Author Topic: Compulsive hoarder - eek!  (Read 260 times)

Sunny Clouds

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Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« on: 23 Apr 2020 11:57PM »
This is about turning my thinking upside down to deal with something.

I grew up with a mother who stockpiled material to make things with (e.g. wood, dress material, wool, pipes ) and the wherewithal to do it (tools, screws, bolts, washers, wires, all sorts of sewing stuff), materials to repair and clean, spares to replace (e.g. bulbs, fuses, spare matching crockery), stationery galore...

That's on top of vast quantities of paperwork and general clutter.

As I reached adulthood, I lived my life alternating between stripped down bare living and cluttered living, between obsessive cleaning and just-enough cleaning.

When I moved back into the family home, I had a major clear out and also weeded my stuff.  In the end, trying to keep going and having re-homed as much as I could, I finished off by turning my thinking upside down and 'collecting/hoarding' in the bin each week.  I had this notion that if I could get rid of enough stuff, I'd be safer because I could downsize to somewhere small.  A couple of years ago, that project ended.

Ah, but brexit, panic, stockpile!  I started buying food a couple of years ago, not sure whether I was being realistic or not.  I spoke with Hoarding UK, concerned this was triggering me but they said stockpiling for a crisis isn't wrong, just make sure I've got proper lists of what I've got.

Then a friend told me about a German government document which I downloaded about how much to keep in the house in case of disaster.   That diverted me partly into other things like heavy duty gloves and a helmet (damage to house sort of disaster) etc.  although food's on the list as well.

Then the pandemic came and I started guilt-tripping.  I went shopping with lists headed "Don't buy what others want!" 

But still I guilt-tripped.

So I phoned my GP surgery - yes, they were happy to accept donations of some 1 litre bottles of alcohol gel, some antibacterial handwash, some boxes of vinyl gloves, some face masks...

So I filled my trolley, trundled to the surgery and mentally 'hoarded/stockpiled' my stuff there. 

Ah, but I want to shop, shop, shop!

Hang on.  Local community group wants food donations.  System is to leave them on councillor's doorstep, ring bell, move away from door. 

Went wild in supermarket,  added a bit of stuff from my home stockpile to reduce my guilt-tripping and 'stockpiled' my stuff on the councillor's doorstep.

Thank heavens I've inherited enough to be able to do this.

I still want to buy, buy, buy but at least now I can divert it and just  buy stuff for myself like fresh veg and first aid items and also a bit of stuff others don't seem to want much of to cheer myself up.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

JLR2

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #1 on: 24 Apr 2020 10:01AM »
Whilst I doubt I hoard to the same extent as yourself Sunny I do tend to hold onto what scraps of timber/wood I end up with when taking various pieces of furniture apart and where I've needed to remove screw nails or nuts and bolts I've held onto them too. Over the last couple of days I've put some shelving up in my bathroom using bits of the timber I've had lying about and used the dregs of wood stain to colour them.

I've ended up with a cupboard which is full of numerous tools, including 3+ drills including both corded and cordless. I'd dread being the next punter to live in my house as the plasterboard walls look like they've been hit repeatedly by a shotgun, OK I have filled in many of the wee holes, but I'm forever looking at what I could do here or there at what or how this or that might workout if I was to do this or that.

I'm not sure if I've a bit of a mental health issue about feeling I really need to be buying something, anything, just the need to buy something. I suppose it could be that I maybe find it therapeutic, then again maybe I'm just looking to justify my spending. Impulse spending is something I'd like to see me really getting under control. For example a few weeks back, before the lockdown, I bought a powered saw from my local hardware shop it is still in its box as having read about it on-line I discovered it has a reputation for not being particularly robust with many folk telling how it tends to end up falling apart as the vibrations running through it cause some of the smaller screws holding it together to be shaken loose and the repairing of this being very difficult if not near impossible.

I'm guessing that much of my spending and doing of things is just the need to feel I'm doing something. Another wee issue that I'm becoming more aware of so far as my nature goes, if that's the right way to put it, is how much in the way of food I waste goes. I have found myself having bought some foods ending up never getting around to making use of them, actually come to think of it not unlike so many of the ideas I have where diy is concerned as many of the ideas I come up with end up half done, sure I'll get around to finishing the job but I guess 9 times out of 10 I end up distracting myself with another great idea.

Maybe this lockdown might not be so bad for me if it sees my breaking the habit of diving to the local hardware shop for whichever tool or nails/bolts/nuts I feel I need >biggrin<   
« Last Edit: 24 Apr 2020 10:10AM by JLR2 »

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #2 on: 24 Apr 2020 12:52PM »
Remember the phrase 'retail therapy'?  It tells you it's normal to want to shop to comfort yourself.

I'd put that down to a couple of things.

Firstly, acquiring things to improve our lives is surely fundamental to our psychology.  Surely as primitive hunter-gatherers, acquiring food, firewood, shelter, pelts for clothes/blankets was a fundamental survival trait?  We are hunter gatherers.  We just divert a lot of it now into 'money' in the form of jobs, benefit claims, bank accounts etc.  But shopping is also hunter-gathering.

Secondly, in relation to shopping, the custom of acquiring by shopping has been fine-tuned by a lot of very clever advertising that also maps onto the world around us.  Even just think of January sales, Boxing Day sales, Black Friday sales, end of season sales.  We're supposed to go shopping because it's a particular day?  Cleverly marketed, it becomes cultural.

There are lesser cultural acquisition things that I like but vary.  For example, where I live, it's the done thing to leave things you don't want but think others might at the end of your drive.  I have several pieces of furniture aquired that way and I'm currently drinking out of a mug acquired that way.  For a few years, we even had a community dump stuff weekend when we put out unwanted stuff, mostly rubbish, and the council left it for the weekend before collecting what wasn't acquired by others, but the funding stopped for that.  I don't think the council saved anything because there seems to be more illegally and randomly dumped rubbish instead.

But that maps onto freecycle, freegle, notices in shop windows and on community noticeboards 'free...'

Some people scorn acquisitiveness, and if it gets out of hand, it can turn into chaotic and even dirty or dangerous forms of hoarding, or can turn into a type of exploitative control if applied to money/power.  (I conceptualise most of the world's powerful people as compulsive hoarders of money and/or power.)

Nevertheless, look at the images we're now getting on television or online of politicians, academics, journalists etc.  What's the most common thing they've got behind them?  Books.  I used to have thousands of them.  I cut back.   One day it dawned on me that the reason I'd kept most of what I had was as a mixture of memories and statement to myself.  I've got very few left.  The only ones I regret no longer having are a small pile (a stack about a foot high, if that) that I got rid of by mistake when sorting into keep/send to charity.

So the next time you see one of those people on video from home, ask yourself "Are they actually going to read more than a handful of those books again?"  My guess is, in most cases, not.  Culturally, collecting books is more like collecting pictures.  They're a decorative statement.

So what's wrong with collecting other things such as wood or drill bits as a statement to yourself of what you like, so long as you can afford it?  If you can't, that's something else.

And of course, the other issue, which affects me, is anxiety about perhaps moving somewhere small in future, but literally as I type this, I've decided to do something new - feel ok to keep spares/surplus/duplicates, but keep them separate.  Sort of quickly dumpable if I end up back in either a small flat or a bedsit.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

JLR2

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #3 on: 24 Apr 2020 01:48PM »
Sunny, I have the feeling that many of these MPs appearing in video links are rearranging some of their books to show what they feel is some sort of indication of their intellect or reading habits/tastes. Others will have built up their collections as reference libraries. One guy on the BBC, Norman Smith, has a photo up where he also has a world globe, of someone in uniform and I'm quite curious as to who it is, is it his father or grandfather serving in the Royal Navy or maybe a merchant navy skipper?

I remember meeting and having a sort chat with Norman Smith at a SNP conference, I was asking him about the chances of folk such as himself in the media getting together to agree to terminate PDQ any interview with a politician irrespective of their political party who failed to answer the questions put to them with an answer relevant to the question asked with their party being more or less blacklisted, for want of a better term, from future interviews till such times as the party involved agreed to actually answer the questions asked. Norman was very polite and explained that too many journalists would find themselves out of a job were they to look to organise such an idea as I was suggesting.

I have a small collection of books some relating to the 2nd World War and quite a few to do with forensics. One I picked up near Glasgow University the colour atlas of forensic pathology (a very graphic book) and the others autobiographies of forensic professors such as John Glaister (jnr), Keith Simpson and Sydney Smith the other two I have involve the Notable trials series one of which is the trial of Madeline Smith.

I dread to think what it'd be like were I to look to move somewhere else, I mean I can't imagine my being able to do so without ending up binning so much as just the idea of trying to pack all the clutter I've built up is a non starter for me. And besides I could never find enough boxes for it all >lol<

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #4 on: 24 Apr 2020 02:10PM »
I've moved again and again in my life.  Recently I drew up a list and in about half the moves, it was unexpected or unplanned or went awry.

That being said, I suppose we cope.  My coping mechanism has been to become someone who stores things in plastic boxes and crates to a point that might seem daft to many.  That includes using plastic crates for clothes storage.  E.g. stationery no longer in drawers, mostly in plastic boxes with lids on shelves.  My first aid box is a large toolbox, but I have some smaller plastic boxes in a chest of drawers that the toolbox is standing on.  I would happily swap it all for see-through plastic boxes on shelves.  Again, as I type this, I wonder whether I could sort something like that.

I wish I didn't regret some of what I got rid of of my mother's stuff.  Not much, but ironically given this conversation, one thing I do regret giving away was a shoebox-size plastic box of assorted screws, bolts, rawl plugs etc.  I do have quite a lot, but that wouldn't have been a lot extra to keep.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

huhn

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #5 on: 24 Apr 2020 04:53PM »
just was thinking a while ago , that in the time like 20 , 30 years ago we used more , for example a nice set for coffee break. we had much more social gathering and then we presented a nicely decorated table and now i have this things and my daughter in law is  saying, useless stuff. ok coffee afternoons are old fashioned, before we where often 4 to 10 ladies now we get to 2 or 3 only and then i do not take time for a flower arrangement why we meet for a short time. with books is it similar, i  have no television and i still have far over 10000 books , but i read  still in the  week 2 to 3 books. i have
 a very small have empty  wardrobe , i am not this fashion woman. it is just  that the time is changing and people collect  now different things and thinking  when you have to much for the modern standard things , it is hoarding. it is more a thing of time. i do not like the modern living with just basic , i  like and need colours and a big pile of cushions are so nice. one for the back and two under the legs and one on the tummy to read a book, that is luxury. the best thing is everyone can live like they want, we are just getting far to much influenced  how everyone has to live and the range what is acceptable is getting far to narrow.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #6 on: 24 Apr 2020 10:14PM »
Yes, too narrow.

As I see it, so long as you can afford what you've got, got it honestly and live safely and comfortably with it without disturbing others, it's your choice what your home's like and what you have.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Sunshine

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #7 on: 25 Apr 2020 08:06AM »
It used to be a family joke that I kept my school books and bits and pieces from my childhood to early 20s. It was something that would be brought up from time to time and I was criticised a lot. Looking back now I can see why I kept those things, you see I thought they would be a key to unlock why life felt so wrong, awful and why I was such a failure in life. I still have a few of those things, maybe 10% but that is okay.

There are many reasons for hoarding and just as many types of hoarding. The longer we keep things the harder it can be to let go of it. Years ago I was helping my sister clear here garage and we ended up with allsorts of piles including a lot of rusty gardening tools, duplicate tools. I picked up a set of very rusty secateurs from the pile of 4 or 5 and said So can you let at least one of these go? Her reply was, No I might need them.

I think it is fine to do whatever you want to do as long as it does not impact the freedom of others or cause a health hazard. I think for people with disabilities we have the same drive to improve our living situation as everyone else. Often times we can't physically do what we wish to do so we turn to retail therapy- many of us forever hopeful.

I probably should cancel the Wickes order I made because without someone to help me paint a wall I should not really be buying paint.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #8 on: 25 Apr 2020 12:58PM »
Maybe a smile (or I think so) about us manic depressives and the manic shopping stereotype.  My usual 'scroll on by if it's boring' warning.

Years ago, when I got into what I like to call the modern psychiatric system (as opposed to that of my childhood),  with the sort of thinking/personality problems I have, when the doctors told me "This is what bipolar people are like" I obediently bought into it.

Recently, rummaging through old mementos, I found a piece of paper where I listed things I'd bought on a supposed manic shopping spree, divided into a few categories.  I laughed and phoned a friend of many years, a fellow manic depressive, and started reading it out.

You've guessed, it wasn't particularly manic at all, either in quantity or nature.  But it's easy to drag a handbasket of stationery or basic clothes like socks & undies out into a long, long list.   But why write 'a bit of routine stationery top-up' when you can turn something like five pencils, one bottle of ink, calendar etc., not even a full carrier bag, into an impressive list?

It did dreadful damage at the time.  I found shopping for clothes incredibly difficult psychologically and always had, and turning a list of some essentials like socks & knickers into a mad spree made it even harder.

Ironically, it was this same friend helped me with shopping a couple of years earlier.  My first Christmas completely alone.  What do do?  A pre-Christmas day trip?  Aha, no, a trek round the charity shops in the weeks before Christmas, maybe?

But the big deterrent had been trying on clothes.  No, not that they were 'dirty' but that it was a faff.  Yet I had no confidence in being able to choose clothes.  My friend fixed it.  "If you bought something and you didn't like it, would you be prepared to re-donate it?" "Yes" "So why not set a 'donation' budget, buy clothes up to that, try them on at home and re-donate what you don't like?"  I did.  I also trawled local shops for some cooking items.

Over a few weeks, I caught buses round town and to nearby towns, visiting over seventy charity shops. The whole exercise cost less than an 'oldies' coach trip to a nice town with meals (not posh, but more than a sarnie) and some pointless souvenirs.   I met loads of nice people on the bus and in shops, so was less lonely.

It's like with clearing my mother's stuff.  It took a while to discern how much was actually prudent grown-up-in-poverty stockpiling, hidden behind a lost ability to tidy up and clear away, behind a surface veneer of pointless clutter.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

JLR2

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Re: Compulsive hoarder - eek!
« Reply #9 on: 25 Apr 2020 06:51PM »
"It used to be a family joke that I kept my school books and bits and pieces from my childhood to early 20s."

Sunshine, what you were saying there had me thinking of what happened in 2018 following the passing of my friend in Berlin's Dad. I was asked to help remove some cupboard doors that ran from the ceiling to the floor in the hall and in the course of doing this, it involved removing lengths of piano hinges, I found in the last boxes I took out of the cupboard my friend's school books.

These were the books she had done her written work in and whilst it was all in German apart from the books relating to her English lessons they were really quite moving in a strange sort of way. Certainly they had me wishing I had something similar to look back on from my childhood school days

When my mother passed away my family felt I would be the best to hold onto her water colour paints and brushes and so they were passed on to me but how could I explain I couldn't really use them as the paints and brushes I used at the time were of a higher quality without upsetting the family?  In the end I just said thanks and left it at that. Even so when I did eventually decide to lose them I did so not without feeling.

Though I still have my Dad with us down in Glasgow quite what'll happen to his effects when that sad time calls I don't know. My friend in Berlin has this situation now as she still has a lot of her late father's clothing, jackets, trousers, jumpers and the like. One item of clothing is an old jumper which is just about falling apart but when my friend sees it she tends to see her father still wearing it and during the winter months wearing it she had the feeling of being that little bit closer to him. For me one of the wee things I will miss in relation to my Dad is listening to his opinion of some painting or drawing I'd done, many's the time I had been showing him my latest work of art (I'm no Rembrandt) and my Dad would ask me why's there a horse in the sky?  It was my Dad's eye that noticed the way in which I had painted some clouds that if you half shut an eye you could see a horse. After he mentioned this horse I couldn't look at the painting without seeing the flippin' horse >crying<

I also remember doing a drawing using Rotring pens and decided I'd use a certain cross (banned in Germany) working away from this cross I drew a whole picture a bit like the work of Escher and by the end of it the cross had virtually completely disappeared and thought no one would ever notice it at the centre of the drawing but my Dad saw it straight from first glance. Well given my Dad's reaction, not nice, I have never since looked to try a similar exercise in my drawing. The experience certainly surprised and taught me just how sharp my Dad's eye and brain could be and that he didn't just have an eye for the favourite in the day's 2.30 at Doncaster :-)