Comment of the Day: Living with a Hoard

COMMENT OF THE DAY: LIVING WITH A HOARD “. . . Children of hoarders are often very well dressed and high achievers – but they never invite friends over to their house because they are so ashamed. . . . My sister and I were honor-roll kids with impressive resumes. Yet we lived without heat or water for months at a time because my mom was too embarrassed by her hoard to call the repairman. We lived with 5-foot high stacks of moldy newspapers. But we were lucky – my mom never got so bad that she hoarded animals, or food waste. When she died, it took us 3 months to clean out the place. We found her missing diamond wedding ring in her old desk, among rotting rubber bands and rusty paper clips. The person with this apartment is obviously very ill. . . . Hoarding is notoriously tough to treat. Hoarders don’t respond to many of the drugs that are usually used to treat OCD. I wish that there WERE a magic pill I could pop to help me with my hoarding tendencies (for example, like a person with ADHD has problems focusing on schoolwork, I have problems categorizing objects and assigning them their actual value. That is why severe hoarders think that food wrappers and cigarette butts are somehow valuable and shouldn’t be thrown out). Riluzole, which is a medication used to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease, is one of the few medications that may show some promise. I just happened to find out about this because my mom died of Lou Gehrig’s. In the last months of her life while she was taking the Riluzole, she allowed us to throw away ten years of newspaper stacks without a whisper of protest, which stunned us. . . .” [Ruthie, commenting on Inside the Messiest Apartment in Houston. Ever.]

6 Comment

  • Ruthie,
    Thanks so much for sharing.
    There’s a broad continuum of all human traits/tendencies, and those at the extremes do suffer.

  • …We lived with 5-foot high stacks of moldy newspapers…

    A friend is a hoarder. Her children told me they grew up in mazes formed by the floor-to-ceiling boxes. When the houses filled up, she got warehouses. For the overflow. The amazing thing about her is she knew where everything was. Which box in which part of the warehouse.

    Delta Burke was a hoarder. Her husband finally had to force the issue. I guess he got tired of maneuvering in the maze.

    My friend’s children finally were forced to force the issue by circumstance and thought everything had been sold or disposed of. Then found their mother in a documentary on hoarding – the filmmaker just happened upon her and a friend at the mini-warehouse. One of many she had that her children didn’t know about. She at least has “downsized” from the 25,000 square foot warehouse she also lived in at one time while she renovated a 25,000 square foot home. Which was also filled with mazes as she began to move things in from the warehouse. Apparently she liked the home because of the square footage. Thinking it would all fit. Her collections as she called them. Some of which went to auction houses. Most of which went into dumpsters.

    My heart goes out to you, Ruthie, and want you to know you are not alone. Quite a few grew up with the stacks and the mazes.

  • Hoarding is actually an exaggerated outcropping of depression. Depression is the world’s most wide spread undiagnosed psychological disorder and is very treatable.

  • I have a close friend who has lived in a rent-controlled apartment in NYC for 30+ years. In all that time he has never allowed me to even come upstairs, and his landlord has attempted to have him evicted several times (allegedly so that she can rent the apt for about 10 times more than he currently pays). When we shared a house in college, he was, well, a bit casual about clutter, but now I fear it is totally out of control. Today he has cancer and, as a ward of the state of NY, he has been moved to a hospice. Because he is ill, state laws prohibits the “greedy” landlord from evicting him, but after his demise, my sympathies are with his sister, who lives in another state, who will be called upon to deal with what is likely an apartment that looks like the one pictured above.

  • Hoarding is actually an exaggerated outcropping of depression. Depression is the world’s most wide spread undiagnosed psychological disorder and is very treatable.


    It’s probably a combination of things – a little manic/depression tied into a little obsessive/compulsive disorder. I’ve known several “pack rats” who were “borderline” hoarders and on some level it gives them a sense of security in what they perceive to be an insecure world.

    Some just accumulate. Some acquire. The latter loved by merchants. They don’t buy one of something. They buy 100 of something. Or 1,000. You never know when there will be a big picnic and you will need all those plastic plates!

  • There are many reasons why people choose to hoard. It’s a sensitive issue and needs to be carefully handled if you have a family member who is a hoarder.

    Of late in the news, a lot of famous people have declared themselves as hoarders.