Buried in Stuff

Genetics Exhibit, San Jose Tech

Your first thought of OCD is probably “neat freak” or something like that. What if it was the opposite end of the spectrum?

Buying my first home has got me thinking about clearing my space. Not just physical space, but “head space.” By nature, I’m a neat-freak-aholic; but even us minimalists accumulate clutter through a life-time of events, special memories and just “stuff” we never meant to throw away. With this in mind, one night I crashed on the couch after a long day of manual labor (sprucing up my fixer-upper-home). I clicked onto Netflix and the first thing I saw was the show ‘Hoarders.’ Of course I watched about half the season in one day. I never realized how much of a struggle hoarders experience: walling themselves out, avoidance, the list goes on.

Being sort of OCD myself, this show is starting to help me link my ‘clean OCD’ with someone else’s ‘messy OCD.’ Just because my living area is immaculate doesn’t meant that I’m also perfect. It means I have tendencies to make it so. The same is true with hoarding tendencies. Most of the time it’s an attachment to an object which triggers a memory; others it’s simply the habit of buying things to be prepared. In fact, the picture below mentions that 18-40% of people with OCD struggle with hoarding.

You probably know someone who is a collector of stuff or treasures; maybe they just don’t throw things away. It truly becomes hoarding when it prevents the person from functioning healthily. Regardless of the reason, hoarding is just as much a mental illness as any other. It takes intense treatment of the person to learn new coping skills and patterns.

Author: Sarah A. Miller, MA | Miller Counseling Services, PC

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