Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Free to a good home

Hi, my name is Erin and I am a compulsive hoarder.

If you watch Oprah, you may have seen something about compulsive hoarding, since she has done a few shows about it. Compulsive hoarding is "a complex psychological disorder that can significantly disrupt a person's life. Hoarding occurs when a person acquires and saves possessions that have either little or no value (or have some perceived value), and the person then has great difficulty in discarding their possessions. This usually results in clutter." For more info, click here. The Seattle times also ran a good article on it awhile back.

When I started this post, I had no intention of talking about CHD (or OCHD, depending on who you ask). I was just going to offer up a cd player to anyone who wants it (I am still going to, you'll just have to wait for it). But I think it is important to talk about. You know those people you hear about who have every issue of a certain newspaper published since 1953? Or the people who have so much stuff in their houses that they have to sleep on a sofa on the front porch? They aren't crazy, they have CHD. Like any other mental illness, it sucks, and it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to deal with. And like most mental illnesses, it is generally very poorly understood by the general public. It has been amazing to me that almost every person I have ever mentioned this to has a brother/aunt/grandmother/parent/friend who sounds just like me. Most of those people don't know that there is a name for the problem, or that there are ways to deal with it, or that it isn't just laziness or messiness or lack of self-discipline. Most people who have a hoarder in their life wrestle with a mixture of embarrassment, frustration, and anger in dealing with that person. Speaking as a hoarder, I can say that we often feel the same way about ourselves.

I have been very fortunate that in recent years I have had people in my life who love rather than judge, and I have had the opportunity to work through a lot of the issues a the base of my CHD. Right now things are much better than they have been in years. There is a light at the end of this very long, very dark tunnel. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for this illness. Fortunately, there is hope.

Now for the original purpose of the post -- in my current attempts to purge some of my abundant stuff, I found a Sony 5 cd changer that needs to find a new home. I will probably just end up listing it on freecycle, but I thought I would offer it up here first to see if any of my friends in the 'burg are interested. If anyone wants it, give me a call.

And thanks for reading.


Candace said...

I'll take it!! I'll take it!! Seriously, I've been wanting a CD player but money's been tight so I figured it could wait. Can I have?? Can I can I?

heather said...

Erin - thanks so much for being really honest about this... I'm sure it's difficult for you to talk about it and I appreciate you sharing. Just remember that CHD doesn't DEFINE who you are. Like with any mental illness, it's difficult to disassociate feelings of the disease with actual, real feelings - but you can, and those CHD feelings do not define who you are. :)

You're a beautiful person - miss you!!

hey - i'll be in town the weekend of the 12...will you be around??

Holli said...

Very interesting post. I think I remember you talking about this before. I'm glad that you are still working through it, although I'm sure it's a constant battle. Keep up the good work! :)

Mast Family said...

Hey! I am the guilty party who mistreated Erin as her roomate in college. i was just too immature to admit that i was really frustrated with my mother who has CHD. i saw the Oprah special too and i learned alot about my mom's ways and my wrong ways of dealing with her so to Erin God bless you sweetheart you can get through this and i love you no matter what!

Katie Mae said...

It took a lot of courage for you to talk about that Erin, I'm proud of you! Thank you for providing those links, they are very educational for those not familiar with CHD. (((hug)))

Jess Honeyball said...

Hi Erin - I am actually making a documentary in England about OCHD and the different complexities involved. It would be such a pleasure to email you further about it. In the UK it is a little known illness, with only one hoarding support group in the whole of the country. The documentary we are making intends to raise awareness about this specific but little known symptom of OCD, gaining unique insights into the lives of people it affects. I would love the opportunity to email you further about the documentary, might there be a chance to speak to you confidentially about it? You can email me at I would love to hear from you Erin.
I think there needs to be a deepr understanding of compulsive hoarding, preventing it being becoming a taboo subject any longer. I think you're brilliant for publicising it the way you are, would love to hear from you.
- Jess H