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I am a hoarder

Discussion in 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder' started by Beautyinsteadofashes, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am a hoarder which has been considered a form of OCD but they are beginning to class it as it’s own separate anxiety disorder, to my understanding. It’s rather possible though that I do have OCD, however mild. My father has it. And I also have exhibited characteristics. Mainly compulsions, like counting, being unable to change the tv to a different channel or radio to a different station or take my cross off, as if “something bad will happen” if I do these things. Taking my cross off brings about fear that I’ll be rejecting God.
    I’ve also experienced what I suppose are called intrusive thoughts. Like telling myself to stay myself with a knife I see about, which I have absolutely no desire to do. I’ve been assaulted with a knife before. So I have absolutely no desire to harm myself with one.
    At any rate....slightly off topic. Back to hoarding.
    I think I can piece together different events from my life that are likely the cause of the hoarding. I’ve read that trauma can trigger hoarding to start. Also loss. I’ve experienced both. And in combination with one another. For example, a fire in the middle of the night which was traumatic because my son and I were asleep. I still don’t know what caused me to wake up, but thank God I did. We lost everything but the clothes on our backs.
    Another trauma-severe abuse for several years. And when I left that situation, he did away with everything I owned except my clothes.
    I’ve also lost good chunks of my possessions several times due to moving, and once to theft, which included my grandmother’s jewelry box and all its contents. The only thing I had of hers.
    Rambling again.
    Basically, I have a pretty good idea of the triggers which started my hoarding, and yet find it So Difficult to change the behavior. I used to think that being aware of the cause of a behavior was enough to help change it. I believe now that I was sorely mistaken!
    I’ve been trying to “dehoard” for a while now and I’ve had physical reactions. Panic. Emotional panic. (That’s how I describe the feeling, I suppose it could also be described as anxiety). I rock back and forth, tense up, freeze where I’m standing, tap or swing my foot/feet, become nauseous and at its worst, get a feeling at the top of my head that I can’t describe. It’s like a pressure at the top of my head. Best way I can explain. I feel like these reactions are out of my control. Logically I think one way, emotionally I respond another. I logically know that I have no need to keep certain things that I don’t use or can no longer use or are broken. My toaster is broken. Why not toss it? I don’t know. It’s just still on my counter. I have broken furniture as well, still here for no darn good reason. (Sure I’m not able to replace the furniture, but if it’s a hazard, it needs to go).
    Anyway....I struggle with whether or not my hoarding behavior is sinful. I know the Bible talks about sinning unintentionally and willfully. I recall hearing, while listening to Leviticus on audio Bible, a lot about sinning without knowing but then being made aware of the sin and what to do to atone. Well, what if my hoarding is a sin, and even after becoming aware I am unable to stop? I cannot control the anxiety that comes with this. I cannot control the intrusive thoughts either. They pop in my head all there own. Like an “ah ha!” Moment that suddenly hits you, comes out of nowhere. But instead of “ah ha!” It’s “Gasp! What if I get in a car accident today?” “What if I imagine my feelings?” “What if I drive off the side of the bridge?” (With the bridge one, like the knife one, it’s usually more like “drive off the bridge.” “Stab yourself”, a command or pressure to do something that I have no desire to do and would be fearful to do. Rather than a “What if?” This happened? And then I nervously stare at the knife or the edge of the bridge).
    Where was I? Lost train of thought!
    I guess what I’m saying is....I don’t feel like I have control over these thoughts or over the feelings I experience in reaction to trying to stop hoarding. So if I can’t control it, is it sin? I beat myself up feeling like I’m sinning because of my emotional attachment to material things and the anxiety I have over letting them go. Material things shouldn’t be so important. Really it’s more about the memories attached to the things, or to the people they came from. But when you’re a hoarder, the attachment transfers to the object and getting rid of it causes anxiety.
    It’s a disorder. One I didn’t ask for and feel practically powerless to change.
     
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  2. Darkhorse

    Darkhorse just horsing around

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    I'm so sorry to hear of the struggles you are going through. Try to confront them with prayer and reasoning, but don't stress out about them, if possible. They're not threatening, although the knife and bridge ones may seem so. Therapy may be helpful when you can do it.

    Praying for you...
     
  3. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    It a good thing that you recognize it as a problem. As a landlord and property manager I have dealt with many hoarders, with varying degrees of seriousness. All had to be forced by an outside authority to do something about it, so it is a serious problem.

    The biggest of course is the health risk it poses to the hoarder and any close neighbors. The most serious case was a lady who began to 'save' her sanitary napkins and even her toilet paper. When this was discovered she was evicted. Another lady only needed to be warned every so often and she would enlist her sister to help clean up her apartment, which soon became cluttered resulting in yet another warning. It is when 'clutter' becomes 'filth' that real problems start, mainly cockroaches, mice, and even rats.

    Is hoarding a sin? When it threatens the health or safety of others......I believe it is. Is it the "unforgivable sin"? No.

    Is there a cure for it? I don't think so. But there is a 'remedy' for it. Go away for a day or two and allow family and friends to toss a certain amount of the stuff, leaving some but not enough to cause serious health issues. You can then continue hoarding to your hearts delight until it once again becomes a health or safety hazard, then repeat the process.

    Many smokers 'want' to quit but want to retain the ability to smoke if they want to. Perhaps hoarders fear that if they lose their 'treasure' they will never regain the security it brings. Using my method you can continue to hoard but you must allow for a reasonable 'downsizing' of your 'trove' periodically.

    Good luck to you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
  4. grandvizier1006

    grandvizier1006 Still a human by God's grace Supporter

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    I don't think you need to worry in particular whether it is sinful or not. I think instead you need to look at this as a danger to your health and well-being. If your house is rented/an apartment/condo then whoever owns it could evict you. If you own your own home it could get crowded to the point that it is a fire hazard (as in you can't get out if there's a fire due to all the clutter). I don't mean to scare you but this problem can be dangerous if it isn't treated, regardless of its cause.

    Do you have family members you can ask to help you clear out some stuff? Although it might be painful, doing so yourself will help tremendously in lifting the burden. So does talking to a therapist familiar with OCD and hoarding.
     
  5. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have one family member who would/could help me clear out some things....however....they wouldn’t go easy on me at all. I’m not saying I’d want to be babied through it. But it helps if someone understands the disorder a little bit.
    I did manage to chuck too large items today all on my own which I’m pleased about.
     
  6. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have only one person who would be willing to toss stuff from my apartment for me especially if I wasn’t there. And I’d be thoroughly afraid of what she would toss while I wasn’t there.
     
  7. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That’s an idea to keep in mind though if things become severe.
     
  8. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    Which is revealing in and of itself, about the severity of your problem. It doesn't seem to matter what might be tossed as the hoarder usually doesn't want anything tossed.
     
  9. Mari17

    Mari17 Well-Known Member

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    If hoarding is similar to OCD (which it appears to be), then it is NOT a sin. You've already argued for that, yourself, by stating that it's a disorder. Do you know much about fighting OCD? I think that could be extremely helpful. In my opinion at least, looking upon OCD as a sin makes it worse, because the harder you try to "fight" OCD, the more it gets excited about staying. :) I don't know much about hoarding, but I'd be glad to share some of what I've learned about OCD if you think it would be helpful (I have OCD if that wasn't clear from the post).
     
  10. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I don’t know much about fighting OCD other than (to me at least) it makes it harder if you share your intrusive thoughts because then you just open yourself up to think about it more and ruminate. When I have any kind of thought that I think may possibly be intrusive, I do my best to push it away and think of other things. So far, the one time I really ruminated on a thought was when I posted about it on Facebook and of course got responses which then led to a lot of “But what if....?” Eventually that fear went away all on its own. And a new “What if...?” Popped up and periodically keeps popping up and each time I do my best to distract myself from the thought.
     
  11. Beautyinsteadofashes

    Beautyinsteadofashes Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I do want to toss things. I have actually slowly been tossing things on my own. For some things, once it’s in the trash and out of sight, I’m perfectly fine. For others, like my children’s things, I get panicked/anxious and nauseous. If I were to have anyone help me declutter/dehoard they’d need to understand that. It can be incredibly stressful. That’s the disorder.
     
  12. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Wake me when it's soup. Supporter

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    If you can let anything go it's a good sign. God bless and keep trying.
     
  13. Mari17

    Mari17 Well-Known Member

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    Sounds very OCD-like to me. :) You're right, those what-ifs tend to pop up every once in awhile, but ignoring them is the best way to get through them. I can't offer much help specifically related to hoarding, as I don't have much experience with that, but I can point in you in the direction of some OCD resources if you think it would help.
     
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