Conversation with a recovering hoarder

Lee Shuer calls himself a “finder keeper.” He doesn’t like the word “hoarder,” because to him, it’s insulting, and does not really explain the specifics of what is going on, since each person is different. For Lee, “finder keeper” describes his behavior, and other terms people can use are “excessive collecting,” or “problematic clutter.” For this post, I’ll refer to the word “hoarder,” because it’s what most people are familiar with. You can decide what works for you. Lee contacted me after my last post on hoarding was published. He wanted to educate me, and what he shared with me is so good, I’m sharing it with you. Here is what he says: What was really significant for me that led to my own hoarding is the identity piece. It was the feeling that the things I had would be interesting to people so they would want to see what […]

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Living a life less ordinary

How much of your busyness is an effort to not miss out and to look like you have an interesting life? Meet Ali Cornish, who realized she was not at all happy being overly busy, and find out how she found true fulfillment: In my early 20s, I breezed through life in a state of constant movement and engagement. I lived in five separate cities, two different countries, and held a grand total of 11 jobs in the span of 4 years. With a serious case of the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out), I felt the grass was greener elsewhere. Just like everyone I knew, I was always out-and-about, rarely spending a night in watching television, reading a book, or cultivating a hobby. Each new “Yes!” and each new connection were meant to boost my self-esteem. I thought if people saw that I was doing so much, they might […]

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Take it seriously – hoarding is a psychological disorder

Wow. When I wrote my first post about hoarding, I had no idea it would generate such passion and interest. I started to write individual responses to all of you who have posted your comments, but there were so many common themes in the comments that I realized it was time for me to write a new post that includes updated information about hoarding. All of you who posted have really educated me. In my original post, I suggested strategies like, “give your hoarder his or her own room,” or “set rules about common spaces,” and so on. From all of you, I realized that strategies like these don’t work. Here’s why. Hoarding is a serious psychological disorder, and until that issue is addressed and treated, nothing will change. It’s plain and simple. Hoarding is so serious that it now has it’s own designation in Psychiatry’s standard guidebook—the Diagnostic and […]

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What your clutter says about you

Have you ever noticed that your clutter is tied to how you feel inside? I notice that when I’m not feeling settled, or I’m anxious about something or in some way feeling scattered, I tend to let stuff pile up more than when I’m feeling calm. Clutter is such a graphic manifestation of our inner world, isn’t it? To bring this home, I just received an email from a reader who said she was going through a huge life transition with her youngest child off to college, she was in a luke-warm marriage, and she’d been a homemaker and wanted to find her passion, but didn’t know where to start. Her whole email was about how unsettled, lost and dissatisfied she felt. And then she talked about how her home office was disorganized and she wasn’t managing her paper very well. She wrote: “I believe my hidden clutter is symptomatic […]

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