Am I a hoarder?
This summer, I threw out 61garbage bags worth of possessions from my apartment.
No, my apartment was not lined floor to ceiling with stacks of papers and records and old pizza boxes. For the most part, it looked clean at first sight.
To anyone that I told about the 61 bags though, they probably thought I lived like the photo above.
So I had to wonder to myself- am I in denial?
Am I just really good at hiding my hoarding tendencies, keeping a crammed skeleton in my overfilled closets?
I some deep diligence (on the first page of Google search results) and found the following symptoms. I went WebMD on this and tried to diagnose myself based on the most commonly mentioned symptoms:
- Inability to throw away possessions.
Well, the 61 bags seems to prove that wrong. On the other hand, I took way too many photos of things before I got rid of them, and felt weird getting rid of something without adequately capturing its likeness for posterity.
Final results: Negative, though challenging.
- Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
I tend to keep things because of the memories that I have when i see them. That shirt I wore in high school (that somehow still fits; I’d thank my metabolism, but you and my girlfriend and all my friends would not like that) reminds me of the time I wore it on the ferris wheel during our town fair.
I also have a hard time getting rid of something because what if I need it that one time in the future in that circumstance I can’t predict when that might be in style again?
I have the same issue when I overpack always. I only learn my lesson when I come home and only half my clothing has been worn.
I do get anxiety when I get rid of stuff, but if I take enough photos, center my stress chi, and remember that I can always buy more socks and underwear if I run out, I can do it.
Also, what constitutes severe anxiety? If my girlfriend threw out something without telling me, yes, that would definitely get to me. But will I need to breath into a paper bag? Nah.
Final results: Positive, but manageable.
- Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
I’m capable in this arena — I can keep stuff organized and put away. My clothes closet for example?
Not too shabby. T-shirts rolled up, organized by type (athletic, casual, dressy). Can one have dressy T-shirts?
Final results: Negative.
- Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
I don’t have too much trouble deciding what to keep nowadays, and those things that I keep, I know where to put them. On occasion though I’ll have a small pile of papers in a corner from stuff during the week, but I can get through it when I put in the time.
Final results: Negative.
- Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
I have a lot of books. And socks. And T-Shirts. And ties. (I used to wear a lot of ties. Not at the same time.) But I don’t feel totally overwhelmed by them, unless I need to find a specific tie. When that happens, going through my full tie draw feels like I’m swimming through dense kelp.
Embarrassed? My girlfriend sometimes is, and thinks I should be, but that’s more because I basically have no style, and used to only shop at H&M. She doesn’t like H&M.
If you see me out in the world looking like I knew how to dress myself, that’s probably because she picked out that clothing.
Final results: Negative?
- Suspicion of other people touching items
My girlfriend totally eats the rest of my Skinny Pop! I am right to be suspicious! And that one time I bought a bag of Twix (Halloween style, fun-sized), and I would occasionally put one on her pillow? She got addicted to the sugar and started sneaking Twix out of the bag!
See? here’s evidence!
Final results: Positive, but justified!
- Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects.
Look, if you’ve run out of toilet paper ever, you never mess around with that again. No bueno.
Yeah, I do a few extra pens, and dry erase markers, and post-its, and 3M wall hooks (keeping that security when I move out!) But when I did summer cleaning, those 61 garbage bags did have a lot pens, dry erase markers, and post-its. (Not 3M wall hooks. I kept all those. My girlfriend likes to decorate my apartment. #securitydeposit.)
Checking the trash? There was only that one time when I was going through financial documents and I thought I threw out a W-2. Do not mess with the IRS. (I also learned this one time when I dressed up as the IRS for halloween, and people threw candy at me.)
Final results: Positive, but justified.
- Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards.
I lost living space this summer, but that was because I had three people join me in a 3-bedroom apartment. Yes I knew them all before. Yes, I am happy with it. And yes, my rent got a whole lot cheaper.
Social isolation? If anything, I am away from the apartment more than I should be. And I’ve had friends over, without embarassment.
Family or marital discord? Not as far as I know. Unless my EQ is a lot lower than I thought.
Financial difficulties? I’m ok. Unless Bitcoin drops, then I’m screwed.
Health hazards? I’m allergic to cats, dogs and sunflowers. But I’ve had cats, a dog, and brought my girlfriend a sunflower once, and lived to tell the tale.
Final Results: Negative. For now. Keep doing your thing, Bitcoin.
I do tend to have trouble getting rid of things that have memories attached to them.
I don’t like having to travel wearing clothes that are dirty.
I don’t have much style.
I bought way too much Bitcoin.
And my girlfriend eats all my Skinny Pop, even when I buy an extra bag for her!
But I think it’s most likely that I just let a lot of stuff pile up, and I needed the pressure of new people moving in to do a deep thorough cleaning. And my apartment had a ton of storage space to stuff things into when I was feeling lazy.
I don’t think I’m a hoarder, but I might need to do some more regular cleanings to keep on top of everything.
If you were wondering about your own hoarding tendencies as you read this, please feel free to reach out to me- share your stories of emotional possession attachment, sneaky snack-stealing significant others, or investments into volatile asset classes.