Let’s face it: we’re all guilty of holding onto things that we no longer use or need. From junk mail and old magazines to old clothes and broken gadgets, these are the things that make up our lives.
But how much of it we hold onto is what makes all the difference. There’s an oh so thin line between hoarding and just needing to organize your stuff.
Hoarders do exhibit a few key characteristics. Those interventions you may have witnessed on the now defunct hit reality TV show Hoarders were no exaggeration. Do any of these sound eerily familiar to you?
- You avoid social gatherings in your apartment. If you’re a hoarder, it’s only natural to not want people all up in your personal space. The whispers, the side eyes, the hesitance to sit down. You can smell the judgement from a mile away. Or maybe it's just the mountain of dirty laundry piling up in the corner.
- Insisting that you’ll use stuff that you know you never will. That broken blender and your worn out high school gym shoes will never see the light of day again. But you refuse to let go of these and countless other neglected gems that make you the hoarder you are.
- Your apartment is no longer livable. Are you unable to properly use the kitchen or bathroom because it’s full of junk? Is your sofa or bed buried underneath another pile of random belongings? If you can’t utilize your space the way it was meant to be used, there’s definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.
- You see “value” in ordinary things. In theory, it’s a nice idea to hold onto those things passed down from your parents and grandparents. But if grandma’s collection of knit Christmas sweaters are stashed in the back of a closet 365 days a year, you clearly don’t cherish them anyway. In your mind, tossing these items will result in guilt for years to come. Newsflash: it won’t. If it absolutely tears you up inside to even think about getting rid of your decade old hot pink poofy prom dress, you might indeed have a hoarding problem.
- You collect insane amounts of duplicate items. What’s your weakness? A utility closet overflowing with cleaning supplies? Over 75 boxes of Saltine crackers? Do you have enough identical items to last you through the apocalypse and beyond? Hoarders are notorious for accumulating quantities of products that’ll last for weeks, months or even years.
- You just can’t stop buying stuff. Even though your small space is packed to the max, you continue to acquire all kinds of things. If you’re constantly bringing new items into your apartment without doing some purging to make room, you might be a hoarder.
- Your entire life is on the line. True hoarders experience life-changing events due to their habit. Relationships suffer when partners don’t realize why you just can’t stop. Debt piles up when you insist on stockpiling certain items. Your lease could even be in jeopardy if your space becomes a health or safety hazard. Yikes!
So Houston, do we have a problem? If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, there is professional help available. Hoarding is a condition that, with the proper assistance, can be treated and possibly cured over time.