Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I think there are hoarders and hoarders (either animal or object). Some people hoard stuff because they're just too materially minded to let go of things - they're not mentally ill in a diagnostic sense, they just can't bear the thought of letting go something they paid good money for or is worth (they think) a lot of money. That's called greedyb*starditis.
Then there are other people who hoard as a form of protection - whether it's animals or things. Whatever they're hoarding gives them a sense of belonging, or holds memories, or gives them some form of comfort. Many of these people have either lost something (home/place, a close person etc) and haven't coped with the loss, or they have an intrinsically low sense of self-worth.
I am an object hoarder. I have become better in recent months but I have a tendency to hoard stuff that I had from a kid, old letters from people, other peoples' (clean) rubbish, newspapers...you name it, I would hoard it. In my last place I was living in a studio flat and the small living space was entirely cluttered with useless, worthless stuff. I think it made me feel safe, like I was barricading myself in. I always had the blinds closed because I felt exposed otherwise, and I rarely ventured out except to go to work or see Brock. I have a number of mental illnesses and one in particular features very low self-esteem. I am lucky I have a partner who has also experienced mental illness in the past - he's encouraged me to buy nice new things for myself rather than collect old broken rubbish, to keep my office tidy so I don't get overwhelmed, and to get out and about a bit. I've stopped hoarding, I can throw things out without even thinking now. I'll always try and fix something first but if it's finished it's finished and belongs in the trash. He's also helping me stop worrying about money so much - I'm always stressing about the bills and rent and he gets me to calm down and not make myself ill over future scenarios that might not happen.
But I can really understand how people can hoard. And demonwolf, I do have quite a bit of sympathy for your aunt as well as for you. I hate seeing what I put my partner through sometimes with my illness, but I only see it when I'm not having an episode, and if I am I just cannot see how what I am doing is wrong - I lose all sense of reality, if at the time I'm even conscious of my actions. Then when I come around, I end up hating myself even more for what I've done, and it just ends up being a vicious cycle of self-loathing and crazy. Mental illness really sucks, for everyone involved.
A crazy girl with a crazy horse