How Do You Know if You’re a Hoarder?

I’ve been listening to a podcast series called The Clutter Chronicles for a few days now and I’m on episode 22. It’s just an ongoing conversation with a person called Mary who calls herself a recovering hoarder. She spills her heart out to a lady called Lori Koppelman about her struggles with getting rid of stuff, all in a bid to helping others. I can’t even remember whose blog I got the link from (thank you!) but I’m finding it so interesting and refreshing to listen to as I clean the house.

It makes what I’m holding onto seem like nothing in comparison, but yet it’s helping to shift something in my mind. Mary is an American, who is a year older than me and lives with her husband in a large house with many rooms full of stuff including a basement and garage. She seems to have a lot of time to tackle her clutter and is also having therapy to get to the root of her hoarding. It’s worth listening to a couple of episodes if you struggle to get rid of things or have collections of stuff that you don’t know what to do with.

Some of what she’s talking about I can relate to in terms of why she feels that she has to go through all of her stuff herself, why she rejects help, and why she feels stuck at times. I’m not quite relating to the tendency to collect things which I’m quite happy about in a way otherwise can you imagine where that would all be? It’s made me think about how the term hoarding could be broken down into two parts:

  • Someone who hold onto things and struggles to get rid of stuff
  • Someone who keeps collecting things which adds to the stuff.

Some people fall into both I suppose but I can only really relate to the first one.

Through the various conversations I’ve listened to, a couple of questions have come up that she has asked herself and I’ve noted down my own answers…

What would you do if your house was empty (of clutter)?

When I asked myself this question, I thought of a tidy and completely clear house where I could sit down and put my feet up. It made me smile. It also made me think “What if I just put it all in the garage out of site?” This is where it’s all heading anyway.

How many people are affected by your clutter?

This one hit me harder, and I recalled comments over the years from the rest of the family about why rooms were the way they were (they are not so much now because of my mammoth decluttering last year); however, it’s still hanging around in the study and smaller areas in other rooms. I have a plan and it’s going really well but I still get comments and I still reject help as I want to do it all myself.

I’m much more aware now that clutter affects others and Stephanie Bennett Vogt touched upon it in her book A Year to Clear on Day 59 about Unloading the Family Baggage. Something she wrote about on that day made me realise that my habits could get passed down just like I feel like I’ve learnt mine from other family members. I talk to my mum and dad all the time about how I can get rid of things and we help each other. I’ve seen them work really hard to clear a whole loft and lots of other clutter before moving to their current house a few years ago. It was hard work for them. I don’t want to still be going through this stuff in 15-20 years time.

Clutter does affect others and I will get better at shifting it. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop all of this hoarding and the feeling of stuckness and set a good example for future generations? That in itself is motivation to carry on and get to the end of this decluttering and show an example to my girls. I hope it’s not too late.

Two hours in the garage

I don’t know if it’s got something to do with me listening to someone else going through their clutter or if it’s because I had the morning off and wanted to use it to my advantage, but today I was motivated to spend two hours in the garage, shifting boxes and organising things. I wasn’t going to start it until the Spring which is still a few weeks but it was a dry morning and not too cold and it felt like the right time to get back out there and make a start.

When I got in there, I was actually quite surprised as I’d forgotten that I’d cleared some space on the day that the boiler was installed (do you remember when they had to get to the gas meter?). Seeing the small clear space motivated me to clear a bit more. The first thing I tried to move was the Christmas tree box and ended up having a fight with the box which fell apart as I moved it and almost took me with it… but I won! The tree sits in a zipped up bag anyway so we didn’t really need the box around it.

I then went through the boxes that were all sitting around the edge and stacked up the ones that I still need to go through (boxes from many houses ago). I’m looking forward to continuing with this at the weekend and getting rid of more. Although I never threw that much away today, apart from empty boxes and an old hairdryer, I was really pleased with my progress.

So, I’m interested to know your thoughts. How would you define a hoarder?

Until next time…



About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer
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4 Responses to How Do You Know if You’re a Hoarder?

  1. It is funny that you mention hoarders. I have from time to time watched the television shows about hoarder and instantly want to clean and get rid of stuff in almost a frantic desire not to become one. I have always considered people to be hoarders if they just forget about really living in a space and either become blind to it or that the things become more important. It is a mental condition not to be taken lightly. Going on my de-clutter challenge has taught me that living my life is more important than stuff and I have more important, pleasurable things to do than constantly going through stuff, rearranging it and organizing it rather than make a decision. I don’t want to have to keep doing the same thing over and over.

  2. I’ve also watched those hoarder programmes and it usually sends me into a cleaning frenzy afterwards and helps me make decisions. I agree, life is definitely more important than looking at the same stuff over and over. It can be very frustrating. Hope your declutter challenge is going well

  3. Pingback: Four Productive Hours in My Cluttered Hideaway | Sandra Madeira

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