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All my precious things
Posted by tyniclogs
9th May 2014

I'm a bit of a hoarder. When I say hoarder I don't just mean I have a lot of stuff, I mean that I actually have a problem from time to time organising all my stuff. Hoarding has only recently become a recognised disorder and is linked to anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Before you go imagining me sat on top of a pile of copies of Smash Hits unable to see the sink due to my collection of used milk bottles, I just want to say I have hopefully recognised the situation before it gets to the stage of compulsive hoarding, at the moment I am showing tendencies.

We can all show potentially unhealthy aspects of behaviour from time to time, whether its drinking, or the more useful, being unable to sit down of an evening before you've dusted the skirting board. We all sit on a sliding line when the healthier mentally we feel, the less, the undesirable compulsions we have, bother us. Sliding further down the line we become less able to control the urges that we know aren't healthy, and we start to feel out of control.

I didn't realise I had a problem with hoarding until the 'collections' I had, began to spread to other places, things started to spill and cram, and be unable to fit in cupboards. Over the years I have come to realise my 'modus operandi' I will start to feel anxious about life events and in order to distract myself I will leave the house, I will then go and buy stuff not because I need it, but because it gives me a feeling of comfort. The stuff I buy is all from charity shops or car boots so I have the thrill of finding the object I desire (or didn't know I desired until I saw it) and then the satisfaction and only spending a little bit of money to make it mine. I buy plates and crockery, all 'vintage' and decorative, I buy clothes and accessories because I have developed a style which involves wearing many layers, handbags, shoes...scarves. Up till this point there isn't much a of a problem, I don't go every day or every week, its tends to be when I am feeling uneasy. I don't overspend (much) and generally I only buy things I know will go with other things I own, I have a picture of why and what I'm buying it for. The problem begins with letting go or actually using the item for its intended purpose and I've realised lately that this has become a real problem for me. The point which I'm at, is that I've bought all I really need to in order to fit comfortably into the house, in order to buy more I would have to remove objects and articles to make room. Thinking of getting rid of things then starts to make me feel anxious which starts the cycle all over again.

Letting go of objects is where I have a problem, I have tried to look at what precisely I hate about the process, I begin to get anxiety at the thought of letting go of possessions and I'm not entirely sure when this started to become a problem but I think its got worse since having children, (one was a traumatic birth and the other developed bacterial meningitis at 5 weeks). I know my background fits the profile of someone with hoarding tendencies, creative, perfectionist, past trauma and loss. I know a large part of my thinking is a fear that the article or object 'will come in handy'...not wanting to waste it, but I know rationally things are easily replaced. It was the point at which I found myself feeling anxious and physically unwell on letting go that I realised my thinking was not healthy and I have been taking steps to tackle it.

Lately I've been feeling anxious, I have another operation to my toe coming up in a month and I have been unable to work on my artwork as much as I would have liked this year. I have felt that I have 'failed' in the targets I set myself, before I started falling over a lot and found out I needed double toe operations. I have put on weight and been unable to exercise leading me to again feel I've somehow 'failed' in being a fabulously disciplined person. Diet has gone out of the window as living on adrenaline lends itself to high sugar cravings...as you can see the fascist perfectionist within me is disgusted, and I have been left flapping in the breeze.

This week I've started to experience insomnia, a further sign of my slide downwards and I decided to start channeling the adrenaline into tackling some of the hoarding. I have, over the past year done several 'declutters' and got rid of huge amounts, however I haven't stopped shopping and the amounts have just been replaced. The good news is that its not to the same extent and I must celebrate my restraint, however slight. I've been tackling wardrobes again this week, putting all my layers 'together' and putting them together with accessories (the thinking being if it doesn't have a 'look' then it goes). I have also completed several projects around the house such as a mosaic table made from the pieces of crockery which had 'inadvertently' been broken by my family (mmmm they think I haven't cottoned on). Making the table represents the silver lining to having 'hoarding tendencies' having kept all the brightly coloured pieces over the years and mourned the loss, I have been able to make them into something new and useful. This is where my cycle of behaviour needs to end, the utilisation of the items I own into useful things, displayed or worn with flair....or let go.

Making use of my less desirable tendencies is the key to me progressing, and learning to understand, tackle and embrace them is the greatest thing I've done for my mental health. The second is having friends and family that understand, and more importantly call, when they sense I'm sliding.

All the information in this blog was gained from two very useful websites: http://www.hoardinguk.org and http://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk


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