Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Cheese Grates It: Ending the Stigma: Hoarding Disorder

This is a response to a post on The Mighty about what gifts to give and what gifts to avoid giving to a person who is struggling this holiday season.
Do not give a person who struggles with hoarding disorder (a subtype of OCD, NOT laziness, and if you think it is laziness please unfollow me now) things, unless it is something like socks which everyone can use and which are going to wear out. I appreciate money (helps to pay down debt or maybe buy some yarn for my craft projects), gift cards, and socks. Oh, yeah, I wouldn't mind some organizational bins either.
I don't know why I wear out socks so quickly, although, admissibly, some of them do fall victim to the Sock Gnomes. I have a whole bagful of socks which have lost their mates, and I've never figured out where they've gone.
My son and I are working on getting rid of the huge amount of stuff that I accumulated through my years of hoarding disorder which was only treated with blame and shame by those around me, and thus became even worse because it made it a bigger source of anxiety and so my reaction was to stuff things away and not deal with them. We have the storage unit about halfway cleared out and are aimed at having it entirely gone by early next year. 
This has been an enormous struggle for me, and it has pretty much destroyed my life. I'm trying to get my life back so whatever I have left can be spent doing things that are worthwhile rather than struggling with a surplus of stuff.
I still have a shed full of stuff and three spare rooms full of stuff.
I've known people whose hoarding disorder, probably combined with depression, was so severe that even doing basic cleaning was impossible for them. I've been down that low a few times. What didn't help one bit is hearing things like "lazy," and "disgusting." These television programs that exploit people with severe problems for the entertainment of assholes wanking to schadenfreude make me sick. To me, it's like watching someone being tortured or raped to watch those programs. It's disgusting the lows to which people will stoop, where instead of trying to help someone who has a serious problem we point fingers and ridicule them.
Many years ago, I rented out a townhome to a woman who had severe hoarding disorder. I was getting Section 8 payments from the government for allowing her to stay there. She wouldn't allow the inspectors in, and the HOA eventually wrote me a letter threatening to have me thrown in jail if I didn't evict her because there were huge numbers of flies in the windows.
When I got in, the place was beyond a nightmare. There were a few bags of things which were salvageable and which I took to give to the local thrift store to sell. Other than that, everything was trash and there was also dog feces everywhere. For reasons unknown, she had disconnected the pipes under the sink and had slime-covered dishes soaking in two basins in the sink.
This woman had two sons. One had a predilection for violence and eventually ended up in the Fort Logan state mental health center. The other one wasn't violent but he seemed totally "at sea." 
I never hated this woman for what she did. I felt sorry for her. I knew she had a serious mental illness. There was a housekeeper who was sent by the county to help out. (I did have to pay her, but it was at a reduced rate.) She was very disdainful, said she'd been here to help the tenant before, and that all said tenant did was "lie on the couch on her fat lazy ass and apologize for the condition of the place.) The tenant had a heart condition, which is why she was on section 8.
Being disdainful and hateful and exploiting rather than assisting people with a serious disease helps no-one. It is a barbaric society which turns people who are suffering into sideshow entertainment.

~The Cheese Hath Grated It~

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