Friday, February 15, 2008

Online Support Groups -- Hoarding

There are great self-help resources on the Internet. The online Hoarding support group I belong to is a great example.

When I heard about this support group, I was intrigued.

I took the Rating Scale that I found on the Compulsive Hoarding Website. I scored high enough to meet the criteria, and that's considering how my wife tends to throw out lots of stuff fairly regularly.

So I sent an e-mail request for more information in August of 2006. I got an invitation to apply to the OC Foundation's flagship online self-help group, Hoarding-Cluttering at the end of February. (There is a limit of 103 active members, so I had to wait for a spot to open.) My application was accepted and approved on March 2, 2007, nearly one year ago.

Some of the items I was hoarding at the time included:
  • Broken or unneeded appliances, as well as their manuals and the boxes they came in.
  • Paper documents, particularly anything with financial or personal information.
  • My daughter's writings and drawings. The clothes, toys & books that she's out-grown.
  • Magazines.
  • Outdated books that I have no use for.
  • E-mail.
  • AOL CDs, even though I've no intention of joining.
  • Plastic bottles, such as 1 gallon jugs for water and cat litter.
  • Hazardous waste, such as motor oil, paint thinner, fluorescent bulbs, non-alkaline batteries. (I do bring them to the annual collection if they start to accumulate too much.)
What kind of progress have I made in a year? Well,
  • I still don't like to throw out broken appliances. But if my wife does, I no longer pull them out of the trash. I do get rid of the boxes, now.
  • I've decided to discard paid invoices that are more than a year old. Due to privacy concerns, I burn these along with the junk mail offers for credit and mortgage refinancing.
  • I now scan or take pictures of our daughter's artwork, and even some of her toys. I can then let go of the actual items a lot more easily. Still, my wife is the one that has to discard or donate the items. But I'm eager to get rid of certain old clothes -- the closets are full of the stuff!
  • I canceled most magazine subscriptions. I bring to work or recycle the ones I still get, even if I don't think I've read them fully.
  • I donated a few books and CDs to the library. I had more CDs slated to go, but my wife exhibited a rare bout of role reversal and removed them from the discard pile. She claimed that our daughter would use the CDs for dancing.
  • As for e-mail, I decided it wasn't worth wasting time over. Disk capacity is cheap and plentiful. It's not a problem for me if I have 831 unread messages (957 total) in my Inbox. I do have auto-archiving set.
  • I haven't been getting AOL CDs lately. I've used them all for coasters, except two that I hung next to the house to deter a woodpecker from knocking holes in our home's siding.
  • I gave many plastic bottles to someone who was designing and making his own robot costume.
  • I collect a lot less hazardous waste. I now use all water-based paint, even primer, so I don't need paint thinner. I no longer change my cars' oil by myself. So the occasional watch battery and flourescent light don't take up much room.
So I feel good about the progress I made. But I do have major challenges ahead in the basement, the garage, and both the home office and work office.


Anonymous said...

Well, congratulations on the progress you have made.

But I must admit I was really surprised to hear you say that you save broken appliances. Wow.

Again, it's nice to see all of the progress you have made. Do you feel like there's an actual reason why you hoard in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Hi CG:

I think there are reasons why I save things: 1. Mom did it; 2. I tend to feel that objects have emotions, and I don't want to make things unhappy by throwing them away.

Thanks for commenting!