02/05/10 1:14pm

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.]