View Full Version : Being a "Recovering Hoarder/Clutterbug" with ADHD

04-12-15, 01:04 PM
This is one of the few places I feel safe saying I have been a clutterbug and a hoarder without encountering the "hoarder shaming" so prevalent in our society. It's also a place where I can say I have been working for several years to overcome my hoarding and hopefully people will believe me and not judge by what's still messy.

Incidentally, I'm motivated by an upcoming move that was anticipated but the timeline got bumped up. I'm on disability and my finances have taken a severe hit because of some long-overdue automotive repairs in the last month or so. The timing of this has been more than a little stressful.

The positive thing is that I do feel this motivation. I'm at an age where I'm beginning to feel a genuine desire to "downsize" and more than that, even an emotional desire to purge more of the past and free up space and energy to pursue "bucket list" goals. :) So instead of the anxiety that was behind a lot of the hoarding, that fear that "if I get rid of it I'll regret it later," I substitute the question "Is keeping this stuff going to advance or impede me in my new goals?"

I think I have a good set of insights now into what caused me to hoard, and it's complex, as most hoarder motivations tend to be. Abuse and bullying and periods of family discord (though thankfully counterbalanced by love and forgiveness) in childhood are the most emotional set of factors. The bad times caused me to trust people less and things more. And I was an only child, so material possessions were generally readily available and I spent more time alone than the average kid. In short, I had a lot of good times with my stuff, and I attached a lot of sentimental value to it in the process.

OCD was a factor, it runs in the family and along with it comes hoarding. One relative's hoarding was severe enough that the authorities became involved. :(

I can see where my OCD tendencies contribute to my hoarding in that I have desires for completeness ("Collect them all!" was not an advertising slogan but a mandate for me, LOL).

But I see, at least in my case, how ADHD definitely plays a major factor. The people who help hoarders are beginning to clue in on this, slowly. For me and I'm sure others, I really think ADHD may play a slightly larger role than OCD. It leads me to seek out "shineys," it distracts me from any purposeful activity, it causes dithering and indecision. All of these behaviors contribute to the accumulation, and they play havoc with the process of divesting oneself of it.

One more co-morbid I must mention that gets in my way is depression. It comes in to sap my energy when I look at the huge chaotic piles, and when I get mentally tired from decision making. Physical tiredness at my age is also starting to be a factor in pooping out and wanting to just go lie down. :faint:

However - I will get started, and I will move forward with the good knowledge and insights. I wanted to post this for anyone else who deals with this problem, whether you're just tackling it where you intend to stay, or facing the need to move, or whatever. Thanks for reading this long post :thankyou: and let's put our heads together as we support one another in being "recovering hoarders"! :grouphug:

04-12-15, 01:28 PM
IM very lucky to have been raised by a materialistic mother because i hated the way she was and grew up to be the opposite of her. Otherwise, i would likely have been a hoarder, not that hoarding is about materialism exclusively, but that i would have found value in possesions. Instead, i suffer from the opposite of hoarding lol....i just throw stuff away.

04-12-15, 06:14 PM
IM very lucky to have been raised by a materialistic mother because i hated the way she was and grew up to be the opposite of her. Otherwise, i would likely have been a hoarder, not that hoarding is about materialism exclusively, but that i would have found value in possesions. Instead, i suffer from the opposite of hoarding lol....i just throw stuff away.

My mom was for the most part a neatnik and able to throw stuff away - sometimes when I didn't want her to! :doh: The house was always reasonably presentable yet welcoming. Now she did have a little shopaholic in her and retail therapy was one of our bonding rituals. Both my parents were Great Depression and WWII children and adolescents. Mom had a little of the Depression Era "saver" habit with things like jars, cans, and boxes, but it never got out of hand. Dad had tools and hardware and that type of thing and a bit more cluttered but Mom kept both him and me in check.

I'm a person of many creative interests, all of which give me ample incentive to seek out the gear and supplies for each. The trouble of course is that with the ADD I generalize and have "stashes" of materials and equipment for each area of interest rather than doing as I observe my more neurotypical crafting friends doing. They settle first on a project, purchase just what's needed to do that project, and do it from beginning to end, rinse and repeat.

04-13-15, 12:06 PM
Something I realized this morning, too - in the process of decluttering, I often feel overwhelmed by the size and amorphousness of the task - the "where to begin?" and the knowledge that I won't be able to do it all in one session so the companion question "how to break it into manageable units?". Also the ever-present threat of distractions - both in the form of shineys (I'd forgotten I had this! Cool!) or accidents like knocking over a stack of stuff or a plant pot with dirt that goes all over :mad:.

Therefore, the process is messy and involves a great deal of aimless going back and forth, and possible cussing in the case of knocked-over plants or stubbed toes and whatnot. I tend to want to work alone, and not have anyone see me being such a dithering, distracted mess. The downside of working alone is not having help to get things done faster at times, or to lift heavy things, and of course the feeling of overwhelm can make me want to just stop and wallow.

I'm actually feeling okay today about getting started, however. I'm just listing these things because they occurred to me - sort of a form of troubleshooting, you might say.

Okay. Onward into battle with clutter! To victory! :yes:

Little Missy
04-13-15, 12:12 PM
Baby steps, bunny, baby steps otherwise you will be overwhelmed.

04-14-15, 01:22 PM
I got some clothes and sewing stuff boxed up yesterday. Went through them to weed out old tattered clothes that need to be made into cleaning rags, and found a few giveaways to put in the charity box.

I also neatened the sewing projects, putting only a few things into each of several small "project boxes." My sewing is something I do with a group of gals one day a week, and sometimes do on my own at home - but it was getting to the point where I had huge bags with too many projects in each. Breaking it down into these small, clear plastic boxes will help me get used to the practice of just working on what I can get done in one sewing session.

Where I'll be moving I won't be able to have that many items with me, either. I have to maintain a storage unit anyway, and decluttering it is part of this whole big effort. Hoping to have sections in it for various categories - household, crafting, clothes, family memorabilia, books, etc. - because I won't be able to stay at this friend's place long term. When I get a place of my own again, I'm hoping what I've deemed worthy of keeping will fit in the new living place. Then I may finally be able to not have a storage unit - that would be so nice.

Furniture for the most part I'm not storing - I gave away a lot of it in 2 prior moves. The only furniture I keep is the ones inherited from my grandpa - 3 pieces. I have shelving to hold stuff in the storage unit but it's nothing special, just utilitarian plastic shelves. That gives me the open-endedness when I get a new place of my own to only obtain the basic furniture that will fit.

There are boxes of papers that have been in the storage long enough that should be easy to go through and toss stuff from now. Some of it just got thrown in boxes in the 2011 move because there wasn't time to "go through" it and I've found that after not looking at it for a long time it's easier to know what needs to go. The boxes still have to be gone through because a few important things got mixed in with the junky stuff, but the process of sorting should go much quicker.

07-30-15, 01:31 PM
Thank you for a very, very helpful post.

I have moved too many times in recent years and realized when I read your post, I tend to fill boxes ("desk stuff" or "bookcase by table stuff") just to be able to manage a move or clean an area quickly, and then dread dealing with the boxes because it will take forever to go through all that paper and little items, and I don't know where to put it after I've looked at it. Plus space is still at a premium and I can't afford more storage devices right now.

You hit the nail on the head when you said it's been enough time that it should be easier to know what to keep, most of my papers are probably mail, bills, or information that is no longer relevant so it mostly is probably just trash now. I probably have a few photos or important records mixed in, so can't just toss boxes without looking. But thinking that most of the paper will be easy to just throw away by now, is like a cool breeze of motivation gently blowing in my direction.

Now I just need to carve out the time to deal with one box at a time.

But I still have a ton of books, movies, childhood toys, cute memorabilia, Useful Things, and clothes for my different life activities to deal with. Too many areas to deal with at once. I'll be browsing for help with those in the near future. But at least I know what to do with the many boxes of random paper-plus stacked up around here.

So, thank you very much!!