ADD, clutter and "hoarding" stuff

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ADD, clutter and "hoarding" stuff 2010-05-26T17:13:30+00:00

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  • #88402
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    turbo
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    Post count: 89

    There is this show on A&E network called “hoarders” that profiles people who live in houses that are filled with clutter — sometimes right to the roof.

    Is this a “disorder” or problem that has a high incidence of occurence in people with ADD? Is it a common comorbidity?

    Being diagnosed with ADD myself, I see strong signs my 38 year old girlfriend is also affected by it. In addition- her apartment has grown steadily more cluttered and less tidy over the last 5 years or so. You have to step over stuff to get anywhere in her apartment, and I don’t think I’ve seen the floor in her bedroom since we first started seeing each other.

    I’m worried that, left unchecked, this problem will spiral out of control.

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    #94162
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    Anonymous
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    There is a disorder but it really stands out. Maybe there’s some comorbidity but for most of us it’s just our typical difficulty in focusing on mundane chores. If it took five years to fill up an apartment I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

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    #94163
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    Anonymous
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    Hoarding tends to be associated with obsessive-compulsive behaviour, instead of ADHD. Hoarding also is usually when the hoarder has an inability to part with objects – one person I know has all five of her children’s artwork still packed up “somewhere” as she put in it, in her shambles of her house. I should add that her children are now in their 40’s and 50’s. There is a meaning or value to the objects for the hoarder that others would find meaningless or of little value. As with many conditions, it’s on a spectrum from a simply a bad clutter that with some effort can be cleaned up, all the way up to a household that is a threat to life, health, and safety. My acquaintance is the latter, sadly, and refuses to get help.

    Up until diagnosis with ADHD I had a confused and cluttered mess of a house too, but having read up on the benefits, and some would say necessity, of decluttering for ADHD people, I did it. Home is a much happier place for me now because it no longer overwhelms me. I don’t live in a spic and span place, but I can now have friends over with 1 or 2 hours notice, instead of 1 to 2 days, or weeks.

    By the way, the show “Hoarders” on A&E strikes me as the most exploitative and disgusting show ever on TV. My acquaintance lives in fear and shame of being found out by other people, and to have that broadcast to all of North America is just beyond the pale. People’s misery as entertainment. From what I understand, the approach used in the show doesn’t work anyway – it just treats the symptoms but does little in terms of long term, systematic change in behaviour of these people.

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    #94164
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    ADDled
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    Hoarding may be a by-product of the lack of executive functioning skills that regulate control and behaviour. This is also common for folks with ADD. We’re so “in the moment” we cannot think of the consequences of accumulating stuff, like, where to put it all. And when we do get new stuff, what happens to the old stuff? The “bright, shiny object” thing in practice, I guess.

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    #94165
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    Anonymous
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    Your girlfriend just might not know what to do with this mess now that she has it. I’ve been in that state and I can tell you that there is no way I would have been able to dig myself out of it alone. I’d just stare at it and not have a clue as to what to do about it. I’d make a stab at it but most times I could be there for six hours and there wouldn’t seem to be a change so I’d give up and it would take me days or weeks to get my hopes up enough to even try again. I usually need to call family or close friends in to give me a hand. It’s mortifying but worth it.

    It could be that your girlfriend needs help with that floordrobe of hers. Also, it sounds like the poor girl needs FlyLady, or something similar. One of the things that I do like about FlyLady is her de-cluttering methods. Do things like set out three boxes when you are cleaning together; one for Keeping, one for Throwing Away, and one for Giving Away to either friends or charity.

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    #94166
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    nellie
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    I think in part the difference between hoarding and just having lots of stuff that’s totally disorganized with ADD is that the hoarders often go looking for more stuff. Whether the accumulation is via garbage picking, going to yard sales, shopping or whatever, it seems to be deliberate and purposeful accumulation even when they know there is too much. There is also an odd justification process that goes with this as to why to keep it.

    As a person with ADD I can get rid of things, just find it overwhelming to deal with large volumes of stuff. My basement and garage are pretty bad but no rotting pumpkins thank goodness!

    I’ve seen that show and while it does seem exploitative in one sense, and I think the people are at their wits end & are just desperate to get help any way the can. It would be interesting to know what happens to them a year after the show airs. BTW it is also available online with some behind the scenes footage.

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    #94167
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    Monika
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    Turbo,

    You can share this website with her (thanks JayBird for also recommending it) , http://www.flylady.net but understand that the clutter may not bother her as it bothers you which leaves you with exactly three choices:

    1) Ignore it, it’s her stuff and you cannot get rid of it for her.

    2) Get her permission to move or store it but then You’d have to do it and NOT resent her for not or being incapable of doing it

    3) Find a neater girlfriend

    The CLEAN HOUSE tv shows that do all the work for people are not as helpful as people doing it for themselves. But looking at the whole picture (of a messy home or room) is overwhelming, petrifying and intimidating thus nothing happens. If your girlfriend is bothered by the clutter like you are and wishes to use small babysteps to improve her circumstances then http://www.flylady.net will help. If she isn’t, well, see above the 3 choices.

    Best wishes,

    M

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    #94168
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    Monika
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    #94169
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    turbo
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    Thank you everyone for your advice and thoughts.

    I checked out the Flylady WEBsite, and listened to the piece referred above and think it will be helpful not only for her, but also for myself. I too deal with clutter, albeit to a much lesser degree than she does.

    NOW- this might be more a question for the ladies out there- but do you have any thoughts on how to suggest this resource to her or even open the conversation about it with her? She can be very “difficult” at times, although this may be as much a problem with my approach as it is her being “difficult”.

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    #94170
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    Well one way to do it would be to test pilot the program yourself. You can say it was recommended to you to help you keep your own apartment tidy and if it turns out that you like it as much as we do then you can bring it up to her and tell her how much it’s helping you. You can then suggest it to her then because if it helped you then it can certainly help her. This is what my Mom did. She tried it out and then she sold it to me as a strategy for dealing with my own clutter. We laughed together at the emails and danced around to some of the sillier songs on the CD.

    Another option would be to say that it was recommended it to you and that you want to try it out. Say to your girlfriend that you should both take it for a test run at both of your apartments. Suggest it as a way for her to support you, you are doing this together. Or even as a way to support each other when you’re first starting out. It’s kind of like exercising together, except you are exercising your organization muscles.

    I think the key is to keep it as positive as possible. You don’t want to make it seem like you are implying this as a way to fix a problem you think she has. If she thinks you are criticising her, then she might dig in her heels and not want to do it. Make it a project for both of you and focus on just keeping it fun!

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    #94171
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    Anonymous
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    I can’t part with anything. I have every parking ticket, every boarding pass stub, every tiny bar of soap, broken beaded bracelets from childhood, Hell i even have a pink one-zie snow suit from when I was a toddler (my mom is selling her house and I had to take all my junk).

    I live in a bachelor apartment. I have 2 drawers full of t-shirts with funny sayings on them, not to mention all of the other clothes ( I am a 26 year old female, after all). I have every loan agreement, every birthday card, anything anyone ever gave me or left in my home.

    People call me a pack rat, a hoarder, they tell me to throw things away and I just kinda pretend to or just say that I did. If someone is moving I offer to help just so I can say “you’re gonna throw that out? I’ll take it”. It’s come to the point where I am proud of my collection of junk. I peruse the free section of craigslist several times a day.

    Is this threat suggesting that this is an ADD related “ism”? I live in organized chaos. My home is harmoniously … Aw who am I kidding? Anyone have any advice on how I can talk myself into parting with all this crap? I know that de-cluttering my home will improve my life drastically, I just need help with the first step.

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    #94172
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    Monika
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    @ SighKoh,

    The three rules of deciding whether to keep something or give away or throw it away can be answered in three questions (aka The FlyLady) :

    1. Do I use it?

    2. Do I have a place for it?

    3. Do I love it?

    It’s hard at first but then as you and your home are able to “breathe” it does get easier. Start small to avoid the crash and burn mentality. I am thinking that a garbage bag may be the ideal home for the parking tickets and stubs.

    If you do not plan on SighKoh junior wearing the pink one-zie snow suit then take a photo of it and bless someone else with it.

    @turbo Jaybird has some great advice the most important rule is you cannot MAKE someone follow FlyLady, it only causes resentment. Try it for yourself, if she wants to change she will follow your example, if she doesn’t there is alway #3 or you can both just stay at your, newly decluttered, home. Remember to only take small steps at a time and please keep us posted.

    If you want to listen/do to a great step by step way to see a big improvement in your home in only an hour you can follow the crisis cleaning 101 podcast found here:

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/flylady-tools/2008/04/04/crisis-cleaning

    Best wishes,

    M

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    #94173
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    ADDled
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    Post count: 121

    “The things you own end up owning you.”

    – Fight Club

    This is in the preface of the Peter Walsh book, It’s All To Much.

    Peter was on the TLC show Clean Sweep, and he was the “psychological heavy” that would explain to the homeowners why their house is in such a state. Then Peter would provide guidance to prevent cluttering from happening again. Meanwhile, the rest of the team is beavering away helping the homeowners de-clutter. Everything would get tossed in the yard into one of three piles: Keep, Toss, or Yard Sale. This catagorization was done at lightning speed so there is seldom a chance to second guess, or rationalize, in keeping something.

    Peter has a very low key approach and is interesting to watch how he works. His Australian accent and demeanor reminds me of a photography instructor I once had in a previous life,

    This is his website:

    Home

    He has many good ideas.

    Another book worth looking into is ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life, by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau. This book has a lot of good ideas also.

    Hope this helps and good luck.

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    #94174
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    Saffron
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    Post count: 140

    An emphatic suggestion right off the bat: Listen to music that you really like (preferably upbeat music and preferably on headphones) while cleaning/organizing. I’m telling you, once you get a lock on the momentum this can give you, it’s basically a hyperfocus-mode in motion. I don’t even try to clean without music now.

    Like most of us, I have a frenetic schedule and wildly fluctuating energies. So when time arises that I could use for cleaning or organizing, I won’t do so because I pretty much always feel a desperate need to zone out for a while. But when I was booked for surgery a month ago, I realized I would *never* be able to recover properly in a cluttered house, surrounded by things that need doing!

    I ended up booking an extra week off work *before* surgery to get my house in order. That way, the kids would be in school and I could listen to music and get/stay in the zone. I loaded a long string of upbeat songs to my MP3 player to be used for housework only. I decided I would do one room per day, assigned a room to each day and then limited myself to the borders of that room. Whatever was left at the end of the day got packed up in a box, with all content written on the box, so as not to spoil the new open space. Damn, but it worked! It worked, it worked!:D

    Also: I have “ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life” by Judith Kolberg and Kathleen Nadeau, and it has helped me immensely. There was just something about that book… I keep it handy and still refer to it. It has a *very* ADD-friendly, visually oriented format. It’s written in an empathetic way that never makes you feel scolded or inadequate if you don’t live up to its recommendations. (You actually keep reading because you get the feeling someone “gets” you, but in a good way!)

    Then you find yourself trying the first approach that appeals to you, because the solutions presented are so concrete, doable-sounding and bite-sized, and are often rather fun-sounding (e.g., colour-coding your stuff — that proposal attracted me to the task and engaged my creativity. I ended up organizing everything else on the same surface right afterward because I was motivated to admire/display my handiwork).

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    #94175
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    Anonymous
    Post count: 14412

    Thanks for the advice. I love everything in a creepy sort of rainbows and happiness sort of way, I can justify keeping anything and everything. It’s not that I have any problems cleaning. Quite the opposite, in fact. I have places for everything, it’s all tucked away neatly.

    But- it’s still there. I am having troubles with the emotional attachment… and things such as the shoe box half full of pens that don’t work but still have ink in them so they might work again someday how could I possibly throw them out! It’s not that its not organized, neat, tidy, and colour coded, it’s that its there at all.

    I also highly recommend cranking some good tunes and getting your dance on while cleaning; however, some with ADHD tend to get (gasp) distracted and completely forget that they are having a cleaning party and not a dance party :)

    PS “The things you own end up owning you” -The first thing that came to mind was my cat :)

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