This is a copy of my very first post on the Children of Hoarders private yahoo group. I posted it on July 5th, 2006:
Hi, I am new to this site. I've known for the last few years that my Mom has this "hoarding" sickness. She's always had it, it was just a few years ago that my Dad heard a radio show describing the symptoms and we gave my Mom's mess a name. Anyways, about 3 years ago my Mom went out of town for a couple of months... Can you guess what we did while she was away? That's right, we cleaned! We removed over 60 large truckloads of stuff to the dump and goodwill. Keep in mind this is about a 1600 sq. ft home (not big). We found out what color the carpet was downstairs, my brothers at home were able to use the shower upstairs for the first time in their lives, all the cupboards, drawers, and doors were actually able to close,and we were even able to get into one of the forbidden rooms (had to break the lock) and climb over mountains of papers and old bills,ads, etc... We found skeletons of mice, moldy food and other gross things in every room. We organized what was left and this took forever, because knowing my Mom's issues and wanting to be thorough not random, we had to sort through EACH and EVERY item in the house before throwing it out. I foolishly thought that this way I would be able to assure my mother that nothing precious was lost!!!! For about a month, it was heaven at home... My brothers had friends over for the first time in their lives. We ate in the kitchen -together! We didn't have to hold our breath in the bathrooms. We even remodeled one bathroom and replaced all the carpet downstairs. Any and all repairs that had been waiting "for the house to be clean" so someone could come take a look, were taken care of. Then my Mom came home from her vacation. She seemed calm and happy at first, then about 2 weeks later she freaked! She called me everyday ranting about this or that thing which she was sure I had thrown out. Within a month it looked as if we had never cleaned. Now 3yrs later, the phone calls have slowed but the blame has never gone away. Until the day she dies, my Mother will blame the loss of every little thing on me (because it was my idea, I have all the blame, my siblings have even tried to tell her that they were there too - but she only blames me) My Dad actually thinks it's funny now and has managed to turn this to his advantage many a time something went missing he has said "Jamie must have thrown it out". This is even more funny considering that it was something bought or acquired AFTER the "purge"! Humor is our only defense against this disease or whatever it is and has gotten us this far. Well, enough rambling I hope you have gotten this far in the message because here's where I need a little advice. My Dad was over yesterday and said he is taking Mom away for a week. You see where I'm going with this? My sister and I plan on taking on the one room we never dared set foot,not even 3 yrs ago, the food storage room. There is food as old as I am (30) in there. We have never dared go there before because my Mom hoards food storage and emergency items (for the end of the world or some foretold catastrophic event) religiously. This is the BIG one for her, when the earthquake or whatever it is comes she will be ready! The only problem is, the food will probably kill her it is so old and bug/rodent infested. That's the main reason we are going in now, my Dad says there is a serious mice infestation going on down there and it needs to be taken care of. My mom's health is connected with the mess somehow and lately she hasn't been doing to well. This is why I'm a little worried about doing this, what could happen to her? Could she have a mental breakdown? She always wants me to "help" her clean, but on her terms - I always refuse because that's when she exhibits all her CRAZY symptoms and nothing ever actually gets cleaned, just moved to another place in the house. HELP!
Back to the present. Here's somthing of interest... my Mom still blames me for any and every little thing she cannot find, whether real or imagined.
I've gotten used to it.
What I haven't gotten used to is realizing my Mom is "different". I really try not to use the "crazy" word (it slips out when I get really heated though), I don't really feel comfortable using that word to describe mental illness anymore. And part of me worries that I might be "crazy" too. I mean I've watched my Mom gradually fall deeper into this condition, and I look around and see my messy office and wonder if, any 30 years, I won't end up just like that.
Then I remember that my Sister and I have a pact. If either one of us starts to exhibit symptoms of "hoarding", the other will intervene. My sister told me that her form of intervention will probably include burning my house down when I'm not home... NICE! But, also something I've dreamed about happening to my Mom's place.
I WOULD NEVER DO THAT, but hey a girl can dream.
Ummm, where was I? Oh yeah, I've got a whole little intervention plan worked out in the event that my Sis turns to the darkside. But, that's for another day...