Hoarding?

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Bach

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Hoarding?
« on: September 25, 2019, 06:45:27 PM »
I don't know if this has anything to do with C-PTSD or not, but I've been hoarding like crazy lately.  Mostly food and cannabis, but I've also been buying lots of things lately.  On Monday after my therapy session, I took a farcical trip to Target and careened around in there for a while because there's a mini-waffle maker that I've been thinking about buying for a while, and for some reason I thought I HAD to have some mini-waffles right away, and of course, to make mini-waffles you need a mini-waffle maker!  Except that by the time I managed to struggle out of there and go home I was so tired and confused and disorientated that I put the mini-waffle maker my room (along with the pretty shirts and the underarm deodorant that I also bought even though I've got plenty of both), and I haven't even looked at it since, much less used it.  I've also been shopping online and ordering things I see ads for on social media that look like a good idea, regardless of whether I actually need them or not.  Mostly not completely crazy or useless things, but things I don't need and shouldn't be spending money on.  Packages keeping showing up and I don't remember ordering them until I open them.  I haven't gotten anything yet that I totally don't remember ordering, but I'm kind of afraid that might be next.  It's really distressing!  Does anyone have any thoughts or insights about this?

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notalone

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Re: Hoarding?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2019, 07:11:21 PM »
A couple of questions come to mind. Are the Littles wanting and buying things? Does having the items bring you a feeling of safety in any way?

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Three Roses

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Re: Hoarding?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2019, 07:28:41 PM »
I remember a television show I saw that talked about this. I can't remember the name of the show but I do remember a couple of the therapists interviewed that spoke of trauma and especially loss as possible sources of hoarding.

Here's an excerpt from https://www.livescience.com/32773-what-causes-hoarding.html

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Those who have suffered a traumatic loss may be more likely to become hoarders than those who haven't.

"Research is being done on hoarding among foster children because it has been noted that there appears to be a higher prevalence rate among them than among non-foster children," said Elaine Birchall a social worker who counsels hoarders in Ontario, Canada. "Given the correlation with traumatic loss among adult hoarders, this isn't surprising."

Some people develop hoarding tendencies after experiencing a stressful life event that they had difficulty coping with, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, eviction or losing their possessions in a fire, according to The Mayo Clinic.

It also stated that one of the components of hoarding was not only the acquisition of things but also the inability to discard them.

I've purchased unnecessary items solely for the rush of purchasing something, only to never use it. My house got pretty full. When we lost our house in 2011, I took the opportunity to toss a whole lot of things. Nowadays if I feel the impulse to buy something I try to wait a day or two to see if the draw is still there.

Long answer just to say - I get what you're saying, I totally relate.  :hug: :hug:

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Ambassador

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Re: Hoarding?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019, 05:11:55 AM »
Hoo boy do I have experience with this, for a multitude of reasons. Overall I say that at least in my case, it's definitely related to the past.

One reason I used to hoard was we didn't have a lot of money, so when I got new things (this was when I was still a kid), they were precious. I recall holding onto a tiny valentines box of chocolate once; it was empty, but the smell of it was apparently enough reason to keep it for something like a year. There was also a very strong sense that we were barely scraping by (we were) and that food and other things were in very limited supply and may not be available in the future; people and animals both tend to hoard resources in this situation, instinctively. Hand-in-hand with this is that at this point my access to meaningful human interaction was, at best, also very limited; we were very rural and I had given up asking to have friends over, so food and stuff was my way of cheering myself up and distracting from loneliness. Stuffed animals and toys were the friends that always there, always accepting and nice (not critical or judgy), and never leaving or rejecting.

A little later I hoarded sentiments; birthday and holiday cards, childhood memorabilia/toys, etc, and the thought of getting rid of them (especially the cards and toys) brought a crushing sense  of guilt, like I was spitting on the sentiments and abandoning the stuffed animals. I fully felt that the stuffed animals had feelings (I sort of blame Toy Story, half-jokingly) that would be crushed if I threw them away, and I couldn't bear the thought of doing that to something I loved. I've heard this phenomenon often happens to others who hoard. I believe this was also due to being blamed and guilted for others' unpleasant emotions which got transferred onto the toys.

More recently, I've found myself shopping almost daily; very little things, $5-10 a day maybe, but slowly creeping upward. Mostly food, snacks, but also other things that catch my attention; I recently wanted a snake, and when I discovered that, I needed it RIGHT NOW. When my headphones died, I decided to try a Bluetooth pair, and I needed it RIGHT NOW. Not even Amazon Prime's 2-day shipping seemed good enough. Things like food and snacks mostly come up when I'm agitated, since food was my first self-soothing practice; I'll find myself suddenly craving a Starbucks drink after a perceived criticism, for example. Or wanting to buy things (kind of anything) when in a long-drawn-out flashback, just to break the discomfort, because I had never been taught how to actually manage difficult emotions by my parents.

What I've learned is that for me hoarding is about trying to have a sense that I can have stability in my environment, and be surrounded by "loving" things (and/or actually-loving things, like pets) that won't be abusive or leave. I could lose my human friends to moving-away, but knew my stuffed animal from 6 years ago would still be there; familiarity outweighed the fact they weren't actually capable of giving a social experience. I was also very good at detaching from the world into fantasy, and having as much stuff around me that reminded me of those worlds kept me there. There was also the distraction; stores are notoriously good at drowning out your own awareness, with all their colors and rushing and ads, which drowns out self-criticism, and making a purchase can bring a rush. In a way, I've also found that there's a sense of proving to myself that I now have enough money to care for myself, which is done less from a loving perspective and more from an afraid one; a way of proving that even if I am abandoned by loved ones, I can still get resources (though I am not dependent on their finances anyway). Lastly, there is a fear that is very common among those who hoard that I have noted in myself, that is relevant to one of the previously-mentioned reasons: I used to be very afraid that if I threw something away - especially anything craft-related - that I would later need it or miss it badly and be completely unable to replace it, left with only a void inside and no means to do anything about it. I'd keep things I didn't even like, "just in case".

Maybe something in there is relevant and insightful to you.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2019, 05:22:58 AM by Ambassador »

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Bach

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Re: Hoarding?
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2019, 10:33:09 PM »
Thank you for your responses, everyone.  Ambassador, I relate very closely to most of your post.  "Hoarding sentiments" is a really interesting concept, I do this, too, and in fact, a place where that intersects with the fear of getting rid of something but then needing it came up for me the other day when I thought about an orange scarf that one of my most beloved friends gave me many years ago.  I kept it for some time as a decoration on my bed, because I always hate to not keep things that people have given me, but because the scarf was orange, a colour I don't wear, and lightweight, at a time in my life that I never wore scarves except as outerwear during the coldest of winter weather, I got rid of it one day while working on my clutter (a huge lifelong problem) and trying to develop my ability to determine what I'm keeping for good reasons vs what I keep for neurotic reasons.  I remember thinking at the time that the fact that it was a gift from someone I treasure made it somewhat meaningful, but the fact that I have a lot of things that this person has given me that are more useful or that I like more made it superfluous.  I've never second-guessed that, and in fact I had sort of forgotten about it until I thought of it yesterday.  My friend, who is even more treasured now, developed a terminal illness a few years ago, and her time is getting short.  Yesterday when I thought of the scarf I felt this horrible twist of regret.  I almost started crying, thinking about her being dead and my not having it to wear and remember her by, until I snapped back to a more rational self and realised that I have loads of things to remember her by, and in fact was wearing a kerchief she made especially for me last time I visited her right on my dang crazy head.  I could spend the whole day writing about things in your post that I relate to.

notalone, today I realised that there is an inner child involved with my hoarding, and that's a whole other can of worms, because it's not exactly a younger version of me.  It's more like a child version of my mother.  I have empathy for the child my mother was, because my mother's experience as a child was in some ways very similar to mine, and it's very confusing because my mother feels that her childhood experience entitles her to absolution for everything she did to me, and I know that it doesn't.  None of us in here are very comfortable with any of this, but wow, suddenly I no longer have the desire to buy anything.

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Ambassador

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Re: Hoarding?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2019, 01:40:05 AM »
I'm glad it has been relatable; I find I sometimes forget others do these things too. What ended up helping me most with figuring out what to discard was a book called The Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, which approaches discarding not from "what can I get rid of" but "does this spark joy?" and if it does, keeping it. It focuses instead on surrounding yourself by what is most treasured, rather than hard amounts, and I've found it made a huge difference in my ability to not only downsize, but be more mindful both of what I have, and when I'm shopping. It may be worth a try.