07 March 2008

On the subject of hoarding

I just scanned through POSSESSED, a short film comprised of interviews (et cetera) with four hoarders conducted on film.

It was difficult just to watch even a few minutes of it, not because it made me heartsick, but because I couldn’t drive the thought, “been there, done that” out of my consciousness. I came home to comparable sights for the final five years of my mother’s life.

The feeling of emotional fatigue was exacerbated by the fact that my best friend in town is developing the same form of mental illness. In this latter case, a brief reminder that he ought to clean out his car is met with defensiveness at best, words of one syllable at worst. And when I asked him why he lets things get to that point, he said, “it just makes me more comfortable to keep that stuff around.”

The ultimate hell is that there is no truly effective treatment for OCD (the underlying illness) — only coping strategies. Argh.

For those who might wonder: what about me?

We-ell… I'm not quite appositely obsessive-compulsive (i.e., to the point of throwing things out gratuitously, as is one commenter on the Metafilter thread where I found the film) but if I can't eat it, drink it, or smoke it, chances are that I will agonize over whether or not I should buy it.

Though I'm ashamed to admit it, I will throw recyclables away rather than let them pile up, if I can’t get my sorry, non-vehicular ass to the recycling station. Even when it comes to blessedly compact data, I only claim a spindle of eighty DVD’s and half a terabyte of disk space, itself only (roughly) half-full. The thought that I will eventually need a bigger apartment for the sake of my stuff is, to put it bluntly, appalling.

Make of all that what you will.


Hageltoast said...

I wanted to comment on this post but can't quite organise my thoughts. On the plus side, you got me thinking.

Teddi said...

I've got a friend whose mom probably has some kind of hoarder mentality. I haven't seen it for myself, but I've heard about the floor to ceiling rooms of boxes, the eBay buying (antique dolls, esp.), the clutter and never throwing things away.

Now that I've got kids, I'm finding my priorities are changing. Enough years have gone by without using certain things that I collected (thinking I'd use them someday) that I'm finally beginning to face the truth that I don't need those things.

And as for the things I've kept because of sentimental (or just mental) reasons... just last week I realized that I'm keeping some things because I'm afraid to forget my past.

Every time I open some boxes of stuff (school age memorabilia and such), I get clear flashbacks of times that I had "forgotten" (just never thought about in my day to day present life). I'd hate to lose the ability to remember those things just because I don't have anything around to remind me of them.

But I have a solution! (This might not work for folks with strong mental issues like OCD, but it works for me...) I'm going to take photos of the stuff and then THROW IT AWAY! (The sense of freedom I get from this idea is so strong I can almost taste it!)

And then I'll have room in the garage for all the OTHER boxes of stuff that I still think is worth keeping. LOL!!!

J-Rizzo said...

I do it too...even now I need to rummage through my clothes and toss what's not fashionable or doesn't fit.

I didn't know you were of the non-vehicular sort as well. Perhaps it's a product of our professions?