If you haven’t figured it out already, this blog reads best from first entry to the most current. It is important to read the previous entries because there is a process going on here. Let’s look at why we hoard. There are lots of books on the subject and I will also be listing some great resources at the end of this article. Here are a few reasons just off of my head. There are psychiatric, physiologic, endocrinology, neurologic, genetic and psychologic reasons for being “frozen” and being unable to rid your life of stuff. The three main issues are:
- Inability to make decisions: The reasons are many (see list below).
- Exhaustion: Many different reasons as well, see below. If you are ill, in pain, suffering from a disorder, have a chronic disability or short-term injury (broken hip, or other mobility problems), this might set you off in the wrong direction.
- Mental Health Problems: If your brain is not working, you cannot make decisions, see above. Depression can lead to obtaining too many sentimental objects, planning for things you never carry out (refurbishing furniture, crafts, remodeling), and isolation. There are many other mental health problems as well
- Addictions: Face it, addictions to shopping, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs (including marijuana), prescription medications, thrifting /dumpster-diving, or even recycling, leads to HOARDER’S HELL. Get help or wean yourself off as soon as you can. Seriously, if you cannot go into a thrift store or drive by an old chair left on the side of the road, you have to find a way to stop the influx of material goods into your home. If you must have home delivery of groceries to avoid purchasing things you don’t need, so be it. It is worth the delivery fee to stay out of stores! If you have to ask someone else to do your shopping for you, ask for help. If your substance of choice is numbing you to your situation, please find a way out before it is too late. If you watch Hoarders: Buried Alive! pay attention to the number of beer cans and cigarettes that are lying around. Addiction leads to apathy. Apathy leads to indecision. You know the rest!
The following list gives details:
- Genetics: Seems weird, but the impulse to hold on to things can be inherited from your parents and grandparents. Sure, part is nurture (learning from your environment), but science shows that nature (genetics) plays a great role. So shake that family tree.
- Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome: If you check in at a deeper level with yourself and with just about anyone else, trauma happens. Some trauma is severe and can have an impact that leads to chronic coping problems. One strategy for dealing with PTSD is to surround yourself with stuff. If you can’t bring anyone home you can avoid a lot of surprises and you could feel safe. You might also feel lonely and isolated. If you have a history of a great personal trauma, or many smaller ones that have an accumulative effect on your soul, the best thing to do is to join a support group and talk to a trained therapist who can help you work on this and refer you to the best group for you.
- OCD and OCT: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Trait. This tenacious tendency makes it hard to let go of collections.
- ODD: Oppositional Defiant Disorder Someone says pick it up so we don’t. Even after whoever has been bossing you around is out of your life completely (in part because they can’t stand your hoard) you still feel resentment. This is a very complex issue with some serious brain chemistry and habitual pathways that really need help from a professional. For partners and parents of defiant people, there are numerous books in the library and on-line.
- Dementia: Many families do not realize that
- Sleep Apnea: This is more common than you think. Sleep apnea is usually associated with a certain stereotype and certainly Pickwick suffered from Sleep Apnea. Slim people can have sleep apnea for many reasons. If you are too tired to pick up after yourself or too tired to make decisions, check with your doctor. You may find that C-Pap helps. Don’t be surprised if it takes a few months to a year to start to feel better.
- Poor sleep habits or other sleep disorders leading to exhaustion: restless legs, excess caffeine, irregular sleep hours, night shifts, grave language.
- Endocrine disorders. Hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism are just a few endocrine problems that can lead to anxiety and exhaustion as well as slow mentation and chronic pain. All can interfere with
- Autism spectrum, including Asperger’s (or Aspie) personality
- Perfectionism (can be related to almost all of the other issues above).
- Loss. Losing everything you own in a fire can lead to a feeling of freedom and the opposite of hoarding. It can also set off a horribly intense pattern of hoarding. Many hoarders report some situation where they lost their belongings due to immigration, refugee status, family violence, moving, fire, flood, or simply cruelty by another.
Here is a book to check out of the library if you are ready. Remember reading before taking action is fine. It is part of moving from Pre-contemplation to Contemplation. Only one book out of the library at a time!
Stuff, by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee