It’s a Process

Last week, I talked about how I stumbled into realizing that I had, if not hoarding disorder itself, hoarding tendencies. It wasn’t easy, and I want to thank everyone for their kindness. As much as I try not to shy away from talking about my struggles with my mental health, it is embarrassing to actually show through video what’s going on.

As I mentioned last week, after realizing that I had, or at the very least was developing, a serious problem, I decided I needed to do something about it while it was still within my control. I enlisted the help of my friend Pup to help me get rid of things.

The biggest culprit of clutter in my life has always been my crafting space. I’ve always been a crafter, even as a young child. When I hit the lowest point in my depression about 5-7 years ago, I lost the motivation to work on the vast majority of my projects. The desire was still there; I wanted to do these things and I thought if I could just find the motivation to do them, I would “snap out of it.” I ended up buying a lot of supplies hoping that if the means were readily available the motivation would come.

The motivation didn’t come. I kept buying and buying and buying, but all that happened was I felt more and more overwhelmed by my incomplete projects, which just made the depression worse. Eventually, even if I did have the motivation to work on a project, I didn’t have the space to do anything. I could do a few small projects while sitting on my bed—the only clutter-free area of my room—but otherwise everything else was deadlocked.

I decided I needed to start with those craft supplies. I had boxes of craft supplies stacked everywhere. The tabletop couldn’t be seen for the piles on top of it. They’d began spilling into other areas of my room: the closet, the bookcases, my desk. If I didn’t get that stuff cleaned up and decluttered, I would never be able to adequately organize the rest of my space.

Let me say this: This. Fucking. Sucked.

I knew there was no way I could keep everything. I’d have to prioritize things—really prioritize them, rather than tell myself that I have a use for every single little thing. Top priority had to be tools and machinery. My sewing machine, my Silhouette cutter, stamps; things that could be used over and over, indefinitely. Those things would stay. That was the easy part.

After that, I made a list of all the projects I could think of that I wanted to do and ranked them in order of what I most wanted to do to what I didn’t really care that much about. Then I made sub-lists of everything I would need to complete those projects, right down to the little accoutrement. Honestly, this part was kind of fun, too. I’m a compulsive list maker, so anytime I get to create lists I’m happy.

The hard part came when I needed to sort things. I grouped all the needed parts for each project together in boxes (generously provided by Pup). Once everything was boxed up and my craft area was completely clear, I would put everything back starting with the highest priority and working my way down until I ran out of space.

Anything left over had to go.

There were a lot of things I actually didn’t even have projects for. Those things were gotten rid of before we even started. I pared down some of my tools (stamps and stencils in particular), only keeping the ones I really liked and used. Surprisingly, I was able to keep the majority of my projects, probably thanks to getting rid of things that I had no projects for and just took up space. The only projects I had to get rid of I really didn’t care about and only planned on doing so I could use up the stuff I had for them.

In addition to cleaning out and organizing my craft stash, Pup also took away piles of things that I had planned to sell, but couldn’t possibly work my way through anytime soon. That made a huge difference, as well.

Everything I got rid of was stuff I didn’t need or even really care about at all.

I cried over it. Pup and I did this over a weekend and on Sunday I bawled my eyes out after everything had been taken down to either the trash or Pup’s car to be dropped off at Goodwill. I didn’t care about these things at all, but I hated to let them go. As much stress as they put on my life, having them also gave me some strange comfort.

I didn’t need them. I didn’t even really want them. But I’d had plans for them. They were a part of my life and a part of my future, in however small a way. Letting go of that was painful.

This was a lot harder than I expected it to be. For the first week or so after we removed everything, I felt a lot of remorse. All that wasted potential. All that wasted money. I had to resist the urge to replace some things or buy new stuff for new projects.

That’s the hardest part, I think; not refilling that empty space. It’s so empty, now. I want to fill it. Even now, three weeks later I desperately want to fill it, even though I know that will just put me right back where I started. But that urge is strong. It is really, really, really hard to say, “No, I don’t need that,” when my mom offers to buy me something when we’re out. Even though I don’t need it–I probably wouldn’t even use it. But fucking shitting goddamn hell, I want it because I have space for it and space exists to be filled.

Sometimes, I feel even crazier than I did before. I find myself reasoning, “I’ve gone this long living in that space. I don’t really need to invite friends over. Climbing over stacks of literal garbage (literal. bags. of. stuff. I. plan. to. throw. the. fuck. away. actual. fucking. garbage.) to get to my clean clothes isn’t that big of a deal. Do I really need to wear clean underwear today?”

Yes. I do need to wear clean underwear today, because goddamn it I’m not going to let myself turn into a disgusting little garbage troll.

So, I’m trying. I’m trying very, very hard to get used to having space. I told myself that I wouldn’t buy anything for any new projects until I’ve finished at least a few of the old ones. There’s one project I’ve been sitting on for at least six years, now. It’s first on the list, as soon as finals are over.

It’s been a few weeks since Pup hauled away the casualties of my decluttering. I haven’t had a chance to work on the other spaces of my room (the desk is next and will be handled in roughly the same way as my craft table). Even so, just having organized the craft area and removed about half of my “for sale” stuff, the appearance of my room has improved drastically.

Right now, I’d say it’s probably a 2.5 on the Clutter Image Rating Scale. The bookshelves bring the score down (or up?) significantly. They’re next on the list after my desk.

It’s going to be a long process. Not just getting all of these spaces organized, but resisting that urge to fill them back up.

A lot of people make jokes about hoarders, or say they don’t understand how someone can “live like that.” I’m telling you first-hand that it’s not that easy to “just throw stuff out.” These things, however insignificant they seem, mean something. Anyone struggling with any mental illness, including hoarding, should be treated with respect and compassion.

I’m trying to have compassion for myself.

I love you all.


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12 Comments on “It’s a Process

  1. You bring up a really good point that I’d never thought about before with my own hoarding tendencies. The “plans” for things. Maybe hoarding is a kind of misplaced hope for the future? Definitely something for me to think about. Thanks for sharing your journey with us, I know it isn’t easy to talk about this stuff.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I know a lot of my tendencies toward hoarding and collecting things come from a place of hope for the future, definitely. A lot of what I accumulated were things I bought because, “When I feel better, when my depression isn’t so bad, when I have more time… I’m going to do this project.”

      Thank you for your kindness. I’m glad you enjoyed the posts.💕

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve never had hoarding tendencies or been a hoarder, but I’ve known a few, and it’s heartbreaking to see how difficult their existence can be at times. You should be really proud of yourself for putting in the hard-fucking-work and doing what you need to do to live life to the fullest, frand! Proud of you!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Adie, well done, and good luck, with managing the decluttering process and with finals. Space= Possibilities and that can be scary. Maybe it’s a matter of holding fast until the possibilities reveal themselves. And allowing for the process of instead of an imagined future, your real reality, you in the present, to come to the fore. Which can also be scary… lots of love xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My Mom is a hoarder. After several times of helping her clean out a room, only for her to refill it again, I am beyond frustrated. However, after reading your post, I can now show her more empathy. Thank you for allowing me to see things from a different perspective.

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    • Thank you so much for this comment. I’m really glad you were able to take something away from this post and can treat your mother with more compassion. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, so I understand how frustrating it can be to watch someone take those steps backward, especially when you spend your own time and energy trying to help them. I hope your mother is able to beat her hoarding. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So fucking proud of you, Adie! I completely understand because I have my own hoarding tendencies. I have to be very careful when I shop and I have to shop with purpose. I’m also someone who has a lot of supplies — canvas, paint, stencils, stamps, paper, etc. I’ve had to implement a rule: bring one thing into the house and two items have to leave. That really helps keep me in check. What you are experiencing is grief. And I’m glad you are in touch with what you are feeling and are able to openly grieve. My dad is a full-blown, diagnosable hoarder who meets the criteria on the DSM 5. Both of my kids also have tendencies. My dad’s hoarding became uncontrolled after my mom died. He lives in the great state of DENIAL! I hate going in his house anymore, but I love him and I try to understand. I believe there is energy in all things and that energy and lost potential is what we grieve. Give what you can’t use or enjoy back to the Universe for someone else to enjoy and do it with a loving heart and know that whatever you need will be provided to you at the right time! I hope this helps. Sending you hugs as you/we struggle. I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. I constantly battle this and the urge to shop is always there along with my various collections and stashes of stuff. I chalk this up, in part, to being a creative person who appreciates things. But taking care of things is very time-consuming. Strengths and challenges. Stay strong, Adie! May the Force be with you! Mona

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mona! That one-in, two-out thing sounds like a good system. I’ll have to adopt that when I get to cleaning out my wardrobe (again).
      I’m sorry to hear about your dad. That seems to be common with hoarders from what I’ve read. They lose someone and it spirals like that. I hope he’s able to get it under control. ❤
      I agree, being a creative type probably doesn't help anything because like you said there's potential in everything. I always feel like I can reuse or repurpose something "junky" into something amazing if I just had the right tools and materials, which I'll probably never actually get.
      Thank you again, Mona! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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