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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?

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.

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 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 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.

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 Fri 04-Oct-13 23:34:03

Please excuse the spelling.

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.

brokenhearted55 Fri 04-Oct-13 21:23:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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 17:52:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sebastianz Fri 04-Oct-13 14:26:38

Any else married to a hoarder or a hoarder on this board?

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

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.

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.

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 ?

Fairenuff Wed 03-Jul-13 22:09:19

Well done clutter. How about burning them if you can't shred any more.

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.

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!!

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.

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 21:08:34

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!!!

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.

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?

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!

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.

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