By Holly Richardson

holly richardson author pic

When I took an abnormal psychology class years ago, the professor warned us the very first day to not diagnose ourselves as we learned about various disorders. I’ve reminded myself of that advice recently as I started watching Hoarders. Yikes! 

At what point is someone considered a Hoarder?

-“Getting and keeping too many items that you may not have a need for right now and don’t have space for.
-Ongoing difficulty throwing out or parting with your things, regardless of their actual value.
-Feeling a need to save these items and being upset by the thought of getting rid of them.
-Building up clutter to the point where you can’t use rooms…”

Mayo Clinic

I’ve wondered if I’m a “baby hoarder” because I have 72-hour kits with size 8 boy clothes when my youngest son is 22?? Or because I have more plastic lids than containers? Or because I have garden seeds that are 10 years old. Ugh. Don’t even get me started on my food storage room. 

I had to do a Google search to make sure that I did not, in fact, qualify as a hoarder and phew! I’m not. I’m not even on the scale. That’s good to know, because I was starting to wonder….

I don’t have an immaculate house. I have a house that we live in – and by we, I mean the 12 of us that still live in this home. Phyllis Diller once said “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” It still needs to be done, but if you don’t see a lot of progress, or the progress is undone quickly, well, welcome to the club. 

Here are some of my personal take-aways from watching a show about people who can’t let go of things: 

  • When my husband and I die, my kids will have to go through all the stuff I haven’t, so I want to get to it now. There’s a little book I haven’t read, but maybe I will now. It’s called “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.” I’m not ready to go “Marie Kondo” but I can do better. 
  • I was surprised at the anger expressed by hoarders who refused to throw away what was clearly trash and it made me wonder what I hold on to that is likely to be considered trash by others. Books, maybe? Extra blankets “just in case”? 25 screwdrivers?
  • The shows I’ve seen have been a powerful reminder that relationships are always more important than stuff.
  • If I have kept projects around to get to “someday” but haven’t touched them for years, it’s ok to let them go. That might even mean my fabric stash. Oooh. That one hurts. 
  • I really need a regular schedule of de-cluttering and not just waiting until “I have time.” When the mess gets too big, it also gets overwhelming and then I don’t know where to start. 
  • Right now, the things I do want to save are the memorabilia and photos from our family. But, I don’t have to save all the stuff. I can even take a digital photo of my child’s artwork, keep the photo and not keep the actual project. Shocker, I know. I’m happy to report that I had already started the process of digitizing photos and papers before I watched the show. 
  • Therapy can really be a gift. Avoiding dealing with the “figurative” stuff in our lives can be incredibly harmful, whether that’s poverty, loss, abuse, trauma, illness, disability or other stuff. 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a corner to go de-junk…..while Hoarders plays in the background. It’s great motivation. 


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