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.

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