Feb 20, 2009

OCD Hoarding (Part 2)

When I first started this study on compulsive hoarding, and it really started dawning on me that I was truly a case study on hoarding myself, it was somewhat of a shock to my system, and also somewhat embarrassing. I still can’t believe how blind I’ve been to it all these years. Let me let you in on a few things about me: I would keep practically anything that represented something I didn’t want to forget. For instance, I used to ride the trains before I got my own car, and when you ride the trains, you normally buy a transit card to get around. I actually have a collection of transit cards that I kept, week after week. I actually kept about three years’ worth of those weekly cards, and I still have them today. In my mind, as whacked-out as this sounds, they are a reminder of a time in my life where I was struggling financially, and part of me never wants to forget that time so that I don’t get lazy and end up going back to it. That sounds pretty noble and inspirational, but then there are other things I have accumulated that simply don’t make any sense. I would keep napkins from any fast food place I visited throughout the week. I always made sure to grab a ton of napkins when I would eat in at any fast food joint, and then I would keep all the extra napkins in the glove compartment of my car, or in my laptop bag. My rationale was that just in case I spilled something, or needed to blow my nose, or whatever, I would have something to wipe my hands with if I ever needed it. This turned into me keeping half-used napkins with unidentified stains on them, and then this turned into me balling them up when they were fully used, but still keeping them for some reason.

I was an absolute pack rat, and I felt guilty for throwing anything away until I felt like it could absolutely not be used anymore, in any way whatsoever. One of the worst examples of this (shamefully) is the way I would keep plastic Ziploc bags. If I took some food to work in a Ziploc bag, I would keep the bag and rinse it out, and use it again. This would get to the point of ridiculousness after a while, because I would accumulate Ziploc bags but procrastinate on rinsing them out. Consequently, after a while I would have a desk drawer full of Ziploc bags with gunk and crumbs in them from days or weeks ago. Talk about hoarding disorder taken to ridonkulous levels.

About the only thing that has ever paid off for me in the hoarding arena is when I started keeping all my Altoids tins. I’m an Altoid-aholic, and I have always kept the tins for really no reason other than they just seemed too useful to throw away. After a while, I had accumulated around 30 or so Altoids tins, and I decided to find out if people bought the empty tins on eBay. To my surprise, they actually did, so I sold a lot of 25 Altoids tins for about 15 bucks…Hey who said that compulsive hoarding doesn’t pay! LOL

Feb 14, 2009

OCD Hoarding

Growing up, I never would have classified myself as a hoarder, nor would I ever have imagined that I had an issue with compulsive hoarding. But the more I could break free from it and look at it objectively (and unemotionally), the more I realized that there were a lot of things about the way I thought and my very thought patterns that absolutely fostered a hoarder’s mentality. The psychology of hoarding is a very delicate subject, and it’s one that can’t be written off or resolved with blanket answers. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that there are just as many “shades of gray” when you talk about OCD hoarding as there are people who suffer from the disorder. And let me be clear: Hoarding is definitely a disorder. Take it from someone who has felt the effects of it, and has actually had to come to terms with it for himself. I can hardly believe that I even had an issue with it, but the more I started doing research on hoarding, I started seeing myself as someone who fit the bill!

I can’t even hardly describe the “weirdness” of it all: So many times I would attempt to clean my room, or some “junk drawer” (I had several of them), or some other cluttered part of the house, and any time I would pick something up that I hadn’t even looked at or thought about in 8 months or whatever, I would sit there and agonize over whether or not to throw it away. I would justify keeping it in my own mind by saying “Hey, I might need this later”, or “What if something happens and I’m not able to find this anywhere again?”, and stuff like that. It’s amazing how the mind works like that. I’ve heard it said that “The human fear of losing something is greater than the human desire to have more”. I can truly say that this applies when it comes to compulsive hoarding. I was the quintessential pack rat; I would keep all kinds of receipts from grocery store purchases, along with old utility bill statements, ticket stubs from ANY kind of event I went to, and Lord knows I kept every single birthday card, Christmas card, Thanksgiving card, and any other type of holiday card (heck, even Ash Wednesday). My whole big rationale for keeping all that crap was basically the fact that I just felt guilty about throwing it out, or I felt unsure that I wouldn’t ever need it again, or I felt like I was being irresponsible by throwing it out, because hey, you can use it sometime in the future, right? I would keep screws, nuts, bolts, etc. for pieces of equipment that I didn’t even own anymore, all in the name of “just in case I need it one day”. What the crap??!!??

Compulsive hoarding is a dirty devil. It really is. I have learned in so many ways how to tame this issue in my life, especially after marrying my wife, who is the EXACT opposite of a hoarder. The main issue with Obsessive Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, however, is the fact that your whole mentality has to make a shift before you can really be liberated from its clutches. I plan on talking about this more as I continue in my journey of being completely free from compulsive hoarding.

Feb 7, 2009

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder: Some Case Studies

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder

One of the things I always love to do is research. I’m somewhat of a research hog, and when it came to my new interest in compulsive hoarding disorder, I realized that I had a whole new playground of research to work with. A whole new dimension is added to it when you are also personally dealing with the problem that you are researching…you can understand the experience from an entirely different angle.

Basically, in the midst of my research, I discovered that YouTube is an awesome place to look for basically any topic you want to research. I started searching for any kinds of videos about hoarding disorder, compulsive hoarding, clutter hoarding, and other related topics, and I came upon some great documentaries and videos that were pretty darn astounding. I found quite a few videos that document extreme cases of hoarding disorder, and let me tell you, I thank God that I discovered “the error of my ways” before it got to the extremes that I have witnessed in some of those videos. Here are two videos I found that I believe you will find fascinating:

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder (Part 1)

Hoarders Part 1

Compulsive Hoarding Disorder (Part 1)

Hoarders Part 2

Continue to stay tuned to Compulsive Hoarding Help for more insight into this serious and fascinating issue.