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Old 02-27-2016, 06:47 PM   #21
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Hoarding is emotional/mental/unfixable...

The Waste Management solution works to clean house, but the scars will remain with the family.

Interim... empty the kitchen or living room... and make it the "clean" space. Rent storage for a year. A write off expense.

No good solutions.

Been there.
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:30 PM   #22
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If you look at the entire hoard it is no doubt overwhelming. As another responder noted, just concentrate on one area at a time. But I suggest you not start with a closet - you won't readily see any evidence of progress.
Rather, start on merely 1/4 of a room. Work to get that 1/4 clean and clear. Every item is either tossed out, recycled, or appropriately stored. Stored items are only those that you regularly use - quoting another responder, not used in a year (maybe 6 months?) toss it or recycle it.
Then move to the next 1/4 room. In 4 or 5 days you have a clean room, and visible progress.
By the way, "recycling" means daily trips to the local recycling center, and NOT holding on to the stuff to "eventually" recycle it.
If this, or previous replies, seems overwhelming then you should seek professional organizer help and/or junk removal specialists.
Best wishes for a successful result.
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:38 PM   #23
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Last year I did a big clear out. I committed to one hour a day and no more. I set a timer. Every couple of weeks I took a day off.

No excuses.

A friend with a van helped with one trip to dump and one trip to charity store.

Caffeine helped. I rarely drink it so the boost was significant.

You will love the feeling of space!

Good luck!
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:49 PM   #24
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Hoarding is emotional/mental/unfixable...
+1. Hire someone or have a friend help go through everything, like on the show Clean House. DH and I helped a friend clear out and stage a really cluttered house after a divorce. Other friends helped, too, and the house looked like a show place when we were all done.

Clean House might be on DVD or Netflix these days. A team of professionals go in, clear out the clutter, hold a garage sale and redecorate and organize with the money from the garage sale. It is a bit corny but I like that show.

I don't think hoarding is unfixable but the hoarding may be more of a symptom than the cause.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:01 PM   #25
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Getting rid of the stuff will be the easy part but it will never happen until you answer the why bother question for yourself.

My mother in law has paths through her house to get throughly 3 feet of stuff literally everywhere. She did the dumpster thing several times but didn't take long for more stuff to take its place.

She still has the problem and is living alone. Use your smarts and make it happen or it will only get worse.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:01 PM   #26
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More helpful resources: books by Susan Pinsky and Judith Kolberg (these are aimed at ADHD people).
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:47 PM   #27
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Hoarding is often a sign of anxiety and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD.)

May I suggest taking the medication route? WebMD says: Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, may be helpful in treating OCD. Older drugs -- tricyclic antidepressants like Anafranil -- might also be used. Some atypical antipsychotics, such as Risperdal or Abilify, also have been shown to have value for OCD either when used alone or in combination with an SSRI.
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Old 02-27-2016, 08:49 PM   #28
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Hoarding is often a sign of anxiety and/or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD.)

May I suggest taking the medication route? WebMD says: Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, may be helpful in treating OCD. Older drugs -- tricyclic antidepressants like Anafranil -- might also be used. Some atypical antipsychotics, such as Risperdal or Abilify, also have been shown to have value for OCD either when used alone or in combination with an SSRI.
Putting the whole family on antidepressants is a bit drastic, don't you think?
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:00 PM   #29
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We aren't hoarders (but have the tendency) because we routinely:
1. actively focus on getting rid of stuff
2. keep new stuff acquisition (purchasing, receiving as gifts, and picking up from side of road) to a minimum

No real tricks except to do those two things.

When it comes to dealing with the stuff you already have, split it into four types:
1. Sell
2. Donate
3. Trash/Recycle
4. Keep

This is in order of priority.

Sell anything that's worth your time to sell. Money is a big motivator for me, and getting $20-30+ for all kinds of junk sitting around the house is a worthwhile motivator to get rid of junk. Be realistic and objective about what you can sell something for.

Donate anything you don't need that's not worth the time to sell. At least it won't go in the trash and someone else will use it.

Trash/recycle everything else. If you're a "dirty" hoarder (one who keeps old drink cups, pizza boxes, bags of trash, empty cans/bottles, etc) then it's pretty obvious a lot of stuff will fall into this category. If you're a clean hoarder it's a lot harder. Non-working low value stuff that is unlikely to be accepted by a thrift shop is trash.

Keep everything else that doesn't fall into one of the other three categories. But be realistic about what you need. You don't need 300 shirts. You don't need 100 shirts. Think about space in your house as a resource. You pay a lot per square foot for mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and utilities - why not get your money's worth and have your house be a livable, enjoyable space for your family?

You will need the whole family somewhat on board to get this accomplished. Family meeting time! At the least, you'll need to stop the inflow of "stuff" to prevent the job from getting harder.

If all else fails, there are counselors that can help you. Probably better long term to pay some cashola than to fix this issue instead of letting it linger. If the whole family is the problem, then family counseling might be in order.
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:06 PM   #30
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Another possible source of help in getting over that first hump:

An Uncluttered Life
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Old 02-27-2016, 09:47 PM   #31
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I don't care for flylady. However, there is a website and an accompanying tumblr site with a four letter word in the middle of the web address I found motivating, if you can take the language. The tumblr pictures really show how pleasant and soothing just picking stuff up and putting it away can be. The website is (one letter replaced by an asterisk)

http://www.unf*ckyourhabitat.com/

Yeah, we could suggest she not use the foul language. But, like Mr. Money Mustache, she has a point....
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:47 PM   #32
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DH likes to go to thrift stores and buy other people's old used crap. He brings stuff home, cleans it up and either sells it or sometimes he likes to display something. He has 2 rooms upstairs that he uses for his desk and computer and all his assorted thrift store crap. I don't have to deal with his stuff but I know it's there.

He is not a hoarder, he just likes to acquire things. He keeps it manageable.

As for the rest of the house I like to keep things neat and orderly. What I've realized about DH is that he is CLUTTER BLIND. He does not see old mail/plastic bags/stacked magazines/piles of stuff. I could let stuff accumulate in unruly piles and he would not notice. But I notice and I take care of it.

I've gotten to the point in my life where I'm just not into "stuff". I like to see empty floor space and clear horizontal surfaces. Closets should not be jammed full, drawers should have some space left. I'm not all that great at it, I tend to keep some things too long. But I'm not into acquiring new stuff.
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Old 02-27-2016, 11:08 PM   #33
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One of the only useful thing I learned at megacorp was that engineers, can be hoarders. Many of the old-timers, and/or branch managers, had a path between the door of their office and their chair, with every other surface covered with journals, spec, travelers, proposals, etc. Most, to reinforce the cliche, knew where everything was.

But I digress... For many years, the equipment manager, call him Bob, would have clean-up emergencies, which, not coincidentally, happen right before dog-and-pony shows, aka "VIP tours"...

Bob would run around frantically (we called it "Doing the Bob") yelling "Make this go away"!

So, that's my advice - Make it go away!
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Old 02-28-2016, 12:37 AM   #34
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Move, and you will find most stuff is not worth moving due to effort/expense.

Having parents who lived through the depression really does encourage a person to "save this as it will be useful someday".

Just the other day I caught myself about to save a couple of perfectly good screws, but managed to throw them in the garbage.
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Old 02-28-2016, 01:02 AM   #35
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I always think of this when I am faced with huge tasks / problems:

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Old 02-28-2016, 07:36 AM   #36
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I'll add another suggestion that helped us in downsizing: list things under Free Stuff on Craigslist with your address, first to arrive gets it, and nearly anything will disappear. I felt so much better knowing it would be reused, fixed up, sold at flea markets, etc.

Just a partial list of things people have taken: luxury brand whisky canisters (yes, they were empty), well- made chairs that needed new cushions and re-caned backs, two tins of old buttons, never-used curtains, used flannel sheets.. I could go on. DH says we ought to visit some flea markets and see if we recognize anything!
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:47 AM   #37
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Congratulations on asking for help....that is a great first start....

It means you recognize there is a problem, and that in itself MAY make it easier to attack it.

Sue J wrote "CLUTTERBLIND" which I think is a fantastic description. People who are clutterblind just don't see the mess, just like a person like me, who is ANTI-clutter, can't imagine how anyone can live in that "mess" ( like those shown on the TeeVee shows).

And unfortunately, it IS a mess. Not clutter, not cramped, not funny or cute or "whatever"...just a MESS.

And I have to ask, since no one else has....is it JUST clutter or is it animal feces and "dead cat in the freezer (or BEHIND the freezer)" and the toilets and showers don't work or haven't been cleaned in YEARS-used diapers on the bathroom floor"bad?

If that's the case, then it has transcended mess to health issue, and you MUST get professionals to help you, because frankly, if it's gotten to that point and you don't recognize the danger, you will need professional help to clean it up.

Please try one of the solutions mentioned. If it's YOUR home, and the others who live there won't help, just announce you intend to rent a dumpster next Monday, and it's all going. Everyone can pick 10 items they want to keep.

Then DO it.

I know it's easy for non-hoarders to say just clean it up and toss it. It can't be that easy, or people would do it. No different than ordering someone to stop drinking today or stop smoking tomorrow. But you seem to KNOW it's a problem, and that's 90% of the battle.

Good Luck....and don't give up!!!!
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:48 AM   #38
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Putting the whole family on antidepressants is a bit drastic, don't you think?
I didn't say the whole family. But the responsible party(ies) might have benefits, including improved health, happiness and well being for the whole family including their pets.

My daughter is a hoarder which comes from OCD and depression. She won't accept any help either. At one point, I'll be pulling my truck to the front door and will remove unnecessary items.
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Old 02-28-2016, 08:46 AM   #39
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I agree with imolderthanu and bamaman

My mother, her brother, sister, aunt, my sisters are all hoarders to varying degrees. It's a horrible condition. Only my mother will admit to being a hoarder and having OCD but still refuses help. The only thing that makes her life better is her hoard is mainly paper, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, mail, etc. so she can contain (tens of) thousands of items in a just a few rooms. .....It gets worse with age.

Hoarding and OCD are definitely medical conditions that requires medication along with behavior modification.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you consider medical treatment.


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Old 02-28-2016, 07:56 PM   #40
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If you are comparing your home to the Hoarder TV shows, I will assume that your house is an overwhelming mess.

So, why does your family lose enthusiasm for cleaning things out after a few hours? And, why do you let it stop you from continuing to work on the house?In any case, it sounds like you may need to be the cheerleader/taskmaster here.

Perhaps the idea of taking meds is a good idea. Maybe you could speak to one of your MD’s about it--meds might take some of the edge off the OCD/anxiety if that is part of the problem.

I like the dumpster idea--with the goal being to fill it up as quickly possible. Renting a dumpster hopefully exhibits commitment to the project. Maybe the family will get that you are serious this time. If the family works together, it can be a bonding experience.—kind of like going camping. If the family doesn’t go along with the program, pay someone to help you (and maybe you can bond with that person).

I would not mess around with Craig’s List or charities or garage sales--don’t confuse this with a money making proposition--you already have a job. Besides, this way you won’t need to stop and think and obsess about where the stuff is going and how much it’s worth. Same goes for throwing 27 things out at a time (too much strategy—it takes time). Your goal (as I see it) is to get rid of stuff. When in doubt, throw it out (perhaps that could be a nice chant while you’re cleaning out the house—although I prefer mumbling “Old Man River”. And, if you toss something out that you need, you have the money to buy a new one (or, two, three--but, let’s not to do that anymore).

If some stuff has true emotional value, put it in a box (but don’t take time to reminisce).

Then get a cleaning crew to come it and clean up the house. And, then hire someone to come in 2-4 times a year to check the place out.

Sorry to be so bossy, but, geez, let's get started on this.
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