How do you know your a hoarder? Maybe your just naturally messy, disorganized person who functions better when everything is out in the open. How can you tell when your clutter becomes a hoard?
For the longest time, I was worried I had hoarding tendencies. I would spend hours watching shows like Hoarders and Hoarding, buried alive. Watching shows like these would (temporarily) make me feel better about myself. After all, my clutter was bad, but not that bad. I frantically googled “symptoms of hoarding” disorders. And read everything I could find on the subject.
After discovering that at least two of my family members had hoarding tendencies I began to research whether hoarding was heriditary.
What I discovered, shook me to my core. Compulsive hoarding does, in fact, run in families. Actually, there are multiple symptoms assosiated with hoarding disorders. To may horror, I suffered from more then a few.
Hoarding definition. A persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of items. Excessive accumulation of items, reguardless of actual value, occurs.
You might be a hoarder if…
* Compulsive hoarding often manifests during the childhood – teen years and progresses as you age. Quite possibly, you were an avid collector as a child, and your “collections” have grown exponentially over the years. Once a person reaches adulthood, hoarding intensifies likely because, we have (almost) unlimited access to stuff.
* Much of your stuff is useless. While you may not think of your belongings as garbage, others have told you that many of the items you posses are beyond repair, useless, or are otherwise qualified for the dumpster.
*You have a difficult time throwing anything away. Usually, you just end up moving things from one place to another. In fact The thought of getting rid of anything sends you into a panic. Your anxiety levels peak when ever someone mentions getting rid of your clutter. You may instantly experience crippling fear or feelings of panic, and anger at the mere thought of getting rid of something.
Compulsive hoarding affects between 6-15 million people in the US.
* You are (overly) sentimentally attached to your possessions. A common symptom of hoarding disorder is believing that inanimate objects possess “feelings” Its highly possible you worry that if you declutter your possessions, you will end up disappointing them.
*You lack a concrete organizational system. In your home, chaos reigns. Your past attempts at organizing the clutter has been unsuccessful.
*You may deny the fact that you have a problem.
Whats the difference between hoarding and collecting? Collectors display/maintain their items. They have an organizational system in place. Hoarders lack organization. Thier items seem to have “taken over their home”.
*You procrastinate to the point that you become paralyzed with inaction. All of us procrastinate to some degree. However, it becomes a concern when your procrastination regularly impairs your judgement.
*You are a perfectionist. Again, a lot of people have perfectionist tendencies. How ever your motto is “If you can’t do something right, don’t do it at all.”
*You own more pets than you can reasonably care for. Some compulsive hoarders hoard animals instead of objects. You may own multiple dogs, cats, horses, etc. More than likely you lack the accomodations/finances to properly care for your furry friends.
Concerned you might be a hoarder?
* You have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), an addictive personality, or you suffer from anxiety. Until 2013 compulsive hoarding was thought to be a form of OCD. It has since been classified as a separate mental illness. It’s important to note that not everyone who has OCD becomes a hoarder. Like wise, not all hoarders have OCD. Studies have shown, however that the majority of hoarders suffer from at least one other mental disorder.
*At least one (possibly more) of your family members is a hoarder. While it remains unclear whether DNA plays a role in developing a hoarding disorder, frequently a hoarder can identify at least one other family member with the illness.
*You are a compulsive shopper. You cannot pass up a bargin even if you have no use for it. Perhaps you’ve maxed out your credit cards on clearance items. “limited time only” sales, or thrift store deals that were too good to pass up.
Many times, hoarding runs in families. People with this problem tend to have a first degree relative who also does so it might be genetic or it might be a modeling effect.
*You truly believe you might need everything you own…someday. You fear you’ll run out of an item. As a result, you may excessively stock pile soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and underware. Because you know (one day) you will need these items. The problem is, you can not actually locate your stock pile underneath all of the clutter.
*You feel safer surrounded by stuff. Many people who suffer from compulsive hoarding have built literal walls around themselves. They are comforted being confined by their stuff.
*You do not want other people to touch your stuff. (And you constantly suspect that they have). You’ve even gone so far as to look in the garbage to make sure no one has thrown away your belongings.
*You have distanced yourself from social interaction with your family and friends. Your embarrassed by the condition of your home so you prevent others from seeing it.
I’m begining to realize that I”m either overly sentimental, or am a hoarder who struggles to part with things. In all honesty, I’m probably both.
*Your collecting has had a negative effect on your marriage as well as your finances. In many cases, compulsive hoarding leads to increased divorce rate. In addition, many hoarders have either already filed for bankruptcy or are on the verge of doing so.
*You can no longer use certain areas of your home they were intended. If clutter has blocked your access to your bed, shower, refridgerator, or stove, its likely you are a compulsive hoarder. Seek immediate medical attention!
*Your home has become a safety hazard. Examples that a home is unsafe include water damage to floors/ceilings, the presence of mold, animal feces, and rodent/insect infestations. If your health and well being is in jeopardy due to the unsafe conditions of your home, get help now!
I might be a hoarder but…
Thankfully, I was able to recognize and seek treatment for my hoarding tendencies early on. Unfortunately, many people do not have this luxury. If you or someone you know suffers from this compulsive hoarding, it is vital you implement a treatment plan before its too late. While compulsive hoarding cannot be cured overnight, treatment is available.