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