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Showing posts from March 27, 2011

A theory...

If you've read anything here, you know that my mother is a recovering hoarder. She has made such great steps and progress, and we've experienced so much forgiveness, healing and renewal in our relationship that I never dreamed could happen! But because of this, compulsive hoarding is obviously something that I spend a lot of time reading about, thinking about, praying for a treatment for.

And I've been putting bits and pieces together in my head from what the professionals--psychologists and psychiatrists, grad students, and social workers--have deduced from research and experience. It appears that there is abnormal brain activity in those studied with hoarding habits. It's also been noted that hoarding seems to fit an addiction model to some degree. Although it does not show the exact same characteristics as an addiction, there are many similar features, especially in the effect of hoarding on family, friends, and other loved ones.

So this is my theory...

Person X is bor…

Fear of making personal phone calls

One of the curses of having a parent with bipolar disorder is that you never know "which" parent will be present when you arrive home from somewhere or call home. In all honesty, I believe that my mom was the cool mom more often than not, but the memories that stick out in my head are by and large memories of times when the rage-filled, forgetful mother was around.

It must be some sort of protective factor that we remember negative experiences more clearly than positive ones. I remember when I used to work retail, our manager always reminded us that one unhappy customer would affect the business more than ten happy ones. Those things must be related.

One of the things I fear to this day is making personal phone calls. When I worked, I could cold-call auto dealers all over the country and invite them to promo sales. Before that, I was a telemarketer for a while and all my calls were outgoing cold-call sales. I could do those things. I can even call a business and make an appoi…

Letting go of "normal"

For as long as I can remember, I felt like I was the odd ball out. My family consisted of one parent, unmarried even. At a very young age, I knew our house was different than most. And as children often do, I concocted the perfect happy "normal" family in my head, a family diametrically opposed to the one I was in.

It's not unusual that children look at the world through rose-colored glasses. It's in their nature to believe they have more control and effect on the world around them than they do and to overgeneralize. They see the cup half-full almost exclusively. They believe that although something may be wrong with the picture right now, perfection is still out there, no matter how elusive and that drives them to move beyond the terror they experience right now.

I know all of this because I was that child.

But as I grew up, got married and had children of my own, some part of me was stuck in the childish reasoning. I still desired and sought after the "normal&quo…

What is compulsive hoarding?

The definition of compulsive hoarding:

*the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value;

*living spaces are sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed

*significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding.

(Frost & Hartl, 1996)


Approximately 15-16 million Americans are affected by hoarding disorder. This is approximately THREE times the number of Americans affected by Alzheimer's, ~4.5 million Americans. If you know one person who is affected by Alzheimer's, or a friend's loved one is affected by it, you are likely to know THREE people affected or have a family member or loved one affected by compulsive hoarding!


More than half of those who identify themselves as having issues with hoarding also report onset between the ages of eleven and twenty. The average age that a person who is struggling with hoarding issues seek treatment is fifty. …

Children Learn What They Live, or Why Recovery?

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte


If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,

Recovery is for everyone

I have been writing a lot about my experiences growing up with a mentally ill mother in a hoarded home. I am grateful because I know that I have many regular readers who are COHs and thus could be turned off by the onslaught of my experiences. My intent when I started the blog back in December was to remain brutally honest with myself and others as I journeyed the path to healing. Although because of my personal experiences most of my posts have centered around the hoarding and untreated mental illness, I believed then and now that if I were honest about the process here, I would be able to reach others who needed healing even if it were from some completely unrelated issues.

I am Christian, and it is my hope and prayer that even when I don't quote Bible verses here there is still something about the process and what I share that speaks of grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and above all else: HOPE. Without hope, the other things may never come. I have always loved the quote, attribu…