or insecure I'll hit the fear like a dead wieght hits concrete from a ruddy great height, and start indescriminatly hurling stuff out like it was ...contagious or something.

My husband is pretty good at reading the signs (my haggard face and generally nuerotic flapping) and stepping in to help me sort crap from "good stuff" before I really fly off the handle and leave us in a bare house with one plate each and a shared fork. grin

Reading other COHs, being somehwere on the range of the two extremes (fear of stuff to the point of over-chucking, hoarding stuff) are pretty normal. It's the nice stable people with a relatively bog standard emotional connection to stuff that are a bit thinner on the ground.

Reading the persepctive of other COH often points to one parent being the hoarder and the other either enabling or giving up in the face of an insurmountable challenge and just sinking into the hoard as a diminshed version of themselves, just beaten down by the tenacity of the resistance. But others also relate a situation where the orginally non hoarding parent ends up with a similar relationship to stuff growing over the years.

I think it hard to predict which way people will go, but easier to predict that there is likely to be some fall out for spouses and offspring, the degree to which is often unknown until the damage is done.

I think the only way the health service can really hope to make an impact in terms of fall out for the sufferer, their family and neighbours etc... is to highlight the visual aid for understanding degree of clutter and give it greater visibility. Then aim to offer early intervention with consistant follow up work to avoid back sliding.

And when there is the money for that, pigs will be airborne and snowshoes will be selling like hot cakes in hell.

Biscuitsareme Mon 01-Jul-13 09:45:38

Really useful, this thread. Thanks all! I've now realised that I'm not a hoarder. I'm untidy and disorganised because like a PP I was never taught how to tidy up, and the thought of having to organise my stuff fills me with anxiety and a sense of inadequacy, so I give up easily.

I grew up in a massive house which was just full of stuff. I remember it as really dark and in bad repair, partly because of the hoarding. My idea of happiness is a minimalist house with white walls, a few well-chosen things on the walls, and lots of light. The thing is, I seem to be incapable of putting this idea to the task, like there is no connection between the 'think' and the 'act' parts of my brain.

I like the tip of clearing 1 square metre a day. I threw out 2 (!) boot loads full of old books and clothes a few weeks ago and still feel proud of that smile

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 09:46:33

carpe, you have a lot of insight and if nothing else, have made me laugh! You write very well. And have made me fantasise about a bare house with one plate and a fork...

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 09:49:19

Interestingly - I struggle with the idea that things have a 'place' to go. My own parents were/are very messy - and my father is a hoarder. My mother limits this to his study, which you can barely get into.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 10:18:21

I think another confusing issue is the way that ideas of thrift and recycling get mixed up with hoarding. Logically, you can argue for many things being kept 'in case' they are needed. And in the past,when I have basically demanded trips to the tip, I've had lectures about 'landfill' etc.

I think I lose perspective sometimes, and think '...yeah, maybe we WILL need that pile of theatre programmes/plastic containers/wood offcuts...'

it is also true that we are very busy and pushed for time workwise. DP ALWAYS uses this as his excuse for not dealing with mess and clutter. For me, it is an argument that we need to keep on top of things as we go along. He agrees - but then does nothing, keeps on dumping stuff in piles on surfaces and in the corners of rooms.

One thing I might try is getting rid of some storage. Lose a wardrobe and a drawer unit or 2. I know a few years ago when I was baffled that there was so much stuff lying around, I thought the answer might be to buy things to put it in. But then they filled up quickly, and still the piles kept growing. I think I ennabled more hoarding by buying things to put it in.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 10:48:42

One thing I might try is getting rid of some storage

Careful with that. If the storage goes before the contents does, large piles can form. If the piles slip, spread, fall they can attract more stuff to live on top of them. It can cycle up to the next stage of hoarding by accidentally creating a "temporary" mess that then normalised.

Sometimes it's easier to know where to start and stake a claim to right of chucking. Like the fridge. Yes there might be chuntering about mould being cutoffable and eat by dates being "flexible", but rare is there much of a fight over a very liquid lettuce. Once emptied of crud, made sparkling clean and maintained as a non crowded, hygenic little oasis of calm in the storm it can be a talisman. It creates stark comparison to the chaos, beinging down the "normalisation of the hoard" a notch or ten. When feeling defeated, go stick head in fridge and feel less defenceless.

It doesn't have to be the fridge if the fridge isn't an issue. Maybe a small bathroom, or the kitchen counters, or the sink and draining board, child's bedroom. But it helps if it is a sliver of space where the hygene argument is undeniable to bolster fortitude in the face of high octane resistance.

Maintaining is essential. Before any new slivers are fought for and won, the already won places have to evolve into something that gets the attention it needs as a priority on a several times a week basis. Becuase they are the beacons that say it can be done, things can change and brace the backbone for more empire building.

Boy can you tell I come from a military background grin

That bit is optional, see it as building a "garden of blossoming lifestyle" where precleared ground is nurtured into bloom and the weeds kept on top of,..or anything else that appeals personally.

I think as a place to start the above has an advantage over more drastic measures. The Hoard didn't appear overnight, and all that it represents won't be vanquished at the speed of light, but becuase it is a long, hard, slow slog, those little bugeoning Oasises can really help with the helplessness, powerlessness and ...knackeredness. It doesn't really matter if you are the kid, the spouse or the person struggling with hoarding.

Making little shiney spots of hope for something better in the home and making their maintence the priority goes qute a long way as a boost to morale and feeds the spark of working towards something better for everybody.

AuroraAlfresco Mon 01-Jul-13 11:20:51

My mum leaves bulky stuff, like furniture she's been given/ inherited, stacked up in weird places like the narrow corridor between doors to living and dining room and stairs, and she has precarious piles of papers on all table surfaces

Biscuits, are you me?? This describes my DM to a tee. She wouldn't let me in her last flat for 11 years (yes, eleven) because it was apparently full of piles of newspapers with narrow passageways for her to get through. She took about 8 months to finally clear the place out because she had to move, and she would NOT accept ANY help from anyone. Her new flat was so lovely and clear for a while, but it's starting all over again - she's acquired this massive chest of drawers from somewhere and put it in the hall jutting out over two separate doorways. I thought at first it was a temporary place for it but nope, it appears that's its home now. sad

I am full of hoarding tendencies too and hate myself for it. I don't really have emotional attachment to bits of crap, I just can't seem to find the TIME to clear stuff out. I have little piles of stuff all over the place too and it drives (tidy) DP up the wall. It's hard to explain, but I never feel I have the time to tidy one pile as I've always got so much else to do. I never feel that anything in the house is ever "finished" and things like laundry for 3 DC utterly overwhelms me. I hate sorting out socks with a passion. I am gradually getting better and I think if I didn't have the DC and just be 'firefighting' all the time I would be in a better place, tidy-wise. I just get so so tired in the evenings and can't motivate myself to get up and clear things.

I was never taught or encouraged to tidy my room or anything as a child and while I'm not looking for pity grin, it is very hard to acquire habits I know nothing about. I can stand and stare at a pile of bits of paper and I have literally no idea what to do with it. No idea where to put things. And if I do designate a drawer for a certain category of paper, it turns out to be too specific or too broad or too random a category and I can't find anything again. My filing cabinet is full. I don't know what to do with worn-once clothes. My A4 files are full. I have loads of kitchen cupboards but I know things are in totally the wrong places and I don't know how to fix it. Long boxes of breadsticks lying on their sides preventing cupboard doors from closing. I know it's not right but have no idea what to do instead. And don't have any time to find out. sad

God that was long, and I know it sounds self-indulgent. I've just tried so many things that don't work, to get better.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 12:04:29

and I know it sounds self-indulgent

It's not love. What you are describing is very very very common amoung children of hoarders.

There is much to unlearn before relearning can start which makes it harder. Habit forming is a real slog when your all gorwn up and having to take a completely different approach compared to what you are used to.

What people tend to find hardest is the maintence. If you learned to churn, you can feed into that skill in order to revamp, shift, sift and reorganise (after a certain fashion), but the concept of regular maintence is a closed book when all you've ever known is big crisis related attacks and then...backsliding.

And now I am going to have to go to the kitchen and reprganise my cupboards becuase I know what you mean and I've gone all itchy cos I know I am only a week or five away from stuff being unfindable or sliding out and landing on the floor when I try to get stuff in or out.

See you in three binbags time.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Mon 01-Jul-13 12:21:35

I started this thread thinking about the impact the hoarding has on me (very selfish).

Now I am worried about the effect on my kids, 2nd due in Oct, I don't want them to grow up embarrassed by the hoard. Dp is very proud and hates people seeing the mess, I'm sure his solution would be just don't invite people round. That's just not fair on them.
Also I want them to grow up knowing how to tidy up and clean, it's obvious that growing up with a hoarder has a massive impact for decades I don't want that for my kids.

Oh and carpe pigs will be airborne grin

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 13:44:13

I'm thinking about effects on the dcs now too.

I have 2 boys and am determined that they will grow up to be able to look after themselves, their living environment, their clothes and NOT be a nightmare domestic partner for the women (or men) they live with. And they won't learn how to tidy and clean if they don't see it happening. And they will grow up thinking that being surrounded by mounds and heaps of homeless crap is normal. As is not having people round to socialise because the house is something to be ashamed of.

Lordy - it's more than just mess, isn't it. Thanks for your post again Carpe. Lots to think about there.

Both DM & DF are hoarders in different ways, DF keeps all bits of paper, letters, magazines and well as anything that might come in handy for DIY (he doesn't do DIY but that's really a different problem! he also goes into skips when he sees things that might be useful one day) and DM hoards things she wants to give as gifts, both new stuff and good quality second hand stuff (this doesn't sound too bad... but before I was even pregnant or thinking of being with DD she had almost 5 big laundry style bags of stuff for a little girl, just in case). Their house is a nightmare, although it's not (yet) quite like the houses you see on hoarding programs. DF's problem only really got out of hand when he retired, if anything of his is thrown away he threatens, can get violent, of threatens to commit suicide (one previous serious attempt). DM can't see that she has a problem at all as she's 'just trying to be generous'. She blames all their house mess of DF despite the fact there is an entire ex-bedroom of present stuff as well as overspill into the other bedrooms.

I guess if I was trying to think of reasons for their behaviour - DF was born before the war and remembers having nothing as a child, especially as his DF walked out on his DM and him & his brothers. DM's problem is because her DM was stingy to the point of nastiness with her and she's determined not to be the same? I don't know really - just conjecture.

If you're looking for a bright side - there has to be one! - it's that a visit to their house always makes me do a vicious declutter of my own house! I have collecting/hoarding tendencies and I'm able to keep a very tight control on it because I'm scared of ending up like them.

SoupDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 13:50:34

NightmareWalking Those are exactly the kind of reasons given for the TV hoarders' problems.

JazzDalek Mon 01-Jul-13 13:51:59

Reading this thread with interest. I'm not a full-on hoarder, but the potential is there. I recognise a lot of myself in what AuroraAlfresco wrote.

I think I have a foot in both worlds, in that I do have the little piles of Stuff everywhere that I don't really know what to do with, and I do get very emotionally attached to things; it's not awful and it's certainly not taking over the house, but I have clothes that are 20 years old that I'll never wear again but that I can't bear to get rid of, and I have a large binder stuffed full of ticket stubs from films, play, concerts, travel and so on that I would be devastated to lose. I have folders full of things I wrote when I was young - too embarrassing ever to read grin but if I threw them away I feel I'd be severing a link to the young, hopeful me, full of energy and imagination.
Every storage unit in the house is rammed and disorganised and I never have more than a vague idea where to start looking for things when I need them.

On the other hand, I have occasional fits of de-cluttering. They're rare, but when I do it, I feel great. I gave 20 black bags to Cash 4 Clothes last year, and it felt WONDERFUL.

One thing I do know is that the Stuff builds up and seems insurmountable when other things are bothering me. It's a symptom. When everything's going swimmingly, I am perfectly able to get stuck in to things.

LemonDrizzled Mon 01-Jul-13 14:02:11

It seems to me primary hoarders are the ones in denial who have a psychological reason for hanging on to stuff and get extremely anxious being parted from their things. The rest of us are the secondary hoarders who grew up with it and never learned good habits but are not as stressed by letting things go. For me the Fly Lady website was an excellent training to run a house efficiently. Also I have an army friend who has ruthlessly taught me that everything has a place to go and should be put away in it! I am now in control of my stuff but struggling to manage DPs family who are still in denial. And as for my DPs... aaargh

Flyingtree Mon 01-Jul-13 14:20:29

Why don't you all just row stuff away?


Because hoarders are manic OCDers at heart and believe me they know when there's two screws out of a box of 100 missing or something's been slightly moved to he left.

I lived with a hoarder for 7 years.
There's no hope for them. Possessions become more important than people, even their own children.

inthesark Mon 01-Jul-13 14:28:36

I think you're absolutely spot on there JazzDalek, it is a symptom not a disease in itself.

My DM is a hoarder, and I did have hoarding tendencies but am - I think - over them, mainly down to two and a half years of therapy. (in which I never mentioned it, but sorted out the underlying problems).

The most striking thing that I've ever heard said about hoarders is that they are sometimes burying memories (or objects which trigger memories) under their sea of clutter. Not true for everyone, but definitely true of my mother. And it goes some way to explain why you can't deal with the hoarding until you've come to terms with the underlying problem.

Missbopeep Mon 01-Jul-13 14:31:36

Yes but have no advice.

DH collects 'things' ( ie cameras) which all in in metal boxes in spare bedroom but are never ever used.

On a more basic level he will hoard old clothes for using when decorating etc- but instead of having just 1 pair ( or 2) of old jeans or T shirts etc he will have 3, or 4. He also hoards paperwork because he can't get organised enough to read. file, or discard on the same day/week.

I do throw things out which I am 100% sure he will never need or use again but he does get a bit upset for a few minutes.

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 14:37:06

Thinking about what Aurora said about her mum having the hallway cleared and then filling it with a huge chest of drawers so she had to squeeze past it again...

I wonder if there is a physical thing about needing to feel enclosed, protected almost by stuff. I am recovering from agoraphobia, which for me was mainly about fearing being around other people who might judge me or even just speaking to me because I was anxious and awkward and didn't know what to say.

But I found that if I went outside, after staying at home for a long period of time, I found the sheer space outside overwhelming, it was too bright, everything seemed too far away to get to, etc. This wasn't the original fear that kept me indoors, I think it was as a result of spending so much time indoors, near to things, etc. I'd gotten used to it.

Before, when I went out with my DH, I used to walk just behind him a little, like... if you were on top of a high building, you'd want there to be a barrier, to stop you falling into the space. It felt like that. Even now, I feel somewhat protected if I'm pushing DS in his pram, or pushing a shopping trolley, and a bit exposed if not (though I understand that I have to let myself feel a bit uncomfortable, in order to get used to it again and recover).

Maybe Aurora's mum was so used to squeezing through her hallway that she had to recreate it to feel safe when the other stuff was gone?

Soup Dragon
I think telling a hoarder to tidy up is like telling someone with depression to cheer up.

Yes, and neither are helpful or constructive comments because if they could do those things there wouldn't be a problem. However, just like with depression, if a person is suffering from a condition which is causing them to lash out at others or make life difficult for the people they live with and are refusing professional help to recover, those adults affected by it have to decide whether they can/should live with things the way they are or leave. It is often said on these boards that it is possible to be depressed and abusive and/or addicted and abusive - one doesn't need to live with abuse just because the person is suffering from a condition.

I certainly have a lot of compassion for those afflicted with hoarding tendancies, but wanting to keep stuff isn't an excuse to be rude, controlling and abusive of the people around them. If it is affecting them that much they should seek/accept help or risk losing their relationships.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 14:59:00

Not sure where we are going with the 'it's not an excuse for bad behaviour' thing. I mean - no, of course not. But isn't there a difference between a depressed person being difficult to talk to, and someone with no mental health problems being arrogant and aloof? Someone with agoraphobia not wanting to leave the house and do things is different from someone just being lazy, isn't it?

Spiritedwolf, if someone had threatened to leave you because you had agoraphobia and would not accept it, or sort it out, would you have found that helpful? Serious question - perhaps it was what set you on the path to recovery?

And these 'underlying causes' - what do you do if the hoarder will not acknowledge their problem, or get professional help?

Re: my father - I have no idea what might cause him to hoard, but I do know that he lives in a sort of fantasy world in terms of him using stuff. He has a huge number of books that he claims he will re-read. They sit on shelves under layers of dust. If anyone borrows one or moves one, he asks them repeatedly where it is and when they will return it. I borrowed a book of his and kept it for about a year. The first thing he asked me every time he saw me was 'have you finished with x book yet?' And when I eventually returned it - HE HAD BOUGHT ANOTHER BRAND NEW COPY OF THE BOOK TO REPLACE THE ONE I HAD BORROWED. I was standing there, book in hand, looking stupidly at the space where the book had been taken from, staring at an identical copy of the same book. Couldn't believe it.

I also bought him a cd player after a health scare a few years back. Doctor said he needed to find more time to relax etc, and my father claimed to like. listening to music (I don't recall him ever having listening to music when I was growing up, or thereafter, but there you go). He was grateful for the cd player and two classical cds I got him - then the cd player was placed carefully on a high shelf, the cord removed and placed in a drawer and the cds put in a shelf. Never used. But when I ask him about it - if they aren't being used, can they go to charity, or the tip, and I could get him something else? He insists he DOES use it. I point out that it is covered in dust and the items on top of it have not been moved to my certain knowledge for two years. He flies into a tantrum - 'SHUT UP! THESE ARE MY THINGS, LEAVE THEM ALONE, JUST SHUT UP!'

I wonder if he thinks he 'uses' all of the books and papers and tubs and boxes of pencils he has in his room. Some of them are decades old.

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 15:06:22

I think the person who upthread has said about realising that everything should have a place has helped me realise the same, I think I'll bear that in mind the next time I move something from one place to another - where should it go? Make a proper home for it or let it go.

When there are memories attached to something that you don't otherwise want to keep/have room for, try taking a photo of it and letting go of the object. Of course you might end up with a harddrive full but at least it'll take up less room.

onefewernow Mon 01-Jul-13 15:24:20

Jeans, i think it is often said elsewhere on MN that someone with depression who refuses to address it at the expense of their family loses their right to sympathy.

Their rights do not trump the rights of others.

What a legacy for children .. Second generation hoarding, kids ashamed to bring friends home , daughters taking parents plus hoard into their homes as they have lost theirs.

It simply isn't fair to expect that of family. Deeply unfair. And enabling isn't helpful whatever the issue, whether depression, alcoholism, hoarding, whatever.

My heart goes out to those who hoard and those who are affected by it. But I'm afraid I would say, let them get angry. Sometimes the people they live with must feel pretty angry too.

expatinscotland Mon 01-Jul-13 15:28:09

Ther is no wat I could live with someone like this.. I would go insane.

SoupDragon Mon 01-Jul-13 15:39:21

I certainly have a lot of compassion for those afflicted with hoarding tendancies, but wanting to keep stuff isn't an excuse to be rude, controlling and abusive of the people around them. If it is affecting them that much they should seek/accept help or risk losing their relationships.

Except first they need to accept there is a problem.

glastocat Mon 01-Jul-13 15:50:54

I agree onefewernow. My dads hoarding made him miserable trapped and lonely, but he wouldn't get help. I then suffered after he died and I had to deal with a complete shambles while bereaved. It wasn't a pleasant legacy, and while I do sympathise with people with hoarding problems, it's not something I would personally tolerate, and leaving it untreated is unfair on the extended family and subsequent generations who are also affected.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 15:58:24

But I'm afraid I would say, let them get angry. Sometimes the people they live with must feel pretty angry too

Yes. But it's hard to handle the anger, the pain and the anxiety of a person afflicted by hoarding on a "quid pro quo" basis. I don't know how to explain it, but it sort of seems to work its way around to causing appeasment, guilt and ...fear. Egg shell walking re the hoard can become normal. Becuase the outcry and upset caused by even the tinest assult on the hoard is very raw and intense. And I guess becuase they need to constantly battle opposition in order to "protect" the hoard, people can become manipulative out of ...(from their perspective) ... necessity.

Which is why I think so many family members end up feeling responsible for what they see as a sufferer who is then viewed as very dependant and needing of support not more pain or stress. It's like a sort of vicous cycle.

I don't think anybody sets out to enable. I know I didn't. It sort of sneaks up on you and one day you realise that the hoard has more "human rights" than you do.

You are of less value than a musty heap of 70s Family Circle.

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 16:27:08

No, I was never given an ultimatum jeans and maybe it wouldn't have helped if I had been. You bring up an important point that sometimes we do things for each other like support each other through illness. I'm not advocating a compassionless society where anyone needy is chucked on the scrapheap.

Being ill with depression and anxiety obviously did affect my husband. He always was the one to run errands, he had to go alone to things he would have liked my company to, and he choose to go to things he wouldn't otherwise have, so that I didn't miss out because I didn't feel able to go alone.

I'm not saying that it is wrong to be compassionate, patient or love unconditionally. These are lovely qualities. But equally, if I had been making him so miserable that he was unable to enjoy life, if I had been controlling of him, or emotionally abusive I think he would have be right to leave me. The love and respect in our relationship is mutual. I recognised that I had a problem and sought and accepted help to recover. I respected his feelings when he was worried about me and I tried my hardest to go to things he felt were important. He didn't try to quick fix me - as my parents did by taking me to things I wasn't ready for which just made me more avoidant, he gave me the space to recover and knew he couldn't fix me, he could just support me emotionally while I 'fixed' myself and made it clear that if I never got 'better' he loved me anyway.

I hope that I was never toxic to my husband. I felt a burden at times, but I know that I was also giving and supportive of him so it wasn't all one-sided.

Whilst being compassionate is lovely, I think if someone else is making your life horrid, it doesn't really matter if they are ill or not, you can choose whether to live with it. Particuarly if they don't recognise or accept help for the problem.

We wouldn't make a person living with an alcoholic who was abusive, feel guilty for not staying with them to help them through their illness, would we? We accept that just because someone is alcoholic, doesn't give them a free pass to abuse the people round about them. We know that people can't 'fix' an alcoholic, that they have to want help themselves. We know that abusers choose who they are abusive to - generally spouse, children or other family rather than their boss say.

So, these hoarders who get irrationally angry about the suggestion that they should restrict their 'stuff' to certain areas of the home, to allow space for the other members to live in, would they express that anger to their boss, a GP, a policeman? No? What makes them think it is okay to treat their family like that? To make them tread (hopefully not literally) on eggshells?

There is a huge difference between saying to someone "Please don't move my things without asking my permission, it makes me feel anxious when I don't know where my stuff is." and shouting "Don't Touch MY Stuff!" and ranting and raving at them. Demanding that their stuff gets more respect than their family's space gets respected. If there is some compromise about certain rooms/spaces - some allowed to be filled, others not, then the reaction to either being breeched should be the same - but if one side would be scared to remove something from a hoarding room, whilst the hoarder would happily add stuff to the agreed non-hoarded spaces like kids bedrooms/kitchen etc then that seems like there is an imbalance of power, an unequal relationship. One person has respected the hoarder's need for things, while the hoarder has completely disregarded the feelings of the family member who needs space.

If the hoarding behaviour can't be contained and keeps breeching the boundaries of the other person, I don't think its unreasonable to suggest that the other person should point out the problem and ask the hoarder to get help to resolve it because they can't live that way.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 16:30:06

I think the problem of it 'sort of sneaking up on you' is very real, and needs to be acknowledged.

I think a common response from 'outsiders' to the problem is 'I couldn't live like this' and 'how did you let it get like that in the first place' (hard not to read blame into that one, which doesn't help).

It does creep up on you. Over years. You don't (usually) move in with someone whose house is rammed to the rafters with heaps of junk. You'd be able to SEE that problem upfront.

Early hoarding tendencies can look like just being a bit messy, or being a collector. Or someone who is storing, temporarily, a few boxes that they got when their parents cleaned out an attic, or something left over from the last place they moved that was in the garage but they haven't quite found a home for it yet.

And you accomodate it to some degree. There's always a bit of give and take in cohabiting - 'I like things tidy, he doesn't see the mess, blah blah.' Then, like me, the resentment about having to tidy up after/for them kicks in, so you stop doing it, and it spreads unchecked. And if you are always being told someone will get round to doing something, or will tackle it when they are less busy, you have at some point to tell them you don't believe them. And you will make decisions for them it they won't do it themselves. You need to be tough to deal with that.

And you are dealing with people WHO DO NOT THINK THEY HAVE A PROBLEM. I think the only time my partner has even considered having to take control of his possessions is when I have totally lost the plot, screamed and sobbed at him like a madwoman, and shocked him (and me). As in 'christ, if she's THAT mental about it, maybe something is a bit wrong....'

I do agree that it is something that ends relationships. With two very small children, I am not about to leave my partner over this, especially given the other aspects of family life which he is good at. But I cannot imagine living out the rest of my life in an environment which feels like a constant overwhelming battle, and in a house where people cannot come, or have to stay in one room if they do.

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 16:35:58

It may seem like an ultimatium, but what else can they do, live in a smaller and smaller bit of the house in the hope that one day the person will recognise there is a problem and get help?

I don't think that will be kind to either of them.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 16:40:13

ah, x post -

Spirited, thank you for your post - being respectful, I don't think you understand hoarding. I'm thinking here of the way you talk about having negotiated a hoarding 'agreement', like 'you can hoard in that room but nowhere else.' That's like saying to an alcoholic, 'okay, you can get steaming drunk on the first thursday of the month, but no other time.' Do you think that would work?

Hoarding is a process, and an addiction, and it isn't controllable without a LOT of effort, and it doesn't have boundaries.

The poster upthread who said that if they moved to a bigger house, her husband would fill it, and if they won the lottery and moved to a mansion, he would gradually fill it over some years, has got it in a nutshell.

And a hoarder saying nicely 'please don't move my things without my permission, it makes me anxious' is the speech of someone who recognises they have a problem. Not the panicky agressive knee jerk of someone who feels threatened by what THEY feel is unreasonable behaviour. If my partner accepted that sorting and throwing stuff away made him anxious, we'd be getting somewhere.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 16:47:17


"I felt a burden at times but I also know that I was giving and supportive of him so it wasn't all onesided."

You are talking about your own life with agoraphobia here, and the effect it had on your partner - and you're right, the problem for a lot of people living with partners with mental health or addiction issues is that it isn't all 'onesided.' A relationship that is WHOLLY abusive, or exploitative, or when one partner has to do everything to support a partner with a problem, are a different kettle of fish.

You also say it was helpful your partner saying that he loved you anyway even if you never got 'better.' That's sort of the opposite of an ultimatum, isn't it? What would you do if your partner was a hoarder who never 'got better'?

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 16:50:44

jeans I should maybe make it clear that just because I think that you shouldn't have to put up with it, it doesn't mean I would blame you for the situation.

Obviously everyone has their own opinions on when being compassionate and supportive of a partner becomes enabling. For me, I think it would be based on whether I felt my partner respected and supported my needs (and where needs are in conflict is prepared to compromise and/or seek help) and whether I thought I could live with the situation if it never improved.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 01-Jul-13 17:01:03

I couldn't do it. Live with a hoarder, I mean. I see it as an addiction like gambling or drugs.

I once heard a recovering crack addict tell the story of the time he went on a binge two days before Christmas. He sold his wedding ring to the drug dealer for one rock, then the keys to his car for another, and then went home long enough to grab the kids' Christmas presents, and sold those, too. On the night of Christmas eve, so his kids woke up to nothing under the tree.

As far as I'm concerned, making your family live in a hoard is as selfish and damaging as that. I couldn't stay.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 01-Jul-13 17:13:53

I think my previous post was too harsh. I realise there are hoarders on this thread, and it's obvious that they are working on the issue.

Guh, sorry, I was busy and I just got back.

Throwing stuff away when a hoarder's back is turned does not work and it never will, it just exacerbates things. I can trace part of my problem back to my mother getting angry with me for having an untidy room and throwing away all of my toys except for my teddy and my walkman. She threatened to do it again multiple times over the years, and after I moved out she often said she wanted to take a match to my house and burn everything inside. Once I got free of her I was like 'Haha! Keep ALL the stuff!'

Hoarding has its roots primarily in OCD. I simply replaced the hoarding compulsion with other, less obvious compulsions. It's not great either, but I'm okay with it.

Other causes could be attachment disorders (insecurity in childhood leading to fixation on objects) or depression. Once you figure that part out , you start the cleanup.

It is VITAL that you have the hoarder sort out his own property, even if it takes weeks. Get three large boxes, label them KEEP, DONATE and SAVE and try and make the SAVE box smaller than the other two. Hoarders like to think their hoard is going to be useful to someone else so encourage donating, big time.

Switching to an online hoard is useful. If he has a lot of books, get a Kindle and hoard ebooks on the computer. Hoard info, films and TV shows on External Hard Drives. Get him onto a forum where he can interact and make connections with other people so he can have something to focus on, and all the info he accumulates there will be online.

Lastly, get him a hobby. Hoarders tend to be creative types who build up a lot of hobby supplies (the two things I hoard now, but gently, are fabric and vintage clothes) so a creative hobby that takes him out of the house is more useful. Pottery classes or glasswork, something that doesn't involve building a workshop in the house.

I know it's hard, but try to be supportive. It's difficult to understand it unless you've been there.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 17:39:36

As far as I'm concerned, making your family live in a hoard is as selfish and damaging as that. I couldn't stay

If the relationship were on an equal footing, spouse to spouse, then to some extent, neither would anybody else.

But it doesn't appear to work like that all that often. A dependance creeps in. As a teenager I felt responsible for my mother, for containing the hoard, for slowing down the incoming, speeding up the outgoing, and hiding it. The hiding it was important. To save her from judgement, shame and legal consequences.

I've seen that replicated in couple relationships. Where the non hoarding spouse overtime becomes worn out from the inexorable overtaking of their life on so many levels, and they become the gatekeeper, the White Knight, the smoother, the last defence against being found dead buried under collapsed piles of crap, or a smouldering corpse that was once somebody you loved who had no hope of escape when a fire broke out.

And unlike other addictions there isn't the same social sanction as there is for alcohol, gambling or drug addictions. There is a very real pressure externally to "sort it out", "get him/her help", "deal with the hoard". Walking away, as I have learned, can cause as much damage to your self image as staying. Becuase having spent so long feeling responsible, you have no defence stratagy when the hoard leaks to the point of visible and the world and its mother looks at you askance saying "how could you let him/her live like that ?".

Parents I think have a worse dilemma to deal with than I did. Becuase their children will likely be exposed to the hoard and its associated behavoirs without their "non hoarder" presense in terms of limit setting and brake power.

Or social services will intervene and the children won't be allowed in the hoarding parent's home causing them very real grief. Becuase they aren't stupid. They see a parent drowning, it looks like nobody is helping and they can take that on their own shoulders emotionally, if not physically.

And the truth, they aren't wrong. Nobody is helping. Leave a gambler, an addict of drink or drugs and you can push for help and services to be sent their way.

The help for hoarders is very very limited. The people who love them are often the only defence against them actually drowning (to the point of life changing injury or death) in their stuff.

It's not easy to walk away under those circumstances.

And even if you do, it's not over.

I feel like Damacles' sword is hanging over my head. Just waiting for the day she is found buried under The Hoard 2.0, and the entire commenting public on the Daily Mail et al sucks their teeth and judges me a heartless selfish bitch on wheels. And I'll believe them. Becuase a large part of me thinks they are right.

nomdesw2 Mon 01-Jul-13 17:41:29

OP thankyou so much for starting this thread -really helpful insights.

Can anyone recommend specific professional declutterers/counsellors?

Spiritedwolf Mon 01-Jul-13 17:44:12

cross posted again. Sorry!

Yes, I see what you mean about the hoarding not being controllable (by either the hoarder or by compromise with the spouse). I didn't really think it was - I was mentioning that because people said that they had tried to contain it and it had spilled out of the agreed areas. I suppose I was pointing out how very unreasonable they were being in comparison to how couples who treat each other respectfully would act. I realise now that was not helpful, you already know the behaviour of hoarders is unreasonable!

Yes, my husband's unconditional acceptance of who I am, and the fact I was deblitated by agoraphobia is a kind of anti-ultimatum. He decided he could live with the situation as it was. Maybe he could have lived with it if I had gotten worse and refused to go out even with him. My DH knew that I was very aware of my problem though, I didn't make excuses or blame him for wanting to go out so often.

The difficulty with something like hoarding is that it staying the same or getting worse could make a home difficult/impossible to live in normally. Its not something that could be ignored indefinately, is it?

My reference to boundaries wasn't so much about the hoarder, it was about the partner's boundaries. How much hoarding can they live with before they feel their life is so severly affected by it that they have to live seperately?

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 17:51:49

What a sad sad thread sad
I went to school with a girl whose mum was a hoarder....bits of paper from 40 years ago, newspaper cuttings...piles of random crap.
She couldn't ask anyone back to her home...I was one of the few who saw it.
I have therefore seen firsthand the damage it does to the dc - for any of you suffering or living with sufferers...please get help.

LemonDrizzled Mon 01-Jul-13 17:57:45

Excellent thread this - it is giving me a lot of insight into my DP and his parents.

I was joking at the weekend he needs Hoarders Anonymous BUT HE DOES!! I am in the nice position of having my own tidy minimalist home near to his. We would love to live together but there is no room for me or my things. And I am not taking on The Hoard as a challenge.

So what is the ideal plan?
1. get him to recognise his behaviour is dysfunctional (I'm there!)
2. work out the underlying issues causing it
3. Agree a plan that manages his Hoard so we can move to a shared property. I rather like the idea of zones for each of us. My bit, his bit, and public mess free areas for visitors like the bathroom kitchen and living room. With yellow and black hazard tape to prevent him bring his stuff into other areas!
Or I just stay in my own place and we visit each other.

LemonDrizzled Mon 01-Jul-13 18:02:32

Badvoc while it is sad don't forget for those of us who grew up with hoarders it is normal. So we don't see what you see. We just struggle to manage our things. If only we had enough time or enough shelves or enough spare rooms/garages then everything would be organised. Except that never happens!

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 18:13:27

I rather like the idea of zones for each of us

Hoards have a very "liquid" quality. They leak.

And space, clear surfaces, have a magnetic quality.

You might be able to save both of you future pain by seeing if he would be willing to acknowledge there is an issue and work on it with professional support (councelling etc) to the point where the hoard is gone and he is maintaining consistently over time ..... before you consider moving in together.

You might be able to maintain the veetoed zones. But it would not be without a price. It's hard work being Queen Canute. And the Sea usually isn't often too happy about the constant tussling, ultimatums and restraint demanded either.

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 18:17:26

Lemon...I can assure you my friend saw it and knew it wasn't normal.
She is not a hoarder and neither are her brothers.
I don't think it follows hoarder parent = hoarder child.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 18:44:55

carpe, you should write the book. Seriously.

And i agree about the judgement on partners/children of hoarders. It has cropped up on this thread - 'how could you let it get like that? I couldn't live with it.' etc.

It is also seen as a MORAL failing - just an extension if slovenliness - in the way that other disorders are not. Do we really see hoarding as a mental health problem on a par with agoraphobia? spiritedwolf - you do see that hoarding has a finite 'end', where eventually possessions take over a house completely and effectively push the occupants out - but surely agoraphobia can reach a point where alll semblance of normal life is lost, the sufferer never leaves the house, and life for the partner becomes an extreme, if not intolerable, situation?

I think too that because it is domestic mess - inside a house, our living space - then assumptions about gender roles come into it, without people necessarily being aware of it. I face 2 frustrations - I cannot organise and keep the creeping hoardy mess at bay, and I also feel that when (some, not all) people come round, they register the clutter and mess, and failure to keep on top of it is laid at my door.

i don't feel that the children of hoarders become hoarders, BUT it has some effect. Very few things in my parents' house have a home. Although my father was not then a hoarder in the way that he is now (when I was growin up, I mean), surfaces were filled with random collections of stuff. Paper, jewellery, cutlery, toys, coins etc. My mother didn't mind throwing things out, but she could never find anything.I struggle with this in my own home now - HOW to organise things, how to remember where they are and to keep on top of a 'system'. C

Anniegetyourgun Mon 01-Jul-13 18:45:26

XH was a hoarder (among many other jolly characteristics). Nothing could be thrown away. He threw a huge wobbly when I put some clothes in the charity hopper, including a leather jacket that was past its wear-by date, because he had been planning to, er, cut it up and make book covers with it? We had garage tools under the dining table because he was afraid they would get stolen if left in the garage (how about putting a door on the garage then, I suggested. Don't be silly, he said). Shortly before we split up he finally got a job (!), but alas, it was for a company clearing council flats after eviction, and instead of taking sacks of people's household effects down the dump... well, you get the picture. He even brought home a used pregnancy testing kit once. And a bag full of little girls' clothes, just in case any of our sons grew up and had daughters eventually and didn't have any money to buy them new clothes. Plus a pair of girl's skinny jeans covered with glitter - ok, he found a use for those - he wore them.

He was absolutely livid when, as part of the pre-sale house tidying process, I threw out a massive collection of large sacks full of supermarket plastic bags, festering against the house under what used to be a beautiful bay window. They would have been useful for keeping stuff in! I pointed out that said bags had been kept outside in the garden over the winter and were now full of mud and slugs, but it didn't calm him down. (Not that I was interested in calming him down at that point; we were well over, for more reasons than two.)

I am sure XH had depression, but as he would never admit it and would die rather than see a counsellor, I'm the one who ended up on ADs, which gave him the chance to tell the boys gleefully that "mother is a psycho".

No, I don't know how to live with a hoarder. It wasn't living, it was kind of existing (though obviously for more reasons than just the clutter). Either LTB or invest in a blowtorch and earplugs, is my harsh advice.

Horsemad Mon 01-Jul-13 19:18:13

How do we know it's a compulsion and not just being bloody selfish and too stubborn to tidy up a very obvious mess?

Badvoc Mon 01-Jul-13 19:19:54

There are people who can come to your home and help you organise and suggest storage solutions.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 19:26:41

It is also seen as a MORAL failing - just an extension if slovenliness - in the way that other disorders are not.

Yes. That by extension if the other family members had decent standards of hygene/ wouldn't, couldn't have happened. That in some way they are complicit.

And that is probably where the shame motivates internally to become the Hider in Chief. I think eventually the Hoard hiding is as much about judgement proofing yourself as the relation of a person who hoards, as it is about protecting from judgement the person who hoards.

Shame is such a negative force. What little energy that remains stands a poor chance against great waves of despising yourself for not being able to do what other people see as "just".

"Just" throw it away.
"Just" tell them to stop
"Just" don't let them bring more stuff in

Intellectually I know "Just" statements were as acheivable as "just" find a magic wand and spirnkle fairy dust everywhere and make whatever trauma happened to them undone, and they can be whole and unharmed again.

But when I hear or read them..emotionally I feel two inches tall in face of other people's confidence that it is a question of molehill, and not the climbing of Mount Everest in ballet slippers that I lived.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 19:39:37

How do we know it's a compulsion and not just being bloody selfish and too stubborn to tidy up a very obvious mess?

A lazy stubborn git will let you clean and tidy around them, sort and chuck their crap, organise their nice stuff and still act like they did you a favour.

A person who has a compulsion to hoard....not so much.

One of the more eyewateringly obvious examples for me was the "adopt stuff" aspect.

I could not even throw anything of mine away. It would get fished out of the bin, "rescued" and kept as hers. I didn't even have the right to dispose of my stuff that had no sentimental (or other) value for me, becuase she would invest "by proxy" sentimental (or other) value into the object and ... adopt it as part of the Hoard.

A person who hoards can be selfish, stroppy, stubborn, ouright abusive, manipulative and ..heartless. And those behavoirs cause all sorts of problems in their own right. But the behavoirs are selected in the main for their ability to defend the hoard, rather than being the cause of the hoard.

See what I mean ?

Anniegetyourgun Mon 01-Jul-13 19:54:00

I kind of picture XH as like a rat making a cosy nest out of old shredded paper and stuff.

deste Mon 01-Jul-13 20:01:06

My friend and I run a professional decluttering business. We are not encouraged to work with hoarders unless they have worked with a phsycologist first. You could clear the house but the original problem is still there so they will just carry on as before because the problems that caused the hoarding are still there.

If you or your partners thought they had mental health issues, do you think they would seriously think about letting things go or even get help.

BearsInMotion Mon 01-Jul-13 20:14:26

God, this thread could have been written by me. DP has OCD and hoards recycling. Am not coping well - we are talking about dc2, which can only happen if we have more space. And yet, there are always excuses sad

I worry for DD, she won't be able to bring friends home because of the clutter sad

katieks Mon 01-Jul-13 20:48:53

Oh dear, self-confessed hoarder right here. Drives my husband loony. Lots of fights about my 'crap'. Worst thing is we have moved about 4 times in the past 2 years (don't ask) and everytime we've moved it too. The one time he did lose it, with me crying, he drove a washing machine (which had a fault in that drum wouldn't spin but otherwise fine!) and radiator to the dump. Also, gave a whole box of my textbooks away to charity because I had too many (and hadn't got round to selling them on Ebay).

But seriously, I love my stuff and know exactly when he's got rid of something. The only thing I regret is the amount of time my stuff takes up sorting,tidying, rearranging...

Our study and dining room are out of bounds to guests...too untidy.

Be nice to the hoarders out there...they are people too. I got it from my mum (she's worse than I am and she learnt it from her dad who was a proper hoarder-holic)

Phineyj Mon 01-Jul-13 20:53:44

The connection between hoarding and OCD is really interesting. I hadn't seen that clearly before.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Mon 01-Jul-13 20:55:51

Can I ask what would happen to a hoarder if they say, went on holiday for a fortnight and came back and someone had cleared everything out of the house and thrown it away?

Would they feel liberated or would it trigger an emotional collapse?

BearsInMotion Mon 01-Jul-13 20:59:46

Hecs, emotional collapse here, complete betrayal of trust in whoever was involved. If it was me, my family, his family, the relationship would be over.

LeGavrOrf Mon 01-Jul-13 21:10:23

Bloody hell carpe your posts have really resonated with me.

I lived with my gran as a child and she was a terrible hoarder. The whole house as full to bursting with clothes, bags of crap, boxes of old china, plastic, packaging, defunct lightbulbs, wires, old tellies, the lot.

The downstairs was just a plain old mess with stuff in piles, cupboards full to bursting. But the bedrooms (6 bedroom house) and landing, cellar, loft, everywhere was full of piles of rubbish. We couldn't have people around, if someone knocked on the door we had to hide. She was embarrassed at the mess but conversely flew into a rage if anyone mentioned it. Nothing could be thrown away. Then sometimes she would want to hunt for something obscure and would go into a manic whirl of hysterical activity, looking for things in rage and when she couldn't find it lash out. It was awful to live with.

I left when I was 16 and only went back when she died, the house was full of the same piles of stuff. It made me feel ill to see it all again 15 years later.

It has made me into the opposite, and like carpe when I feel anxious I go into a flurry of throwing things away. I can't stand stuff, my house looks like a lab because I can't bear 'things' anywhere. I don't have any emotional attachment to things at all, and I have to bite my lip when loved ones want to keep perfectly normal things for sentimental reasons. When dd leaves home I can see myself packing and selling up and getting rid of everything. Which i think is equally abnormal to have these feelings.

It's a horrible thing to live with hoarders. I do understand though that you simply cannot throw things away, hoarders don't see these things as objects, they are things with a purpose, or a history, or a value. I have no idea what the solution is but I imagine it is as complex and difficult as any other mental illness to resolve, and I don't really think people can be cured, just learn to live with it.

jeansthatfit Mon 01-Jul-13 21:37:31

deste, really interesting post - and a good response to all of the 'why don't you just throw it away?’ comments.

If a professional decluttering service is aware they cannot deal with hoarders who are not receiving psychological help, then I'm even more convinced that partners can't really help or sort it out.

on a personal level - as my dp went through 15 odd years of chronic depression refusing to go for counselling or therapy, just taking ADs, then I don't see him going to talk to someone just because things are a bit messy (his view) and he hasn't had time (ever) to sort it out....

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Mon 01-Jul-13 21:44:01

Can I ask what would happen to a hoarder if they say, went on holiday for a fortnight and came back and someone had cleared everything out of the house and thrown it away

I agree with bears total emotional collapse.

carpe I was a bit saddened by you saying shame is such a terrible thing. You are of course right. At the moment shame is the only thing that keeps our house looking like a house and not a storage facility.

I feel bad that I have to use shame and humiliation to get time to tidy up and get rid of stuff but there really isn't any other way. He won't address the underlying cause.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 21:51:46

Can I ask what would happen to a hoarder if they say, went on holiday for a fortnight and came back and someone had cleared everything out of the house and thrown it away?

Would they feel liberated or would it trigger an emotional collapse?

Not liberated.

Violated. Betrayed. Invaded.... those are nearer the mark.

I once empited the kitchen, cleaned everything. Real proper old fashioed scrubbing. Put everything back in order and chucked only the purest crap.

I am talking butter wrappers stored for the purposes of greasing (for a very very long time), very out of date food, empty cartons in the fridge, baking tins rusted through becuase of a leak in the sink cupboard next to their cupboard, and some utensils where the handles had split/snapped rendering them not only useless, but actually dangerous.

I might as well have murdered her first born (myself) based on the reaction.

Stupidly I had done it becuase she blamed me for all the mess. Had done since I was young enough to remember. And this started well before her slightly clutteryness went full blown hoarding. On that occasion there had been a row, she accused me of never lifting a finger, so I tried to make things right. Except I made them more wrong.

Sometimes can feel a bit like living on quicksand overlaying a volano in an earthquake zone in terms of predictability. The mixed signals can cause you a mis step even if you thought you knew the rules, but then ... in the face of blame and guilt you think you didn't understand right so go with the spoken words not the sub text and the can get confusing.

Don't get me wrong, I am far far far from ever having been a perfect daugher, I know I'll have contributed in some way to the mess, to the pain that caused the hoarding to swell out of control, and I helped wrong or I didn't help right regualrly and often. But half the time I didn't really know which way was up.

It has taken an awfully long time of distance to get any clarity. And I'm well. Which gives me a distinct advantage over her. I'd immagine in her head there would have been a tornado of conflicting emotions all pulling her in different directions at once.

I think there are times when you just have to go in and clear. If there are children living in unhygenic or dangerous conditions the line has to be their wellbeing over the person's connection to their hoard and their grief and horror if it is stripped away. But unless it is that sort of back against the wall sort of thing, best not to go behind backs and create a fait accomplis.

Not least becuase all a huge clear put does is create a vaccum that the person who hoards rushes to fill. If a mass clear has to be forced for the sake of other occupants it really needs to be done with phycological support on standby for the aftermath.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 21:54:57

I feel bad that I have to use shame and humiliation to get time to tidy up and get rid of stuff but there really isn't any other way. He won't address the underlying cause.

Love, if all you have is a hammer, bang bang bang.

It's not like you can afford to be picky given the lack of range of stratagies on the table.

It would be nice if more postive and "healing" stuff fell like manna from heaven. Until that happens, all anybody can do is the best they can with the limited resources that actually work.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 22:09:09

We couldn't have people around, if someone knocked on the door we had to hide.

Doorbell Dread.

That one is almost universal amoung people who have lived in a hearding situation.

I watched my 12 yo sister have her first panic attack because somebody knocked on the door and could see her outline through the wavy glass cos the usual cunning cover of a sheet had been knocked down due to a pile falling. She couldn't join in the "pretend we are out" thing, and just ...stopped breathing right.

clutterhoarder Mon 01-Jul-13 22:11:39

I feel like my hoard holds my memories.

I pick up something and it triggers memories.

My memory is poor so my hoard stops me from forgetting.

My mum was devastated that my nan gave her old things away. She'd moved out and got married and was told to take everything she wanted, my nan got rid of some of what was left. My mum hoards. She hoards everything.

I used to bin my stuff and my mum would fish it out of our bin. It would then eventually turn up again in my bedroom. I learnt to dispose of stuff via charity shops or other peoples dustbins.

My mum seemed to view my things as hers - she would lend or give away my prized possessions to cousins, nieces, nephews and I'd be lucky to get them back. She has no concept that what she was doing was hurting me - yet she never forgave nan for getting rid of her things.

So my hoard holds memories for me yet mum's hoard seems to be trying to find uses for things rather than throw them out.

Crumbledwalnuts Mon 01-Jul-13 22:13:51


Crumbledwalnuts Mon 01-Jul-13 22:16:22

Ebay makes things worse - people think oh I could get a fiver for that, someone will pay 20 quid for that etc etc and they never get round to it. So it sits there hiding stuff you actually need and want to use, but can't find.

clutterhoarder Mon 01-Jul-13 22:18:49

My more ordered memory clutter has this last year turned into random clutter with items that I think will be useful 1 day.

I have turned into a hoarder like my mum.

CarpeVinum Mon 01-Jul-13 22:25:33

Ebay makes things worse

I fucking hate Ebay. Won't use it on purpose.

The whole hoard was shipped here from the Uk on the premise that Ebay existed so that liberted her from the sell now or let go of olden times. And it was all "worth lots".

Although if it hadn't been Ebay,it would have been something else probably. Like Craft. Craft can excuse the existance (and transportation for a thpusand miles or more) of any old crap.

I dread to think what Hoard 2.0 looks like with Pinterest adding to the encouragment that everthing and anything can have "re purpose and upcycle" value if you can find a heavily optimistic picture to justify it.

onefewernow Mon 01-Jul-13 22:51:40

"I love my stuff ... And the only thing I regret is the amount of time it takes to sort ..."

Not the husband driven nuts.

For others, not the panic attacked child.

Surely this isn't on? Nobody, but nobody, would consider this amount of self obsession reasonable from a gambler or alcoholic. The problem is understandable, but the refusal to see or address its negative impact on others is not.

katieks Mon 01-Jul-13 23:10:26

Kiddies too small to have panic attacks, husband...fair enough, but he has his vices. I don't keep stuff to annoy him, I keep stuff because in a way it makes me feel better.

I am not that bad though (think 4 pushchairs in the garage, a spare cot and moses basket in dining room and then five boxes clutter 'awaiting Ebay'). I am happy to part with stuff that I know is going to a good home or going to be used. What I don't agree with is throwing away perfectly good stuff. Charity shops are OK, but to some degree I feel if it'll sell in a charity shop then maybe I should try and sell on Ebay (vicious circle).

katieks Mon 01-Jul-13 23:11:16

And I know it's annoying and a problem, I would love to have a show home...

AuroraAlfresco Mon 01-Jul-13 23:18:13

Shame is such a negative force. What little energy that remains stands a poor chance against great waves of despising yourself for not being able to do what other people see as "just".

Precisely, Carpe. Tidying and organising comes so naturally to so many people. I sometimes can't get over the fact that I'm a grown woman and just can't bloody do it properly.

Whoever mentioned upthread about buying their DF a CD player he never used really struck a chord with me. I helped my DM buy a laptop almost 2 years ago now. It was at her instigation, though I was also very excited at the prospect as I thought it would open up whole new worlds to her. However. After one abortive attempt at getting a Virgin, or whoever (can't remember) engineer out to do the necessary to get the internet up and running in her flat, when she was horrified to realise he needed access to her bedroom to a connection point and refused to allow it, she has never again got round to getting someone else out. Even though we now know it's possible to get hooked up just from a point in the hall - no bedroom access necessary. I know (unspoken but obvious) that I'm simply not "allowed" to mention her laptop again, so it's sitting there gathering dust, and again, she refuses to accept any help.

The difference between her and the other poster's DF, though, it that she would never shout at me about it or tell me to shut up, thank goodness. That really sucks sad

Lioninthesun Mon 01-Jul-13 23:24:37

I am a little worried about this - especially after a friend commented that after watching Hoarders she immediately thought of me and what I would be like at 80...
Like a poster upthread it started when my mum died and left her house full of antiques and items from around the world to me (only child). I spent my childhood in boarding school and my mum and I became quite distant, but I had huge amounts of respect for her despite her evident problems with alcohol. I think when she died she became a bit idolised. I have a fear of getting rid of her trinkets. She used to go on about how I wasn't to sell anything as it was very valuable and only one of it's kind in the world etc, etc. I have sold some of the larger furniture but have huge amounts all over my house. Sadly I now feel I don't know my own style as nearly everything in my house is hers. Friends have suggested paying for storage but I feel I should be using it and not wasting money on new tables/wardrobes/pictures/rugs. I also have a bit of a 'well it may come in handy' streak, possibly because my grandmother was one of my main carers and was a big Make Do & Mend type. My craft cupboard for DD is full of things I think might look good stuck on boxes to become a robot or something i.e useless crap that I think I would possibly be perfect for some unidentifiable situ in the future I have tried to control it all but actually find when I throw something out I DO need it usually within 2 weeks and get all angry at myself for choosing that time to bin it, after it had lurked happily for years.
All sounds a bit mad really reading it back!
Anyway I am going to be moving in 4-6 months and have this image of a relatively modern and calm atmosphere. I wanted to de clutter and feel this new place was mine and not a mausoleum to my mum. Now am starting to freak out a bit as everything I look at I see charm/character that can't be replaced by new things and feel a bit lost as to what to do.
Sorry for ramble. OP struck a chord and wondered if sharing would help see another side.

Lioninthesun Mon 01-Jul-13 23:26:37

P.S with soduku, can you cut them out of the paper and chuck the rest away?
eyes pile of vouchers on hall table she keeps meaning to go through and sort

Sparkyduchess Mon 01-Jul-13 23:38:42

oh god, this whole thread has had me jumping up and down.

DH is a hoarder. Not as bad as some (no large objects of furniture in hallways), but bad enough that his 'office' is a box-room with a little gap in the middle where he can sit, and the 'study' downstairs has been a storage area for the 15 years we've lived here. Other rooms are cluttered, but he moves things up to his office when I get fretful.

He knows he has a problem, and I do think it's a mental health issue on a par with OCD.

We both understand why he's like this - he grew up with nothing, and he worries that if he throws something away he might need it in the future. The fact we could replace it is something he knows rationally, but doesn't really get iyswim. He also attaches enormous emotional importance to things.

We have a skip on the drive at the moment, as we want to clear the 'study' so that 14 YO DS can use it for Xbox, having mates over, etc - really good use of the room, yes?

We've been talking about it for 3 years. This is the 6th skip - we've filled the others with 'stuff' from other areas of the house. He spent yesterday afternoon clearing the study, and I know that every single trip to the skip hurt.

It has to be done, and I'm immensely proud of him for actually throwing things away. So is DS - he's realised that DH has a problem, and was like a one-man cheerleading band yesterday.

It's just such hard work. I have never and would never bin any of DH's stuff - even the shiny jacket that he wore when we first went out together, and he keeps in the fond hope that it'll fit him again (it won't), and that he'll look great in it (he won't - it's 20 years out of date). But he keeps it, because it's good quality, and well made, and maybe one day it will fit just right.

And that sums up everything else he keeps. I just keep gently pressing him to create more space, and as above, he knows he has a problem. Really, really not easy though - just binning things would cause a meltdown because he'd never trust me again, and rightly so.

LemonDrizzled Mon 01-Jul-13 23:56:00

I have been thinking about this topic and working hard at understanding it for two years since meeting DP. I am struck by how many desperate people there are posting here whose lives are being made harder by material things.
I tried clearing DPs house room by room and throwing out crap. His DM reclaimed all the sixty shampoo/conditioner bottles from the bathroom and his DF goes through the bins retrieving stuff so I have to hide it in my car instead. Now he has two adult kids back from uni with all their stuff it is getting to boiling point. If I was his wife I would have left as she did. But he hates it too he just doesn't know how to manage the situation.
I'm not sure what to do next. His kids are shrieking about the mess, the parents are totally stressed about selling up their old house and he is feeling unable to breathe due to the lack of space.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 02-Jul-13 00:07:22

"I think there are times when you just have to go in and clear. If there are children living in unhygenic or dangerous conditions the line has to be their wellbeing over the person's connection to their hoard and their grief and horror if it is stripped away. But unless it is that sort of back against the wall sort of thing, best not to go behind backs and create a fait accomplis."

So, it has to be actually dangerous and unhygenic. If it's not going to topple down and crush the child physically, and it's not full of feces and dead rats, then the hoard takes priority?

The child still has to live with piles of useless crap. Can't have friends over. Can't find space on the dining room table to do their craft projects. Can't do anything except squeeze back against the wall and make themselves small so the junk can pile higher and higher into their space?

Fuck that.

The very thought of that makes me really angry. It makes me think that the hoarder deserves to suffer the "betrayal" and "violation" of losing everything. Their emotional collapse is... well... their choice. Their just deserts.

Lioninthesun Tue 02-Jul-13 00:08:29

Yes, the panic is real. People don't tend to get it in my case - 'surely you are grateful your mum left you so much valuable stuff/just get rid of it' but because it actually is valuable (most of it although not all of the curios etc) it makes it much harder as not only am I selling her memory and something she found cleverly in another country and snapped up, but I might get conned on the price and besides the things are usually nicer and better quality than I could buy.
I don't spend much at all on things for the house. It is like I have the fear whatever I choose won't be as good as what she had. It's the feeling of loosing myself in her stuff that scares me; there just isn't room for me and my life here.

amazingmumof6 Tue 02-Jul-13 00:12:29

guilty as charged - I'm a bit of a hoarder

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 00:13:51

But seriously, I love my stuff and know exactly when he's got rid of something. The only thing I regret is the amount of time my stuff takes up sorting,tidying, rearranging...

The people around you don't tend to forget that people who hoard are people first, not a hoard with a person attached. That's the how and why of them hanging on so long in the face of....regrets that don't include the cost to them.

LemonDrizzled Tue 02-Jul-13 00:37:11

Lion I totally understand the need to make the best of every object and the fear of selling it short. But could you address that? Accept that maybe you will part with it for less than the maximum it is worth for the sake of gaining the space? And your mum wouldnt want to make you miserable with her stuff she wanted it to bring you pleasure.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 00:49:33

then the hoard takes priority?

Pretty much, unless it reaches a severe degree there is little hope that outside agencies will step in and supoort the family member demanding changes yesterday.. There are children all over the UK living in squalor. The bar for intervention is high becuase resources are not there. More hole than saftey net after decades of underfunding.

Without them... what the non-hoarding family members can do is limited.

There are no magic wands. Nobody, particualry the emotionally involved, can magic away the fall out, the tension, the rowing, the tears, the muarning, the grief, the accusations, the blaming, the dragging up and examining of every infraction since somebody threw away a needle after it got stuck in their foot as they ill advicedly padded accross a carpet in 1976.

Attacking the hoard is like pulling the pin on a granade. Knowing that it will explode over and over again, all over you and anybody else caught in the home. And the shrapnel drives deep into your tissues.

Time after time of that is ..... exhusting. In ever increasing isolation due to in-home and outside layers of blame for something that is utterly beyond your control to stop, halt, resolve or reduce .... you learn to be leery of causing such explosions, becuase your capsity to absorb any more body blows grows lower.

It isn't about what the hoarder deserves or not. It's about the limits of human resiliance and emotional energy in the non hoarders in the face of an enourmous problem they don't entirely understand and don't know where to start to get the outside help they need if there is to be any real hope of a corner being turned.

CanadianJohn Tue 02-Jul-13 06:23:03

I'm not a hoarder, but I am very bad (lazy?) at tidying and putting away. I also keep every miscellaneous nail, screw, scrap of wood, and plastic container, because they might come in useful someday.

When I'm having one of my periodic clean-outs (never very extensive), I keep this thought in mind: "If this item was on sale for $1, would I buy it?" If the answer is no, then the item isn't worth $1, so throw it away. It kinda semi-works.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 07:27:04

I keep this thought in mind: "If this item was on sale for $1, would I buy it?" If the answer is no, then the item isn't worth $1, so throw it away.

I think actually that is a good example to highlight the difference between how a non hoarder's mind works very differently to a hoarder's mind.

Exhibit A - Piece of crap, any peice of crap. A non hoarder would likely answer No to all of the below. But no matter how bedraggled, broken, missing bits, insignificant, buggered up after living under a pile of other crap, untouched and unseen for years due to volume of crap somebody who hoards will answer Yes to one or all of the questions below. And then cling to it like it was the Hope Diamond.

Is it worth money ? Yes
Would it be wasteful to throw it away? Yes
Could it be recycled ? Yes
Could it be upcycled ? Yes
Could it be used in craft ? Yes
Does it hold memories for me ? Yes
Might it come in handy one day ? Yes
Might I want to give to somebody one day ? Yes
Is it important ? Yes
Do I want it ? Yes
Really, really, really want to not throw/give it away ? Hell Yes.

And note the model verbs. Becuase it never will be resold, recycled, upcycled, used in craft, come in handy, given away. It will live in the hoard for ever more with all it's importent, memory holding, potential filled fiends.

And while the person who hoards churns and touches and remembers, the people around them are building their own memories.

Memories of what it feels like when you come last to a pile of crap.

Badvoc Tue 02-Jul-13 07:35:08

Carpe your last post is very poignant and very sad.
I guess anyone who lives with a hoarder has to decide when coming second to piles of shit has gone on long enough sad

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 02-Jul-13 08:05:00

If there are child, then that need is more pressing.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 08:08:40

guess anyone who lives with a hoarder has to decide when coming second to piles of shit has gone on long enough

My sister was young when it went from "the odd cluttery corner and underneath beds being BoxLandia" to Hoard 1.0.

She didn't have the right to make any decisions. Not for a very, very long time. By which point her "normal" was calibrated in entirely the wrong place.

How could I decide to walk entirely away while she was still trapped there ?

She has a healthy distance now. But when, not if, when, the shit hits the fan I can't decide to leave her to deal with Hoard 2.0 alone. Be it with my mother being kicked out of her home, or carried out after rotting gentely amoung her memories/useful for craft/valuable crap, or as a former person imitating charcoal becuase she couldn't get out of her high fire risk home.

Becuase my sister has to matter enough for somebody to bear hurt for her sake. And god knows our mother was never willing to make that kind of "feeling own pain better than ignoring seeing my children's pain" sacrifice.

So yeah, we do get to decide. Mainly how best to mop up the fucking mess, phycial and emotional, that we get lumbered with.

Gosh, what a sad thread to read sad

Carpe, your posts are so insightful.

I have no real direct experience, i.e. neither myself or my DH are hoarders, but my grandad is, following the death of my grandmother when his children were small sad We are not close though and don't live close so I don't have to confront it very often.

But I have been watching the Hoarders type programmes and really feel for people with this problem. Also feel for those who have to live with it where someone close to them is the hoarder.

It has made me wonder if I should try and get into professional organising when I get back to work in a couple of years...

DiamondDoris Tue 02-Jul-13 09:07:20

I was married to a hoarder, though that wasn't the reason we got divorced. He hoarded cables, computer parts and paper. He kept all the counterfoils of cheque books he'd ever had - saying that they were nostaligic - what £12.99 Tesco March 1998? Every bill statement, dating back to the 1980s and so on. I too used to fantisise (sp) about a fire destroying the lot. He took over the biggest room in the house for his junk while our two DC had to share a box room.

He came from a family who also had hoarding/cheapskate mentalities. A cold environment devoid of real love. These could contribute in some way to his hoarding, I don't know. It was very difficult to live with as I'm the exact opposite.

jeansthatfit Tue 02-Jul-13 09:43:51

I think the programmes about hoarders are not so helpful in a way - a bit like the 'Freaky Eaters' programmes. For the sake of sensational/gripping viewing, they use the most extreme examples they can find.

There will be hoarders watching those shows whose house is in a pretty awful state thinking 'ah, well, I'm not a hoarder because my stuff is on boxes, not piles/you can still get into some rooms/my stuff is VALUABLE, there's is clearly just rubbish/look at them, they are scruffy and mad, I am normal and have a job and can dress without looking like a tramp' and so on.

Like all the people with awful diets thinking 'but there's a man who only eats cheese and has never eaten anything else. Clearly I have no problems with food.'

carpe, I share your hatred of the 'recycle/upcycle/worth something' mantra. And the poster upthread who admits to some hoarding but 'doesn't agree' with throwing things away that can be used sent my stomach flipping.


I said earlier on that one problem with early hoarding is that it can be dressed up as being thrifty etc. I've been accused of being some awful enemy of the environment for wanting to take bags of stuff out to the tip - and funnily enough, the 'it can go to charity' stuff never seems to leave the house. The acts of sorting and selection that need to be done for that that to happen would stop the hoarder from hoarding too badly in the first place.

ebay is a red herring. Unless someone is actively and continually selling ebay, and not finding more crap to buy there, it isn't working.

I am ebaying some kids's stuff, and a few posher items I own that I just don't use enough - no point it hanging in a wardrobe, I'd rather free up the space. It's going well - I'm getting money, stuff is selling.

My partner has mentioned a couple of times that HE will ebay stuff. But he won't. in any case, the things he has that once had some market value are now dirty and battered from living among piles of other crap, and where I can sell stuff with boxes/receipts, there's no way on god's earth he would ever be able to find anything like that among the heaps and piles.

I was pleased about me being able to ebay stuff (more space, spare cash) - but now I am worried dp is looking at all of his stuff with the feeling that it is all Worth Something.

jeansthatfit Tue 02-Jul-13 09:46:40

Tell you what though - this IS a sad thread, but I am going to do what carpe suggests (I think it was carpe) and try to create one 'oasis' space this week.

I think it will make me feel better, it will be good for me to make the effort and deal with my own problems in finding homes for things - and it will give me a reason to bag things up and charity shop/bin them. Which I SO want to do after this thread.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 10:16:00

There will be hoarders watching those shows whose house is in a pretty awful state thinking 'ah, well, I'm not a hoarder because my stuff is on boxes, not piles/you can still get into some rooms/my stuff is VALUABLE, there's is clearly just rubbish/look at them, they are scruffy and mad, I am normal and have a job and can dress without looking like a tramp' and so on.

I totally agree with that. (actually your whole post resonates strongly with me, but I want to address this bit particularly)

That's why this is a useful tool.

To give context, on telly they are all 9 squared.

The rooms in my mum's houses in the UK (post trauma) were a minimum of three in any given room on a good day (but with a pile of boxes and bags piled behind the sofa and artfully covered with a sheet) . With the worst rooms peaking at a 7. Where that was on any given day depended on which direction she was churning.

There's no illustration on the link, but the stairs and halls were also a minimum of three, but often a four or a five too. Makes it hard to get around and it feels a bit...mazey/obsitcal course/prisony

When she moved the hoard over here after she lost her home, (despite express instruction not to or I would set fire to it - she called my bluff) it started leaking and my side of the home went from it's normal 1/2 (depending on the time of day, 2 being right before I clean and tidy it) to a 3 and then in spots a 4, with me frantically doing a Queen Canute trying to sweep it back from whence it came.

Her side of the house was wall to wall boxes ...except for the space for the bed, and even that had boxes of churnables migrating onto it.

I didn't actually make the connection between my mum and the people on hoarders initially. Becuase their situation was so extreme I felt there was no comparision. And then I heard the "three million reasons why I won't let this bedraggled reciept from 1982 leave my home" script.

My jaw dropped.

And I started to cry.

Took me till I was 40 to work out what my mother had wrong, and to discover it wasn't just us.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 10:22:07
SoupDragon Tue 02-Jul-13 10:26:05

There will be hoarders watching those shows whose house is in a pretty awful state thinking 'ah, well, I'm not a hoarder because my stuff is on boxes, not piles/you can still get into some rooms/my stuff is VALUABLE, there's is clearly just rubbish/look at them, they are scruffy and mad, I am normal and have a job and can dress without looking like a tramp' and so on.

But the other point of view is that people who are borderline hoarders see it and see traits that they recognise in themselves. I am not a hoarder but can see that I am a potential hoarder. The programmes made me recognise that and nip it in the bud (ongoing nipping!).

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 02-Jul-13 10:27:36

I'm not a tidy person. Hoarding is nothing to do with being able to tidy. It's about obsessively holding on to physical things. When I get tired of the mess, I throw shit away and it feels really good.

I recently bought a digital radio. Three days later my son snapped the antenna off. I looked into getting it fixed, but no joy. So I broke down and bought another. The broken one is on a shelf because I still have the hope of fixing it. Really though, I just can't yet handle the thought of throwing away £40. So, it will sit there a few months. When I have emotionally gotten past the anger and disappointment of the stupid breakage and waste of money, I will throw it away.

I think that's pretty normal. A hoarder will never reach that point.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 11:07:20

I'm not a tidy person. Hoarding is nothing to do with being able to tidy. It's about obsessively holding on to physical things. When I get tired of the mess, I throw shit away and it feels really good


The key point being the throwing of shit away and the feeling good.

There is another face of OCD and depression. It can sometimes be co-morbid with hoarding, but does exist on its own too. They have a new forum now, but I can't find link in my bookmarks.

Again the main difference seems to be the throwing away of shit and feeling good about it.

Trazzletoes Tue 02-Jul-13 11:18:57

One thing in particular my DM struggles with is paperwork. She insists that the DWP can call you up out of the blue about tax from 13 years ago and insist to see receipts... Apparently this happened to a friend and so she can't throw any of this stuff out. I always understood it to be important to keep bank statements etc for 5 years but after that they can go, yes?

To be honest, I think we are all at the point of giving up - I can't take my DCs to visit her. There's no space. But that is no incentive for her to get help. She hates being home because of the memories so has all sorts of activities to keep her out. Then is adamant that she can't deal with the hoard because she has no time. She is retired and single. She has all the time in the world!!!

Trazzletoes Tue 02-Jul-13 11:20:19

Yy to links with OCD. That runs in my family too but again, DM denies that she has any traits. It's just normal to have to make sure everything is turned off. 5 times.

Biscuitsareme Tue 02-Jul-13 11:48:51

Trazzletoes that's my mum to a T! She has a holy fear of 'authorities' suddenly getting in touch to demand bank statements/ tax returns/ proof of payment of her 1992 MOT bill. It came as a revelation to me when my tidy and incredulous OH put the record straight on this because by the time I met him I had normalised her behaviour to the extent that I actually believed her.

Biscuitsareme Tue 02-Jul-13 11:53:16

Carpe, thanks for the link. I'm relieved to find that I'm a 1.5 (1 when we've tidied, 2 when we haven't). Parents are 4, plus some space-blocking unused stacked furniture, so it could be worse.

Trazzletoes Tue 02-Jul-13 12:10:32

It's so frustrating biscuits! (Are you my DSis?) but because it happened to a "friend" then I'm wrong and she's right and no paper can be thrown out.

Great link, Carpe.

You are right about the programmes, my Grandad is nowhere near the level of the people on the programmes, but he is still a hoarder, probably about a 4 on your link since my aunt moved in with him and keeps him in check.

Fwiw, my husband is not a hoarder, but could easily reach a 3 when he lived on his own! He is very definitely just lazy though, he has no problems at all throwing things away, he just can't be arsed hmmgrin He's a lot happier since I moved in and started throwing stuff away, which is definitely a difference between a hoarder and not, he doesn't attach emotional significance to things. I am also not a naturally tidy person, but I feel very oppressed by clutter, so do my best to get rid of it when I can. Anything at 3 or beyond on those pictures made me feel quite anxious.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 12:32:06


Paperwork is one of the harder tripwires to get over. Becuase there is some truth in the "must hold for X amount of time" resistance to letting go. It's just that truth gets stretched to break point and not even handing over the phone asking the bank to repeat how long statements must be kept will necessarily make a dent.

It's just..there's little point holding on to even the stuff you really should keep if it isn't in something a binder, in some kind of order so it can be found without a ten day, house turned upside down, search and rescue effort the unlikely event it should it be required.

deste Tue 02-Jul-13 12:44:49

Can I ask what would happen to a hoarder if they say, went on holiday for a fortnight and came back and someone had cleared everything out of the house and thrown it away?

Would they feel liberated or would it trigger an emotional collapse?

I have heard of people being reported to the police for stealing their things, so tread very carefully.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 12:49:00

Found it

the Stepping out of Squalor forum

The post I've linked is the one that explains the diversity of causes that can, but does not always, include hoarding.

I don't suggest friends, relatives post there. It is the sufferers' space. But worth a read to see what clicked and caused a change, what resources, tricks and tips have worked for other people, with a view to evaluating them as something to run past the person in your family with an issue.

morefalafel Tue 02-Jul-13 15:06:00

My DP is a hoarder. I say he sounds like a troll going through his stash when I hear him rustling in his beloved piles of carrier bags. His bedroom at his mums house cannot be entered, there is so much stuff that the door doesn't open, and his Mum's loft is full of frankly... junk.

I had to admit that I give the insignificant things to charity. I ordered a van last week and they came while he was out. That's just the stuff he wont notice is missing - if I got rid of anything from the precious pile next to the bed there would be hell to pay. When I've cleaned the house, he will come home and get very upset because I've moved all this things (ie put them away/dusted them). He admits he has a problem and has cut down since seeing that show on tv and having everyone say that he would be like that if I wasn't here. He even picks things from the rubbish bin.

TBH I worry what will happen if I am ever not here to take control, and like someone said upthread, about the affect on our DC's because DP's dad is also a hoarder and I don't want the kids to think that climbing over piles of carrier bags to get into bed is normal. sad

morefalafel Tue 02-Jul-13 15:11:12

That link with the photo's is great Carpevinum. Our living room is a 1 or 2, thank goodness! But DP's parents upstairs is a 7 easily. I think I will show DP that link.

starrystarryknut Tue 02-Jul-13 20:11:03

Please tell me if this is hoarding and I am actually very distressed by this but don't know if I qualify...
My DF's wife (10 year marriage, she never was in a step-mother role to me) seems to me to be an obsessive hoarder. I find it very, very upsetting and I would even say grotesque. Their house is immaculate and perfect, she is massively OCD about cleaning, doilies, and such, but they have had to buy a house that has a huge outbuilding to store her cartons of carefully packaged STUFF. Things that are labelled things like "Kenya 1972 - Curtains, Teatowels", and have never been opened since then etc. They have about 4 housefuls of interior decor in one house. She constantly buys new things which she already has; she keeps 40 year old clothes, and sometimes - when my DF tries to get her to pare it down - gives to me 30 year old clothes, all perfectly laundered and ironed (and 4 sizes too big), from Etam (!!!) or whatever, and says things like "my things are so special, but I love sometimes to let them go to a good home" (I send to charity shop next morning).
The reason I am so distressed about it is that last week they moved house again. It took 3 road trains to shift their shit. I know my DF during my childhood was always "buy a new thing, throw the old thing out" type of person, but now he can't say boo to this huge pile of stuff. I even think she shop lifts to keep expanding the collection. Then when DF remonstrates, she gives it to me/my DH as some kind of magnanimous gesture ("I bought it for your DF but it doesn't fit, so here, your DH should have it". Me - inside my head - "Why not return it then, if it doesn't fit? You should have the receipt")
I'm really confused and upset. I feel like I am not welcome anymore. Can't even put a coffee cup on a table, without a swooping of doilies. I feel suffocated by all the STUFF STUFF STUFF. And yet when I was, after my first marriage broke up leaving me on my own with 2 DS and completely destitute, they wouldn't even lend me a plate and fork. I totally understand the poster who said you come second to a pile of 1970s Family Circle magazines, but I'm really confused because basically my DF and his wife are loaded, and all their crap is expensive antiques and stuff, so not exactly squalor.
I just don't understand what's going on and why I and my DB and DSis are just nothing in this. Why the stuff has become more important to my DF than we are - even though he is not the person who is constantly buying/acquiring it.
Genuine question: am I in the right place in this hoarder discussion, or is my sadness something else?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Tue 02-Jul-13 20:26:01

I'm really sorry so many people have posted their experiences here, clearly there are a lot of hoarders out there.

carpe thanks so much for all the links, I totally agree with the program's about hoarding making some hoarders seem more normal.

starry sorry you feel like second best to your df's stuff. I'm no expert on hoarding I just live with one sad. Dh is seriously messy with his hoarding and gets very anxious if he feels the hoard is threatened. Does your df feel anxious at the thought of parting with stuff. My impression from this thread is that most hoarders are messy yours sound pretty tidy and organised.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 20:28:52

am I in the right place in this hoarder discussion, or is my sadness something else?

It sounds like you are in the right place love.

I can't tell you why stuff comes before children. I doubt I'll ever know. I know it hurts like buggery though, so Big, Fat Hug.

With your dad, sometimes withdrawal in the non hoarding partner can be a defence mechnisim. By ..ignoring it basically, there is an illusion it doesn't exist, so it doesn't have to be thought about.

Do you see what I mean ?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Tue 02-Jul-13 20:33:46

Yes I think you are in the right place, does it really matter if the hoard is neat and tidy or messy.

starrystarryknut Tue 02-Jul-13 20:44:44

Now I'm crying. I have been excusing this for years. I didn't really know it had a name. I watched things like the hoarder programme on TV but that filth and squalor was nothing like my experience, because their house is so "perfect".
My DB was thrown out in a screaming fit by stepM for putting a laptop on a table. My DSis was thrown out in a screaming fit for moving some "products" in the kitchen. She has maybe 200 plates etc but when I didn't even have ONE, she wouldn't lend me and my DC some so that we could start to make a new life in an empty house.
But why does my DF let her do this to his DC, even if we are grown up? Why does he let her prioritise this endless river of things?

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 20:45:58

starrystarryknut ...this thread, becuase of the nature of threads, won't last forever. But there is a complexity to the child/parent who hoards realtionship that can need some time to untangle and make sense of. The issues that result in hoarding are plural, and comorbid conditions exist, leading to perplexing choices and behavoirs that are not part of the hoarding, but are part of the underlying mental state.

The link above is a group dedicted to the now children of hoarders. It offers a longer term place of support, to peel back the layers of the realtionship and work out what's what, and why. Just reading can help, but I found it really useful to post as well, becuase for the first time ever I didn't feel like a total freak.

I'm not posting it to say post there not here, I'm posting it so when the thread fades into inaction, you're not left hanging, still with more questions than answers. It can take a while to get to grips with this.

And you may never fully understand all of it, or forgive all of it, but a certain kind of peace is acheivable. And it is such a relief.

It's nice too to find people with such common ground. The snapshot won't look the same. The guy who foundered the group was one of the families on hoarders. His mother was living in a degree of squalor that was breathe taking. Others like yourself had another type extreme, where external storage was used to house a hoarde while the home was left largely unaffected. And all the various flavours inbetween. But becuase the unifying factor is they underlying mindset, not the exact form in which in manifests,... it is hard to feel alone there.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Tue 02-Jul-13 20:49:10

Oh starry poor you. You've made me even more determined that my kids won't go through the sort of crap you, carpe or any golf the other posters have gone through with patents.

It's just not fair on them.

starrystarryknut Tue 02-Jul-13 20:49:40

Thank you for this. I am so shaken up by all this I am going to bed early just to hibernate and cry. I will read your link but not post again tonight. Please don't go away...

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 20:50:07

Now I'm crying

That's neither an unusual or bad thing love. It can be a release. Without knowing it's a "thing" where do you put the pain, the confusion, the hurt and the sensation lack of tangible love ?

<proffers hand>

I promise you won't feel this bad forever. It's like a storm, you'll get your lull when it's spent.

starrystarryknut Tue 02-Jul-13 20:51:36

Thank you. Just thank you.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 20:56:38

I'm not going anywhere love.

You sound exactly like I did. Shocked to the core, the in floods, bewildered and ...stuff I didn't have a name for. I get it. I really do.

You have to mourn the loss of the illusion of "normal", work out what the "not so normal" is, and have bits of jigsaw puzzle fall into place, which can be illuminating and painful all at the same time. That's alot for one human in one fell swoop.

CarpeVinum Tue 02-Jul-13 21:11:26

You've made me even more determined that my kids won't go through the sort of crap

That ups their chances of not... by a few hundred percent. It's the empathy for the child perspective that stops their price becoming invisible.

And readingnwhat you wrote has lifted me somewhat from the despair of just a few minutes ago of reading children being described as little piggies, who aren't bothered by piles of stuff and mess as long as they have toys to play with. Almost like a hoard or notable degrees of mess were their "natural habitat" and they are virtually immune to all and any ramifications.

Trazzletoes Tue 02-Jul-13 21:49:28

starry I'm not much help but I'm not going away either.

Sparkyduchess Tue 02-Jul-13 22:16:11

Starry that sounds very hard sad

Well, DH is upstairs, digging through 3+ years of mail and assorted bits of paper, trying to find the things he needs to sort out the letters from HMRC which are now distinctly threatening in tone. He owned up last week to having failed to file 3 years of tax returns which means he owes god knows how much in penalties.

I phoned my accountant who is more than willing to help him fix it, but he needs a few things for her to do that.

He's spent all day wading through bag after bag of empty envelopes, advertising leaflets, etc to try to find what's needed.

Fed up.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Tue 02-Jul-13 22:54:05

Holds starry's hand

sparkly no wonder you are fed up. I am convinced hoarders are the worlds worst procrastinators, not filing a tax return for three years is madness.

Lioninthesun Tue 02-Jul-13 23:13:42

Carpe thanks for the links. Thankfully most of my house is a 1 or 2 but one room is about a 6 - one wall is full to the ceiling with boxes of her material, I have 2 ottomans full of her diaries/my first shoes etc and more boxes of antiques and trinkets as well as DD's 2 prams blush It could be a lot worse but it already worries me that I can't let go of her things. I actually DO believe she would turn in her grave if I just chucked them out. She told me so many times! Also a lot of them do hold memories and I want to show DD one day. Maybe then I will feel it is OK to give them a better home, as I know atm they are of no use to anyone sitting in a box!

Sparkyduchess Tue 02-Jul-13 23:16:37

He ran into problems with the first return, the local tax office weren't helpful so he decided he'd bury his head about it.

He's still up there now, I can hear bags rustling.

I'm very sympathetic to it normally - I understand where it comes from, and that he needs the hoarding in a weird way. But it does piss me off to find out that it's cost us a lot of money although he won't tell me exactly how much.

The daft thing is, he is the last person who needs the stress - he has cancer ffs. He's admitted he needs help with this tax issue which is a big step, but it's taken him a week since then to start looking for the bits of paper that my accountant needs.

Being positive - he admitted he couldn't fix this one on his own, and he's trying to find what's needed. He did bin stuff this weekend to clear the 'study' for DS's use. He's really trying, and he really wants to sort both the immediate tax issue and the bigger issue of taking over rooms in the house out.

LemonDrizzled Tue 02-Jul-13 23:17:03

As the child of a hoarder (and the partner of one!) I found the Fly Lady website really helpful in teaching me routine to run a house, She uses 15 minutes of decluttering and the 27 fling boogie to make inroads, amd each week you have a different zone to tackle,She talks about CHAOS which is Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome and how to fight it.
She says often clutterers are perfectionists who cant start a job for fear of doing it badly. I think failure to do tax returns may be like that. Instead of having a rough go and thinking it good enough the perfectionist would be afraid to start. I recognise that!

<<hand holding for "sparkly* and starry>>

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 06:31:51

I actually DO believe she would turn in her grave if I just chucked them out. She told me so many times!

She's gone. If there is nothing after we die, then she's not there to see or feel anything. And if there is, then she's better. I don't believe in any form of heaven, but it would have to be a particularly spiteful sort of god that would condemn the mentally unwell to lug their organic disadvantage for eternity. So if she is up there, she's well now. And rooting for you to be free of her demons. You let go, she cheers, and is relieved that she didn't trap you so effectively in her cycle of investing in stuff what is better invested in people.

Also a lot of them do hold memories and I want to show DD one day.

Careful. Your mum didn't start out determined to chain you up as "caretaker of the memeories". It's a process.

The memories that will count for your daughter are the ones you make with her. Take photos of the stuff. You can share stories of people who are gone, their special talents, their hopes and dreams, without the actual stuff.

But if you keep the stuff despite all reasoning pointing towards a need to let it go, because you percieve them as an essential presence in order to share memories, you are going to be teaching her pretty much what your mum taught you.

And the risk is all the same self imposed pressures your mother passed from herself to you, will pass from you to your child.

You can break this cycle. It won't be easy. It will hurt hard at the start. But your girl's worth it, and so are you.

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 06:41:29

My DM also struggles with the memories in "stuff". I figure though that she can't get rid of things belonging to my DGM and particularly my DF because if she does, she will have to face up to the fact that are really not here anymore. It's heart-breaking.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 06:42:18


There is aslo an app based on the flylady routines

I never learned about the concept of routines and regular cleaning. I only learned about crisis cleaning. So unless I saw disaster I didn't click "oh, there needs doing". And unless I was turning housework neglect armageedon into pristine...there wasn't any sense of satisfaction at all.

Not all children of hoarders become hoarders, but quite a lot of them live in squalor because their clean radar is wonky and they have no skill set.

I use the app to keep me on the stright and narrow. I need a crutch, something that tells me what to do, when, and for how long.

And I love getting my gold stars grin

I like FlyLady, the site, but i can't deal with the emails, I feel crushed under a hecotring wieght, and my inbox gets cluttered which makes me anxious, but I can't delete without reading and doing or I feel guilty and the ....... <CarpeCollapseInHeap>

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 07:06:08

Carpe come over to the fledgling flyers thread in Good Housekeeping. The links get posted every day, no need for e-mails and we are all very lovely ( I hope!).

It's odd isn't it, my siblings are extremely clean and tidy. I have never developed habits and strategies to keep a clean house. I'm terrified my DCs will grow up without this skill set. In trying to do something about it but its hard to learn as an adult! I think from the pictures, we are mostly 2 to 2.5, although my bedroom is a 3 (gross) so I'm going to try to tackle that today.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 07:20:37


Which section is it in ?

I forgot to post this one before, there is a group also for people with hoarding issues and messies issues.

I use it as "eye opener" reading. To try and get inside the thought process and understand how it worked for my mother.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 07:21:23

Oh, you said, Good HouseKeeping. I am off to the board index......

SoupDragon Wed 03-Jul-13 07:30:28

I find it ironic that Fly Lady, a decluttering and tidying website, clutters up your email in box. I thin I lasted 2 days before I screamed and unsubscribed.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 07:42:01

Wot Soup said.

I like a lot of what she says, but watching my inbox fill faster than I could read and do ....ended with me on the sofa eating a whole bar of chocolate feeling like a failure before I even began.

I am not good in the face of clutter, any clutter, even inbox clutter. I go bonkers and start indescriminatly throwing stuff away. If not stopped we'd end up with a plate each and a shared fork, and an empty house.

See I would be really good at housework if it were all empty rooms. It's the fucking stuff being there that makes everything difficult.

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 07:44:42

People who do this to their kids are guilty of child abuse/neglect IMHO sad
I have seen first hand what it does to the kids and its not pretty.
My friend ended up with fleas fgs! My mum deloused her but the next week they were back.
What made it worse (for me) was that the mother was a nurse.
If it were drugs/drink problems then these families would get help.
Why is there no help for these people - and more importantly their families?

sudointellectual Wed 03-Jul-13 07:45:36

My dad's hoarding has got a hundred times worse since my mum died. He no longer can differentiate between objects and people/events. The house is clean and somewhat tidy, as he has a housekeeper, but she can't throw furniture away, obviously, so in a bedroom he'll have six or seven chairs so you can't really get to the bed. If you say, hey, maybe this spare bedroom only needs one chair? He grips them in this panicked way and says "This is your granny!"

It's not. It's just a chair she had once. And when you add it to the chair my aunt had once and the chair he bought with my mother at an antiques shop once and the chair... It's too many! They're all nice things but...And it's like this in every room so you have to edge around things in these rooms that should be beautiful. It's mad and horrible but he's constantly "sorting" the house out so if you challenge him he reckons he's on it. But he never sorts it out. He just picks things up and puts them down, round and round, over and over.

I find it really disturbing. When you mentions the stuff he really seems unhinged. He's not mad in any other way. He runs a very successful business, still, at 70. It's a biggish house so the public rooms are mostly clear...ish, and it seems okay because it's so clean but there are no clear surfaces anywhere. Everything has piles and piles. I don't think he can see the piles of STUFF. There's too much furniture in every room. Two or three beds in a bedroom meant for one. It's really suffocating. He has two tables in the breakfast room. One to sit and eat breakfast at and one to pile and pile with junk. In the sitting room there is, insanely, a six seater high backed monks bench shoved behind the telly. Everyone bangs their shin on it as they try to get in the room.

He shops at Costco. He's a single person! He piles it all on the junk table. There's at least one junk table in every room.

He doesn't care about living people. He's not interested. All his conversation is about dead people. The furniture is him hanging out with them in preference to us. He's a lovely man in every other way, but ultimately: not present.

sudointellectual Wed 03-Jul-13 07:51:50

And Carpe, I am the same as you. I have rages of decluttering. I do it extra after I've been at home, as a kind of self medication, I think.

Last time I went to my dad's house, when I got back, I got rid of my (only) armchair. I just had to do something!

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 07:52:25

I didn't mean my last post to sound harsh - although I realise it must have.
I perhaps and the polar opposite of a hoarder mentality.
I cannot abide clutter. It makes me anxious and annoyed.
" a place for everything and everything in its place" is an adage I live by.
Good storage helps (which is hard in modern houses as there isn't any)
I tend to only buy things I need rather than buying things against the idea that I might need them someday.
The children have loads of stuff, but before each b day and Xmas I have a cull and anything they don't play with goes to the charity shop/friends.
They both have a memory box in the loft and I add to them after each school year with their pictures/work/certificates etc.
My dh has hoarder tendencies but I limit him to his shed and the loft.
I don't care what he has in there! (And it's probably best I don't know tbh)
I think those of you living with hoarders come across as very tolerant and compassionate people.
I don't know how you do it sad

RoLoh Wed 03-Jul-13 07:54:09

I can sympathise. My dj isn't quite as bad as some of yours but I can see how it might escalate in the future!
When his mum moved house she had a bunch of stuff she wanted to ditch and he was like, oh that's worth some money I'll 'sell it on eBay' for you. Now every time I bring it up he gets defensive like I'm suggesting throwing away family heirlooms or something!
Luckily we're moving ourselves soon and he has managed to chuck quite a bit of stuff so far so fingers crossed!

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 08:12:51

Why is there no help for these people - and more importantly their families?

Becuase I think it's fairly new in terms of recognition, study and thinking about stratagies that might combat the spectacularly bad ricividsim rate.

As for families, well they are often seen as pure victims of drink, drugs etc. But right from teeny tiny I was blamed for much of the mess, and believed it right until my husband pointed out wasn't actually my stuff. Mum would cry on firends' shoulders that we were impossibly messy, and that's a very comon complaint, so was believable. And we got lectures from outsiders about helping more and not causing pur mum so much work.

When ypu get older there's a lot of "how could you let her live like that ?" ...abd so on and so forth.

It does seep into the soul of you. The idea that it's your fault, or your responsibility, that you must be dirty, or disgusting to live in such conditions. And it doesn't seem to matter that in terms of logic all the fights, the sneaking around, the cajoaling,bthe begging to be allowed to clear and dump point to something entirely different.

I have seen a lot of people come around and be symathetic towards people who hoarder since shows made it more visible and understandable. But ai can't read threads about the shows, becuase quite quickly the family blaming starts, and's like I shoot back in time when everything was so raw, and I was so confused and full of self blame and misplaced responsibility.

It's still new. Give it time, maybe people will come around to the idea that just like hoarding is more compicated than they thought it was, so too is the lot of the family.

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 08:14:53

Oh carpe sad
She blamed you?
That's just....awful.
I'm so sorry.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 08:35:06

I got rid of my (only) armchair. I just had to do something!

Oh that I understand.

Dh had to wrestle the xmas tree off me last night. I wanted to throw it away. My reasonng being I needed to throw something away (consequence of opening the door a crack on this subject) and it had fallen off its shelf twice in three days thanks to Lilly the Kitten, which made the storeroom look like a tip, cos it lay there in all its spikey, arms everywhere, floor consuming mess. TWICE!

If it hadn't been the tree, it would have been something else.

I really have to watch it. I don't want to indulge my kneejerk reations to the point that I teach my son wierd reations or to walk on eggshells around my psyche.

I know it's not good, and I know DH is alert for it to make sure it stays under control. But ...I want in some way to "mother" the ghost of the girl I was, by getting it under control by myself, for her sake. To say "you are worth my stuggle with my wierd emotional connection to stuff, and I'll win so you don't lose".

<finger hovvers over delete button>

Oh fuck it. If I haven't demonstrated that I am wierd headed by now then people haven't been paying attention grin

I don't want to give people the wrong impression. It is possible to recover, live well and not be all "odd", lots of the time. Generally I do very well. I am suffering from a moment off kilter.

I haven't spoken to my mother since she left the house we bought to accomadate her due to losing her own home....leaving The Hoard here, pleanty of it having leaked all over my side, mixed in with my stuff. That was almost a decade ago.

Two days ago out of the blue my uncle called, haven't spoken to him since my grandmother's funeral way back when, asking if there was anyway he could broker an end to the estrangment. I said no, he was lovely, I'm fine with that. But Pandora's box of memories got cracked open a bit, and I am in post sting, wound licking mode.

I am both glad and infuriated with myself that I saw the thread title and clicked.

I like tidy. But...sometimes healing isn't tidy. It is sitting in the towering piles of chaos of conflictual feelings, from the relief of explaining how you came to be, to the shame of what you are, the hope when you read your own words and see how far you've come and the despair that Pandora's box can take you right back for a moment at the speed of light.

I am sitting in a metaphical hoard of emotions. It's uncomfortable.

And I tried to take it out on an innocent xmas tree hmm

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 08:39:29

She blamed you?

It's very common I discovered. Very, very common. Which actually made me feel better about it. Not sure why. But it did.

But that is where a lot of my residual anger cones from. I believed her. I believed I was genetically incapble of being clean and tidy.

So I lived in 4th degree squalor (I do not advise looking the definition of that up unless you want to heave) when I left home becuase... I truely believed that was who I was.

I don't have a great skill set for housework. And I do find routine hard to keep without a crutch like the HomeRoutines app. But guess what. I am not as revolting as I believed myself to be. I am actually quite good at cleaning when it's cleaning and not an emotionally charged activity of self loathing.

sudointellectual Wed 03-Jul-13 08:52:59

My parents both blamed their children for the mess. But now, in our thirties, only one has a hoard. My brother's hoard is bigger, actually. He has filled several houses... oh my god that's insane. I have just realised.

Us other three have all gone the other way. I feel oppressed by things, like I need to defeat them. I experience all my emotions as metaphorical objects vs space. Depression to me feels like having invisible cardboard boxes stacked up in every doorway. Happiness is a wide open sky.

My brother doesn't even display Christmas cards: he opens, reads, recycles.

sudointellectual Wed 03-Jul-13 08:54:05

Er, my *other brother.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 03-Jul-13 08:54:15

badvoc you are so right about modern houses having no storage. It drives me mad - bought on old Victorian house instead.

I know modern technology means you don't need to store CDs or books like you used to but people will always need an ironing board, Hoover and room to store clothes.

I think it's criminal the way modern homes are designed.

Thanks for the suggestions to try the fly lady app that sounds great. Not going to get emails sent though, I don't read the ones I get at the moment.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 03-Jul-13 09:14:21

Sudo, I love what you said about emotions and space. smile

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 10:15:02

When....My sister lives in a large 5 bed 3 story house.
There is not one storage cupboard!
It's ridiculous what developers get away with.
I can relate to the feeling of being oppressed by "things"
I don't ascribe feelings to objects. I think thats deeply strange, but I know people who do.
I put up cards. Then i take them down after the b day.
At Xmas I have a card holder on a door so they are contained smile
I love Xmas and getting the decs up, but then by Boxing Day I am ready for them to come down...I hold off til NYE though.
For me, toy boxes, trofast storage from ikea and 2 large storage cupboards seem to contain all our stuff.
Dh has the loft and his shed (sigh) and the house is always tidy (if not always super clean)

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 10:24:12

It's ridiculous what developers get away with

It's not just new houses.

Mine is a 17th centuray Lombardy farmhouse.

It is a shot for making storage hard, cos in True Italian tradition they leave a whole 30cms between side wall and window on the ajoining external wall. So you can't put in a row or wardrobes or cupbpards, cos they "jut".

I had to sacrifice the downstairs loo by ripping it out to create a storage room and one bedroom to make a walk in wardrobe.

Which I could only do cos we bought this house to home two "families", one half for us and one as a joined but indpependant home for my mother.

And since she flouced (sans hoard) I have been left with a stupidly big sized house to keep clean,ntidy and cobweb free. (even if perfectly tidy it takes two hours to hoover,mdust, de-cobweb and mop all of it) So I decided to make the best of it and rearrange it work storagewise by repurposeing rooms. Otherwise I'd be screwed storagewise. Cos big doesn't always mean rooms lend themselves to creating places to put stuff so it behaves.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 10:24:57

it's a shit , not a shot, it contains no guns.

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 10:30:34

Ohhhh carpe that sounds amazing!
But, yes, period homes dont lend themselves to storage either.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 10:40:24

that sounds amazing!

Sounds, yes.

Is, meh...depends on the day and how many spiders I am chasing with the hoover.

Or how many mosquito window nets the cats have pulled down.

Or if a new damp patch has appeared.

Or if a beam has decided to shed some extra dust.

Or it's making funny noises. Which normally ends with a mouse falling out of the fireplace and me on the sofa screaming while it runs around leaving sooty paw prints everywhere and laughing at me. The bastard.

Badvoc Wed 03-Jul-13 10:50:13

Ah, I don't mind mice.
Or dust (ds2 loves to dust) but the mozzies...hmmm...that's not good.

Typinginsecret Wed 03-Jul-13 12:32:00

Hi Ladies

Been reading this thread with interest - especially about the link between hoarding and OCD.

When my kids were little I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mum - and I developed a cleaning obsession - between that and constant house moving due to exh job - lived fairly hoard free!
But the cleaning combined with a bad marriage and lack of any friends, social life etc, I became Ill with depression.

My marriage ended 2 years ago - my and the kids have moved into a smaller house - not enough room for all our bits and pieces. We have now been looking at boxes of crap for two years !!

A few things have happened recently - a lovely new dp who is a tidy freak , Iam at last starting to feel in control of my life, and believe it or not reading this thread!
The blitzing has started!!!

So my question is can you temporarily become a hoarder due to an emotional upset?

I found exh was very heavily in debt when we left and I came away with nothing but the contents of our rented house - I see now why I was hanging on to everything- because aside from two wonderful children , it was all k had to show for 20 years!

Thanks for this thread ladies x

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 13:01:35

So my question is can you temporarily become a hoarder due to an emotional upset?


Trauma, like a divorce, can bring out latent tendencies, or tendencies that used to be chanelled in a different fashion. Caught in time they can be rolled back away from hoarding. But, pretty much they are best dealt with one way or another, rather than being allowed to dictate extremes in either direction.

This is designed for mood, but I also use it for the "warpy thoughts" that feed into my slightly obsessive side. I could never talk about this with somebody actually looking at me, so for me it gives me something healthy to frame the working through of the diffiuclt bits of how I am.

NanaNina Wed 03-Jul-13 14:01:52

I haven't read all the posts - got to P4 but I was amazed to find that there are other hoarders out there, besides my DP (we've been together 40 years) and his hoarding has got worse over the years.

So many similar things, accumulating useless stuff, piles of papers, bits of wire, light switches, bits of locks and god knows what else. I think the problem is 2 fold - he rarely puts anything back in it's place and won't throw anything away. We have a cellar full of crap (loads and loads of DIY tools) and he never does any DIY. Also have a lot of stuff in the loft. We have separate bedrooms (which helps a lot) and his is unbelievable at times.....stuff all over the place and heaps and heaps of clothes. In the room that we both use most of the time, he sits next to a shelf and he just puts piles of paper and stuff on there, and I say "I think it's time for a shelf clear" and usually he will agree and tidy it, but sometimes he gets irritated. I have to keep this room ok because left to him he would have it like his bedroom.

We also have a garden shed and he buys buckets (brand new ones) and keeps them in there (only a couple) but it's still odd. He buys knives (only kitchen ones) but he doesn't want them used because he likes them still in their plastic cases. He hasn't said as much but when I suggested opening one of the packets I could see he didn't want to, so I said no more.

He buys lots of containers to put things in, but as so many other hoarders he is incapable of sorting through anything. I have watched him and he is almost paralysed. He has masses of clothes and will only very occasionally agree to take anything to charity. He hates me to touch any of his belongings because he is convinced I am going to throw it away and this has caused arguments in the past but not now.

Why do I put up with it - because I love him and he has been very supportive to me over the last 3 years when I have been ill, and I couldn't do without him. Oh yes he even hoards on the Sky plus Planner (tapes loads of programmes) but never wants to watch any!

I believe hoarding is caused by OCD (which is a mental illness in my opinion) and the other side of the OCD coin is the person who has to have everything absolutely tidy, nothing on any surfaces etc. and I know people like this. One friend has to hang out her washing with the same colour pegs! When we went on holiday she packed and unpacked her case several times.

So thanks for the thread and it's good to know I'm not alone!

As for the people coming on saying "just throw it away" etc - why are they on the thread, when the title is "Does anyone else live with a Hoarder" - ok yes I know people have the right to post anywhere but they just don't understand what it is like for us the partners of hoarders and yes it is exactly like telling some with depression to "cheer up" so maybe it's best for them to stay away from these threads.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 03-Jul-13 15:26:36

carpe I know you said not to but I googled 4th degree squalor shock and she blamed you for it. That's just appalling.

I have watched him and he is almost paralysed
I can identify with this one. My dh isn't paralysed but it just takes him so long to decide over what to sort out, it is unbearable.
I think dh has really poor decision making skills, probably from being a perfectionist - he is just too scared of getting something wrong. The poor decision making affects everything. If I ask him if he wants a cup of tea he often thinkings about it for 10 seconds before answering.

LemonDrizzled Wed 03-Jul-13 16:17:45

Oh this is so soothing to know my lovely hoarders are part of a tribe and not unique. Yes to the buckets Nina (although my DPs family spread them all out in the garden to catch the rain for loo flushing....)
And yes WhenShe to being indecisive over everything. I think that is really important becasue if you can't decide whether you want a cup of tea or coffee, then making big decisions about whether to sell the house or not, or other really big stuff, is just too difficult. The ostrich approach seems to be part of this.
"If I ignore the Hoard then I don't have to make any decisions about it".

We are approaching meltdown this week. The DGPs house is being sold and they are frantic over the last remnants of their Hoard. The rest is crammed into DPs house along with his stuff...

How shall I treat them? Valium in their tea (or coffee)??

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 16:20:03

No love, I lived in 4th degree squalor after I left home. Mind you....home had been 3rd degree squalor with the occasional tipping over to 4th.

I was a self fulfilling prophecy for a while there. I was very young when I left home, and I left believeing it was me, so it became me, until I worked out it wasn't me and gave myself permission to live in more "human" conditions.

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 03-Jul-13 16:29:22

I think the lack of decision making helped to build the hoard (it drfinatly stops him getting rid of any of if). I think with some of the stuff he just isn't sure if he should bin it or not so it stays.

Most of the hoard however is viewed as being useful / valuable in some god unknown way.

LemonDrizzled Wed 03-Jul-13 16:56:35

I'm laughing about the Christmas tree Carpe because I threw mine away in a minimalist fit after my marriage broke down and I was living alone in OCD possession free heaven. Then I bought a Tesco value one for £10 that was alive and is now growing in my back garden like a Californian Redwood. Perhaps it is one!!

I become very OCD when stressed and my house looks all the better for it, even if my hands suffer. But when I am relaxed I can tolerate some mess up to maybe level 1.5

Do you think getting DP to practise decision making generally would help him with his Hoard? He was always scared to express his opinion to his cross XW in the past. And scared of throwing out something he later needed/wanted/regretted/turned up on Antiques Roadshow worth £1000

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 17:16:00

Do you think getting DP to practise decision making generally would help him with his Hoard?

I think even if it doesn't help with the hoard immediatly, it can't hurt. If indecsion is due to fear of the consequences... starting small where outcomes are minor, and letting him see his own sucesses might help.

I have a suggestion re antiques. My husband isn't a hoarder, he is something worse...a bloody antiques dealer/restorer. grin

Huge, dark, dusty bits of furniture that take up eons of space and have the storage capacity of a small worst nightmare. I keep them corralled in his workshop.

Anyway, he gets attached to some pieces, over values them on purpose cos he likes them and doesn't want to sell them till the love affair has died down a bit, and other stuff he is less sure it isn't worth much more than his instinct is telling him it is.

That's where auctions come in.

The auction house works on commision, so they want your stuff to go for top dollar. It stops DH worrying about being ripped off if he has a hole of knowledge. It's worth the commision for the sense of security. That might work for anybody worried that they don't know how to set a price at the right level and so avoids selling at all.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 17:18:01


How are you doing today love ?

Don't worry if you don't feel like posting right now. Feeling a bit "I have no words" kind of goes with the turf.

But we're still here if and when you do want or need to talk.
<big, fat hug>

Fairenuff Wed 03-Jul-13 17:29:26

It's ironic that because hoarders won't throw anything away, they end up throwing away their lives, their relationships, their freedom and happiness.

When they are gone, the stuff will just get sold, given away or recycled. And all those years of living in a mess, living with the frustration of never being able to find anything, or invite people over, will have been for nothing.

A wasted life sad

LemonDrizzled Wed 03-Jul-13 17:32:31

Top Dollar????????? These are broken bits of 1960s bakelite electrical gadgets and early electronic gizmos that dont work but MIGHT be fixable and worth a fortune if they are kept long enough.
On the plus side they don't take up much individual space but there are many many of them...
ebay is useful though - it shifts them onward (and pays for more collectors items to be delivered ready for restoration when he has time....)
But actually I dont mind DPs hoard too much until it starts to "leak". That is a great description Carpe and I shall use it with acknowledgement.
DP would worry if he didnt make lots of money it was because he sold too soon and should have waited longer... not because it was a pile of carp in the first place!

redrubyshoes Wed 03-Jul-13 17:34:17

My MIL is a hoarder to the worst point. I no longer let my DD eat there as the house is just not packed to the gunnels but a health hazard. The kitchen is so bad she has 6 square inches to prepare food in. The kitchen is 20 feet long and 18 feet wide!

In her freezer I have spotted food over 12 years old.

She has 7 bedrooms and they are stacked to the ceiling with crap.
Two out of three bathrooms are unusable as they are stacked with boxes and all but two doors and one window are an escape route if there was a fire or another emergency.

I wipe my hands on the back of my jeans if I have a pee as it is just too disgusting to even think about the blackened and filthy towel that hangs over the radiator.

We buy her towels and tea towels and she puts them away 'for best'. Fecking USE them!

She needs help and I have mentioned to DH over and over again that she needs help but none of her children want to broach the subject. My BILs refuse to visit now.

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 17:50:56

Aaaaah "for best" - that old chestnut.

Keeping stuff for best was ingrained in to me as a child. I must have thrown out tons of stuff (usually clothes or smellies) that had been kept for best and then I outgrew or they deteriorated.

I'm working hard to get out of that mindset and now try to use things when I'm given them. DD gets to wear her fancy clothes frequently grin.

I started giving DM nice things on the understanding that they were just used and not kept for best. She still doesn't use them. I think I'm just going to stop buying her presents. It all just ends up in the hoard.

It's hard though - my DS is very unwell and at one point we were told he wouldn't grow up although now we have hope again that he might. I struggle to get rid of anything of his but am forcing myself to. DM just won't so I'm trying to limit what gets passed on to her. It's tough.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 17:58:40

my DS is very unwell and at one point we were told he wouldn't grow up although now we have hope again that he might

Oh sweetheart, you have so much on your plate.

(((((((massive hug))))))))))

redrubyshoes Wed 03-Jul-13 18:01:41

Lovely perfume and beautiful underwear are meant to be enjoyed. Not tucked away in a cupboard for 'that special day'.

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 18:10:09

red now something I try to live by!!! Perfume and make up and bath stuff get used; candles get burned; (oh god don't even get me started on DM's candles - never going to be burned but put away because they are so pretty... So they aren't on display and they will never be used <sigh> ); clothes get worn; shoes and handbags get used... It's quite liberating! And why wouldn't I want to look and smell nice?!

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Wed 03-Jul-13 19:05:28

This thread has really taken off since I last posted!
I'm amazed there are so many of us out there living with hoarders, and hoarding ourselves, to varying degrees.
DP has sold some things on eBay this week, how I hate eBay
He had bought a job lot of Wimbledon branded jackets five years ago and he managed to sell one this week for £25. I doubt he will sell anymore this year as its almost over again. Unfortunately it means he will want to keep the other five or six he has as he will now be convinced he can sell them next year. confused

BuiltForComfort Wed 03-Jul-13 19:45:47

This is such a sad but insightful thread. I hope no-one minds if I ask a question, although I don't want to hi-jack.

I'm worried that ds, who is only 6, may be developing some tendencies around this. Or perhaps i have a problem... We have both suffered a massive loss (his dad died before he was born). He hates me getting rid of things and likes to collect random stuff - but I'm aware lots of kids do this, just tat from party bags, but also random bits of paper, tape, stones, scraps of paper used for a game we made up a year ago etc. I'm very tidy, very happy chucking stuff out, like to be organised though not on an OCD level. I get edgy about clutter building anywhere and his room makes me jittery though it's only around level 2 going by the pictures in the link posted earlier. I helped him tidy it up a few weeks ago, he had no idea about tidying and how it might work. But he is only 6. So I worry that me being too hard on the tidying/decluttering might push him into hoarding. But his loss and his desire already to keep stuff might push him that way too. Where to draw the line? How would you stop this happening if you could have identified what was going on very early?

WhenSheWasBadSheWasHopeful Wed 03-Jul-13 20:14:54

Sending a hug to trazzle and thinking of your ds

built sorry I really don't know what to advise re your son. My dd is only 2 so 6 years olds are unknown territory for me. So sorry about your loss.

starrystarryknut Wed 03-Jul-13 20:15:44

Hello again... thank you for asking about me... I spent most of last night awake just going over all this in my head and trying to make sense of it. I was so touched this morning when my DH said to me "you know, I've really been thinking about your DF and SM and this hoarding thing...". It made me feel like I wasn't being silly being so worried and oppressed by it.

Anyway, as I mentioned, DF and SM moved to France just a few days ago with 3 road-trains full of stuff. I hadn't heard anything of their arrival etc, until today when I got copied in on an email to the remover. Things had been broken. I can image SM was going completely mental to lose who knows what - a dinner plate c. 1975... one of her 3 microwaves.. or something. What made me really sad was that DF could spend time to engage in phone calls with the removers, write letters etc, about damage to the THINGS, but couldn't find the time for a quick phone call to me to say "we've arrived". The only reason I got a copy of the email was so that I could liaise with these devil removers who broke THE THINGS.

I am really really struggling to understand why my DF - who is a normal non-hoarding person - is prepared to completely f* over his 3 supportive and loving DC in order to support this bizarre acquisitive thing. I just don't get it. He is an intelligent and caring person... why have we become nothing in comparison to a pile of tables and chairs and plates and statues and so on and on?

Just feeling like the wool has been pulled from my eyes, and all my years of making excuses for SM have been a waste of time. I should have shut her off years ago. But that means losing DF. Why do I have to choose?

starrystarryknut Wed 03-Jul-13 20:37:21

Another thing I've been thinking about, for the type of hoarders who keep papers etc... in this digital age, could you not just institute a deal in the home where everything like receipts, bills, statements, etc gets scanned and stored in digital files and the actual rubbish gets thrown away? Again, I'm just trying to understand all this - having just watched DF and SM ship box after box of papers like receipts and statements dating back to the 1990s (I looked while they were packing).

Also, couldn't you really maximise on the digital aspect and decide: ok, from now on we get iPad editions of the newspaper, magazines, digital bank and credit card statements, etc. So you actually limit the amount of paper that comes through the door. Is there something appealing/reassuring about the physical item?

I read recently about Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin). She is a hoarder, but has lately started to photograph her stuff, eg old oven glove, or whatever, and that has helped her give/throw some (SOME) stuff away. Because she has the digital record.

starrystarryknut Wed 03-Jul-13 20:47:36

But basically what I really want to know, what my heart is crying to know, is why WHY do THINGS become more important than family, children, all the deep intangibles that make life worth living? Why would someone alienate their children who love them for the sake of a pile of artefacts? I'm just totally struggling with getting anywhere near understanding this.

Sorry to be just going on and on. I guess it's the shock of suddenly seeing where I am in relation to my DF. It's very distressing, not least because he is now 80 and I don't know I have much time left to sort it out. Also, I know that if he passes away first (which he will, being considerably older that SM), the chances of receiving any family memento are NIL because she will never let go any single thing. I don't want inheritance, but I would maybe like a photo or my grandmother's painting of roses that I remember from when I was little, or something like that. And I realise now that these essentially valueless things have become part of SM's hoard, and that there will be no sharing. They are "Her Precious's", like Gollum...

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 20:51:31

starry I've thought about that with DM. She's a pensioner (although not THAT old!) and we already get calls about the slightest little thing computer-related. Ordinarily she lives a good 4 hours drive from us so if there's a real problem there's very little we can do about it...

The fear of it all being deleted is huge! And she knows she wouldn't keep it backed up properly.

God when I think of the number of memory cards she has that she has never got round to putting on the computer... I guess because once the photos are off the card then there's more potential for them getting deleted???

The more I think about this the more I think I will need to sit down with her tomorrow and work out a plan for when she moves back home. I don't even know where to start to find a specialist in hoarding though. I know it's something she has to want to do - and she often seems to want to - but I think I need to at least have a direction to point her in.

I went in her room today to put a suitcase back under her bed which we have had out for a couple of months. There's no space under the bed. There's no space anywhere on the floor. Tbf we haven't given her much storage space given she's living here, but good god. She has 4 bottles of soap in there. And one of them is empty. We have soap! She does not need her own soap. But because I occasionally run out, no doubt that justifies the need for soap.

I think I need to have a cry.

Lioninthesun Wed 03-Jul-13 20:52:36

Thank you for your post Carpe it's really made me think. I have barely looked at the stuff partially due to the time black hole it creates as I go through it all I know I need to stop keeping her things, and I really don't want my DD to feel like this about material possessions. Funny how I see that term and think immediately of a big TV or car etc, but antiques seem acceptable to me hmm. I already used an auction house to get rid of some of the larger furniture and things that I had found ugly. Used some of it to buy cot and buggy for DD and pretended to myself it was a present to her from my mum smile I think a lot of this can be done when I move as I will be doing it box by box, filling the new house with what I want only room by room. When there is no more space I will get ruthless!

HollaAtMeBaby Wed 03-Jul-13 20:59:41

As for the people coming on saying "just throw it away" etc - why are they on the thread, when the title is "Does anyone else live with a Hoarder" - ok yes I know people have the right to post anywhere but they just don't understand what it is like for us the partners of hoarders and yes it is exactly like telling some with depression to "cheer up" so maybe it's best for them to stay away from these threads.

Er, that was me. My mum is a hoarder - not as bad as some described here (like Starry's SM, my DM's hoarding ways are masked by her hoarding expensive, naice things, and having a lot of space at her disposal). Her mum, my DGM, was TERRIBLE for compulsive shopping and hoarding, there were rooms in her house that you couldn't get into and she would go crazy if anyone even asked to borrow something useful, let alone chuck out crap. DM has been known to rescue things from bin/charity shop bag. It drives me potty and has made me into a hardcore declutterer. But whenever I try to discuss my DM's habits with her (e.g. pointing out that she has too many shoes to fit in her wardrobes and could perhaps stand to get rid of the ones she doesn't wear), she gets angry and says "it's my house, you don't live here, you can't tell me what to do in my house" etc. Fair point, but I always think that if I were living with a hoarder, I would insist on binning things. Hence my post. So why don't you refrain from telling me to "stay away from these threads", and I'll show you the same courtesy. OK?

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 21:05:30

Sorry to backtrack but how long DO you need to keep financial information for?

And thanks for the good wishes. He's doing ok today is all I can say really. He has an aggressive form of cancer with an 80% relapse rate. The relapse is incurable. It's not easy to throw away things he has made.

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 21:08:34

And then I looked for the answer blush

22 months is all shock that's a whole load of paper can go in the shredder!!!

Fairenuff Wed 03-Jul-13 21:27:32

Me too Holla. It is an illness but that is no excuse to treat other family members so disrespectfully.

Trazzle are you keeping some things, or photographs of things, that he has made.

Trazzletoes Wed 03-Jul-13 21:34:28

Fair yes. He's only 3 so there's a whole load of craft!!! Plus they do loads of craft stuff in hospital. You would think the sheer volume would make it easier to get rid of some of it... But no. All I've managed to clear so far (and I have no desire to get rid of large volumes yet) are bits of paper with only 1 or 2 marks on them. As time goes by I think I will be able to whittle down the older stuff, as we get "security" of having more things to replace them with... (Gosh I do sound like a hoarder!!!) but at the moment there is a very real possibility that he may no longer be with us, say, this time next year. I couldn't live with myself if I'd thrown out all of the things he had touched and put time in to creating if he's not going to be around to carry that on for years to come.

LemonDrizzled Wed 03-Jul-13 21:47:04

Oh Trazzle you are really going through it! I don't think you need to worry too much about the miniTrazzle hoard really. There are bigger issues for you at the moment.

Starry I share your incomprehension about people that put things over their family. But thinking about this DP says he WANTS to sort things out but there is always an external reason why he can't. He blames his DPs but actually their stuff is finite and not in his part of the house. So he could sort that out. But he delays "until they have moved on". Which may not happen for years. And then he will have another excuse.
So I have to decide whether I am okay with separate homes long term. And I think I am. But his poor DC have to live in that awful place until they can fly the nest (aged 21 and 22 now) and so does he. It is such a shame when a bit of energy decluttering would make it a nice home.

Actually I'm feeling down about it now. Bloody THINGS!!

clutterhoarder Wed 03-Jul-13 22:02:22

Today I went to the bank and they told me i only need to keep the last two years worth of bank statements.

I have been shredding my 20 years worth of bank statements (except from 2010 onwards). My shredder motor has now burnt out.

Fairenuff Wed 03-Jul-13 22:09:19

Well done clutter. How about burning them if you can't shred any more.

CarpeVinum Wed 03-Jul-13 22:28:10

is why WHY do THINGS become more important than family, children, all the deep intangibles that make life worth living?

I don't know for certain, but I think where there is a hoarding mentality, that to some extent, in some people, it comes from a place where you can trust stuff. In a way you can't trust people. Cos it's predictable. Doesn't have its own wants and desires that conflict with your own. Won't leave you. Won't be anything or anywhere other than what it is and where you put it. Which might explain why it gets so ballistic when sombody does move or throw away something. Becuase the predictability is gone and the dreaded "abondonment" has happened ?

With your dad, I think he may have a certain amount of "hoarder by proxy" going on. The Hoard can be very very consuming. Just being watchful for the moods of the person who depends on the hoard being what it is and where she put it, can be exhusting and all consuming. To the extent where everything else gets pushed put.

And the pushing out brings an important side benefit of allowing the ostrich head to stay firmly in the sand. Becuase he probably does know things are "off", but if he has expereinced fall out he may be leery about his kids coming nearer than arms length, becuase they might push for an end of denial, and he can't face that.

It could be he creates distance becuase he is afraid that the love he knows exists will force him to confront something he has carefully constructed a paper thin layer of denial over.

I'm pretty sure I know why my mother has never tried to contact me since she left all those years ago. If she doesn't have contact with me she never has to hear what happened to the hoarde. This way she pretend I am caretaking it. I doubt she actually asked my uncle to contact me, I think he pushed for it and she didn't feel she could say no wothout co ing put of it badly.

Is it possible you dad is doing his own "arms length" stuff for his own denial reasons do you think ? Does he have form for head in sand ? Or is it a total personality change ?

CarpeVinum Thu 04-Jul-13 06:20:40


There is very little info about young children hoarding. The good news is they appear far more recptive to treatment which can be a lot more sucessful than it is in adults.

Becuase there is such a significant bereavement involved my instinct was to suggest pulling in a professional. I've found this which would seem to jibe with that

However I'll keep looking and see if I can find some child specific resources for you.

Biscuitsareme Thu 04-Jul-13 09:36:48

Trazzle sad I don't know what to say! Just want to give you a big big hug (((((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))))))))))

Clutter that's brilliant about the shredding!

Carpe your post about hoarding vs trust in people resonates with me. Both my parents have negative world views- people can't be trusted, they're out to get you etc. They don't have any close friends beside their partners. So I guess things are a comfort and take up the bit in their brain that in mine is reserved for people.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Fri 05-Jul-13 14:33:27

Thankyou for the thread and discussion.

I have tendencies, feel ok with throwing day to day stuff out. I have a problem with a few estate type things, Mothers silver service that I will never use , her photo albums, and also (not estate) my bag of horseshow and swimming ribbons from my youth (30+ years ago). I still have my wedding dress?? Because my sister paid to have it cleaned and placed in an archival storage box...I will find a place to donate it.

I agree with the concept of the connection of having things that you can control, as opposed to relationships with people that you can not control (so much).

I enjoy and appreciate the poster who gave the "would I buy it for a dollar?" example. I have used the question "Would the British Museum or Smithsonian be interested?" grin

sebastianz Fri 04-Oct-13 14:26:38

Any else married to a hoarder or a hoarder on this board?

brokenhearted55 Fri 04-Oct-13 17:52:33

I know this is a fairly old thread but glad I saw it.

My last bf's dad was a hoarder and had a drink.problem. He had some issues himself.

What are the long term implications of being raised by a hoarder?

HopeClearwater Fri 04-Oct-13 18:08:14

ooh, not wanting to out myself, but my DF was an alcoholic and hoarder (think, just about the worst kind of hoarding except animals alive or dead).
Long term implications... well - I think you go one way or the other - keep nothing or keep everything. I tend towards the latter but am so terrified of ending up like my dad that I keep fairly good control of it. Have moved away from thinking I am a tidy storer of lots of stuff to thinking it is time to actually get shot of it... I have binned a lot in the last few years and am probably 'cured' now. But it takes me a lot of effort to keep on top of it. I constantly catch myself thinking, 'I'll just put that in a file' to 'oh god, I do NOT need to keep that'.
What's your BF like?

brokenhearted55 Fri 04-Oct-13 21:23:53

Hope I'm not sure we split a while ago.

His dad had a drink problem and was a hoarder. He was neat and tidy. but he did have some obsessive character traits. Gets wound up about things most people wouldn't bother about.

He was very fond of the whiskey too.

deste Fri 04-Oct-13 23:32:34

Anyone who has hoards of cothes thrown all over the floor, and I deal with this on a weekly basis, I bet if you moved some of it, chances are you will have either mice or carpet beetles. Lets also not forget that people do get killed when their houses have gone up in flames and the rescuers can't get to them because of the narrow corridors caused by piles of rubbish. Recently a grandmother and grandchildren died because of this very reason. Another reason not to hoard, you/ they are putting people's lives in danger. Hoarding is very complex, we never know what we will get but we can clear a room in 5 or 6 hours but only if the person wants it done. If they want to keep papers and empty plastic bottles it would never get done. In that case we tell them to seek psychological help and then get back to us when they are ready. There seems to be a few things that identify a hoarder, not in every case but these tend to come up a lot of the time.
1 morbidly obese
2 suffer from depression
3 go to church
4 have serious health issues
5 make jewellery or crafty things to sell but never do.
Don't ask me why but we come accross this time and again, in most cases there are underlying problems. In saying that some people are bone lazy. Some people don't know how to tidy up, some don't know where to start or even what to keep. You don't need every piece of paper your child has taken home from school.

deste Fri 04-Oct-13 23:34:03

Please excuse the spelling.

Nottalotta Sat 05-Oct-13 07:25:50

I've just found this post and haven't read all the pages yet, but jeans and cardiff i think you coukd both be my. My H is very very like you describe jeans except although clearly suffering from depression, has never seen a gp about it. Anxiety too.

Our lively house ismostly not usable. Its not crammed to the ceilings like you see on telly. Our bedroom - piles of newspapers magazine and other papers. Clothes in piles on floor. Same in spare room only worse. Living room - not too bad - recently cleared but stuff moved to dining room - again piles of papers, also tools, empty plastic boxes, broken small appliences. Kitchen - half of the smalll worksurface - dust! Keys coins tiny bits of paper with phone numbers (bought him a small book - doesn't use it, ditto wallet)

I sometimes go though the piles and sort - throw away envelopes recepts etc and papers i think are past it. Once he started looking though getting more and more huffy. Up and down stairs. Looking for Month old tv guide out of the weekend paper. I had binned it.

Also gave him a small pile of stuff - some bank statements and a few things i wasn't sure about, for him to sort. Just took them upstairs and added to another pile!!

It is so hard to explain to people. I do feel WHY should i clear it all up? But also have a tendancy to be less tidy myself because whats the point? I keep my stuff tidy, the house still looks a mess. I can't do housework properly because of the clutter.

deste Sat 05-Oct-13 13:52:14

Nottalotta have you checked for carpet beetles because the conditions you are living in are ideal for them breeding. You say your house is not crammed to the ceiling but how do you think you get to that stage, you are on your way and it will be like that in a couple of years. I would take a bin bag and chuck out the newspapers, magazines and anything broken. Sort out your clothes, washing basket, hang up, charity shop, throw out or ironing basket. Get him a small plastic container and put all his keys coins, pens, receipts etc into it every time he comes in and encourage him to use it. Put all the tools into the shed or garage. Causing a fuss over a month old paper, I would be telling him to get a grip. Have you ever told him that you have had enough? Give him an ultimatum, the junk goes or you go. You are not doing your house any favours because you can't be doing any maintenance on it. Give him his bank statements when he is sitting in front of the tv in the evening. One pile at a time every evening and it will soon go down. Do you have children living in the house? This is not a way for children let alone adults to live.

HopeClearwater Sat 05-Oct-13 17:19:50

deste that's an incredibly interesting post about the things you notice about some hoarders - do you clear people's houses for a living? Or are you something like a sw?

nottalotta my sympathies. What on earth did your H want a month-old tv guide for?

deste Sat 05-Oct-13 21:19:38

Yes my friend and I run a company, we do about three houses a week. I would guess that about a third have those traits. We can't always do the work for them because they wouldn't let anything go and they would be wasting their time and money. The ones you can help are so grateful and you can see the relief on their faces.

HopeClearwater Sat 05-Oct-13 22:38:59

Wow. It took me a long time to clear my DF's stuff, could only do it for a few days at any one time as the amount of stuff was so mentally and physically overwhelming. Part of the reason I keep tight control on my stuff is that I couldn't bear to think that I would leave a legacy like his for my children.

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