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Finally Talking About The Family Secret!

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To the right you will find a listing of blogs by sons and daughters of compulsive hoarders, and additional related items.

Would you like your blog listed here? Please post it as a comment below, or write us.

(While reading the comments, please be sure to scroll through the pages as there are a few now.)

Permanent link to this article: http://childrenofhoarders.com/wordpress/?page_id=2817

    • Pamcruit

      I am 59 and my mother is a hoarder. I have a younger brother and sister.While we were growing up I believed that Mom was just a poor housekeeper. She worked outside the home and my siblings,  as well as our Dad , would often be the ones who cleaned. I was always ashamed to bring my friends to our home. I was ashamed of myself for being ashamed. 

      My mom’s living condition has become so appalling to me that I have not actually visited her home more than once in the last two years. My brother 
      has visited less than I have. Our sister who is the youngest lives the closest and takes on the responsibility of looking in on her and trying to implement a plan to ” clean up and throw out”. I know that this is a terrible
      burden on my sister and I feel so guilty for that also.

      We have not had a family celebration or gathering in Mom’s home for 20 years. I was in the town where Mom lives yesterday for an event. I did not visit her . When she found out that I had not come to see her,  she expressed hurt and confusion to my sister, insinuating that I did not care about her. Sometimes I want to come clean with Mom about my true feelings but I am afraid it will only make things worse, especially for my sister because she has to bare the consequences. 

      My siblings and I have resigned ourselves to the inevitable realization that we are going to have a huge ordeal to clean up when Mom passes away.
      To think like that about the beautiful loving woman who gave birth to me,
      seems so selfish and disrespectful. 

      I am so grateful that I found this blog.

      • Lglea

        I am 50 and my mother is a hoarder.  I didn’t want to believe it for a long time  Just the thought of it would make me won’t to cry but recently I had to make a hard choice which lead my mom not ever talking to me again.  Maybe there is hope because now I don’t need to go to her house and try to look the other way or start cleaning.  Sad very sad because some day she want be around then I won’t be able to talk to her and left with the house to clean.  I don’t know or how or when my mom became a hoarder, I do remember one time my mom and I visiting my Great Aunt who was a hoarder; mom whisper in my ear, “If she ever go that bad I should commit her.”  I haven’t commit her.  I choose to ignore it.  I too remember growing up with a dirty house but I believed it was because of a working mom, working dad and dirty children.  I wondered how my friends’ parents could keep their houses so clean and beautiful.   Our family is very  complicated which leads more stress with my mom.  It is hard to explain to friends and other family members.    

        I too feel guilty, frustrated and scared that I might become a hoarder or one my children or grandchildren.

        Thank you for having this place to open up.  I though I was crazy.

        • Lglea

          Sorry for the typos….  I was crying

          • Ling

            I feel your pain. Just had a showdown with my mum yet again, which leaves me in tears and herself in steams of anger. I do not live with her anymore and that hurts me. Yet, I am no Angel myself and feel tired and fearful whenever I pick after my own clutter. It is that mentality of being brought up with ‘this could be useful in the near future’ that makes my own private life quite unmanageable and am trying hard to kick that thought away. . .

            • windowclark

              Maybe if you said to yourself—I won’t keep this UNLESS I can PROVE to myself HOW I can ABSOLUTELY use this in the near future. SO PICTURE yourself and how you will be using THAT ITEM in the future. If you can’t see yourself using it—toss it–or donate it or sell it. THIS IS EXACTLY HOW PREVENT MYself from HOARDING..IT WORKS EVERY TIME.

        • Savannagh Ryane

          Not crazy. Hoarders are apparently very intelligent people. Its a brain disease like OCD. That however does not make any of your story less painful. Its not your fault. You cannot clean up because they won’t let you. It is unlikely you would be able to commit her, because even though we think its crazy, the police don’t. You could have the city or government where she lives come in and order her to clean up. It’s a pity its put a wedge between the two of you, but what can you do? Why would you want to spend any time there? My Dad was a terrible hoarder and HE didn’t think a thing was wrong. We were asked to leave, which we did without him, once the piles were gone, the amount of mouse poop was staggering! When the heavy furniture was removed, even more! My other family gave up visiting and who could blame them. Now we are hoarder free and my Dad lives with his cousin who checks his pockets at the door.

      • Lisa…Distanced by the hoard

        Hi Pam, I know your post is old but I just wanted to see how it’s going now. You see… I just joined this site out of great despair. My elderly mom is a hoarder. I too stayed away for a long time! I only called her on the phone. She was recently hospitalized and put in a nursing home. She wanted to come home so bad. So I went to her mobile home, put all of her stuff, (or crap as I like to call it) outside on her carport. I then proceeded to sterilize her home. She is now home in her sparkling clean home and guess what…..She wants to keep all of the stuff and bring it back into her trailer. I GIVE UP!!! My 2 brothers and I will prolly have to go in and clean it all up after she dies. I often worry that her death will be caused by a fall from all that crap. There is nothing I can do.

        • Kennedy

          Hi, I am glad to find this site where we can come and talk. I have a mom who hoards stuff. She has even packed up the brick house and the floor has collapsed from all the weight of the stuff! She has since moved onto different places. Places that she rents, therefore they come in to inspect. She has failed inspections and has been evicted from two apartments. I know she will soon be removed from the apartment she is in now. I am now having to deal with getting the brick home repaired, if it can be! As this home is my inheritance, it makes me sick every time I go up there. AHHH

      • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

        Don’t feel guilty hun I understand exactly how you feel. My young little girls can’t have the relationship they should with their grandmother because of her hoarding and it’s hard not to feel resentful. I grew up hiding friends and boyfriends from the house, as did my brothers and sister, although as a small child it was fine, it all began when I was about 8. At times I do lose it and you’re right, it doesn’t help the situation but I get exactly how you feel. My mum used to be such an open minded non judgemental happy positive person full of laughter, but now is full of negativity and bitterness and lives in total denial. It’s so hard not to lose your rag and I can’t see the problem ever being tackled in this lifetime and trust me I have tried every approach going. I have been patient an poured time and love and energy into trying to help, allowed myself to be painted the bad person, the ‘interferer’ the one ‘who thinks I am superior’ …been made to feel full of shame and guilt. Sometimes you think enough is enough, but I still continue to be there for her as much as I can, although it drags me down. Thanks for sharing your experience, you’re not alone! Xx

        • Heather

          Thank you for sharing. I’m 31 and have been dealing with my mom’s hoarding my whole life. You have articulated exactly how I feel, it’s so hard to not give up on her when my brother and sister already have. I’m so angry and bitter after dealing with it for so long and it only gets worse as her health deteriorates. Now the only utility on is electric because of water leaks and a broken furnace. She uses the water at my house and I loan her a car. Her habits have forever changed my life in so many ways I feel lost sometimes, if it weren’t for my Dad seeing what it does to me and helping me (they are divorced 20 years) I would be screwed. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t have enough courage to deal with something so complicarted, they tell me to just stop helping her? Who does that to thier own parent? She talks badly about me all the time (less now that ever thanks to my dad sticking up for me) but I can’t let her die like this I just can’t. It has strained our relationship so much it has changed the way we interact and I hate it.
          When the hoarding started to snowball my siblings and I protested and she said it was to keep people away. I heard “I will clean up the living room by Christmas so we can put up a tree” so many times I finally just accepted that it was not going to happen.
          She hates the way she lives now and hearing her sob breaks my heart because wishing and doing are 2 separate things. It will take more than 6 months to clean and repair the house even with her cooperation. I’ve attempted the cleanup several times just to watch her reverse the results tenfold I just can’t use my PTO fior it anymore because I neglect myself and get depressed. If God wasn’t with me I would surely give up.

      • Holly

        We’ve just come clean with our mother as to how we feel..the elephants been named! It’s good to face the fear. & let it go, love Holly x

    • VirginiaMarie

      I have so many issues with the hoarder personality. I want to help them, yet I am the ultimate enemy. How can it be that these possessions (really, it’s gotten to garbage; old mail, bottles, expired food, etc.) hold more importance than the people who help you, or care about you in your life? I am 35 and I have a hoarder for a mother.
      It’s interesting how I grew up not having a name for what it was. I lived in NYC and so many people had cluttered apartments. It made it almost reasonable. I took light of the situation; if a friend slept over and a cockroach crawled across their face…well…depending on the person, I would either not tell them, or it would be an interesting story for the “crew”.
      Now, I am not a teenager. I am someone who grew up not knowing differently. I am someone who is trying to help and protect a parent who thinks that “it’s just got out of hand the last year or two, I’m so sick.” If she is sick, it is because of the house. I clean…she destroys it in a single day. I mean, she literally undoes everything I actually accomplished.
      What do you do? I could do what everyone has told me to do and let her fend for herself… but I know she can’t survive. What is the hoarder disease? She doesn’t have dementia yet. However, she is the most irrational person I have ever met. Did I even mention how she actively throws all things out that I hold personally dear to me, yet she wont get rid of the 50 odd bottles that she stashes in the cabinets. It is almost like a possession. She destroys all the relationships around her, yet continuously plays the victim. She calls me names and says I dont help. The reality is, I have worked multiple jobs just to maintain the extremely expensive houses (storage units) we have.
      I will help her. I just wanted to vent. We know she will be sick till the end of her days. It makes me so sad.

  • Jessica Mcfadden

    It is amzing to find a resource for children of hoarders.  My mom has been an extreme hoarder since the death of my sister 15 years ago.  The guilt and shame associated with hoarding is sometime unbearable, I have helped my mom clean out portions of her house only to come over two weeks later and it be filled up again.  The same a child of a hoarder carries is heavy, I work for a mental heatlh community center, you would  think that if anyone could be honest with their co-workers it would be me.  The stigma and misunderstanding of hoarding is widespread.  As a child of a hoarder I spent all my time at my friend’s houses, I know that their parents had to of wondered why their kids were never at my house, maybe they knew, maybe they were to scared to talk about it.  I want to thank each of you truly being an honest voice.

    • Leesa

      I’m angry as well. I offer help to my mother, but she insists on doing it herself. It won’t get done. I’m pretty sure she has no water and the a/c doesn’t work, and we’re in Texas. She may die there and I’ll be left to clean it up. I see my mom in different ways each week on Hoarders. My relationship with my mother suffers and so does my daughters relationship with their grandmother. If I bring it up to her she gets mad, if I have the guts to call Adult Protective Services she would get mad. 

      And I’m afraid of what people think. I’m afraid that they think I haven’t tried to do enough. What more can I do? 

      • Jschwig

        I was in a similar situation. Last yr my mother died an I was left to clean out her house. 3months later I was done an able to sell it. Only a few people were invited to help cause at 54 I was embarresed to let anyone see how she lived. We all had to wear masks while in the house.  It is amazing to find that I and you are no alone.  My mothers Real hoarding began when I moved out at 18. She just filled it up.  I will always think that the dirt and dust is was really killed her.  My son rarely ever saw his grandmother except on holidays when see came to my house.  This whole hoarding causes me to be a “neat freak”.  If I see something out of place I either throw it out or put it away.  Car keys thrown on a counter, toothpaste not put away grind at my nerves.  You are not alone, remember that you did/do the best you can but sometimes those we love just don’t see things the way we do and we don’t see things their way.  Be strong.
        jan s.

        • Mizznovar

          Thank you for sharing.

        • Staceyt68

          When I was a kid there was not a name for the way my father lived.  He just saw all the stuff everyone tossed out and he could fix it!  you could not walk into the 3 car garge or even sit in his car they were stuffed full!  and we use to joke about it.  Now my mother is left to live with it, my father passed on 4 years ago.  After I come home from her house I “Clean out mine” not like I realy have anything to tosss out.    I never understood why I am so obsessed with having the house cleaned and organized.  Even when I have the mail pile up for a couple of days it drives me crazy.  My husband and kids say I have OCD but there is no way in the world will I EVER live like that again.  Just watching the Hording shows on TV will put me into a clean/orgainzing frenzy.  My husband has forbided me from watching them, HA!  

          • Anonymous

            Watching the Hoarders is inspirational and drives me to clean as well. There’s nothing wrong with a clean and beautiful home…

            • Anonymous

              “Behind the Door” is a great blog to help change attitudes and get organized!

              • VirginiaMarie

                That would be a great recommendation if you were not dealing with hoarders. It’s so much deeper than “change attitudes and get organized.” You can get inspired and help my parent, be my guest…though you might need a tranquilizer dart. Oh! and you will probably charge money. the most counterproductive thing when you are dealing with hoarders.

            • Anonymous

              “Behind the Door” is a great blog to help change attitudes and get organized!

          • Amanda d

            I have a VERY similar situation with my dad, and I live the same way. I can’t watch the hoarding shows because its too hard to know my mom still has to live with all of that, and it just breaks my heart. Is your mom able to clean up, or has she taken on hoarding qualities as well?

        • Nnaaliez

          Thank you for sharing. My mother died when I was 27 and I was left with the same……..having to mourn and clean up an entire house filled with garbage (4 large dumpsters)! I am now 34 and am still angry and trying to work through it. I also get extremely aggravated by disorder in my home…..when the toothpaste is left where it is not supposed to be, i freak out. The whole situation feels like an illness. I never really knew that hoarding affected the kids of hoarders in the same way as it has affected me. Thanks for letting me know that these tendencies ARE the result of having a parental hoarder. 

          • Hoarderschild

            Be glad you were “freed” at 27 rather then 45 – hoarders suck the life out of the people around them.

            • Anonymous

              Yeah, suck the life out of cleaning, sorting and throwing out someone else’s crap!

          • Anonymous

            3 large dumpsters is equivalent to about one foot deep across an entire football field.

        • Simon Birch

          I have gone the neat freak way as well ~ my house looks like a magazine shoot for Better Homes & Garden, I don’t like to have anything out of place unless being used… I make sure not to over do that as well though

      • Teri

        My heart go out to you but you got to get your Mother some help.I live alone and I tell friend and family that if you don’t see or talk to  me in two days break down the door.I m not a hoarder but had a friend that was the only time I went in his house was after he was dead.If she had a drug problem would you seek help for her this is the same thing good luck. 

      • Kim

        I am so glad I found this blog.  My mother is a hoarder and has been for over 20 years.  I also believe it started when I moved out, then got worse when her mother (my grandmother) got sick with Alzheimers and has since passed away.  I’m an only child so I’m dealing with this on my own.  About 12 years ago I was rudely awakened to how bad it was.  But when I tried to help, I was told I was invading her privacy.

        Well, my mom got pneumonia and is now on O2 and staying with my aunt.  She wants to move home.  I told her that I would help her move the equipment to her house.  She said that the company would do that.  I told her that if her house was still in such a mess that the company would turn her in and she would not be allowed to go home.  She has finally accepted my offer to help.  I went down there today and worked for 6 hours and feel I barely made a dent.  But, at least she is FINALLY willing to accept some help.  It’s going to be a long and hard road.  I’m excited to find this place that i can now vent to.  I hope to get the house “acceptable” and safe – and perhaps eventually clutter free.  One step at a time.  Lets just go for “not AS nasty” … mouse droppings, rotten food, etc.  Today was day one. 

        • abcd

          It is really comforting to know that many of us have been/are in your shoes.  My “Day one” was last summer.  Many days past until I noticed that I put a dent in it.  200+ trash bags, and many trips to the dump, later the house was finally trash free.  The next leg of the marathon was getting the house back to “normal”.  It had to be gutted.  $40k later we’re almost done and ready to sell the house.

        • cupqueen

          Hi everyone, its comforting to know that others exist out there in the world that understand what living with a hoarder is like. Both of my parents are hoarders and have always been as far as I can tell. They have a trailer, an oversized barn, and a two story home filled. There is broken farm machinery all over the property as well. My mom hoards plants and animals as well. We once had over 150 farm animals that they would not care for properly. Because they were not cared for they were constantly dying. Disease, starvation, predators you name it. They would hoard the dead animals too, leaving the carcass out so they could bury it later instead doing it right away, and over winter the bodies would be everywhere. The cats and dogs in the house use the basement and under tables as a potty. Because of this trauma I exhibit signs of hoarding which I try to keep in check and have minmal contact with my parents because I can’t explain to them what they did was not ok. I am past the point of wanting to help them and keep a good relationship. I have no relationship with any of my extended family because of my parents severe isolation from society. I have no friends from the first 20 years of my life that I keep in contact with or trust. My parents have both suffered life threatening heart conditions in the past 5 years which I cared for them thru almost completely on my own but they never mention it. They fight constantly and my mom’s explosive anger is what drove me out of the house. My mother was physically, environmentally, and emotionally abused by a sociopath mother. My dad was neglected and emotionally abused by his father who was a certifiable paranoid schizophrenic. They have no concept of what they have done and are continuing to do as being wrong. I could forgive them if it didn’t include animals but it does so I don’t.

        • Forwarded comment by an anonymous reader:

          It is really comforting to know that many of us have been/are in your shoes. My “Day one” was last summer. Many days past until I noticed that I put a dent in it. 200+ trash bags, and many trips to the dump, later the house was finally trash free. The next leg of the marathon was getting the house back to “normal”. It had to be gutted. $40k later we’re almost done and ready to sell the house.

      • Barbara

               My mom is 72. The more I bring up any part of the situation…she gets angry, won’t contact me or answer my calls. She has gone from the house, to a car , to a truck, now an suv, all in her driveway, all cluttered,piles, inside and out  , she runs a cord to run a fan in the car window or plug in an electric blanket.A cat and the litter box are in there as well …this is where she lives and this is what she drives.I could go on and on. People who live near her expect me to do something. What? I have cleaned and picked up all my life. I have let what they think bother me, i tried to explain. I cannot keep worrying, it’s wearing me out…but yet here i am, it’s always on my mind. I just heard about this website while watching MSNBC, just started reading, and just had to reply . Your ‘what more can i do?’ caught me, how I feel.

    • Nytalkshowpro

      We would like to try and help you and hear your story.  We are doing a show on Children of Hoarders and would like to speak with you.  Please contact me at 212-419-7429 or email me at nytalkshowpro@gmail.com.

    • alena

      I too spent many nights at my one best friends house, and when she asked why I never let her over I slowly grew apart from my only close friend 🙁

      • uncommonsense2010

        I know your post is a year old, but I just found it. Now I feel like I’ve owed you a hug for over a year.

    • Charleegirl

      I also work in mental health and I’m amazed at the reaction when I confess my mother is a hoarder. It’s as if she had horns! My mother is a human being. Yes, she has a serious illness. We must find compassion for this horrible sickness and find ways to heal.

  • Talkshowbookings

    My name is Christine Walsh, and I am a TV talk show booking
    producer. Right now, I am working on an episode regarding hoarding. It is an
    addiction that is rarely discussed, and I would love to bring attention to it.


    I am writing you to see if you would be interested in being
    part of the show.  We would love to
    find someone who is currently suffering, and provide them with the help they
    need to get better. Your involvement would include a free, all expenses paid
    trip to NYC (transportation, hotel, food, etc) as well as therapy sessions or a
    treatment program. We would cover the cost for everything.


    If you are interested in learning more about this
    opportunity, I strongly encourage you to submit. I would love to hear your
    story, and tell you a few more details about the show. When submitting please
    include a brief bio of your situation, as well as the best number to reach you
    at. I have also included my phone number. Please feel free to contact me
    directly by phone if you prefer.


    I look forward to the possibility of having you on the show,
    providing you help, and bringing more attention to this type of addiction.




    Christine Walsh



  • Erisim0217

    My mom has always had hoarder tendancies but since the death of my step dad about 15 yrs ago it’s got completely out of control.  I’ve fought w/ her so many times and instead of feeling “sorry” or bad about the traumatic event that opened up the flood gates I am filled w/ over whelming thoughts of resentment, anger, embarassment and almost hate toward her for being so selfish.  I live 5 hrs from her and have not been inside the house since my dad’s funeral in Jan 96.  At that time the cat waste and fly investation was so bad I lasted a day before I was at the Dr thinking I had a pnemounia when I had a severe allergic reation.  (I have never had one of these and had pets all my life)  At that time she had over 100 cats w/ some in cages but most running loose and so much waste stuck to the carpet, floor, everywhere that I don’t see how she was able to breath.  Since then she switched from cats to rabbits, to gueany pigs, to hedge hogs and the present chin-chillas.  I’m unsure if there is running water in the house but I know she said that there was a problem w/ sewage line and it would back up into the basement.  She has no cable, no heat, no phone (although she does now have a cell phone) and I recently found out no electricity.  She’s been turned into the Police, health dept, animal control and the mailman will not deliver as the condition of the porch he has to enter are so bad he’s afraid of falling thru and there was mention of maggots and flies.  She carries that smell and it’s so bad I’ve heard people say “What is that smell?”  She’ll tell me she doesn’t want repairmen in the house because they are ex-cons when in actuality it’s because of the state of the place.  She refuses to get out saying she is just not fond of apartment living as that’s all she can afford.  Recently she was fired from her job and now spends her days at thrift stores bringing more junk home….We’ve fought about this and she turns it into “God forbid I die and have to inconvenience you or embarrass you when they find me.”  I’ve quit speaking to her for years because I’m simply not going to worry about her and then made to feel bad that I refuse to accept her filthy, unhealthy living conditions as normal.  I’ve toyed w/ the idea of calling the health dept myself but I know I would NEVER be forgiven.  There are many issues between her and I and she is a horible Grandparent to both me and my sisters kids and that has been at the root of many of arguements.  She will find gas money, time and whatever it takes if she is driving over to deliver an animal and if it fits in her schedule she may meet us at a Dennys or stop at my house.  This has been so infrequently that none of her 5 grandkids would even know her if she past them on the street and vice-versa.  These kids are all now in their 20s.  Recently after me not speaking to her for about 4 yrs she started calling and sending cards etc…I let that go on for 6 months before speaking to her and even tho she calls, texts me several times a day, she pretending like nothing has happened and she’s just a “normal” person.  My sister’s eldest daughter is getting married in Sept and now she’s trying to play Grandma, (and she’s maybe seen these girl 3 times in their life) that they really don’t want her there and talk about how weird and gross she is…It’s not right of them, but she has never done anything to warrent respect and she is not a NICE lady that happens to live in filth…she can be a very nasty person.  At this point I’m not sure what to do.  I heard a gasp last time I said I hadn’t seen my mom in 4 yrs and one of the older woman told me I should be ashamed….If she only knew just how right she was….I’m teetering between feeling guilty that our relationship is so awful and the feelings of almost hatered I have toward her for being so selfish….how do you cope?????????

    • guest

      I feel for you so much.  I am not connected to hoarding in any way other than I watch the show and find it amazing, astonishing and horrible.  It is easy to see how very difficult it is on children of hoarders just the same as with an addict family member.  I am very interested in psychology and see that it is truly a mental illness  They suffer from a deep trauma that causes them to be this way and they cannot help it unless they somehow agree to or end up getting intensive therapy and even still it is hard to “control or cure.”  I can’t imagine being a child of a hoarder.  Easier said than done, but your mom is mentally ill, you are not a terrible child for not associating with her.  You have the right to live a “normal” life and enjoy your life though this is still a sad part of your life that will always be in the background, but it is not your fault!!  Save yourself and your children and do your best to make and keep your life as nice and happy as possible without her in it.  Again, I know it’s easier said than done.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not that close to my daughter, but we both agree it’s healthier to be apart. Different lifestyles can cause a lot of discomfort.

    • Jensenc651

      I have a mother much like yours.  At first I wanted to put distance between my parents and myself because as the oldest I was the one that was supposed to keep it hidden by my father.  My Dad wanted me to stay at home and ‘help’.   When he became ill and could not walk around I called protective services and went to court for conservator ship just to be able to get him out of there.  We tried to clean it up just to be able to get Dad back home but my mother and brother(he lives with her and hoards also)  called the police then we all went back to court.  Dad died two years later, in the nursing home never being able to get back home.  The conservator did clean it up later but it is right back to where it was before.  
      We get together as a family at a restaurant on holidays but her grandchildren almost never see her.  I try to get her out of that house once in a while as she suffers from respiratory problems that are, I’m sure
      caused by the dirt animal feces and dust. 
      I am embarrassed if someone comes in my home and it does not look like a model home.  Another brother had no children because he did not want to pass on the insanity.  Two other sibs are hoarders. 
      I have to admit that it is nice to know that we are not alone.

      • Sarah

        Your comment of “I am embarrassed if someone comes in my home and it does not look like a model home” rings so true for me as well! I never before understood my silly perfectionism when it comes to my home – I hate having visitors and never feel like my house is good enough (I often do obsessive cleaning, wanting it to be perfect if I know someone is coming over).  It’s something that I never thought much about before – but now it makes so much sense! Thanks for sharing, it does help to know it’s not just me.

        • Arts10us

          my sister and I are both perfectionists and have model homes at all times.  My mother , age 78, is and always has been(as long as i can remember) a hoarder.  she now has 5 houses full.  i worry about what is to come.  I have not been inside of them for about 20 yrs.  Once we did a clean out, while she was away and the hell we went thru afterwards.  She eventually filled it up again.  And there are 4 others that she does not live in that are full.  i am  not looking forward to the someday…..(clean out)

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, why do they get so mad?

            • Bonnie

               what I have experienced from my mother. why they get mad…is because they think they need it someday..when it is gone they feel like there is no hope

              • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

                My mum blames it on having no money to buy new stuff, and also the same old- that she will need it in the future, a reason for every item. But the poverty thing is just another excuse because clearly people with money do it too

        • Anonymous

          A clean home helps me to feel good about myself. It measures my progression in life.

        • Nennyflump

          Me too! My parents are hoarders, and I feel exactly the same. I also get paranoid after people have visited wondering if they are discussing my house! Has done so much damage to me.

        • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

          Me too! Exactly the same, didn’t realise quite how much my mums hoarding has effected how I keep my house and constantly have clear outs, chucking things then needing them, giving fairly recently bought clothes etc to charity …I’m the same if I think someone is coming over everything has to be in place, hoovered, cleaned.

      • annonymous

        Everything you said, very interesting.  My mother is a hoarder but a wealthy one, with a big house and a big basement.  I would in some ways call her high functioning, because my dad makes sure everything is always orderly and put away, even though it is in their looming basement, and all of their closets are packed to the gills and it’s just the two of them.  My mother shops literally every day – her “budget” monthly is about $6000!  She buys crap constantly.  They used to throw big parties and she owns about 100 place settings of china!  When my son got married last summer and she was saying they just need to move but have so much stuff, I suggested she give 12 place settings of her china to my son, her oldest grandson and his new wife.  It would solve a problem for her and be a nice gesture and mean a lot to them.  She gave them four tea cups and saucers.  That’s it.  My parents are 77 and 80 and live in a 5000 sq ft house on over 3 acres.  They do need to clean things up and prepare to leave, but EVERYTHING is sentimental – and my mother keeps buying.  I do mean daily shopping.  They have several meat and food freezers, extra fridges full of food, and my dad will clean it out and throw massive amounts of stuff away occasionally.  When I was growing up, my mother would grocery shop, bring it home and leave it all sitting out, and go back out to shop for other stuff, clothing, etc.  We had chests of clothes in the basement unworn with tags in them.  She always said my grandmother, my dad’s mother, “just throws stuff out”.  She did have a very orderly home, which is how my dad grew up.  My dad, I am sure, in order to stay married to this crazy person, just compulses about ordering up her stuff.  Not everyone like my mom has such an understanding spouse or enough money to keep this up.  If he goes first I am sure things will become out of control.  He is so messed up after being married to her all this time it is codependency lunacy!
        Interestingly, my mother’s father was definitely a hoarder.  When he died their house was a nightmare, and so is one of my sisters.  One of my brothers has been away for a long time but I understand his wife has their house filled to the brim with crap, that he can’t stand but puts up with, and one of my sisters is a hoarder.  All seem to have this victim, crybaby mentality, which I abhor.  And I keep a clean house and pitch what I don’t need, or give it to charity.  Seems to be a pattern.   

        • Arts10us

          we did one clean up while my father (non hoader) was alive and when he passed, my mom filled it up again.

        • Anonymous

          Just keep giving to charity and setting an example.

        • Anonymous

          Does anyone every read about how to live in a tiny house or as a minimalist? Some people live with less than 100 things. Imagine!

        • Anonymous

          Wow! I live on $13,000 a year.

          A $6,000 monthly spending spree is quite luxurious.

        • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

          This is really interesting because as my above comments, my mum claims her poverty makes her keep her hoard because she won’t be able to buy any thing in the future. One of many excuses. But interesting you seem to think it may be hereditary. Fortunately for me I am the polar opposite and a total minimalist, probably because of my mums severe hoarding. I also agree I hold the same view on this victim woe is me attitude. My brother seems to hoard and my mothers father also so yes, quite possibly a mental disorder within the family. Hopefully I have been spared, it would appear so! X

      • Renia

        I have a similar story. My mom is an extreme hoarder and has been living alone for the past 20 years after my father’s death. My sister’s and I did a complete clean out 10 years ago and now it is even worse than before. We feel she needs to be removed from the house for health reasons. But, don’t know how to do it or where an extreme hoarder can live. It is impossible to find information about this. We talk about working with an attorney to get guardianship. But, it is a very difficult step to take. 

        We want her to be safe. She currently has not heat and hot water. The problems are too long to list. Any advice??

        • Anonymous

          More mental health services should be available to help these people become more responsible and disciplined. Old habits are hard to change.

    • racull

      So much of what you write could have been written by me or either of my sisters,..( I’m reading it thinking this person is writing about MY mom ! ),..  I think there are so many familiar things with individuals with this illness,..( hoarders ).  Our mom was absent also for my two sisters kids, but she would “spin” a different reality about things in her mind ?, or at least to her friends, like she was this adoring grandma figure.  I don’t know if hoarders just don’t get super great at denial or what,…( but then they have to be in DEEP denial to live the way they do ) ?….  I sooo know how frustrating it is to try to deal with a hoarder, they can’t seem to actually hear you , or they block you out or become very combatative.  I think a lot of hoarders are unable to connect with their own kids,..( they transfer it to connecting with their animals and their STUFF , instead, I know this has been mentioned on several of the hoarder shows I have watched… ).   I see a LOT of very odd child like behaviors in a lot of the hoarders that I watch on these hoarding shows,..   And our mother was very child like,…( like with throwing tantrums if you tried to talk to her about getting rid of anything ).  I can so relate to the feeling of trying to explain a horribly complicated relationship with your mother and the hoarding situation.  I think maybe only a fellow child of a hoarder can understand it.  Our mom had at one point decided to take ALL our help,..( her kids and grandkids etc. ), to help clean up her house, and then as that date got closer she called up me and my sister to say that if we got near her house she would shoot us, and, or call the cops,..( she fliped back into the “they want my stuff !!, I’m going to loose my stuff !” mode instead of seeing that we just really wanted to help her with her horrible living conditions ).  She totally fliped on the idea of the clean up.  At that point we all had had enough.  My sister called a social worker to try to help with her living conditions, but they seemed to do nothing.  Then , she eventually lost her mind,..( or what was left of it, we always thought she was a bit “off” ),..  I think her house, the way she was living basically drove her crazy.  I feel the very things she so desperately hung on to,…( her hoard ), was her final undoing.  She is now living in an assisted living place that specializes with people with limited mental abilities.  Please don’t feel any guilt.  Some people you unfortunately can’t help.  With our mom we tried for years to help her and it was like beating our heads against the wall.  I’m sorry if I sound cold with the way I talk about my mom, but it was not a good parenting situaiton, with her , ( or our father ),..   Our mom told us often that we ruined her life,..( by being born ),..  We had a lot of physical and verbal abuse, and well, I think a kid can only take so much before they pull away,..( go into survival mode for themselves ),..  Good luck, and know that you are not alone there are a ton of us kids of hoarders out here that feel your pain, and understand what you are going thru,… 

      • Sarah

        Totally agree with your comment about denial.  I have often been so amazed that my Dad (who is a hoarder) can be standing in a pile of junk showing me something (a knicknack) that he thinks is so beautiful and not even notice he is in a pile of junk.  I am curious if other hoarders have a similar viewpoint – kind of a “can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of a thing?

    • Sarah

      I totally feel for you with the mixed feelings and anger and am right there with you!  My father is a hoarder and I waffle between being angry and resentful and then feeling pity for him that he does such a self destructive thing.  I am the youngest child and after I left home it got completely out of control.  My mom moved out and now he has no running water and cannot get into most of the rooms in the house.  I spent much of my life “cleaning up after” my Dad and because of it we have always had an inverse relationship – where I feel like the parent and he has come to expect me to “take care of him.”  However, I cannot keep up with his illness and lately any interaction turns into a fight, such as him digging through my recycling bin for “treasures” that he then takes home.  I cannot tell you how many times I have helped him clean up only to find things I had thrown away in MY house (that he had taken out of the trash).  I have taken to keeping my recycling and garbage under lock and key.

      I have come to the point where I cannot and will not help him clean up anymore.  It only gives him more room to put more stuff in.  And the sad thing is, as the only child that still lives in the same state, I  know someday I will be stuck cleaning it all up when he passes away.  It is that knowledge that makes me angry with him.  I feel like he has already stolen so much of my life with his illness, I don’t want to give it anymore.  Then that ends up feeling like such a selfish thing to think – so I am constantly fighting with myself.  

      Reading what others have written sounds so familiar to me.  I appreciate finding this forum – and it has explained a lot about my own behavior as well.  Hang in there everyone!

      • Hoarderschild

        Don’t clean anymore – it is a waste of your time.  I tried the same with my mother.  You aren’t the selfish one, believe me.  There is something distinctively selfish about needing so much “stuff” to the exclusion of all else.

        • Rachel

          I believe this can be good advice in certain situations, but what if the hoarder is a renter, and will be evicted if the child won’t/can’t help them clear and clean?

      • Anonymous

        Yes, my Mom is child-like as well. But, then again, so aren’t my brothers. She needs to be taken care of and they refuse to help in any way. It can be quite burdensome when there is only one responsible “adult”.

    • Lara

      “Anger, resentment, embarrassment and almost hate at the selfishness” is exactly what I feel about my mom’s hoarding. I’m trying to cope too, and to help her, but I am afraid I’m just enabling her. You are having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. I wonder what my relationship with my mom would be like if she didn’t shop and hoard. Not perfect I’m sure, but better. Anytime I say anything to her, she just tries to find a flaw in me, and deflect everything away from herself. It’s pointless. I just have to try to take care of myself and protect my emotions, and know that my anger and frustration is normal. When I’ve had enough of those feelings, I will put them aside and live my own life and be happy again. My home and my life with my daughter are happy, functional, clean and organized…not minimalistic, but not hoarded, cluttered, unpleasant and complicated. I have found my own place and my own space, and I am happy.

      • Hoarderschild

        I had felt hate towards my mother (now deceased) on numerous occasions, this is a normal feeling to have towards someone that has not allowed you to live a normal life due to their form of mental illness.  Do not allow the hoarder to place a guilt trip on you – I found that when I was in a happy place my mother would do everything in her power to make me feel bad or depressed – such a drama queen.  The less you have to deal with the hoarder, the better you will feel.  Be polite, but do not allow them to take over your life with helpful suggestions or criticisms.  My mother would make fun of my clean house, and criticize everything that I did.

        • Anonymous

          I’m criticized by my daughter for being neat and organized as well.

      • Anonymous

        As long as you’re happy.

      • Anonymous

        Deflecting the situation away from herself – I can definitely identify. Because then it becomes my fault, because I’m too demanding…

    • Annette

      I understand completely.  My mother was (and still is) a cat hoarder.  The cats always took precedence over me and my sister.  We had to deal with lack of plumbing (used an outhouse and showered at school), filth, animals defecating on and under the beds, etc.  I live several states away from her and every time she comes to visit it is an endurance contest.  Like many hoarders, her grip on reality is tenuous at best and she makes up all kinds of things.  When she visits, she lavishes care on our one dog but is rude and pushy with my kids.  I find that I am so angry with her that I can barely be civil to her. You aren’t being selfish at all…you are making the best life you can in spite of her deficiencies and you have to look out for your own family. 

      • Anonymous

        I have a friend that is kinder to her animals than her kids…

    • janay76

      I am so sorry to hear all you have gone through. I have gone through a similar thing with my Dad. I live in Ca, but went to visit him in Missouri twice and it was horrible. Now he didn’t have A LOT of animals, but enough left alone for too long that the smell of the house was insane. Now I never told him in person how horrible it was, but when it came up I would say something and he would pretty much tell me I was out of my head because there was nothing wrong with his house. He also had JUNK everywhere, but not as bad as some I have seen on TV so I guess he thinks it isn’t bad. I have also had to stop contact and no matter how hard I try to explain anything he doesn’t want to listen. My mom also had a reaction and he still did not believe it. Unfortunately right now I have been living with my mom in Ca and she may not have animal feces inside, but she has so much junk that she has been sleeping on the floor in the living room instead of her room where she has 2 beds because she doesn’t want to get rid of stuff. No matter how hard I try to get things better she fights and screams at me every step of the way. You have not cut of contact because you want to, but because you were pretty much forced to. I know it is hard to not feel guilty, but I guess there isn’t much that can be done. I hope that things may have gotten a little better for you.

      • VioletR

        I became aware of my mom’s situation when my stepdad passed away two years ago.  I am 35 and I had not been through the house thoroughly in some time as I don’t live in the same state as her.  And when I was home I never stayed inside long as they both chain-smoked in the house and it bothered my allergies.   I realized when I was at home for the funeral and she was out, that among the junk, dust, and stacks of catalogues and magazines, that the carpet was covered in dog urine stains all over the house.  I came home a week after the funeral with a carpet cleaner (she wouldn’t agree to have it replaced).  I shampooed the carpets myself and took out a truckload of garbage and donations to goodwill.

        One year later, there are things left in boxes she was going to take to goodwill, still sitting in the exact same spot.  The carpet is now worse and covered not only in urine stains, but piles of dried dog crap.  She has starting hoarding things like empty cigarette lighters and more newspapers piled up.  

        Needless to say the embarrassment and frustration is worse than before on my part.  I feel ashamed for her and can’t believe she is living this way.  But I have realized that she is totally unreceptive to any of my suggestions.  I can not bring it up with her without causing her to feel attacked and “bossed around” as she puts it. 

        I have over the last year, given up on trying to fix the situation, and wonder how long it will be before something happens to force her to change her situation, if ever.  

        It is heartbreaking and devastating, as I am the only family member or person she allows in the house, so naturally I feel a responsibility to “make it better.”  But the fact is, I can’t afford to whisk her away and have her floor replaced without her knowledge, so it is up to her.  

        I have compassion for anyone dealing with this situation.  It is awful to have animal stench and waste surrounding you in a parent’s home.  It seems surreal and unbelievable.  I have chosen to keep contact open because I feel too strongly about trying to have some relationship with her and not judging her.  But it is like a bad dream to walk through that house. 

      • Anonymous

        When I became disabled, my boyfriend barely changed the cat box. When the cat died of old age, I forbid him to get another.

    • Hoarderschild

      This is the way to cope – unless she has property or money that you would like to inherit, I wouldn’t feed into it.  Don’t feel guilty – this is a selfish childish person you are dealing with that wants to manipulate you.  The cats and the rest of it are to fill an empty place.  But a normal person would want some basic comforts like electricity, gas, water, etc..  Even my mom, a major hoarder had those comforts.  My mother “made friends” with me in my 30s because she wanted me to take care of her later in life (actually to my advantage because I am now financially independent thanks to her smart real estate investments which were unused for 30 years because they were filled with junk to the ceilings).  Remember, it’s not forever. 

    • Anon

      I coped by moving away.  You can only do so much and then you have to say enough and life your own life.

  • SleeplessinSeattle

    My mom is a protected hoarder – hiding in a gated community that no one can get in to without her giving their name to the security guard.  Not that any of her family is in any hurry to visit her. 

    Is that a hoarders dream or what?  She can live the way she wants in the comfort of my deceased grandmother’s luxury condo. 

    She was always messy when I was growing up and I knew that once I left (I did at 18) it would escalate.  She has torn a rift in my family and no one talks to her anymore and no one talks to me because I protected her rights to the condo.  I’m afraid of what I’ll find when she dies.  Years in to our marriage, I confessed this secret to my husband and to my best friends.  I was in my mid 30’s before I could discuss it openly.  This is the first time I’ve opened up to a blog or written about anything.  I’m trying not to cry.

    I’m so angry at her.   I’m also worried.  I have to resist the urge to call the HOA and have them check on her to make sure she’s ok.  If I did that, then they would know her secret and may do something drastic. 

    I haven’t visited the condo since she moved in.  I have no idea what it looks like but I saw her car a few years ago and it’s the mess it’s always been.  She promises me (we live 3 states away) that the condo is fine since her siblings removed most of the furniture prior to her moving in.

    Oh yeah, she’s a QVC junkie.  She never has to leave her home to buy junk that she doesn’t need and can’t afford.  And DEPRESSION or any ILLNESS that she can think of is the name of her game.  It’s never her fault.

    Do I visit her?  Do I call her HOA for a drive by?  Do I ignore it (like I have since 2006) and wait for the call from the police/coroner/fire department?

    • Pamcruit

      At least you admitted your shame in your thirties. I am almost sixty and only recently confided my dirty little secret to people outside of the family. As of a few days ago, our mom told my sister to get the hell out of her house and never come back. My sister was the only one of Mom’s 3 kids who was willing to go inside her home and help clean up. She had invited Mom and our step father to move in with her, but she was willing to help sort through all the stuff, in order to sell Mom’s house.

      I am so worried about my sister. I know that she is eaten up with heartache and guilt. I found this web site a few days ago. Everyone’s story and feelings sound so familiar. Whenever anything is mentioned to Mom about cleaning up, she acts like she is going to have a heart attack or faint. She says that she does not feel well and just can’t do it. Recently
      my sister refused to yield to her usual tactics and insisted that it would be done and that she was not going to let Mom saddle us with such a horrific burden. That is when Mom turned into something from the exorcist and ordered my sister out of her house and out of her life.

      I hope I can get my sister to read these blogs. It is comforting to know that we are not alone.

  • Lucky_poptart81

    i grew up with three hoarders. its a norm in my family. they say all the time. “It’s not dirty. there is no rotten food. its just clutter.”
    i know many people are worried that they might become hoarders themselves. what i want to know is if there is anyone else like me? I am very very afaid of clutter. i panic  when i have to be in a room with alot of thing. its to the point that i and my family own very little. i want to work on it but i have never heard of this. i always hear of hoaders and treatments for them but is there a name for what i have? does anyone else have it? i don’t want either hoadering or my problems to be past down to my girls. but i don’t know what i can do to help it.

    • Nannyoffive

      Dear Poptart 81–I hate stuff! My Mother and Grandmother could throw out nothing (although in my childhood home everything was confined to the attic and the basement).Having alot of stuff makes me very uncomfortable. Over the years as things have accumulated, I either donate non-essentials or make certain that
      sentimental things have a specific place. My children have no restrictions except
      that their stuff must stay in their rooms. I am not obsessively neat but do keep
      controlled chaos. My husband,who is a saver and lives by the philosophy that “we
      might find a use for it someday”,was my biggest challenge. We built him a huge
      shop and I never go in his space and he can’t seep into mine. Try not to take things to seriously and find a happy medium. Also remember that minimalist living is not a bad thing.

    • racull

      As a child of a hoarder I can tell you me and my two sisters situation. My mom was a horrible hoarder, like the gross situations you see on the hoarding shows on TV.  I have a sister that, like you, is afraid to have too much stuff. I would say she is really a minamilist ( spelling ? ),..( lots of empty cupboards in her house and I think less than a dozen clothing items hanging in her closet, ( also, she  almost always only wears black, maybe she picked this as sort of a uniform for her self to try to simplify the clothing situation ? ).  This sister gets real nervous about having stuff.  Me, and my other sister I worry have maybe gotten the hoarding “gene”.  I guess I am maybe and organized collector of certain things.  But not cluttered at this point, but I have had an obsessed feeling about certain things,…( wanting too many pairs of boots, and vintage coats, things like that ),..   I have , in the past had a hard time getting rid of stuff,..( like realizing that at 50+ years old I still had my high school gym shorts,…( justifying I kept them to see how my weight compared to my high school days etc. ),..  I have finally come to a point of wanting to get rid of stuff, afraid of myself , one day, becoming a hoarder.  And I will not allow myself to go into thrift stores anymore,..( I love vintage stuff, and I use to search for vintage items at those stores, but I know longer trust myself to not collect too much stuff ),…  Also, no garage sales for me, etc…   I have noticed here that people talk about being afraid of having stuff, so I am guessing with kids that have hoarders as parents it can go either way,…( kids that will tend to hoard or kids that will go to the other extreme of wanting to make sure they have very little, more of a fear of stuff )…   I want to be aware of my urges to collect stuff, and stop myself from becoming like her !   Good luck to you,…

    • Sarah

      I have heard of that quite a bit actually.  It makes sense to fear becoming like that yourself when you’ve seen how much pain it causes.  I cannot abide thrift stores, garage sales or anything used.  That is one of my Dad’s favorite place to get “treasures” and they just make me feel ill.  though I also fear becoming a hoarder, I am not as minimalist like you, but I do tend to do impulsive “purges” of stuff, throwing away things all at once (sometimes things I will later need).  I know it’s not fun, but it makes sense – and it’s probably a HEALTHY sign that you don’t want to go down that road.  Hang in there! 🙂

      • Anonymous

        I impulsively purge as well, but I place everything in a paper bag, sort through it twice again, then finally bring it to the thrift store.

        I’m beginning to pass my heirlooms onto the next generation. I may have a lot of things, but I take good care of everything and pass them on to responsible family members. 

    • trying2rescue_myself

      I’m SOOOO glad you posted this.  In my case the hoard (which wasn’t that bad) was accompanied by very severe child abuse, to the point that I don’t remember most of my childhood.  The things I do remember are enough, though.  Like waiting for my parents to leave, and then convincing my younger brothers to stay inside on a sunny day and clean with me.  Somehow, I could convince them of this time after time, despite the consequence.  We would clean an area (usually the dining room) and then veeerrrryyy carefully relocate all her piles of papers and projects there. And then we would clean the rest of the house: vaccuum, wash windows, wash floors, dust, polish, even vaccuum the curtains.  But there was always punishment when she got home – sometimes very severe (and sometimes going on for weeks afterward).

      As an adult I have PTSD, and my biggest triggers are around mess, so much so that if things are messy or chaotic or disorganized or broken or dirty I get a visceral reaction (in PTSD terms it’s a type of trigger called a “body memory”) and I can’t go near it.  If I try to push through this I feel physical pain – almost as if I have an electric current running through my body – and I will dissociate.  I’ve had people tell me to ‘meditate’ on this and try to find out what the message is in my mind that goes with it.  Mostly it’s just pain and humilation that has no words and no way to describe it.  But the closest I’ve been able to come to it is: “You’re not allowed to touch this/be here”, “I don’t know how to do this” (meaning even basic things like brushing teeth), or if I push through this “You CAN’T learn how to do this” (in both senses of the word, as in you aren’t capable, AND you’re not allowed).

      As a result I can’t clean if things are already dirty.  And what comes out with the triggers is the most immense feelings of shame – so I find myself isolating more and more.

      When I was younger I could push through these feelings using pure adrenaline and willpower and live a normal life (within reason).  My house was very neat for the most part.  But using up all that energy just to get you through getting showered, fed, dressed and ready in the morning eventually burns you out.  I was always told ‘fake it till you make it’.  All that ever did was set me up to be in my fifties with no energy or health left and still no skills to manage my triggers.

      This has become a huge issue for me lately because my husband is turning out to be a bit of a hoarder himself, and I’m finding that as I’ve become triggered by HIS mess that I’m less and less able to cope with any mess and am now almost at the point where I’m incapacitated with it.  Also, I now have a chronic health condition, and I’m finding that as my energy decreases I am less able to cope with my triggers.

      The strange thing is that, even as a young child, I desperately wanted to learn HOW to clean, cook, sew, bake, etc…, and still do.  It’s just that I get the ‘electric’ physical reaction and doing something – say baking – means that things will become too messy in the process – like too many mixing bowls etc… on the counter, I just can’t do it.

      I don’t know what to do to help it either, but you’re not alone.

      • Lara

        trying2rescue, I feel for you so much! I hope you will find a way to surround yourself with the kind of people, and the kind of house you deserve to live in. I love cooking too, I wish you could experience the joy of it without having such a visceral reaction to the mess, but it is understandable considering your past. Bless you, my thoughts are with you, I hope you can make things better for yourself!!! (I am also a child of a hoarder and a somewhat neatnik myself, but my story is not nearly as extreme as yours.I feel your pain, though!) Hugs!!!

      • Anonymous

        I identify with the abuse. Cleaning is the only thing I can control. I need everything to be neat and organized at all times. My surroundings need to be simple, uncluttered and beautiful.

  • Tgarcia122

    I watched the ABC report about being a child of a horder.  It brought back alot of feelings that  I tried to surpress.  My mom just left a rehab center after knee replacement and went back to her house.  I am worried that she will fall and not be able to recover properly.  She doesn’t want help. 
    My mom as long as I can remember was a horder.  I can remember stacks of clothes in my room when I was 3 years old.  My husband said, why don’t you just clean it?  He wouldn’t and will never be able to understand what or how it was like with a parent as a horder.
    I don’t hord, I throw everything away.  Clutter frustates me and makes me nervous.  I am going to my sister’s house this fall when it cools down to help her clean her house.  There are certain things I can’t stand, a dirty table, dirty counters, a messy couch, and smells.  I ripped all the carpet out of my home just to prevent any smells that could build up in a carpet.  I think the smell of rotten food takes me back to my childhood than any other sensation. 
    I don’t visit my mom’s house.  She comes to our house, we meet her at a resteraunt, anywhere but her house.  I have been in her house 2 times since my father died 16 years ago. 
    I wish there were a quick cure, I wish we didn’t have to grow up in shame and filth.  I love my mom and realize now that her hording something that she does not have a lot of control of.

    • Jschwig

      You are not alone…..I did the same thing when my mother was alive.  After her death last yr and 3 months of cleaning out her house I actually feel better about myself, not embaressed knowing no one will know her/my secret.  Like you clutter frustrates me, and people come to visit I am apologising for the dust an anything out of place.  The fact is my house is beautiful and organized but I worry someone will find fault with me.  I’ll probally always be this way but mother’s hoarding is in the past an I can only hope the memories will fade in time.  Be strong
      jan s

      • Anonymous

        I grew up with 3 stinky brothers and a Dad. My Mom did the best she could to keep up with them. 

        I need my home to be beautiful and organized as well. Everything needs to be thoroughly cleansed.

    • Sarah

      It’s amazing how much shame there is for the children too.  I often get frustrated with myself for being embarrassed by something that I did not do.  Only recently (after 30+ years) have I begun to convince myself that it is not MY shame, I did not do anything wrong.  However it is a daily struggle and I still do not want people to know that my dad is like that. 

    • Thethornburgs

      I just wanted to connect with the husband not understanding.  My ex is a hoarder and I would clean his piles of clutter, once I even did a complete makeover of his home office hoping that would help him be “normal”.   It never worked – he would always go into a depression if I touched his piles.  At one point he was even on meds but wouldn’t talk to the dr about the hoarding.    

      Everyone would tell me – just clean it what’s the big deal.  I felt like no one understood the ramifications I had to live with if I did “Just clean it”.   

      I am now faced with custody issues with our son because my ex’s house has gotten too bad.

      My ex wont get help until he admits he has a problem – that he wont do so far.

      I’m sorry for what you lived through  – reading these posts is giving me the courage to do what’s right for my son even though he wont understand right now and will be upset with me

      • Anonymous

        Me. too. I got yelled at for putting stuff away where it belonged. Sorry, but office supplies belong in the office, tools in the shop and clothes in the closet. 

  • Bearswisdom2

    Like most people these days, I have taken to watching reality t.v. and have been watching the program Hoarders on the A & E channel. You see I have a friend who might be considered a hoarder, but I am not sure. Most of the people I have watched have had a lot of junk and trash in their homes. My friend has what I would call some garbage, however the things that are overrunning her home are things she goes out and buys. It has gotten so bad in the past few years that she has had to create paths through her trailer just to get from one room to the next. You can’t see her furniture anymore. Is this Hoarding? I worry about her, she is battling Breast Cancer and has a bad back from a fall she took a couple of years ago. I have tried to help her, but nothing has worked. I have tried to tell her she has a problem and she herself admits it has gotten out of had, but when I suggest she seek help from an expert she jumps down my throat and says she is not a mental case. Is there anyting I can do to help or should I just back off?

    • guest

      She’s a hoarder.  Symptoms are typical including how she reacts to you trying to talk to her about it.  I don’t think there’s anything you can do to help her.  In all the examples I’ve seen, until there is a final threat of children being taken away or losing their home do they even try to consider getting help.  Sad for you . . . and your friend.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, until there’s a life-threatening consequence. I can really identify.  Demands just make it worse, because then they begin to victimize you as well.

  • Kat Lady

    As a child of a category 5 hoarder, even though I’m nearly 30 and have been out of the house for 10 years, I suffer with shame and inadequacy every single day. I feel guilty for not taking control of at least the space I lived in (was trapped in) and cleaning my room.  I do remember, however, when I took the initiative and my mother physically slapped me for throwing away MY own stuff. The stakes for secrecy were much higher for our family because somehow my mom and dad were allowed to adopt my older brother and I. The hoard got to it’s current state when my grandmother died. When I moved out, my room was stuffed to the gills with god only knows what. I also remember being fed out of date food, even moldy food, and being told to eat it because I was not going to get any other food. I remember being sick a LOT and having kids make fun of me because I had bad teeth. I was never taught to brush them, or have good hygiene. I’m making strides, and learning to have boundaries with my mother now and accepting that her hoard is her mental illness and my shame is mine.

    • Rculley

      I can relate to what you have written.  Please know that you were the child and you should have had a parent looking out for you,(  I feel bad for all you have been thru ).  You can not learn what is normal growing up in the envirorment you grew up in,…   I was not blessed with parents that seemed to want us at all.  Our dad was an alcoholic, and mom a hoarder that told us often that we were not wanted, that we ruined her life, etc. etc. ( we suffered physical and verbal abuse, etc. ).  I think with some hoarders,..( as I have seen the information on the hoarding shows ), that they are not able to connect with their kids as a “normal” parent would, ( they instead connect with their STUFF ).  I have seen with a lot of these people on the Hoarding shows that they seem quite child like in their behavior,..your can’t reason with them,..( it’s like if  you were trying to take a toy away from a stubord child and they have a tantrum, this is what often happens when you try to take ANY of a hoarders “hoard” from them ).  Our mom was always VERY child like, ( not in a good way , in a weird way, tantrums etc. ).  We , also, were not allowed to get rid of anything,..  We also had bad food in our house.  I remember bugs that got into the food and mom would not throw any of the bug infested food away, so , of course, it just spread to ALL the food, and any new food coming in.   Dad was not home much, traveling for business, and when he was home he was “checked out” in an alcoholic stooper”, zombie like,..).  When I see pictures of me and my sisters as kids we look sickly, ( thin , and with dark circles under our eyes ), and we were sick as kids a lot also, like you.  I feel we, ( me and my sisters ), were shorted in the parent department, but as the youngest in the family I do feel blessed to have had my sisters that in so many ways tried to parent me.  I hope you can heal from your past.   Know that you are not alone in this odd, sad and frustrating situation,..( as a child of a hoarder ),..  

  • Janina C

    I honestly don’t know what you can do to help, but don’t give up on your friend and maybe take her out and talk to her about her quality of life since her diagnosis and her fall.  They say that hoarding can start from a traumatic life experience and it sounds like she has had two.  I, too, am trying to get info and support from this site, having grown up in one of these homes, so I don’t have any really good advice.  I don’t know how long your friend has been like this, but hopefully it is not too late for her!

  • Janina C

    Lucky, I wouldn’t worry about your panic about clutter for now.  Work on healing of yourself and what you had to go through, and you will start to ease back into the middle of the spectrum.  Your panic about clutter is sure better than being surrounded by 6 foot piles of it and not being panicked!  I grew up with corridors in the house and a lot of gross stuff to do with animals and I used to be really anal retentive in my apartment when I moved out.  Everything was too clean and organized.  Now I have become a bit easier on myself but still like “everything in its place” and I think my girls are actually better off!  My one daughter tends to be a bit OCD and has been known to fold her dirty laundry before putting it in the basket, but I am helping her, gently, to let go of some of these things.  Good luck trying to find a balance!

    • Anonymous

      There’s nothing wrong with being overly clean as long as it doesn’t interrupt your daily lifestyle. If it helps you to feel good about yourself, then there’s nothing wrong with it…

  • Janina C

    Eris, I have nothing but hugs for you.  It honestly sounds like the best situation is for you not to be in your mom’s life right now.  It just sounds so toxic.  Change your phone number, throw away the mail, etc.  That’s what I would do.  Good luck, it sounds sooo hard.  My mom and grama are both hoarders, but they don’t get this mean and nasty.  Hang in there.

    • Anonymous

      I definitely agree. At times, for your own health and well-being, you need to divorce yourself from your own family. Sometimes, once they pass on, it may be a little easier to deal with their house.

  • Lucky_poptart81

    thanks for replying to me janina c. i understand it can be a healthy thing to be organized. but i believe i take it to far. i have a rule in my house. if you want to buy a new thing two old thing have to be trashed. every three months i go and throw out anything we haven’t use in three months. i don’t shop much. i believe that i became worse after i went blind in one eye. I am also O.C.D. i can hide it well most days but when i  become stressed it becomes very bad. this is the frist time i have really talked about it. i feel bad. just as my moms husband had to get use to my mothers hoarding, my soon to be husband has trashed almost everything he owned. he is very sweet about it and try very hard to understand my problems. he is one of the few people who ever stepped foot in my family’s home. he help us clean it out after my grandfather died. it took three days and we left most of it. it was 52 years of crap. so he can understand where i’m coming from.
    i am just very worried because my mother has started it at her new place. i can’t step foot into her bedroom. I’ve tryed cleaning it once and i got yelled at for weeks for trashing things. i don’t want their new place to get so bad i can go in but i don’t know how to stop them.

    it is very nice to be able to say this. i don’t talk about to my friend because they think i’m make a big deal out of it. I can talk to my family about it because its normal to them and i’m the wierd on with problems.
    its hard for me not to go to far either way you know.

  • Survivor

    Our house was always messy as children but my mom didn’t start hoarding until all three of her children moved out. It escalated slowly and got really bad when I moved to a different state taking her two grandchildren with me (She was very close to my kids). It just continued to get worse and I was shocked once when I stopped by and found garbage on the floor a foot high!!! I couldn’t believe it. Her house ending up catching fire and was a total loss and as her kids we were thankful but it didn’t last long. We got her into goverment housing and thought this would be a fresh start. Not only did she drag all the burnt stuff from her former home over to the small apartment she took the insurance money and blew it on whatever!

    After one year in goverment housing my youngest sister died and then not only did the hoarding get bad but she stopped going to the Dr. and only ate out of cans because they was no where to cook. She was sent an eviction notice because she couldn’t keep the place clean. I tried to get her help (I’m a social worker and still couldn’t get her placed anywhere) but it had totally gotten out of  control so I ended up calling adult protective services and turning her in. They were able to get her place in a personal care home where the rules are very strict. Cleaning out that house and getting her moved was awful. She insisted on putting her junk into a storage unit but soon she will be out of money to pay for the unit and it will be cleaned out and hauled away.

    Her room is not the neatest at the personal care home but they do weekly room checks and stay on top of things. She is also required to bathe and get dressed everyday. She still stays to herself and doesn’t care to much about being around people but her life is much better even if she won’t admit it. She is a 7 hour drive from us now but we have managed to go see here every couple of months. We take her out to eat and do fun activities. We get a hotel room for a night so she can be around the kids and watch them swim and play.

    I am so grateful for the hoarding show even though I can’t watch it because before that show people just thought you were from a nasty family and didn’t realize that it is truely a disease that is very hard to treat.

    My sister that passed away was on her way to being a hoarder, I have another sister that doesn’t keep anything and I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. We live a busy life, I have two children and a husband who works 15 hour days so life gets messy around her but not nasty. Dishes stay washed, laundry is done and the floor gets vacuumed but items tend to pile up because it’s a run-in-run=out lifestyle around trying to keep up with work and kids schedules.

    I am aware that when the kids are gone I will need to be on alert and that may be one of my triggers to start hoarding. I hope the awareness will keep me from developing into a hoarder myself. So that’s my story as a grown child of a hoarder.

  • iam2nd!

    i am worried my mother will become worse than she is. our house is not too bad, because i do most of the cleaning. but i am turning 17 soon and will graduate this next year.
     since my grand parents died years ago, my mother has all of the things from their houses. lots of antiuqes and memorable things. we have an office that i cleaned last week and got rid of a ton of stuff. i had to wait until she left for work to throw things away because i was scared of her getting mad. things were pilled to the cieling with boxes a junk.
     “junk” is a touchy word with mom. when i say it she says i dont know the value of things and i think i can just buy the world.
     we had a guest room (filled to the rim with all her junk) but i had to clean it allout for family to move back in because of hard times.
     when i was little we lived in pretty bad conditions. we lived in this house when the first grandparent died. it became where one sister was in the livingroom sleeping, one moved out because of relationship problems with mom, and i slept in a room filled with trash. my old room was overtaken by the dog which was never let out to use the bathroom. so he did it in the floor on newspaper. i cried every time i had to go in the room to clean poo because flees would cover my legs. i couldnt walk in the house. in my room i couldnt walk and i had a problem wetting the bed. i wasnt taught to change sheets or clean anything but dishes sometimes. each night i picked a dry spot to sleep on the bed. i had a friend over one time, she was only there for an hour or so, she sat in the same spot not wanting to touch too much. we left and she went straight home and took a shower. i was in third grade.

     our newer house is MUCH better but there is still junk every where except the living room, bathroom, and my room(which is usually spotless except clothes in the floor sometimes). in the dinning room (no one goes in there) my mom makes me put newspaper down for our dog that is almost a year old. i have to clean up poo and pee every morning because she will not allow me to potty train the dog. our yard is pretty bad too, i will admitt to telling someone i lived next door. my boyfriend of 7+ months WILL NOT come in my house.

    i am to the point that our relationship is so bad(not just because of the junk, but also because of just the person she is) i plan on moving out asap, i know that God is the only one keeping me here becaue i dont want to leave my mom and dad. i have come to the conclusion that all of the bad thing that happen to her in her early years like losing her bother and sister to murder, getting into drug for a while, getting beaten while pregnant (tied to trees and hit with crowbars and more) and finally getting her life sort of turned around while in prison, has triggered all of this, so there isnt much i can do to help. i want to leave so bad, and think it would help our relationship, but mom keeps saying i have to stay here untill im done with college. i have started having stressfull pain in my chest a lot and i get dizzy and throw up many times a day, which i have no control over. i am scared i will become a controling person bc i already show signs of it.

    WHAT DO I DO?!?!?!?!?!

    • Anonymous

      I understand what you are going through. First of all, you are not alone. I wanted to run away when I was your age but had no where to go. I want you to know it gets better when you leave. I went away for college and it felt great to be normal for a change. It’s hard and there were times when I wanted God to take my life. Hang in there. You are not alone. God loves you and we sometimes have to put our lives in God’s hands. We never should have lived the way we did. But we will survive. I promise you.

    • Sarah

      I feel for you so much and will be praying for you.  I totally understand the feeling of being torn between wanting to “be there” for your parents and feeling the need to get away.  I can tell you from my experience that you need to take care of yourself first before you can help anyone else – and that does not sound like a healthy environment for anyone.  If you have a place to go, it sounds like it would be a good idea to move out.  Hang in there – it will get better.

    • diane1955

      It sounds like you have done a great job of trying to separate yourself emotionally from the situation – now you have to separate yourself physically – you need to go to college far away, live in the dorm and work on campus in the summers.  I am talking from experience – I am 56 years old and escaped my mothers home when i left for college. She died recently and i am now cleaning out the mess with my husband – it has been terrible – my brother, who is also a hoarder still lives there but is trying to be cooperative – he never left home – he is 57 years old – he is childlike and has no knowledge of how to care for himself. He went to community college, is fairly intelligent, has worked, but has never separated himself or grown up.
      You need to take care of yourself NOW! Please don’t stay beyond HS – they willl not let you change them – they love you in their own way and you love them – continue to pray for them and I will pray for you too.
      Blessings to you and keep the faith!

      • Jensenc651

        I just can’t believe how similar some of the stories are to my own life!!
        I left as soon as I could.  My father wanted me to stay home and go to a community college so that I could keep the place bearable for him.  I left and did not go to college until my late 20’s but moved to the other side of the country.  I have a brother who is 53 who still lives with mom.  Dad passed away several years ago.  He is a hoarder also.  What I am worried about is what do we do with him when Mom passes.  He has no life skills but is very intelligent.  Very childlike, no job or sporadic employment.
        What will you do with your brother? 

        • diane1955

          good question – I really dont know – so far he is enjoying us coming and taking him out to eat after cleaning etc (I cant bear the thought of eating in the house) He has questioned us several times after leaving about an item that he cant find and did we throw it out – stupid stuff, like my mother”s travel alarm clock – we have managed to either play dumb or say we put it in goodwill. He did say he was going to buy a small condo after we sell the house – not sure if that will happen – also not sure if I am even in the will, so the decision to sell may not be mine.
          your situation sounds very similar – try to separate your brother from your mother whenever possible – invite him out or ask him for help at your house or something – i found out too late – when my mother was alive I thought he wanted nothing to do with me or my family – in my entire life (college, living 1000 miles from home after college, marriage, birth of children) never did my brother ever call me – now we talk at least once a week and for lengthy conversations.
          the bottom line is that he is an adult – treat him like one, but give him guidance when possible.

  • Anonymous

    I live in California my Mom in Jersey….. I went home to visit last month and her apartment was a category 4…. she has no room to stand a fan and there are avalanches happening everywear in there…. I am afraid for her safety… she wouldnt listen to me when I said I would help her clean it…. she got so angry with me and didnt want to see me again while I was home…. I begged her to let me help her again and she still refused….. I was not going back to California knowing she was in so much danger I love her dearly…. I had no choice but to call elderly services… they are now working with my mother… She is Not happy with me and is not talking to me (She hangs up the phone when I call….Even though it pains me to not have her in  my life I am  hoping her boil will come to a simmer and she will let me back in her life again….. But if she never does let me back into her life I have no regrets and never will about calling elderly services.. there is no doubt in my mind she would have died in that cocoon of death… Jim

  • iam2nd!

    thank you MikeC92. i have come so close to leaving so very many times. i just cant do it. i have been looking at appartments with a friend though. graduating with high enough grades to be able to leave easily is my goal right now. God Bless you all:) i have hope for the future:)

  • Mikehart

    Hoarding is a serious condition, it is treatable.. I know it seems hard to believe.  that being said the damage is done. my question to all of you is where to go from here?

    • Anonymous

      We are broken and we are trying to pick up the pieces and put them back together. It is not easy. It is hard. Even now after all these years do I realize the trauma I suffered. Yes I am damaged but I know I can get better. I have sought help and at the very least we should be here for all of us. Talking with others is helpful and hopefull especially those who are still living in the conditions we lived in. I have to believe God kept me going all those years. I wanted to die and I wanted to run away from home. No one knew what it was like for me to live in that squalor and not being able to bathe and having to feed myself some times and I cannot even mention the rodents and bugs. It helps just to know that I am not alone and you should feel that way too.

  • iam2nd!

    well, i would say just live your life day to day and know that God put you in this situation for a good reason. we can be sure weather it is to make you stonger or weather you were sucked into it by the sin of the world. but alsways know that whatever situation you are in is “your” situation, and you will always have “situations” so lets learn from them and make a difference in the lives of others. there will always be someone in need of guidence, strength, and love. the Bible says react in LOVE and everything else will be taken care of by the Father. Christians are becoming the minority. could you imagine if every man and woman of God would put aside all the differences and judgement of others and we all came together as the TRUE body of Christ!! i get excited just talking about it:)
    i want ANYONE here to know that there is hope…but you cant find it on your own. even if you think you got through things with out God, you didnt, He put that hope in you. if anyone would like to talk with me about anything, you can reach me here or via e-mail. tdwd27@yahoo.com thanks everyone for stickig in there and staying strong:)

  • pb

    I grew up in a very dirty, cluttered house.  My mother never cleaned but blamed my sister, brother and myself for the incredible mess.  We grew up believing we were the “slobs”. We had no real friends, were never invited to other kids houses or parties.  If my sister or I tried to clean our rooms, take a bath, brush our hair, wash clothes etc we were accused of being whores, looking for boys to bring home when she was at work?!? My mother however, was always well groomed, and wore nice clothes.  Since my father was gone, she liked to be attractive to men.  When I was about 13, she had a “boyfriend”, someone who would visit her on Saturday mornings for an hour or two on his way to work.  On Friday, my sister and I were charged with “cleaning” the house.  Cleaning meant putting the pile of dirty dishes in the oven, or throwing them into the backyard, bringing the trash can into the house and shoveling the debris from the week…Sunday paper strewn all over the floor, cans, rotting food, packaging, and other trash into it.  Moms room was somewhat tidy, she just hid her dirty clothes under our bed along with ours. We were not expected to be home when he arrived – most times at 7AM.  We had nowhere to go except sit on the curb down the street and wait for 11AM to be able to go home.  This was all year round.  NYC was pretty dark and cold at 7AM sometimes.
    She finally sold the house, got rid of everything and moved into an apartment when we were grown and gone.  She wasn’t as bad as she was but spent the rest of her life collecting books, art supplies, magazines, vitamins, frozen dinners and nick naks that my sister and I spent a week cleaning out when she died.
    I grew up feeling pretty bad about myself, not worth much and most of all different than everyone else.
    When I had my own kids, I didn’t know how to clean or have any organization skills so my home was a always a mess. But it never got as bad as my childhood home was.   As my kids grew up they taught me when and how I needed to do things that they learned from friends etc. By the time they were teens, our home was not cluttered or dirty anymore.  Today, at 67, although I still fight with feelings of difference and low self esteem, I live in a clean, clutter free home.  I have a good relationship with my daughters and grandchildren.
    I’m sorry that the opportunities that exist now were not available to me and my sister when we were growing up.  To all of you still dealing with the problems, and are beginning a new life.  I’m glad all the help is now available to you.

  • pb

    I grew up in a very dirty, cluttered house.  My mother never cleaned but blamed my sister, brother and myself for the incredible mess.  We grew up believing we were the “slobs”. We had no real friends, were never invited to other kids houses or parties.  If my sister or I tried to clean our rooms, take a bath, brush our hair, wash clothes etc we were accused of being whores, looking for boys to bring home when she was at work?!? My mother however, was always well groomed, and wore nice clothes.  Since my father was gone, she liked to be attractive to men.  When I was about 13, she had a “boyfriend”, someone who would visit her on Saturday mornings for an hour or two on his way to work.  On Friday, my sister and I were charged with “cleaning” the house.  Cleaning meant putting the pile of dirty dishes in the oven, or throwing them into the backyard, bringing the trash can into the house and shoveling the debris from the week…Sunday paper strewn all over the floor, cans, rotting food, packaging, and other trash into it.  Moms room was somewhat tidy, she just hid her dirty clothes under our bed along with ours. We were not expected to be home when he arrived – most times at 7AM.  We had nowhere to go except sit on the curb down the street and wait for 11AM to be able to go home.  This was all year round.  NYC was pretty dark and cold at 7AM sometimes.
    She finally sold the house, got rid of everything and moved into an apartment when we were grown and gone.  She wasn’t as bad as she was but spent the rest of her life collecting books, art supplies, magazines, vitamins, frozen dinners and nick naks that my sister and I spent a week cleaning out when she died.
    I grew up feeling pretty bad about myself, not worth much and most of all different than everyone else.
    When I had my own kids, I didn’t know how to clean or have any organization skills so my home was a always a mess. But it never got as bad as my childhood home was.   As my kids grew up they taught me when and how I needed to do things that they learned from friends etc. By the time they were teens, our home was not cluttered or dirty anymore.  Today, at 67, although I still fight with feelings of difference and low self esteem, I live in a clean, clutter free home.  I have a good relationship with my daughters and grandchildren.
    I’m sorry that the opportunities that exist now were not available to me and my sister when we were growing up.  To all of you still dealing with the problems, and are beginning a new life.  I’m glad all the help is now available to you.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing this. I am still dealing with my parents and my mom’s hoarding who are your age. I agree. I wish I had known there were others like me. I now live in a relatively clean and clutter free home but continue to struggle with the shame, the guilt and anxiety as well as the low self esteem. 

  • lonelygal11

    I am an eighteen year old who is leaving for college soon. I didn’t realize how different my living situation was until I was 13. Up til then, things had been semi-normal, but it is amazing how terrible things can get in five years. I have always been ashamed of my house, and never ever let people inside. My mother was a ridiculous hoarder, and she would never listen to reason. She frittered her money away on stupid things, and our house slowly began to fill. The filth and stench is terrible, and my father has no idea how to help her. I have become violently suicidal and extremely angry towards my mother. While these episodes never turn physically violent, I scream as loud and long as I can about this situation. I feel like she doesnt care. My house pushed me to excel in school and become a top student. Because of this, I got an incredible scholarship to a top university, but I am terrified to leave home. This emotion is so confusing to me because I am scared to be here, but I’m scared to leave?
    The only person that I have ever told my secret to is my long-term boyfriend. My boyfriend didnt get disgusted (thank God-even though he is a neat freak), but he got really upset about my mother. I-in turn-defended her? There is another instance that confuses me more.
    I’ve also been spending a lot of time researching physchological effects of hoarding on children, and I’ve come to find that a lot of emotional turmoil I have faced in my life could be connected to my living situation. Again, I have been suicidal before, and I was diagnosed with depression/anxiety (and a slight case of OCD– I would wash my hands til they bled) when I was 11. Things didn’t really improve after that, and the depression raged on, and it manifested itself in other ways. When i started high school, I got sick a lot so I would take a ton of pills. In essence, I would go to school slightly impaired, but I was a “good kid”, so the school let it slide. Plus my academic record was flawless, and as a freshman, I was playing varsity soccer. No one knew I had issues. After a while, I realized that the pills were becoming a distraction so I basically detoxed on my own. But I still felt worthless and disgusting. So at 16, my eating disorders began. Over these past two years, I have suffered from a mixture of anorexia and bulimia. I would go for days without food, and then I would binge ridiculously. After the binge, I would feel guilty, – not because I ate, I realize that I am starving- but because I honestly don’t feel worthy to eat. I realize that i should be stronger than this, but I honestly don’t know how to break the dangerous cycles that I have gotten myself into

    • Anonymous

       You are not alone. I cannot repeat that enough. I lived how you live. Things do get better. I am overweight because of my anxiety and food was my drug of choice. But drugs, alchohol or food takes away the pain. It is still there. Don’t wait 20 years to get help like I did. I too excelled in high school and got a scholarship to college. But once I got to college, I could not deal with the pain and anxiety and my depression allowed my grades to fall. I finally graduated and I have had my ups and downs since then but I wished I had gotten help sooner. I did not realize the trauma I endured because I had blocked it out. Now I know I suffer from PTSD as well as depression and anxiety because of how I lived. We never should have had to live this way but we had no control of that. As a child I would ask God to take my life but he didn’t. You are so lucky to have a boyfriend  especially one you can confide in. I had no girlfriend in high school and I did not really date in college…partly because of my mom’s brainwashing and controlling. Of course you defend your mom. I would too but I am not currently speaking to her or my dad because of their interference with my life. You are worthy…God loves you and me. We are worthy of his love. Hang in there and try to get help. Remember you are not alone.

      • lonelygal11

        thank you… and i know that I can go foward. It’s just hard in the moment. And yes, I am blessed to have someone so supportive in my life.

    • Mahaland

      Run for your life.  It’s a deep dark hole in there. Save yourself. The problem is much bigger than you can fix. You are not responsible for the situation nor is it you job to fix it. You CAN fix yourself… I was you  But I escaped but was still able to maintain a relationship with my MOM. I am sixty now and i still have resentment.  Don’t blame who you are because of your past. Pull yourself together and get on with YOUR life. Look ahead not back.  Don’t self distruct  There is a fantastic world out there go get your share of happiness. Stay away from tOXIC, NEGATIVE  people and situations.  Good Luck YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

  • Paestes2002

    I read your post’s and I feel for all of u. My mother is a horder and I am glad to read that I am not alone. I thought no one would or could understand and I have lived with the shame and the secret for years. I never knew there was others and while  I know how much it hurts you all to write what u write I am so glad to see it, It makes me feel better knowing I am not alone ! While I am not ready to print how bad she is yet…Just know that I have tried to help her over the years..but it does me no good nor her, it does not seem to help. I feel bad that I can’t fix her. She even has stuff at my house, which drives me positively crazy. I can not stand piles of stuff, and I am sure that it is from living with it in the past. I have tried being understanding, I have tried to help her, I have tried fussing at her….everything ….and nothing works….I am so ashamed of how she lives. And I am so frustrated. I also had signs of hording and have recently been cleaning my home and donating lots of stuff…I feel so much better. I wish I could help my mom but I dont know how and I am recently worried about how this has effected me…i have never thought of if before but it is bound to have had an effect on my over the years and I didnt know it. 

    • Mahaland

      Join the club I feel your frustration.  My mother became a hoarder after my stepfather divorced her. She was 75 years old at the time. She lived alone for the first time in her entire life. Although I and my grown daughter lived nearby it was impossible  to control her hoarding. she began Dumpster diving in her very upscale neighborhood. My daughters friend would spot my mom dumpster diving and call my daughter and say “Hey, I just saw your Grandma in the dumpster,  Talk about being MORTIFIED!!Her one bedroom apartment fill up very quickly. The fridge was filled with uunwrapped rotting food and the freezer was packed with unidentified food forms.  She became belligerent at any suggestion from us to help her clean.  Desperate to maintain control. I saw it as selfish and diliberately defiant. Not caring how we felt about her living conditions.   I realized that she wasn’t trying to torture us with here behavoir she just didn’t value our opinion she thought we were being selfish.  I too am a neart freak. One day I decided to give up and stop aggravating myself. There is almost nothing you can do to help, just save yourself from the emotional helplessness I stopped going inside her house and would sit outside her place or pick her up and take her to my house. I could no longer subject myself to the turmoil this situation this created.  It became a matter of survival Me or her.   She  eventually developed dementia and i had to clean out her house and move her in with me,  It took me everyday of three weeks  350 large gabage bags back to the dumpster from which it came. She never realized she ever had all that crap.  She has since passed away and I still resent the way she forced me to feel.

      • Paestes2002

        Your last line got me,”the way she forced you to feel”. That really hit home with me. Thank u. I have to remember its her problem not mine. You are lucky it was just an apt..mine has two houses and a vehicle she can barely get in…and i am most angry with her cause mentally she seems to be all there and I just can’t understand how she can want to live this way.She has been coming here and getting a shower and eating everyday..I see now that I am possibly ast. in her problem by letting her come here and shower and eat…She doesnt really have to face the problem..I thought I was helping her but maybe I am not ??? 

  • Dial175

    I live with a spouse that doesnt realize that she is a hoarder.  It actually makes me feel like the walls are closing in on me and I want to run away from my own home.  She will not get rid of things.  Instead, we have an attic, garage, closets and a room with stuff all over.  It is coming out in couples therapy that she is a child of a hoarder, but she hasn’t gotten to the fact that she hoards too.  We also had a storage unit full of stuff that was never visited for about 2 years.  When the bottom fell out of our income, cartons and cartons of the stuff wound up in our attic.  While I love my wife, I know that at some point the stuff-all-over will be too much to live with.  Come to think of it, I’ve already gotten there.  I have already had to put my foot down sucessfully with too many cats in the house.  Now we have 3 and that is enough.  I am living with the legacy of the damage done by this upbringing and the resulting need to hold on to things.  I want to move out of state, but our home needs some work before it can be sold.  I cant get to the work because of all the junk lying around where the work needs to be done.  We have a tough go financially, and I want to go to a less expensive area to live in the south, not too far to DC.  The frustration of all of this has made me crazy, and she just doesn’t get it.  Any ideas anyone ? 

  • little sis

    My sister is the hoarder.  My mother had trouble throwing things away and she said some of the typical things that hoarders say such as you need to save this for your children to play with but things were never so bad that people couldn’t come to the house until the last 8 or 9 years of her life. 

    My sister never left home.  By the time our mother died there were two bedrooms of a 3 bedroom house with doors that did not open.  I had to break them down to get in and salvage anything I wanted.  All of this happened before hoarding was being talked about or the tv show.  There is some comfort in knowing that I am not the only person with this problem.  I have moved my sister closer to me since our mom died.  She is in a small apartment and I have someone clean the apartment every week and do her laundry.  That helps a lot but I know things are starting to stack up. 

    I moved recently and was again faced with some family “treasures” and knick knacks that I don’t know what to do with.  The kind of thing that my mom always said would be worth something someday.  I am about ready to get rid of them but I don’t really know if I can.  There is a small feeling of guilt when I think about selling or donating them.  It is easier to get rid of things that are mine. 

    • Wayfarer

      “It is easier to get rid of things that are mine.”  –Thanks for saying that.  It rings so true for me.  My mom hoards, I do not, but she trained me cruelly to Respect The Hoarder’s Wishes.  As I write this, three boxes of snapshots sit on the bookshelf in my living room.  They all show my grandmother in front of unidentifiable vacation sites in the 70’s and 80’s (or just the vacation sites!), with her second husband.  My grandmother was a compulsive purger suffering from dementia and had saved nothing meaningful that pertained to her family, no keepsakes or anything.  Because her elderly nephew didn’t want to pay an extra month’s rent on her apartment, he asked me to clean it out in one the day after she died, which I did, but I didn’t have time to go through the photos.  After her purges there were only a few unlabeled black-and-whites that might be family, and I am her only living descendent.  The few dozen with relevant family faces in them I made up into packets for my grandmother’s nieces and younger nephew.  I thought I was done, then, but at the graveside, her niece (who I’m pretty sure is a hoarder) ran up to me and desperately asked me to send her *all* the photos I had found–it didn’t matter what was in them–and she would scan them, and send everyone scans.I knew would never see the photos again if I let her have them, since she has often failed to do things she said she would do  So, still stunned after having been the only one with my grandmother as she spent three days dying in horrific pain, I fobbed her off by saying I had intended to scan them myself.7 months later I am still paralyzed, faced with the insane task of scanning boxes of vacation snaps, just because I promised a hoarder I would do that.  I could throw them away and “selfishly” keep the handful black-and-whites that are the only memento of my grandmother, if I hadn’t made promises… I’m not sure what I’m afraid of.  “Being bad” I guess.

      • Tc_jj

        I personally doubt that the niece would know if you didn’t scan every single photo. Go through the photos in a speed purge yourself, and get rid of the photos that don’t have anyone in them (or the ones where you don’t know the person in them). No one will miss those at all. That leaves just the photos with your grandmother in them. Quick sort them by picking out the best ones that are left and set those aside to be scanned. Think how much pyschic weight will be lifted from your shoulders to be able to discard the literal weight you inherited. The niece will get some lovely photos – digitally – and you get to keep them safely. You are not being selfish.

  • Hoarder’s Daughter

    My mother recently passed away. We tried, like many other adult children of hoarders, to get her help for years. The resources just aren’t there in a small town, and she wouldn’t listen anyway. We tried love and compassion; anger and threats; and even moved her completely out of her home once to clean it up. All that did was give her another home to fill up while we cleaned out the first one. Then we had to move her back, and clean that second house out too. So after already having cleaned out TWO of my mother’s hoarding-filled homes, she is gone now, and we have the house to clean out yet again. I find myself getting so angry at her sometimes. HOW could she spend money on some of this stuff? HOW could she keep ALL of this stuff? HOW could she let herself get so far in debt when she had money to pay her bills if she hadn’t kept buying all this STUFF?! But then after spending each day in the stuff that I hate so much, I come home and cry for being angry with her. We tried to get her help. She wouldn’t accept it. She never saw that she NEEDED help. So now I’m left with no mother and a lot of stuff. Not the kind of stuff people generally leave their children. I have books and newspapers, and clothes (in every imaginable size–things she could never possibly wear!). And lots of emotions. I’m having a hard time finding more than a few stories of dealing with the hoarding after the hoarder is gone. I feel cheated out of getting to grieve for my mother because I have to deal with the stuff first. I’m mad that I lost so much precious time arguing with her that she needed help. I wish we could have had just “normal” mother/daughter times. And I miss her terribly. I feel guilt and love and devastation, and basically every other emotion you can possibly think of, all at once. If anyone else out there has been through this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    • Paestes2002

      My mother is a horder also, and I know exactly what u mean about feeling cheated out of time with her because of u’r arguing and cleaning over the hording. My mother is still alive and we are still going through those battles. I keep thinking how much time we are wasting on this and I just want things to be normal and us to have a normal mother/daughter relationship. I am glad to read u’r post and see that u feel that also. I have tried to explain it to her and she acts like she gets it but then nothing changes. Sometimes I feel so alone already. Its like she is here but not here at the same time. Reading u’r post makes me see what I will feel like when she is gone. I am praying for you and I hope u have family and friends to help you.    

    • Hoarderschild

      Even though my mother was verbally and emotionally abusive to me, I loved her as well.  I argued with her for my entire life about the hoarding, it did not help.  I still feel anger but I also feel love and I am at odds with those feelings at times, missing her for the good things she taught me and hating her for the way she treated me when I was a child and young adult.  There were lots of times when she would start arguments on purpose because she enjoyed it.  I refused to waste my time and life arguing with her so when she would start an argument, I would tell her I loved her but I didn’t want to argue and it was time for me to leave (after doing her grocery shopping for her).  In this way, I taught her that there wouldn’t be a reward for her and I would leave when she started with me.  This is almost the same as training Pavlov’s dogs.  There was no logic to her reasoning – in fact, she lacked logic when it came to the mess but was financially savvy and extremely intelligent about other matters.  But when it came to the hoarding, there was no progress to be made – it was a waste of breath.  Just live and let live and so be it, you tried.  Do not feel guilty or punish yourself because it is a sickness like alcoholism.  The hoarder is in constant self-denial and makes people around them miserable.  So, just spend as little time as you can arguing by using the “training” method.  When you leave, a kiss and a hug is alright to give as well as “I love you” but firmly stating you don’t have time to argue.  it took about 3 or 4 repetitions of this technique but the arguments were greatly decreased to nothing.  This is also contingent on your responses, do not try to reason with the person – they are like a child so it won’t help.  Talk about politics or the nice weather or some other subject, not their problem.

  • Mbabycakes69

    My mother is a hoarder. I used to get frustrated at her for the mess and then one day I read an article in Readers Digest how trauma can contribute to hoarding. She has had many loses in her life. My father was an abuser for many years. My mother finally had enough and left but to no avail he came after her. He made a fatal mistake because my grandmother killed him when he came after my mother. I realized it started gradually after that. Thirteen years later her father and son died within months of each other from that point on she hoarded everything. She stopped cleaning the house all together. She buys things constantly for herself and others. When people ask me how she can live this way I tell them she has a right to be crazy so get over it. I am more understanding now and less critical. I know that someday I will probably be left with the mess to clean up and I definitely don’t look forward to it but I forgive her.

  • Rmserrano5

    My mom is an OCD hoarder. I have never seen this type of haording on any blog or reality show. She bags,double bags, kots triple knots the bags. She spends hours stacking them just so! She use to cover them with kleenex when I was kid(before plastic), if we accidently knocked the tissues off she would rant & rave. It makes it even more problematic trying to clean out. Everything is just a bag of stuff(junk)! Has anyone ever come accross this type of hoarder?

    • Hoarderschild

      My mother collected weird objects and neatly packaged them – she had a collection of bread ties, old metal cooking utensils from the 50s, Easter Seals labels, and other things.  There was a ball of rubber bands too.  A lot of her stuff was in plastic bags that were tied, some wasn’t.  It is like the hoarder is in a ready-to-move state at all times.  There were cardboard boxes tied with twine.  She didn’t bag and double bag – that would be a waste of plastic bags (there was also a plastic bag collection).  I think hoarders have their own way of wrapping or tying things up – it is their way of feeling “organized”.

  • Mona

    Dear COH Family, 


    My father
    who was an extreme hoarder passed away unexpectedly 4 years ago. Since then I
    have been helping my passive-aggressive mother slowly chip away at the mountains
    of things suffocating both her and her large home. The progress has been good
    despite my hoarder brother picking through our piles of “to donate”
    items and hiding them around the house. One worry constantly in the back of my
    mind is my near obsession with cleaning and de-cluttering the home. I feel I
    have inherited the reverse OCD of my dad. Sometimes I even feel crazy and
    locked in a hoarding cycle. After cleaning my mom’s house and ridding her of
    the mountains of crap, I feel my next project will be to help my elderly aunt
    who is also hoarder who has reached out to me for help. Sometimes I feel my
    only true escape is to physically move away to another state, to geographically
    separate myself from the hoarding. Any ideas on what I can do?

    • That is an incredibly difficult and overwhelming situation to be in. I did move a state away from my hoarder mother, in large part to get some separation from her hoarding. While the geographical distance definitely helped me feel less responsible for her disorder, I’ve found that the old saying “you take yourself with you wherever you go” is very true. Emotionally distancing myself from my mother’s hoarding, and my care-taking role, has proved much more challenging than physically distancing myself from it. Realizing that my mother needs professional help from a therapist who is familiar with hoarding has freed me from trying to save her by emptying her house. Unless hoarders works to resolve their problems and actively help in emptying the house, after the space is cleaned they will almost certainly fill it up again. There’s no easy answer here, but as you work to take care of your mother and your aunt, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too. Give yourself permission to take some time off. Realize that you did not create this problem and you cannot fix it for someone else. Reach out to family and friends for support. Find ways to have fun. Care for yourself as much as you care for your family.

  • Sarah

    I had been unable to watch the “Hoarders” shows until recently because it brings up too many bad memories.  Since I’ve started watching some it really frustrates me that the show focuses on cleaning up the house and seems to leave it at “okay now the house is clean, everything is okay.”  Don’t they know that hoarding is not something that just goes away when the house gets clean? It will just get filled up again.

    I spent my entire life cleaning up after my Dad along with my brother and sisters.  And from what I’ve heard, my Dad and his 8 siblings did the same for THEIR parents.  I used to have optimism that once it was clean it would stay that way, but it is only a matter of time until it fills up again, and I am done cleaning up his messes. Old habits die hard.  My Dad who is now nearly 70 has just admitted that he is indeed a hoarder.  However, he still thinks he will be able to “just clean up the house” and all will be fine.  After cleaning up oh so many times only to find it even worse shortly after I am less than optimistic.  He says he is “cured” now that he knows why he hoards (he blames it on his dad throwing away his belongings when he went away to college – is unable to admit it is likely much deeper than that).  The biggest problem with dealing with a hoarder is the extreme DENIAL that it is not as bad as it seems or that they can just stop.  If I had a penny for every time my Dad has said “I am done with junk” I’d never have to work another day. 

    As many of you have said, with this being passed down at least two generations (and maybe more?) I live in fear that it will happen to me.  I already have an unreasonable anxiety when people move my belongings around (such as put a cup in the wrong cupboard).  It is so similar to how my dad reacts when I try to throw something (anything!) away that it scares me.  So I overreact and go on “purges” where I throw things away like crazy.  It’s so hard to know what “normal” is when you grew up with such an unhealthy example.

    • Hoarder’s Daughter

      I watched the Hoarders showed one time, and cried the whole hour. I haven’t watched it since. But I do the same thing and go on “purges.” In fact, that’s what I spent my whole day yesterday doing. Separating everything I could get my hands on into “trash” or “Goodwill.” I get so angry with my family when they don’t want to throw stuff away. They’ve seen how I grew up. How can they not get that I don’t want the clutter? My son is really bad. He hates to throw away even a broken toy because he thinks it can be fixed. I talked to my aunt yesterday that I’m worried about him getting the hoarding “gene.” She said that he’s just a normal little boy; all kids hate to throw away their toys. But (like you said) since I don’t know what a normal childhood is, I don’t know what normal behavior is when it comes to stuff. I always wanted to throw stuff away. My Mom wouldn’t let me. My daughter throws her stuff away when it’s broken or not working anymore. So I just don’t know. Oh, and you mentioned your Dad “knowing” why he hoards. My Mom’s reason for being a hoarder was that she grew up in the Depression and you had to save everything you got your hands on. But her hoarding didn’t start until after my birth in the mid 1970’s – long after the Depression ended. Before then, she was a clean freak. So that scares me too. I’m not the best housekeeper in the world now. If she went from being obsessively tidy to a hoarder, what might be in my future?

    • Sarah,

      I can’t watch “Hoarders” at all without going into a tailspin. My mother is a hoarder as well, and the show just hits too close to home. I completely understand your fear of turning into your father, as I have the same fear about developing the same issues that my mother has. One thing that has helped me is reading the book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy O. Frost & Gail Steketee. It helped my understand that while I do have certain traits in common with my mother, hoarding is a complex disorder and it’s far from a given that I will develop the same problem that she has. Lack of insight is a very common trait among hoarders, and it sounds like you have a good deal of insight on what’s going on with you. Educating yourself about hoarding and perhaps considering going to therapy may help put your mind at ease. And regarding what’s “normal” – I struggle with that too. My therapist’s recommendation is to view things through the lens of what’s “healthy,” rather than what’s “normal,” and I find that small switch to be very helpful.

  • Paestes2002

    ok..My mom is a horder and has 2 houses full but she also piles stuff up in my home…needless to say that after years of living in her home with the stuff I cant live with it here…she ‘s been keeping stuff in the room she stays in and two chairs in the dinning room. I put up with it for a while , not to say that I dont ask her to take stuff home I do, but its always some excuse and then she finally will take like one or two bags…saying I will get the rest later. Looking at the stuff just does something to me…I can’t stand it…it drives me crazy…everytime i walk by the chairs its like i have a panic attack….so i have panic attacks at least 10 times a day. Today as she was preparing to leave (she has stayed here about a week for no reason, she is not sick and doesnt live that far away) I said are u going to take some stuff with u,,she had one small bag and a picture that was it…I said no this is my home and u are not keeping it this way, take more then that. She did but wow is she mad at me and said some ugly things….WHY???? I should be the one mad that the stuff was here to begin with…I dont get it…Sign me confussed?????

    • Hoarderschild

      You need to get rid of the stuff as soon as possible – do not ask her to take it away, she won’t – get a van or truck or whatever you need, find out when she will be home and drop the stuff off – do not let it get to the point of being out of control, piled to the ceiling which is the hoarder’s goal.  My mother did the same thing to a room I let her stay in when she was ill.  It was her way of claiming her space.   Unless this house or apt is something she pays for, I would not allow it.  Tell her that you need the space for an office (or make up something) and it is not another storage room for her to use.  Or be firm but loving – tell her that you do not want “stuff” piling up, that it makes you uncomfortable – depending on the personality you are dealing with, it depends on the excuse that you will need to generate.  My mother would bring over junk “gifts” for me that I always threw away due to the extremely bad taste (usually clothing from the 70s which I lived through anyway).  I found that when my mother would bring things over, it was her way of invading my space and my privacy and laying “claim”.  She thought that putting her stuff in my house would somehow improve the relationship but it didn’t.  When she moved in with me later in her 80s, I kept control of things in her room but that was easier because of the fact that she used a wheelchair – but she would bring junk home from the daycare won during bingo or dominoes.  When she passed away, I found toilet paper with feces stuffed in her closet.

  • Eparker

    Eric Parker with Stotis & Baird Chartered law firm in Chicago.   I often work with hoarders in the Chicago area.   Anyhow, I recently ran across a great book on the topic:   The Hoarding Handbook by Chistiana Bratiotis, Cristina Sorrentino Schmalisch and Gail Steketee.   It’s written for human service professionals, but helpful to anybody working with hoarders.    Probably everybody on this site knows about it already, but just in case…

  • hope

    It is so comforting to know that there are other daughters and sons out there with parents who are hoarders. I am 22 and I have been living in a cluttered house for about 10 years. Since I have been back home from college for the past 3 months, the hoarding is taking a toll on me physically and emotionally. Due to the hoarding, I have a terrible relationship with my mother and choose to avoid my family at all costs to avoid fighting about the situation. If I could I would choose to move out of my house right now but unfortunately I do not have the funds to do so. I feel like the hoarding has ruined my life. I was always a happy, energetic girl, which I am when I am not at home and not with my family. At home I quickly become depressed, tired and angry. I am completely embarrassed to mention this to even my closest friends and keeping it bottled inside is eating me alive. Also, I am currently in a long distance relationship, which is hard to maintain since he cannot come visit and I cannot fully commit myself to him since he does not know my history. I have fights with my mother at least once a week because she has not even attempted to clean up the mess she created. My friends just know that we don’t get along. When they ask why all I can say is we just don’t and I can’t tell them we don’t get along because my mother is a hoarder. I need advice as to where to start. I want to just start cleaning myself and throw EVERYTHING away. Even though this would not help the psychological issue my mother has I feel like it will bring my family a little closer together instead of tearing us apart. I need advice for where to start to start cleaning up my mother’s mess because I cannot live like this any longer and neither do my father and sister.  I have noone to talk to about this and I do not want to ruin anymore relationships than I already have because of this. Please send me advice if you can and thanks to everyone for posting their thoughts; I am relieved to know that there are other people to talk to who will not judge. That is step one and step two is taking action which I need to figure out how to do….

    • diane1955

      I wish I had the knowledge and support that you have now, when I was your age – I remember coming home for a couple of months after being away for college and then 3 years as VISTA Volunteer – when I moved home my room had been taken over ( we lived in an 8 room Victorian plus attic and basement) I remember saying to my mother that I felt like there was no room for me anymore – instead of  discussing how I was feeling and assuring me that I was welcome and there was, of course plenty of room for me etc, she responded with anger and begrudgingly took her stuff out of my room. That was 31 years ago – I am now a grandmother – my mother died 2.5 months ago – I am in the middle of working through the house with my husband and brother (who never moved out and is a hoarder himself). Today we started on a new room – I found multiple items that I know had been mine and that I had recycled for Goodwill or tried to throw out – unbelievable! My mother would go through my junk, my trash and my goodwill bags and then hide the items from me.
      Honestly, I dont think you can clean for her – your best plan, I think, is to keep your own room and things orderly, clean and presentable. Help, with the house and clean up after yourself (it can become easy to be neglectful when you know it really isnt going to be noticed) As soon as you can, get your own place – try to maintain decent relationships with all and pray. Recognize this as a disease – one not disimilar to any other addiction – cleaning up for her would be like emptying the whiskey down the sink. Offer to help her get help, and let her know that you love her – believe me, she has plenty of shame, but doesnt believe she has a disease. If the house is a danger to her or others call the Public Health – anonymously, of course.
      good luck.

    • Discoverystation37

      I have worked with my mom several times on dealing with the hoarding issue. I guess the best advice that I can give is to make sure that you have a strong relationship built with her first. Anything you throw away is going to cause her great stress and anxiety. She has to know that it is worth it. 

      Also, as for where to start…always the bathroom. You need a sanitary place to keep up hygiene. Next, I suggest the fridge and working in the kitchen. After that, start in small places (like linen closets) and start working to the larger areas of the house. I suggest small first because it will give you motivation to keep going as you see the projects get completed.

      Don’t work without your mother. It will just cause fights. Also, make sure that she is in a frame of mind that she wants the help. Finally, once you have determined what things to throw away and donate, GET THEM OUT OF THE HOUSE THAT DAY!!! Take the trash to a place that she doesn’t know about (a local dumpster, etc). Take the donated items in right before the place closes so that she doesn’t have time to change her mind. Make sense?

      Good luck…I know this is really late, but I figure that it takes years to clean a hoarders home and the advice might still be useful.

  • ryan

    Hi people,

    When I was a teen living in my mum’s house was always clean with beautiful colourful garden. However, once my sister became severely depressed gained long term illness gradually over time the house has become more cluttered and for over twenty years the lounge has remained messy with a myriad of old wedding presents (from my other sisters wedding) and old boxes filled with defunct junk. I have constantly had heated arguments with her to try and make her realise it is unhealthy for my nieces to live in that environment but they seem used to it, conditioned to it as if it is normal. I have held great resentment toward my mother for not changing and cleaning up the house and feel it has made me feel great sadness and emotional anguish. I feel defeated not being able to change my mum’s behaviour.

  • Shchatman

    I live right next to my mother in a duplex, owned by her. Last summer she had breast cancer and underwent a masectomy. We had a dumpster delivered and cleaned out the 3 room apartment, including some of the basement. At this time the house is almost as bad and she has resumed “shopping” on HSN. I get so frustrated and have developed a mental block about trying to clean up. It’s so very overwhelming! Forget trying to do anything while she’s there! I want to move away, but feel a tremendous amount of guilt because my 3 siblings don’t come around for anything!

  • Paestes2002

    OK Bogers…I got some good news…My church has a grief sharing class…i had been trying to talk my mom who is a horder to go to the class…no luck..i tried for months and no luck…we go to church for dinner on wed night..and after dinner is when they have classes…So finally there was a class i was interested in going to…three weeks ago at dinner i told her there was an hour class after dinner that I was going to ..since she had rode with me there I told her she could hang around church or go to the grief class just for an hour while I was at mine..I said just go for an hour to visit if u dont like it I will never ask u again..she finally agreed to sit for an hour in there….Guess what after an hour I could barely get her to leave. Its been three weeks now and she has friends in there and I can see a change in her…While she has not started cleaning yet there is talk of cleaning and that she can start to see that the hording is becasue she is so sad since her husband passed…I now have hope…I encourage u all if there is any kind of grief sharing class at your church get your loved one there…they may not know how grief sticken they are till they see others like themselves 

  • Alesha

    Hi, I am awriting a research paper about children of hoarders.  I need to interview 3-5 adult children of hoarders in the Northwest Arkansas area and was wondering if there is anyone associated with this blog that might be in the area.  If so please contact me at agillela@uark.edu. Thanks, I need to do this within the next few weeks!!! Thanks, Alesha Gilleland

  • Trying to Find Myself

    Wow…I am blown away by all of this.  I am so glad I found this site.  I really relate to all of you and have just recently realized that alot of the mental issues I have probably are linked to hoarding.  I have read that children of hoarders and children of alcoholics have alot of the same issues.  I guess the thing I struggle with the most is loneliness.  I grew up in a very messy, hoarded home due to both parents.  My dad was  rageful and anxious and my mom was depressed and spent alot of time in bed.  My father was also a workaholic who was never home so both parents were unavailable to me most of the time.  I can sympathize with all of your posts and thank you for writing.

  • sandy “less is more”

    My mom hoards a lot of random and useless things. I tell her that she should throw some of that stuff away but she wont. Instead, she gets angry. she’s totally pissing me off with all her junk and it’s like i cant help her! It’s impossible to  help someone who wont help themselves. I feel powerless and i have to live with her mess.

    • Laura T

      Hi Sandy,
      When you have the means to move out, things -will- change. I moved out as soon as I could support myself, and my life is just so much easier. Something I found helped a little bit when I was still at home was, instead of yelling and getting angry, to just say that the mess makes you anxious and you would appreciate a space that was yours, and you could keep it clean. I wish I could offer advice, I just know that I feel a lot of guilt now that I’ve moved because of all the screaming fights I got in with my mom, and I wish I would have tried to deal with her in a more understanding way. In a lot of cases, the parent just can’t help it, they’ve got some sort of abnormal attachment to all their stuff. Maybe little by little you can negotiate some small issues with her to give you a little piece of sanity 🙂
      Cheers, wishing you well,

    • Nazdefrank6

      Hi my name is Nazia I work for a daytime talk show in NewYork City. We are having a show November 9, 2011 regarding children ofhoarders. I would love to speak with anyone interested in coming on the showwith their parent who they want to confront. This is a clean-cut show we arevery old school! No cursing, chair throwing, o fighting. This is a show to helppeople with this disorder that affects millions of Americans a year.  We pay for travel, food, transportation in NYC, hotel rooms,and after care help for your parent/loved one. Please contact me with anyquestions: 212 419 7447 I am the associate producer on the show and I wouldlove to hear from you. 

  • abcd

    I can’t thank the creators of “Hoarders” the tv show, and this site enough.  I had no idea that his disease even existed until the show aired.  It has helped knowing that I’m not alone with dealing with my dad, who I discovered was a hoarder after I became intrigued with the show.

    He has been absolutely no help in the clean up process despite my pleading.  I’ve taken this huge undertaking on all by myself after setting him up in an apartment.  I know this does not help his condition and I’m just setting him up to have it happen again.  I just couldn’t stand knowing he was living in his house with no functioning a/c (in Texas), shower, oven, microwave, fridge, etc…He also had no place to sit or eat. 

    I am not the type to ever seek counseling, but after everything I’ve seen and smelled, I would love to meet up with a professional and vent.  I would normally turn to my wife, but I would rather not tell my wife any of the details.

    • Laura T

      Hi Brandon,
      I never thought I was the type to seek counselling either, but I did, and I’m glad I did. It’s not as awkward or embarrassing as you might think, they’re professionals and are pretty good at getting the ball rolling.
      Cheers 🙂

  • Laura T

    Hi everyone,
    I just randomly stumbled on this site, and I am so happy I did. People have always just shrug it off when I tell them my mother had ‘rescued’ over 50 cats, and was keeping them in our house. Consequently, my mother, my sister and I lived in a small trailer in the back year. The house had no heat or electricity, and we lived without running water (in a small suburban town). This lasted on and off for over 15 years. Because of having so many cats, my mother never had a job, and went so far as stealing my sister and I’s money from delivering papers in elementary school. Once I started working when I was 14, she made it clear that I was not welcome in the family if I did not give her each paycheck.Growing up, the living conditions varied, but after my parent’s divorce she got completely out of control – some rooms in the house were so infested with fleas that you would walk in and feel them bouncing off your legs and arms (if you were wearing short sleeves). Occasionally there would be rotting cat food buried under garbage or dirty clothes.  

    My mother insists that because of our ‘unconventional’ upbringing, we grew up to have more perspective, and have a richer life experience than most. I still feel enormous amounts of anger and resentment, mixed in with guilt when she needs help.

     I am so happy to find other people who have lived with hoarders, it’s so comforting to read some of the posts and realize that there are others who feel a lot like I do. 

    Thanks for sharing your stories,

    • sandy

      hey Laura i totally understand what u lived with.
      i grew up in a trailer too and both parents were hoarders. it’s like as if living in a small trailer isn’t bad enough, and they go adding something to fill all gaps, nooks, and crannies. it’s like my mom doesnt understand that just because there is space for something it doesnt mean something needs to go there. you’re not alone with the anger and resentment.  i just forgive because i’m pretty sure she needs professional help because she can’t help herself.

  • Anonymous

    it’s so nice to be able to read everyones comments. Unlike most, my moms house is picked up, and nice. Ever square inch is covered with SOMETHING though. Since my dad died everything has gotten so much worse. She has 4 other houses, numerous sheds, shops and buildings. The sheds and shops are so full you open the door and it the entire thing is full to the door of junk. She wanted me to move next to her in one of her homes, rent free, because her health isn’t so good. I agreed with the condition that I be able to bury one of the nasty houses right next to the house that was chock full of crap. It has been almost 3 years and the floor is caving in along with the ceiling and she still keeps making excuses to not get it cleaned out. The shop next to me is full of old nasty carpet and leftover yard sale stuff…so much so that my 3 year old car got massive hail damage because i had no place to put it when it hailed. If I even bring the subject up she throws a tantrum and begins yelling. We share the same dumpster and about a million times she’s yelled at me because I threw something ‘good’ away and she pulls it out and takes it home. I’m having my husband ‘sneak’ our trash into his work dumpster so she doesn’t dig through my trash! It is so embarrasing and humiliating to have to tell people where I live because of all of the trashed out buildings directly in front of my house. I’m trying to re-do the house we live in (which is hers). I wanted very light colored carpet or laminate for my daughters room and she insists on dark brown carpet or nothing at all. If I make any sort of change to the house she FREAKS OUT. If we ever try to ‘sneak’ some of her junk away without telling her she throws a fit and still complains about it years later. The problem just keeps progressing. I am over 30 years old and she is getting so controlling over me that I no longer know how to handle it. She is particular about everything and snide to almost everyone when we go out in public. It has to be her way about EVERYTHING or no way at all. Today someone asked me what it was that was holding me back from things I am trying to accomplish. Could it be all of this?? She is at the thrift shop every single time it is open and never ever does she come back empty handed. It makes me sick. When I try to have a yard sale she pulls out so much of my stuff that I don’t have enough to have a yard sale. It’s ridiculous. I’m turning into a mean, bitter person and my husband has just about had all he can take. I just really don’t know what to do. This isn’t something that just works itself out or goes away. It has been there all of my life and I’ve just chosen to ignore it. anyway, this has been a great place to rant. A forum would be so amazing 🙂

    • Hi justme333,
      There is an online support group for COH:

      I could reinstate the COH forum if there were a few interested, —would need volunteers to help moderate the area, and help to make sure posters feel heard though. Email:  info@childrenofhoarders.com

      Great to see all the posts here from everyone!

    • Hoarderschild

      Hello – I can relate to your story.  My mother had two houses and a condo – the condo was filled with her junk as well as another apartment in a 3-flat that went unrented for almost 30 years.  I moved out when I was 18 because I couldn’t stand living in the mess.  I am now 50 years old and my mother has since passed away (and I have cleaned up and rented the houses and condo).  She used to go through my trash as well and pulled out everything I threw away.  The only time I accomplished a lot was when I moved away to California from Illinois for 2 years and went to community college.  My mother always tried to “control” my life by threats of not leaving me her properties etc. writing me out of her will, she also controlled who I dated, etc. with her extreme jealousy.  When you live in someone else’s house, rent free, you are beholden to them and their rules unless you are paing the property taxes etc..  It is the hoarder’s way of controlling your life and making miserable that they get their only pleasure from because their life is miserable – they only feel better when they make others unhappy.  You must get to the point where you tell yourself “enough is enough” already.  Can you afford your own home or apartment?  If you cannot, you will need to find other ways to deal with the situation.  Or, just do the changes you want to do and ignore the tantrums.  If you have never stood up to your mother, now might be the time to do so, but lovingly by telling her that you are married now and you would like to be treated like an adult.  I also had to stand up to my mother who pushed me around for years.  Once you start standing up to the manipulator, they will try the guilt trip, drama, or act like a martyr.  Good luck!

  • Kateyzap

    I guess I think of myself as an adult survivor of hoarders. I am 42 and am living in a fully functional, clean, clutter free home. However, that was not always the case. I grew up with a mother who has ADHD, OCD and is manic depressive. I never remember living in a normal, clean home. Our house was always dirty, cluttered and infested with some manner of rodents or bugs. When I moved out, I actually had no idea how to keep my house clean. I had a few friends who taught me how to clean up and organize, but I found myself at 30 living in clutter and chaos having no idea how it got that bad. I then met my husband, who prides himself in getting rid of everything non-useful and never keeping trash in the house. Well you can imagine what life was like when we moved in together. At first, I resisted his need to get rid of things and resented it when we did. We held many yard sales and threw a lot of stuff away. We have moved several times since then and each time it gets better and better. I become more organized and neater. I have gotten to the point where every time I see a pile growing, I have to tackle it and get everything put away or thrown away. We are also constantly on my teenage daughter to put away her things, and keep her room and bathroom clean. To our standards, not hers. It has been a source of much frustration and hard feelings. I just cannot handle the idea that she may end up like my mother. Recently, she flew to NY, where my parents live and stayed with them for a month. She called me every day confused at how they could live in such filth and disorder. She would tell me that she would get out of the shower and immediately feel dirty. There was no place there for her to sleep or relax without the filth surrounding her. She is back now and understands me more. She is also keeping her room clean without being asked. 🙂 I often find myself watching episodes of “hoarders” on TV. I never understood why I was drawn to it. Today I watched the program focusing on children of hoarders. I think I am just trying to make sense of it all. I guess I am not a survivor as the hoarding of my mother still affects me as an adult. I fear that something will happen and I will become like her. That is one of my greatest fears. I live in CA and she lives in NY with both my brothers, not in the same house but both are hoarders. I have no other family here, but feel that being so far away is for the best. I am wondering if anyone can relate to this. Will I ever stop being so worried about becoming a hoarder?

  • Guest

    Surpisingly I actually didn’t realize that i grew up in a hoarding house until the program Hoarders came on television. I always thought my mother was messy and occupied with things more intelligent than housekeeping. I realized that she was eccentric but at age forty three thanks to the television show helped me realize that she has a moderate case of this disorder. Thank God she was a clean hoarder. It is so nice to have found a place where other people understand!!
    That is the beauty of the internet to connect people who otherwise would not be able to find each other. How much of my own problems are my own, or how much have been caused by growing up in a hoarding enviorment? These are some of the questions i am beginning to ask myself.

  • Razzy927

    I have never before attempted to write about this to complete strangers.  I can hear my mom telling me “Shame on you for telling people our dirtly little secret and how no one can ever know about this or they’ll take you away from me”.  Now, at 32 I wish I would have told someone.  I almost wish that I had been taken away from her all of those years ago.  I can no longer deal with this alone.  I’ve been reeding this website and it all sounds so familiar.  Not having friends over, barely being able to go to someone else’s house because then they’ll want to come to mine and they can’t, never having a birthday party.  I feel like I lost out on so much of my childhood.  I left as soon as I could.  Moving in with my boyfriend at 16.  When that didn’t work out and I was forced to go home for a few months it only made me worse.  Doing whatever I could to stay away from the house.  Eventually I moved in with my grandparents.  Got myself a job, a new relationship, and finally my own house and 2 beautiful kids.  During this time my mom only got worse.  The house literally became too full for her to sleep in anymore.  She had to build another garage to hold all of her stuff. She started sleeping at other people’s houses because she had nowhere to go.  She lost her job a few years ago and I found out recently they are going to foreclose on the house soon because she hasn’t been keeping up with the payments.  I just quit my job after 12 years and figured now would be the perfect opportunity to get in there and get things cleaned up.  I was sadly mistaken.  Monday was my first day there.  I thought we might be making process.  Until she started calling me and leaving me voicemails to not touch the boxes with her mail in it.  Boxes and boxes of mail and she is the only one who can touch them.  She has literally never thrown away mail since I can remember.  Always claiming someone would steal her identity…even with shredders.  This includes junk mail.  All of it.  Saved.  Then she starts telling us that we can’t throw away the food she has, in the garage, that are in totes, and that are dated from 2009, 2007, 2005.  She claims they are still good because they have been in totes and she will donate them.  No amount of explaining can convince her that food pantrys do not want expired food.  Fine…I’ll just go through and pack up the stuff that can be sold, donated, etc.  There is so much stuff it’s overwhelming.  Tuesday she leaves for a few hours and we get through some stuff. As soon as she comes back she starts digging through the garbage bags.  Wednesday we are only there long enough to start a burn of the leaves and cardboard and bring more garbage bags back to my house to dispose of.  Last night she calls me and tells me to bring back the garbage bags and she’ll get a dumpster,  Yeah right!  Like I believe that.  Today we go back and she won’t let us burn the cardboard to get rid of it because she’s going to give it to the boy scouts.  Great cause but I know it will never happen.  I actually told her that she loves her stuff more than me.  Sadly all she did was give me more excuses for why she must keep everything.  I am my wits end.  I’m lost.  I have clue what to do anymore.

  • Sologetemgurl

    My mother has always been a hoarder. I only remember the house being clean twice in my life. It was so horrible growing up and your friends want to come over but you have to lie about why they cant. I dont like my mother or her way of life and I choose to not really deal with her. She thinks its ok to live like that she acts like the house is spotless I ask her how can you live like this why not just clean up but she says shes too stressed sick and tired to clean. It has caused me to have servere anxiety about clutted I cant do it everything has to look perfect. Its a relief that this disorder is getting attention because as a kid I thought I was the only one living like this.

  • Thethornburgs

    My ex is a lower level hoarder.  There are piles of papers, books, etc everywhere.  The kitchen counters are cluttered and unusable.  There are two rooms that you can’t even open the door to anymore.   There are no pets but there was a time when a rat was nesting in one of his piles and it was a while before he found out.

    My issue is he has 50% custody of our 11 year old son.   How far do I go to protect my son – I need your view as a grown child of a hoarder.  I don’t want to take my son away from his dad – I want help for the dad.

    Thanks for your perspectives.

    • Radmt

      You are your son’s only advocate. You must protect him. He shouldn’t be forced to spend time in his fathers’s house. If it has rooms that can’t be used for their intended purpose then the man is a big time hoarder and it will get worse, unless by some miracle he seeks help.
      Help your son to understand that his father is not a BAD father, but one that has an illness. Perhaps the loss of visitation of his son will push him towards that, but if it doesn’t, do not beat yourself up about it. You can be supportive of the person, but not the problem. You can have arranged outings and family dinners so they can keep up thier relationship, but do not force your son to stay in that home. Fight for him in the courts if you have to.
      I am the adult daughter (54) of a hoarder, and my situation was slightly different. But one thing I have learned is that the parent is the one who must look out for the child and if the fathers’ home is unsafe, unclean or unhealthy then you need to act. Gently explain things to your son and make sure he doesn’t feel guilty for not wanting to spend time in the hoarding parents home.
      They can still have a loving relationship.

  • Son discovers a heartbreaking note, while cleaning out his mother’s house:

  • Jimmiemichael

    Being a son of a hoarder has been a task, thou it is nice to see there are blogs to read and write. I don’t know how many people just seeing “posts” of people talking about there parent hoarding does kinda relax you knowing there are people out there that feel the same way. Growing up , I to was always at a friends house always gone trying not to deal with the “nastyness” and being a only child I think makes it worse b/c u don’t know who or want to talk to about it . Dealing with the same problems today that just keeps on over and over and over ( add about a thousand “and over”s ) some times u feel its a never-ending battle . Thinking back I do see myself wondering what could I have done to make it stop . One thing I can say is that some of the stories would be a good move plot , knowing now how angry and manic a hoarder will get over junk but my hoarder hoards junk and animals so its like “my god”. The best story I think I have is my hoarding mother divorceing my dad , a simple divorce turned into 6 years of crazy bull that ended up into a attempted capital degree murder charge on a cop that was court ordered to keep the peace at the property inspection. my mother ” being the one that loves to say its not her its everbody else”and her boyfriend ( witch is now dead b/c he overdosed) were the ones that got the charge , just b/c of her obsession of junk and animals ….

    • Hoarderschild

      I have always thought that there is something evil about a person that has hoarding disorder, it is the sickness of greed and filth.  Evil to the point of caring more about the stuff than sending your child to school in clothing or shoes that fit.  Evil in the way that is so selfish not to allow someone to learn how to socialize and have friends, breeding distrust of everyone that might “find out about us”.

  • H.T.

    My mothers hoarding drove me over the edge many times, when I was a teenager it was so bad, my mother moved us into a really bad neighborhood just so she could have a big enough house to keep her stuff and she filled it to the brim, she also filled my dads apartment up with her stuff plus another house she owned that no one lived in and she had a starage unit. We never had any money I would beg her to sell stuff so we could live better and she never would, I was just a teenager and wanted so despertaly to have friends over and move out of that gang ghetto neighborhood, I tried to commit suicide several times and would throw huge mental tantrumsto try to get her to see what she was doing, the police would come and hall me away and put me in the psych ward. My siblings were much older than me and I was left alone to deal and care for my mom most of the time, so I felt responsible for her, I was a very beautiful girl and could have gotten married but no boyfriends could come over and soon they grew sick of that and knew that I had to much baggage, so I lived with my mother feeling to guilty to leave her in such a bad place by herslef until I was 29 years old and I finally had enough and wanted a baby with my fiance and I wanted a life. My guilt for leaving my mother is still with me and she has passes away almost 5 years ago. My sister blames me for not being there for my mother when she was dying, our family is torn apart over it all. I did go back home with my son and stay with my mother and stayed with her for a month to help take care of her but she wouldn’t even let me clean out a bedroom to stay in so my son and I slept on an air mattress on the livingroom floor, I decided that we needed to fly back home where my son had a nice bed and a clean place to play, my sister tells me she hopes I die all alone because of what I did to my mom. I have depression and I fight the hoarding tendencies and my garage was full last week but I did go through and let a bunch go and now it’s only half full, I need to go through the rest, I never want my child to go through what I did!! I loved my mother dearly and we were very close except when it came to her junk, I have feelings of love, hate, anger to this day and I don’t know if I can ever get over losing all of those years of my life and the scars in my mind. I see a shrink and have seen a few therapists, they don’t seem to want to know about this part of my life, no one does. Until I saw this blog I never knew there were so many of us.

    • Hoarderschild

      Your sister is trying to lay a huge guilt trip on you – you might want to tell your sister that you are still very damaged from dealing with the hoarding your entire life, and she is the insensitive one for laying a guilt trip on you – start standing up to those that criticize you!  I think the fact that you stayed till you were 29 was long enough!!!

  • H.T.

    I must also add that my mother was mentally abusive at times and had severe mood swings, my father was a cross between Dr.Jekyll and Freedie Kruger he was a severe alcoholic. He had severe mood swings too, he and my mother were divorced but she would feel sorry and let him come and stay with us when he had nowhere to go.

  • Jrise72

    This is the first I have known of this site (Anderson Cooper). I,too, grew up in shame. Nothing can change the emotional trauma of “hiding” my life from all my friends or the disgust I still feel for my mother, but my concern is with my adult son and his family. He did not grow up this way, yet he is a hoarder. I was surprised to see on the show that this can be hereditary. How can I prevent my grandchildren from suffering as I did? I love my son and he has so many wonderful qualities including being an excellent father. I don’t want to hurt him,but I am afraid for my grandchildren as they get older.

  • Maegan

    My name is Maegan Winters (I only say this because the login button thing isn’t working haha)

    My mom was a horrible pack-rat to begin with. Then her mother died and her brother died a month later, her father had died in 2003 a few years before them. She cleaned out my grandparent’s garage and started hording things in our garage. Our garage had only been opened recently this year, my grandmother had died in 2007, my uncle in 2008. A car had not been put into the garage for years because it was filled to the brim with junk. Sentimental value I can understand but they sat there for years.

    I ended up moving out of the house later this year and now my room has been turned into a storage “closet” for my brother’s crap because he doesn’t want to just throw them into the garage. It has a old cat litterpan in there and the carpet has been torn up because a cat lived in my room until we took him to the humane society. The only way we had a family Thanksgiving this year was because I rode the city bus across town to her house and helped clean while she was at work. My mother also had a hip replaced last year and needs to get the second one replaced next year, she can’t afford to bend over or get on the floor so things tend to clutter even more. Her hording started out as packratting then became hording because of family deaths and now I can’t stand going over there seeing the house in the state it is. Luckily, we were able to clean the dining/living room because of Thanksgiving but I know that it will just get worse again in the next few months.

    Just grateful I found a website like this to get my story out. Luckily I was watching the Andersen Cooper show today. 🙂

  • Karen

    My mother was always a very neat person. Dad was in the Air Force and we lived in military housing , it was inspected randomly. As i grew older my brothers and i ended up doing most of the cleaning, by this time Dad was retired from the service, but he still worked, Mom also worked. It was after Dad got sick with cancer  then passed away that things got really bad. We cleaned her house up for her on numerous occasions, not realizing that it was truely hurting her. It is a sickness, she always denied that it was that bad. My husband and i took her into our home several times, the worst was when the house was infested with fleas (from her 1 dog) and mice. She said that we must have brought them in after she left. Mom had a stroke on August 10, 2009, she never went back to her home after that, much time in hospitals and at our home. I am thankful that i got to spend that small amount of time with her, she passed away at our home on November 24,2009. There was so much wasted time before that, i couldn’t go into her house for more than about 10 minutes at a time. The smell was horrible, still is, we are still trying to get everything cleaned out and up. We are about 50% done , it’s been 2 years . I loved my Mom and Dad and always will , i am just terrified that i will start doing the same things she did, (they do say it is inherited) hope it’s not true. I try to watch myself closely , my children tell me that my house is always clean, i have 9 grandchildren and i always want them to be able to come stay with Mawmaw and Pawpaw. ok, through rambling for now, thanks for the chance to get a release .

  • Kidzxtwo

    I didn’t grow up in a home with a horder that came much later my mom seperated from my dad when I was ten she left me and my brother and sister with our dad three years later my dad passes on I was thirteen at the time my mom had to grow up fast see my dad was thirty years her senior while she did some growing we was placed in the foster system my brother had just started school I should say at the time my mom was living with her boyfriend who was about fifteen years older when she finally regainef custody of us four years later we had our own home which was very organize and clean we all never really got along with her she was a stranger to my brother she left when he was still in diapers I left home to marry my husband shortly after I moved bacmy sister followed shortly after as well as my brother she moved back with her boyfriend a few years later the place her boyfriend had been working for thirty years closed up and a few years after my mom had to Leaver her job for medical reasons she had been there for twenty years that’s when the trouble started first with cars then he started dumpster diving my mom wasn’t any better it came to a point where we couldn’t visit anymore with her grandaugher it wasn’t safe until a few weeks ago I hadn’t been inside her home in ten years I was horrified they had a narrow walkway and clutter very where my mom was sitting in front of a space heater which was surrounded by all sorts of stuff not only was it bad inside they still had cars and over twenty cats the house belongs to her boyfriend but really needs to be condemned I consider my mom a friend rather then. Mom sad to say but I don’t want her to live like that her biyfriend is in very poor heath I don’t want them to homeless but what can I do?

  • janay76

    I saw that too, in fact I had recorded it to show it to my mom. We just watched it. For as long as I can remember my mom and I have fought over her getting rid of stuff. It is so frustrating because she will not let me help when I know what is important and what should be donated and what should be kept. I am glad I found this site as well because it can be so upsetting and feeling that nobody knows how you feel. Thanks for telling your story 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, it’s so frustrating when they won’t let you help – especially if you’re an excellent housekeeper.

    • Psych Nurse

       What did your mother say after watching the show?

      • janee76

        She doesn’t say much and just ignores me OR actually says yes she agrees something needs to be done, but when it is time to do anything she doesn’t want to. It is so frustrating! We have been sleeping on the floor in my room for nearly 2 1/2 years (was air beds, but now floor for the past 3 months) She has TWO beds in her room, but JUNK everywhere so no room for people 🙂 I have tried to reason with her, but the only thing that works is FORCE her and accept (and ignore) all the yelling and crying. I can’t wait to move in about 6 months. I have been trying to move for a while. 

        • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

          My mum is the same, she acknowledges it is a problem, gets anxious talking about it, at a push agrees something should be done. Discussions of plans of what we should do next she then changes the subject, setting a day for when we should begin she comes up with any and every excuse to not do that time and day or changes the subject and gets moody and angry with me. It is literally like banging your head on a brick wall. After years I am going through the ‘I quit trying’ faze and concentrating on my life with my children, although the guilt lingers when I think of the conditions she lives in. Good luck and sending strength from someone in the same situation x

          • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

            And ps…my mums bedroom is a fairly large room, with a queen size bed, but is so packed high with stuff and clothes even comes onto the bed- that she has a small space to climb and sleep on the bed. It fills me with sadness knowing she lives this way and there is nothing I can do to change it. Fortunately I don’t live there but still it’s tough so I do understand

  • http://catatemyshorts.blogspot.com/

    About Me


    As the daughter of a hoarder I struggle
    with identity. In childhood I was my mother’s possession and loyally
    obeyed her. In teen years I was my mother’s bane and rebelliously
    challenged her. In young adult years I walked away from my mother and
    distanced myself angrily. In middle-age I try to share space with my
    mother while recognizing her limitations, sadly accepting my own as

    • Hoarderschild

      I really relate to your comments – it is almost like a mirror image.  I know what my hobbies and interests are, I know who I am at 50.  I also shared my space with my mother which wasn’t easy.  But try not to be sad, the moment my mom was gone I realized that death is the great equalizer and just part of the cycle.  You are a better and more generous person already for sharing your space, do not knock yourself.

  • lisa lee

    My in laws are boarders. It seems it has gotten worse with the death of their son 7yrs ago. I have gone and cleaned the house several times but it just goes right back to the way it was. They still have 3 other children besides my husband. But nobody wants to help with a major cleanup. My father in law had a stroke 3 yes ago and has trouble getting around. And my mother in law has asthma. Any ideas how to help them?

  • Davntrasc

    My in laws are hoarders. They own two homes one which is filled with boxes to the ceiling and no one lives there. The other one they live in. we have told them that we will not go to thier home because there is little room to sit there is mold expired food items so it truly is a health issue there. We are concerned about their health and their need for all this stuff

  • michelle

    I feel just like this. If anything happens to my mother, I know it will be brutal taking care of all the the things she has. My father has to live with it and I know it is so hard on him. I live in a different state now, but if I go back to visit I can’t stay at their house because there is no place to sleep. She begs me to stay at her hous, offering the floor or a small space on a couch where she has to move things just to sit. She wonders why I don’t want to sleep on the floor surrounded by things. I havae offered to help rid her house of clutter, but it only ends in a full fledged argument where she accuses me of being far too critical. I don’t offer any more and she asks me why I won’t come home and help. I can’t do it, I am tired of being told I am mean and hearless just because I don’t want to sleep on the floor that is stacked with magazines and newspapers from 20 years ago or toys that I had as a child. I am nearly 50 now and she still has clothes from when I was a baby and seems horribly disgusted with me and disappointed in me that I am over 5 years old as she lives surrounded by toys I had then, drawings and homework from then, clothes, everything. It’s crazy.

    • Anonymous


      • windowclark

        This crazy hoarding lifestyle ISSSS illogical!—It defies logic totally. Such as my parents and siblings keeping empty containers, empty boxes piled high on top of their hoard and they do not let any hired person come in to clean and even will not subscribe to a trash collecting service (they think $10 a mo. is too much!!!) I think of the character “Spock” and I love him more and more— He is such a cool smart guy for having “logic!” LOL. I wonder–how is this lady my Mom?… Why do I have one ounce of logic in my brain? How did I get born and grow up with any logic? I feel blessed to have some!!!

    • Kari

      totally relate – we have to go to hotels.
      Don’t let mom lay the guilt trip. You are not
      mean. Keep your sanity.  We recently started meeting my mom at restaurants & diners for christmas, thankgiving etc. it costs us alot between meals & hotels but we feel better.

      • windowclark

        It is getting harder and harder to have our traditional Christmas Eve family gathering at my Mom’s, a 50+ year tradition—because of the hoarding and of the last years the cat hoarding. My son won’t come because of the cat odor.

    • Ranna

      You are telling my story. I am sitting at the computer now with tears rolling down my face because I feel sick – mentally and emotionally – by the whole situation. I have told her she is choosing her things over a relationship with me, but she insists that it is me who is doing the choosing.

      • Jen

        I have felt the same way for years – my mother has been choosing things over relationships with any of her children for years. She has conveyed distress in any communication for years, but even more so in the past few months. I finally spoke to a counsellor about this for the first time today, to find a respectful way to convey my concern for their (both parents) health and safety.

        • TC

          Please let us know what your counsellor says – there are many of us here trying to figure out how to tell our HP that we are concerned.

        • Lisa…Distanced by the hoard

          Hi Jen, My name is Lisa. Today is my first day on this site. I joined because I really feel my mom chooses her stuff over me. I won’t even go to her house if it gets bad again. Recently she was in the hospital and a I went through her trailer and removed all of her stuff. I put it out on her carport. Now she says she wants it all back in so she can go through it. I can’t believe it! Her house looks beautiful because of me and now she is going to hoard it up again. I won’t go over if it gets bad again.

      • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

        Hun I totally understand, please know you are not alone my mum does the exact same x

  • lindsohio11

    I, as embarrasing as it is to admit, am a child of hoarders. I didn’t want to believe for a long time that they were and I just justified that they were just lazy and didn’t have the energy to clean up but over the past several years this problem has become increasingly worse. My stepfather runs a business out my parents’ house and has been using this business to supplement their income since my mother has had medical problems inabling her to work. The house is full of boxes and equipment and in the front room there is just boxes piled high and a pathway to get to the stairs. Any attempts to discuss this topic are short, defensive comments about how this home business is “keeping them afloat”. I am 4 mths pregnant and need help discussing this with them before my baby comes. I am not comfortable having her over there with the house in that condition. Any suggestions????? Please help. Thanx.

    • Discoverystation37

      Be frank. Tell that that you won’t visit with the grandchild until the house is cleaned and safe. They really won’t be able to say much about it because they will know that the house isn’t safe for the kid. In the future, they probably won’t do anything about the mess, but that isn’t your problem. Keep your child safe.

  • My mom is a hoarder and my dad is a compulsive saver (but he doesn’t have emotional attachment to items like my mother.) I’ve started a blog about my journey to differentiate myself from them and break myself of the hoarding habits I learned, and occasionally I post about interactions I’ve had with them and clutter, as I try to move the last of my stuff out of their house. Thanks for this site, I’m really getting a lot out of it!

  • Hoaderschild

    Perhaps what I am going to say will be viewed as mean-spirited.  My mother, a die-hard hoarder, passed away a few months before I turned 45 in 2006.  Throughout the years, I cared for her (even quitting my job and losing all benefits after 15 years on the job) for which she was not grateful at all, this was expected.  I felt like an anchor had been removed from my very soul when she finally passed away.  I went through all of the objects that she had hoarded over the years and relived my entire childhood, the 60s and the 70s which was mentally exhausting.  I donated a lot of clothing to the Salavation Army, had to hire a junk collector to get rid of a lot of the debris – I basically threw everything away – I might have even  tossed a lot of valuables into the alley.  The metal collectors picked up numerous broken appliances and a collection of pipes.  What I learned over the years of dealing with the disorder is that usually the individual that hoards has had some major crisis or disappointment in his/her life that causes the person to find comfort in owning lots of “stuff”.   The “stuff” is more important than everything else, even the comfort of family.  I wanted to release myself from all the junk and not let it hold me prisoner any longer.  To date, I have a basement full of dishes to go through, but that’s about it.  Some day you will be free – this will not last forever.  In the meantime, do not allow the hoarder to manipulate you with guilt trips or blame.  Live and let live – be polite, but do not get sucked in or let the hoarder control your life or your happiness because life is too short and you only have one.  And remember, one day the house(s) will be yours to do whatever you like with and the junk will be piled in the alley – or you can burn it in the fireplace, donate it, whatever is your cathartic remedy.

  • Hoarderschild

    I was wondering if anyone else here has a problem with trusting people?  When I was a child, my mother drummed into me that you can’t trust anyone but I know part of that was a way of isolating us because of the hoarding.  I was not allowed to have friends in grammar school or high school.  I finally left when I was 18 but I have found even at 50 I still have extreme difficulty with trusting people.

    • childofcollector

      Yes.  However, we could have friends, but we had to keep them at an arms length.  Never to fully trust them because they weren’t part of the family.  There was always the fear of people and what they might think when I lived at home.  My mother still lives in constant fear of what people think of her and shifts the blame to someone else (usually us kids–who are all now adults).  We as children, were taught that we couldn’t trust other people and to “keep it in the family”. 

      Then there is the always dreaded doorbell, when someone would come to the house.  There would be the rush of panic on what to do and what lie we would tell them this time, because we couldn’t EVER let anyone inside.  So now even after 15 years or so not living with them, I still get panicky when someone comes to the door. 

      • misfitmonroe

        Wow, I can totally relate. My grandmother who was a huge enabler used to say all the time that what goes on in the home stays in the home. Now I slightly agree to a certain point but what we were hiding was a lot of horrors. My grandmother was a huge force in our lives. Being suspicious, mistrustful and lowering others self esteem was her motto. I also used to cringe when someone rang the door bell. Either it was a bill collector because bills didn’t get paid and/or because the house was such a wreck. I grew up thinking we were poor due having utilities being turned off on a regular basis. Years later when I was an adult and helped my mother move out of my childhood home, I found old pay stubs of my father’s. Because nothing ever got thrown away I wasn’t all that surprised to find them however I was surprised to see just how much money my dad made back then. I almost fell over and then felt a huge amount of rage. My dad cleared a little over 75k a year back then. I know my parents mortgage was less than a 150 a month. Where the hell did all the money go? We rarely had anything nice. I remember not having enough socks and underwear, we never went to the Dr. Never had food in the house and so on. My parents divorced when I was a teenager. My dad told me years later he couldnt take how my mother never kept up the house. I know that wasn’t all of it but I can’t imagine being married to someone that doesn’t work and never cooked a meal or cleaned. My mom still to this day acts like a bratty teenager. 

        I think one of the worst memories I have is when I was about 8 yrs old. I was watching tv and saw one of my neighborhood friends walking by. I got paranoid she might knock on the door so I was ready to jump up an answer. About 10 min. later I heard the doorbell and whipped open the door, ready to make a hasty exit so my friend wouldn’t come in. Instead it was a worker from the gas company. My heart sank. We were always told NEVER to answer the door if it was a utility company. The woman asked if my mom was home. I knew what this meant, the lady was there to cut off our gas. I found my mom and told her I had answered the door and it was the gas lady. My mom slapped me across the face and screamed at me. She then ran into her room sobbing and flung herself across the bed. So I had to go back to the door. The lady told me she had to come in. I led her to where the gas meter was taking notice of the look on her face as she took in the house. She had to step on piles of junk to get to the gas meter. She then asked me if we had a puppy. I told her no. It had been years since we had a dog. She gave me a disgusted look and then left. I realized what she had been talking about. There was dog poop on the floor among the junk. The poop was so old it white. My dad had brought home a puppy for us a few yrs prior and my mom made him get rid of it. So ya, the dog must have pooped and of course it never got cleaned up. I felt so ashamed. Everyone in the house was angry at me. It was my fault the gas had been turned off cuz I answered the door. To this day, I still get a little nervous when I see a utility truck pull up in front of my house. I have to tell myself that I pay my bills on time. I also have a incredibly clean home (I developed a little OCD). Interesting how all these years later it still affects me. 

    • HT

      I have a hard time trusting. 

  • byrd

    Wow i thought i was alone and i thought that no one could possibly feel the same way i feel about my mothers hoarding and how it makes me feel. I am so angry with her because despite the fact of me trying to keep her away she has to go right back in her hoarding environment. I am at my wits end and am ready to give up but i am the only child and i know if i give up that will be the death of her. She has choosen her junk over her family…..so sad and frustrating

  • annonymous

    What can a daughter (who has a husband, three little kids and a full time job) do when she brings her hoarder mother, who has basically trashed her entire life, left her home and let it just “go” along with all belongings, etc. into her house and can’t get her out?
    I know a lot of people believe a person like the mother, who is 61 and also lost her job as a teacher because she just didn’t like the paperwork and quit doing it, is mentally ill.  Maybe she is.  But she also has NEVER had a consequence for anything she has ever done in her entire life.  She has remained an eternal child and a victim and follows through on nothing.  Her stay in her daughter’s home was supposed to be temporary, but (as was seemingly clear to anyone apparently but her caring daughter and her husband) now is it proving impossible to get her to do anything to move past her dependence on them. She neglects to keep appointments to various places to help straighten out her finances, get a job, etc. and it is one excuse after another.  She literally needs to be taken by the hand to do anything.  She smokes in their home even though they ask her not to, she has borrowed money she will never be able at this rate to repay, she has no health insurance, and even though probably she has some 401K funds from her ex husband when they divorced almost 20 years ago, she has no idea how much that might be – and won’t lift a finger to find out.  Everything “overwhelms” her. 
    The daughter and her husband have said “she doesn’t seem to realize this has a term limit on it and she will be homeless if she doesn’t do anything to help herself”.  But it is hard to imagine them really kicking her to the curb and she I am sure knows that.  I care about this family and I even like the mom (she is my husband’s ex and all of this behavior is why he couldn’t take it anymore – plus more stuff not mentioned here but she has always been an immature mess.  They married at 18 and he hung in there for over 20 years).  I want to say “She needs to actually BE kicked out and be left to her own devices because she has never had a consequence in her life” .  Well, I guess she has – my husband left her – but she really never like being married anyway, sex not at all, and never dated after they split almost 20 years ago.  She just needed him to financially support her.  She lost her teaching job and her house and its contents due to just dropping the ball.  She says she “can’t” do whatever is required, no matter what it is and she is ruining lives by just “being”. 
    The kids support their dad leaving her and support us being together.  She was left with the financial resources to be well cared for if she had managed to keep it, but who knows what she has done with her money.  We feel terrible because this is a terrible burden for my stepdaughter. GIVING her money is a lost cause and a bottomless pit.  My thought would be to a) get her to a shrink and see if she can either be helped and/or be diagnosed and b) get a disability attorney to work on whether or not she can begin to collect her SS now, have Medicare and then c) find her a cost controlled apartment for people of limited means who are over 55.  That would all take some time, but this can’t go on.  Any thoughts out there?      

  • Tc_jj

    Does the daughter want help with her mother and help with getting her an apartment/house, etc? If not, then it will be a lot of wasted effort on your part. Ask her first.

  • Live

    I grew up with parents that hoarded. I was lucky enough to not identify with it. My room even as a child was always organized and clean, (it’s always been my nature to put like items together and make my room and house look like a magazine cover or a show home), so it was always so weird when my friends would walk into a hoarded house to an organized room. I can remember saying things like, “that’s how they live, that’s not me” or “Ive learned you can’t fix CRAZY”. But I never internalized it. I moved out at 17 and have always been a minimalist. I believe there is a place for everything, and everything should be in it’s place. I think presentation is key. If things no longer serve a purpose I donate it or trash it. The way I see it, it’s just stuff and I’ll never change my parents and since they are not my responsibility I don’t bother trying.
    On a side note: If your family members pass and leave a hoarded home you don’t need to accept the inheritance or the hoard you can just sign off on it and leave the hoard to the family members who choose to deal with it. For me all the money in the world isn’t worth the hassle of tge clean up.

  • The Data Dump
    Where a daughter of a hoarder dumps info and resources for the adult children of hoarders, and those who care about them

  • hoarderskid

    I am the child of a hoarder. I hate mess, and when my house gets messy, it really irritates me. However, I lack a lot of house keeping skills, as I lived in a dysfunctional house from my birth til aged 19, when I left. I do not hoard, and whilst my house is always clean, it can get messy like any other household-nothing extreme, but the frustration, anxiety and irritation begins to surface. I have ocd, and won’t touch food prepared by others (except if it is prepared by my partner or a select few  others I trust) and I rinse already clean plates, cups etc, before I use them. I am not sure if this ocd is a genetic link to my mothers hoarding, or a reaction to living in filth. I am a most ungracious hostess, never offering drink or food, as I feel like I am dirty, and anything I have to offer is also dirty. I used to be so embarrased when my mother would stand in our kitchen, (piled with crap, not just the countertops, but the table and chairs too, so there was no where to sit) and ask the only friend I ever let in, to stay for tea. My feelings would be “like anyone would want to eat anything that came from here.”  I guess my not wanting to entertain  people in my home is somehow related to that.

    I love my mum, and I feel sorry for anyone with any mental illness. I am in my late 30’s now, and it has taken me this long to realize the impact of growing up in such circumstances. My mum doesn’t even think she has a problem, and is happy to have the people she knows in the house. My siblings and I never allowed anyone we knew in. Mum has this ability to casualy remark on how she hasn’t done the housework today, as if she hadn’t done the dishes, or pegged the washing out. In actual fact, not one room in the house functions in the way it should, ecxept for a small area around the stove, and about two feet of room to acess the pantry and fridge. I have seen the bathtub full of old newspapers, and other junk.  I hope one day this sickness can be better understood, and therefore lead to more effective treatment, or better yet a cure.

  • JVRN

    Hello, thank you for your rigorous honesty in sharing your experiences. I am a school nurse. I just discovered that some children live in one of these hazardous homes. They are little children, not old enough to advocate for themselves. It is my understanding that it takes “a village” to address this situation. Bottom line, I think I need to notify child welfare authorities so someone outside of the family can begin to address this safety issue. I would like to know, when children, did any outside person intervene on their behalf? Did it help? Thank you.

    • Discoverystation37


      I am a daughter of a hoarder, and I found the most people didn’t intervene on our behalf as much ridicule us for not helping our parents. They would either stay quiet about the situation or blame us for not cleaning up after ourselves. There are many times that I wish that someone would have spoken up…not to get me separated from my mom, but to pressure her to take action on cleaning up the stuff.

      Good luck. That is a hard situation.

  • I Won’t Be A Hoarder Too

    I’m 28 and grew up in a family of hoarders. I picked up my family’s
    habits of holding onto objects and becoming too emotionally and
    financially attached to them to get rid of them. I know it’s time for me
    to stop living a cluttered life.

  • Anonymous

    My boyfriend is a hoarder of junk from the dump or flea markets. It’s a lot of work cleaning and taking care of everything. I’m constantly giving things to family, friends and the thrift store. The sooner it leaves the house, the better.

  • Anonymous

    My Mom has an attic full of stuff. She and her neighbors laughed at me, because I brought half of it to my house, sorted through it in front of her and gave a lot away to my daughters. As she watched us sorting, she retrieved only one item. She said she had grown up in severe poverty and played with only one doll.

  • Anonymous

    I’m always saying to my husband, If you would just stop making a mess, I could go sit down.”  

    A beautiful home makes me feel beautiful inside as well.

  • Mitziewil.com

    Has anyone here ever heard of anyone hoarding people? 

  • Panda

    I am so glad I found this site.  It is so hard living with a secret for all of my life never being able to tell anyone in fear of what they would think.  I grew up with my parents. My mom a hoarder.  I remember the mounds of trash and garbage on the table in the dining room and throughout the kitchen.  Never once was I able to open the refrigerator or walk up to the kitchen sink or stove.  The mounds were throughtout the house.  I remember my dad being so frustrated with my mom that he would scream and yell at her.  The screaming was so bad I would run outside to my swingset only to hear the sounds of crashing dishes and my mom crying “NO” as my dad would take his hand and push all of the stuff off of the table to the floor.  I would come back in to find my mom picking up everything crying.  This went on too many times to count.  My dad was just so frustrated.  There was no getting through to her.  He didn’t know what to do.  I remember never being able to have friends over.  Like others have said I’m sure my friends parents were wondering why I was always over their houses but their kids were never invited to my house.  Talk about being scared of the doorbell.  We would all run and hide hoping who ever was at the door would give up and go away.  I remember when other kids were all asking Santa for toys to play with for Christmas all I ever wanted for Christmas was to wake up and find my house cleaned.  As I got older I remember being served all of meals in bed.  The house got worse the older I got.  Especially after my brother and sister moved out.  My brothers room “disappeared” once he moved out.  Once I moved out, being the last, my room has “disappeared” too.  The house is so bad now that there is very narrow pathways leading to the chair in the living room to the bathroom and the master bedroom.  The tub is filled up.  My parents take a shower once a week.  My mom will move all the stuff out of the tub and pile it up in the narrow pathway to the kitchen.  Once showers are done the stuff gets piled back up into the tub.  The bed is the same way.  My mom sleeps on the chair in the living room and my dad sleeps in the bed.  Once he is up the bed gets piled up with stuff.  Once he is ready for bed the stuff gets put back in the pathway to the kitchen.  She does this every single day.  She cooks all meals either in the microwave or a toaster oven or a griddle that they keep in the living room.  They have two refrigerators both are dead.  One in the kitchen and one in the garage.  They are both filled up with garbage.  I let them borrow a small college size fridge to use until they replaced the one in the garage.  It has been almost two years.  The garage is so full my mom taped up garbage bags on the windows so that no one can see in.  The trash is everywhere.  it is all over the back and side of the yard.  The township has come and told her to clean up three times.  She got a dumpster each time.  It didn’t even make a dent.  I’m sorry to go on and on like this.  Its just good to get some of this out.  its been bottled up for so long. 

  • Angela

    I am the daughter of a hoarder. I realized when watching these shows about hoarders and their kids, that I’m not the only one with a parent that hoards things. I know how the fighting and the emotional strain. I hate myself and my mother for living like this; her because she won’t do anything about the problem, and me for not making her clean up the mess. I have severe depression, medical problems, and almost no friends, except at school. I can never invite anyone over because I feel ashamed, I always have to watch where I’m going so I don’t break anything or hurt myself again. I get so frustrated that sometimes I pick something up and hurl it at a wall or kick it. My mother was so ingrained in her past and problems that caused her to start hoarding that she didn’t really raise me, I taught myself how to do a lot of things. She never reminded me to do anything growing up, like brushing my teeth, or my hair. I had huge blood crusted knots in my hair through elementary school because she never told me to brush my hair, and when she became aware of it she berated me, a 9 year old, that I should have known better. I am currently in family counseling that my mom like to call talking about my problems. I have made it clear to her that I will NEVER become like her, and she became offended.

    It’s so nice to vent your feelings to people who knows how it feels.

  • Angela

    My mom is a single mother, too. I constantly have the thoughts of what’s going to happen when she dies, and I have 40 years worth of things to clean out. Her room is so bad that all the things she piles on her bed everyday she can’t always fit on the floor and she has to sleep on the couch. You have to climb over her bed to get to anything of her’s. I can’t even allow her in or see my room because I know she’s going to touch and move things, and I won’t be able to find them. I know how thrilling it is to know everything has a certain place, that you don’t have to search or step over it to find it.

    • Bonnie

       my mother is not single…but I feel your pain..I am not looking forward to cleaning out two house’s and a storage room…her home does not have garbage that seems to be the only thing she will throw out….

    • windowclark

      Piles on the bed!! I know. How about the medications they are supposed to take—like Aricept for memory loss…they can’t FIND it!

  • Simon Birch

    This is the letter I sent to the show ‘Hoarders’ after watching the show for the first time:


    May 28, 2010



    Discovery Health Channel


    ATTN:  Producers


    To the producers of ‘Hoarding’,

         I must tell you
    that the topic of your show is a subject and condition that has been in my
    immediate presence through my mother, for over twenty years.  I have been watching your show for about a
    month when I have time because I am trying to realize what or if there was
    anything I can do to snap whatever switch can possibly be snapped or flipped
    back to the way it or she use to be. 
    Before watching your show and realizing that there is sometimes a switch, I was at a loss for
    what was going on.  I have been driven to
    breaking down in tears and asking God to drive me crazy instead of her because
    I couldn’t bare the pain of realizing that her sanity was in question or more
    likely at stake. 

         As an extremely
    passionate and albeit controlling person I have gone to very extreme measures
    to fix the problem but it only gets worse. 
    I have resorted to tactics of humiliation, disgust, and even abandonment
    of my concern and presence and nothing works. 
    I have given up and shall let her live in her disgusting pile of
    crap.  This crap includes lots of
    newspapers, straws and condiments which she has an affinity for, notebooks, and
    all sorts of things that she doesn’t need. 

         I am currently
    watching an episode where the daughters are taking the mother to the pawn shop
    so they can fulfill their pastime of getting gifts because a sister has come to
    town.  I personally stopped giving my
    mother birthday and Christmas gifts years ago because she doesn’t need or
    appreciate them.  I first started giving
    her flowers when my disgust grew because I figured she had to throw them away.  I no longer even give those.  I will not accept any gifts from her because
    I don’t want to enable her shopping habit. 
    The last Christmas gifts she gave me I left where she left them for me
    in her house.  Her biggest problem is
    that she just buys stuff to buy it and then it either never gets used because
    she doesn’t or can’t use that particular ‘sale’ item, or it rots because she
    doesn’t eat or need it. 

         The truth is that
    these people are in some form or another insane.  Sometimes it is painful to watch your show
    but I watch what I can when I can take it.  I no longer go to her house unless absolutely
    necessary and I even don’t want to know her or need her.  I am terminally ill and I tell myself as emotions
    try to get the better of me right now, what I have told myself for years now,
    ‘I will die in my house of severe pain if her and her overstuffed vehicle are
    the only way for me to get to the hospital’. 
    I don’t want to be around her because it reminds me that she is insane
    and unable to comprehend truth and that hurts when it is someone who is suppose
    to be part of your life’s team. 

         I want nothing to
    do with her and this is hard because you can’t abort your mom even though they
    can abort you as a child; if I could I would. 
    I have problems that the major medical minds of the modern world cannot
    get rid of and this woman just has garbage that can be picked up.  I wish I could just stand up and carry my
    biggest problem to the GARBAGE CAN.  I
    have no sympathy for these people and I realize they are crazy.  I have asked her on more than one occasion
    how much stuff does she think she is going to be able to fit into her coffin
    and she just sits there with this dumb look on her face.  Maybe shock therapy can help these

         I will tell you
    this as well, I have cleaned out my mother’s house on two different occasions
    in the same manner that you have cleaned out the homes on your show ‘Hoarding’
    and it in plain and simple words DOES NOT WORK. 
    I guarantee you that if you go back to these homes they will be in the
    same condition.  I had to come to the conclusion
    that you can’t do an intervention on INSANITY!



  • New blog entry: 
    Not Just Clutter
    My name is Rae, and I’m the daughter of a hoarder. I try not to let that
    define me, but this blog is all about my relationship with a compulsive

    • Thanks, COH, for including my blog!  I never thought that ‘this’ would be a topic I’d become so familiar with, but since I am, I might as well write about it.  I hope it helps others feel like they’re not alone, and in the meantime, helps me sort out my own feelings.

      The Children of Hoarders website is a great resource, but I’m also terribly sorry it has to exist.  Here’s hoping that some day, a solution can be found to break down the barriers, physical and emotional.

  • mitzi bales

    I just watched the show 20 20 about children of hoarders. I never knew until this show and the one and A&E there were others like this. I am 40 years old. My mom who was a teen when she had me left me with my grandmother. She was a hoarder. I never spoke about it, never had friends over. I can’t watch the show on A&E, because of the emotional hurt I feel when watching it. My grandmother loved me more than anything in the world, I have not doubt about that, but I worry all the time, is my house clean enough will anyone look at my mess. I am not a hoarder and my friends tell me how nice the house looks, but it is always in my mind. Like it will never be good enough.

    I worry about cleaning, question if I am doing it right. Drives my husband crazy.

  • Minvan2000

    Hi there I’m 24 years old I’m the sec oldest outta all of my slibings. My mom is what you called a Hoarder but in the house is not that bad, but just some newspapers/papers/magazines just plies up everywhere. I mean she has a OCD like saving a lot of stuff. Even when you go to like to the upper room attic it’s like a big plies of junk! When I wacth the 20/20 special on Children of Horarders that when I start seeing those young girls was like they can’t have a lot friends over! So that makes me wonder, if I lived by myslef I will keep this place clean.  

  • Simonbirch101

         Having just found this site recently, it has been comforting to have others to share with who can understand.  For years I have explained to friends who haven’t seen the house and they just don’t understand my angst. 
         I have something that I think about at times that I’m sure you have thought of and struggled with as well:
         When do you report your family member to the authorites and what burden do you share if you DONT ~ My mother has all the entrances BLOCKED by ‘stuff’…  If there is a fire she cant get to any window in her bedroom and she cant get out the back door if she wanted to.  This is all compounded by the narrow walkway through the whole house.
         Should I turn her in to the fire department so they can force her to clear it or should I maintain some family or personal creed of loyalty since she isn’t ‘hurting’ anyone…  Will the guilt be crippling enough if something does happen to her that I should just turn her in to avoid that guilt… 
          I really understood and identified with the Child of a Hoarder on the 20/20 show when he said, “…I cant stand to even talk to her anymore…” ~ with this feeling, should I just stay out of it ~ all she would do is put it in ‘another’ storage and then eventuall lose that…
         I have started to think that she likes living surrounded by the stuff like some safe cave or wall…

  • J.F

    I live in a family of hoarders. The kitchen is the worst, because I spend hours on cleaning it – every day. I throw everything into the rubish, clean, get rid of fungus everywhere because everywhere there is old food. And when I finally ended clearing the kitchen table everything around it is a mess again. But I continue and clear off the cooking area, trow out the rubish, clean as much as much as possible – Sometimes I try to get rid of all the burnt whatever, but it’s just been there for so long. So when I finally got this square free and I would want to start cooking and turn around, I could garantee you the table would be FULL of stuff again. How is this possible?! So I clear of the table again, trow out the rubish, clean it again – cooking area gone! Clear of the cooking area, throw out the rubish (where does this stuff all come from?… whell just speaking of the kitchen table and cooking area…) So finally after a certen amount of time, I got those 2 spots I need to make my own meal. Mostly I’m exhausted allready then.
    Next step is finding something wich is not full of fungus or turned into any other colour than the original one, most of the time I save money from my pocketmoney I receve from my mum so I can buy my own food. It is still a problem tough storing it, because either I cook it right after shopping or it will be contaminated by fongus or disapear in the mess. So preparing for breakfast for example uses up lots of time: Cleaning kitchen befor shopping, 1-2h, shopping 30min, cleaning kitchen again 1h. And I’m just speaking of those two spots I need to prepare a meal. I won’t mention the oven, which started to create it’s own life for itself or any of the cupboards… The place we keep knifes and forks… I do clean it if I actually find the energy for it but I just don’t get this far. Every little succes gets distroyd immidiatly, but I feel it is important to eat proparly at least – even though everything else is completly out of order and full of stuff. My mum doesnt cook for us anymore, she said we kids never appreciated it so she stopped. I try really hard to make this work again and show her that I appreciat food, but it’s all so hopless. I’d give up and move out if I could, but I dont want to live in an institution and I really do want to help my family because it’s not getting better.
    Isn’t it my duty to help my family in return for them raising me?
    I feel so tired all the time, it feels as if the objects and rubish in the house are more important than actually paying attention to my existance, my education, their own healthcare – they are all ill, but won’t do anything. And because my both parants raised us from beginning into this structure, my brothers are completly the same to them. I ask myself why didnt I turn out like them – maybe I would feel better about my life.

  • Lmcgimsey

    I am 51 and my mother is a hoarder.  This week I cleaned out a corner of her “storage hangar”, (w/ her approval month’s ago), to make room for some of our horse tack.  She came home yesterday and noticed it cleaned out and threw an emotional roller coaster fit, threatening to disown me and my family in every way.  “How could you?” she asked, and told me to wait to do this cleaning out stuff ’til she is dead.  Which is what I will obviously be doing.  I feel frustrated, dazed and confused.  I know she lashed out at me because of her “sickness”, so I am working to be merciful, forgiving and have humility towards her today.  I wish this situation did not exist.  She is messy in many emotional ways; it’s tough.  As the only daughter out of 5 kids, I am the “responsible one” who helps her w/ bills, etc., when she can trust me to do so….another frustration. I am asking another brother to please try and get her to hire a bookkeeper for herself and 3 small businesses.  What a paper mess too!  sigh

  • Bonnie

     I know what you mean..Angela…..I will have the same problem..

  • klarnetisto

    I grew up in a house with a hoarding mother.  What made it worse was that she blamed my brother and me for the problem, because as a single mother working nights she felt that was her contribution to the family and we children were then the ones responsible for doing all the housework (of course, the trouble is that children learn by example…!). 

    I started to move towards non-cluttered living on my own initiative in my college years: I claimed an unused room in our house which was so cluttered that the floor couldn’t be seen: it was piled with up to 4′ feet high of clutter.  Over a year or two I cleared it enough for it to function as my bedroom.  In the process I unearthed clutter from the time i was born (cards from friends and relatives welcoming the new baby, cards for my 1st birthday…), and even from before when I was born.  Then when I moved out of state to attend graduate school, my mother took over that bedroom.  When I returned to visit just a few months later, I found that she had somehow managed to clutter this room to the point where things were piled up about 4′ high again.  That told me that I wasn’t the problem: my mother’s compulsion for clutter was.  That was 30 years ago. 

    19 years ago I visited my mother & brother during a summer to help clear out the house.  My wife & I spent two weeks emptying the basement.  It was really like an archeological excavation, with layers of clutter each representing a particular era: my later childhood, my early childhood, my mother’s young adulthood, finally her childhood…  My brother helped a little, my mother not at all.

    Now the house is so completely cluttered that my mother and brother have been living in a hotel room for years.  It is literally impossible to walk through the house now: at best one has to crawl over piles of clutter up to 5′ high; at worst some rooms can’t even be entered at all.  Now the roof is leaking over the central stairwell — one can see sky through the roof in places — and the staircase is about half rotted away.  The door to the basement is completely blocked with clutter, so I have no way to know if the basement I had worked so hard to clear is now filled with clutter again; I assume that it is.

    During my last visit I talked to them about hiring a cleaning company to help them.  They reluctantly admitted that it was probably worth considering.  My brother said he would first have to clear out the entry way so that the company could do their inspection visit; that was a year & a 1/2 ago and nothing at all has happened since then.

    Unfortunately I’m so under-employed now that I can’t afford to go visit them right now.  When I can, though, I will bring the cleaning company to the house myself and have the inspection done, and will work to get the cleaning process started.  My mother is 88 years old, and says that we wants to spend her last years in her home again; I hope that, with counseling, she and my brother can face what it will take to accomplish this.

  • Sable

    Daughter of a hoarder. Jason’s video made me cry, it’s great to know I’m not alone. Thank you jason, you give me hope <3

  • Tarab<3

    Jason gives me hope.
    Thank you.

    My parents got divorced when I was 8 and my little sister Lexy was 3. My dad moved out and we stayed with my mom. She went into a deep depression and that’s where everything began. Our normal house went chaotic.

    It started small. Keep that pencil in case you need it for school, keep those toys for your kids, or taking in a stray cat. But things have gotten way out of hand. There’s clutter and filth everywhere.

    I have had one friend over since I was 8, and only because that friends mother is also a hoarder. After a while she even stopped coming over and we grew appart.

    Today my house is piled high with filth and there isn’t a tidy spot anywhere. We have 3 dogs, around 30 cats, 2 rabbits, and are getting chickens. One of the dogs poops and pees everywhere and all of the cats per and sometimes poop everywhere. It’s disgusting. It makes me want to never be like this after I move out. I refuse.

    No one thinks about how we feel, how the children feel. I know that I feel secluded and like I can’t talk to or trust anyone. It stresses me out and I hate smelling like a litter box. No amount of perfume can cover it completely up.

    Life like this is hard.. Period

  • Fleur

    I’m 16, and my mums house is a pig sty, i can’t wait to move out. I wish I could help my mum but she wont change or see a doctor. My room is the only clean one in the house, and she still tries to put her stuff in my room. She always hoarded stuff, but she got even worse when my brother moved out. I’m worried about when i move out because it might get even worse, its already up to the ceiling in most rooms. Its so embarrassing because she keeps stuff like wrapping paper and uses it again on presents, and everyone sneers at how crappy the gifts are. I have no where to do my school work, and hate having friends round. 

    Has anyone got their parents to stop hoarding or have a clear out? How? 

    • Discoverystation37

      No, I haven’t gotten my mom to stop hoarding, but, yes, we have had a few clean outs in the past 30 years. The first couple were done because of pressure from my grandpa. He was worried about us (the kids), and was very open to my mom about his concerns. Since she respected him and didn’t want to fail him, she went along with it.

      Now, we have got her to agree to another clean out, but it is because her health is declining rapidly, and she realizes that she can’t live any longer in a house where she is constantly tripping over things. She wants to live her retirement differently.

      Even though she is willing to have people come to help her clean out though doesn’t meant that it is any easier to get rid of the items. She is still very attached, and the process is significantly slower than if we were just able to do it by ourselves.

      Just a FYI though, if you do get her to go along with a clean out, realize that she may hate you at the end of it. Also, if you have siblings, she is going to try and play you against each other…at least my mom always has. She will do what she has to in order to protect the hoard.

      Also, just expect the hoard to get worse when you move out. It almost always does. Realize that once you move out, you are free. Try to live your life the best you can without being sucked into the daily drag that comes with being close to a hoarder.

      I have heard of stories where hoarders have stopped, but that is almost always in the rare cases where the hoarder wants to make the change. It’s not something that can be forced or pushed on them. My best advice would be to just keep your space clean for the time being. If she puts stuff in your room, kick it out. Guard your domain. Once you move out, distance yourself from it and move forward with you life.

      Good luck!

      • Kayakdreams

        My dad is a hoarder…as was his dad afore him. At 42 I am so pleased to have found this site btw. Finally, a chance for online commiseration. Thanks everyone for their heartfelt stories. My mom divorced my dad the dud wnen I was three and my older brother the tender age of five. She had had enough of his junk car collection and garages filled to the ceiling. He is also has untreated bipolar disorder and adhd (and possibly aspergers). And despite being of exceptional intelligence, he has little insight into his hoarding behaviors. He LOVES to talk ad nauseum about other peoples problems are as he sees them. “You know what the problem is with people these days? Throwing away ‘perfectly’ good things.”. ENABLER SON RESPONDS IN BOBBLEHEAD FASHION (abeeb abeeb thats me folks) “You’re right dad.”

  • Anon

    My mom was a terrible hoarder and got worse when all the kids left home.  She would agree wholeheartedly that things ‘needed to be straightened out’ but every time someone would offer to help or tidy up for her she got mad at them.  She always said she was very organised and everything was fine.  She died in a mess and intestate about 18 months ago.  It’s a relief now not to have to deal with her I never could stay with her and feel clean.  Once the house is sold it will be the end of it all.  I’m always worried I’ll be like her and so make an extreme effort to get rid of things and keep my house clean and tidy.  Thanks everyone for sharing and it is good to know we can end the cycle.

  • Deenie2612

    My mother has been a hoarder for years. My story is like so many others here. When I was living at home, the house was just pretty messy and cluttered. Over the years, it got worse and worse. My mother was recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition. She had to call 911 and have EMTs come inside her house to take her to the hospital. I can’t imagine how difficult that was for her. She realizes at least part of the house must be presentable for medical aides to come in regularly to help her. For the first time in decades, my siblings and I have an unprecedented window to clean and organize. We are not allowed to throw anything away, but box it up. She will be rehabilating at my sister’s house for a few weeks so the window is limited. I am feeling more than a little overwhelmed at the moment, but as I want to get so much done and the window is small.

  • a long road home

    I have never come across anything so clear and apparent as this disorder yet it is so invisible to the person who is suffering with it… My dad has always been a collector- whether it be stamps or records when he was a kid to now extrapolated to everything you can think of. But mainly books. His collection of books has gradually increased and increased since i started reading and collecting comics as a teenager. I stopped in my late years of high school yet he kept buying and collecting them and set up a stall selling them. This developed into novels and used my mum as an excuse (she reads a lot of books) as a reason in bringing more and more home. My brother died over 10 years ago now and since then and since I left home (straight after school – 13 years ago) his collecting has just gotten out of control. My mother is in a wheelchair with brain damage from a MC crash 25 years ago and he (my dad) looks after her full time. He goes to opportunity shops on almost a daily basis to buy more and more and now the house, garage, shed, bathroom included is filled with boxes of books from floor to ceiling with this ridiculous path trhough the house from front door to kitchen-to bathroom-to a small area in their bedroom where they sleep. I feel so helpless about this. I fought with dad for years and years about this though as i dont live near them i can block it out of my mind more easily now but then i feel like i have given up and i should be doing more. I feel so bad for my mum’s increased lack of mobility and of course, like so many other people here, am so scared of what will happen when my dad passes away or becomes less able to look after himself and my mum. This is just a vent but good on this website- I’m certain it gives relief to so many. I am a psychologist by trade ( and no this does not make my dealing with this much easier if at all). Good luck to all those out there suffering in the same way as me. Be kind to those who you love- I’m sure this is the only way anything will ever change.

    • Bischo

      My mother (88yrs) is a hoarder too and she has just been admitted to an Aged Care Facility a week ago….thank goodness! I have begun the clean up yet again. My husband and I bought my mother’s property 16yrs ago and built a new house, and turned the back area into a granny flat for my mother to live in and care for her. I knew nothing about hoarding all those years ago and began a 6yr clean up almost single handedly of the old house, made more difficult with my mother watching where every item went, rubbish or not before we could finally pull the house down. However mum had recreated what she knew, and filled up the one bedroom granny flat up. No amount of talking to her would make a difference with cleaning up her ‘stuff’. the smell of  her part of the house would permeate mine. Even calling inthe Hoarding and Squalor Team were sent away time and time again and could not help and she would not let them in.
      Sadly my father was a also hoarder on the outside and it has taken us (my husband and myself and family working bees) 15yrs to have it almost clean.
      I can totally relate to the frustration everyone feels toward the hoarder in their lives. I visited my mother today and she gave me 7 pages of items she wants me to bring to her on my next visit. AHHHHHH!!!!!!! I am so sick of the crapp, so sick of her stuff and am so NOT going to fill her lovely new room up with useless items! I have had some recent counselling due to the effects of this illness and now realise I am the boss and I can and I will say NO! to her.
      in the meantime…. I will take a breathe, put on my gloves, grab the disinfectant and continue to clean. The mouse body count is up to 13 and I’m sure it will continue to rise. So far, at least they are mice not rat bodies which were all through the old house.
      I must say that with every bag of garbage I can feel the prison of her stuff releasing me little by little.

  • Gaskins06

    TODAY THE DAY CAME!!!!!  I knew we would have to clean out my dad’s house once he died. My brother died 15 years ago and now I am the only child.  My husband was right by my side and even tried to clean it out himself but…… 1-800-GOTJUNK? came in and in two days and 18 trucks, they got it ALL out.  It cost less than it would cost us to come in town over months and pay for gas and hotel bills.  This sight is so helpful.  Now they have a name for this and it has helped to know that my family is not the only one with the house no one can come in.  My mom left so we never had to live in it as children.  It breaks my heart that some kids have to live and breathe this filth.  I love my dad even with this issue he loved me and took good care of me.  I now understand that if he could have done better, he would have and I forgive him.

  • kari

    WOW – this site feels like home. I have been struggling with a hoarding, lying, gambling mother for most of my life. I feel like a science experiment gone awry. Left home at 18 to get away from her, she was always mean to me and to my dad. When my dad died 13 yrs ago, I got sucked back in. She acted all pathetic and needy and there I was. Refinancing her home, cleaning, picking up grocerys etc. but within a few months she was back to her evil self. Every time I would try to throw ANYTHING away she became possessed grabbing the items and telling me to get out. As children of hoarders we get jipped out of happy family holidays & joy. My husband & I moved away 5 yrs ago so now on holidays we have to stay at a hotel because its so dirty there – Im afraid of the mice too. Recently her sewer backed up, we offered to rip up the filthy carpet so we could bring her great grandchild to visit. She refused. She is also a gambler, slot machines in NJ. Whichs she also lies about. We dread the day we have to go clean out the haunted house, as we call it. I have begged 100’s of times to clean but she says no, its her stuff. Then makes jokes about when shes dead we can clean it !  Sometimes I HATE her, in fact alot of times. I am a christian and I pray everyday for some relief from this burden. Yesterday she called and asked if we were coming for her birthday so I asked if she cleaned or ripped up the rugs and she said nope, so I said theres your answer. She laid a guilt trip but my grandkids health is more important. I have begged my brother to band with me and confront her but he says forget it, wait till she dies. I don’t think anyone understands the stress unless you experience it firsthand. She made a comment about wanting a viewing when she dies, I said were just going to cremate you with all your junk.

    • misfitmonroe

      I just found this site and unsure of how to use it. If anyone has any tips let me know. Just reading everyone’s stories, I agree, this feels like home. The funny thing is I never really knew what was wrong with my family until the tv show hoarders came out. I did realize something was wrong when I was old enough to start going to friend’s homes and realizing that other people didnt live like we did. I had a friend come over once and she asked why we were so dirty.  I never invited friends over again. I moved out when I was 18. My mother is now 70 yrs old and she is at her worst. I live out of state and go back to my hometown to visit. I am forced to stay at her house which is now coming to an end. I can’t do it anymore so I will be renting a hotel room next time I go home for a visit. This last visit was the worst yet. Im so ashamed that someone I love lives so terribly. I have tried talking to her about. Either she blows up or cries. Never in between. She told me a few weeks ago she saw a car stop in front of her house and people got out and started walking around her property. She opened the door and asked them what they wanted. They apologized, they thought her house was a foreclosure. She was so peeved. The truth is her house does look abandoned. She never cuts the grass and refuses to pay a lawn service. The inside of the home is far worse. Carpet so filthy you need to wear shoes at all times. Rotten food in the fridge, a bathroom so dirty I have seen gas station restrooms in better shape. I have cleaned her home so many times and it breaks my heart that she manages to destroy all my hard work with in a week. I hate the lies. “I work!” Really? So do most people and they manage to clean. I get so angry. The worst part is when my son asks why grandma is so dirty. I don’t have a good explantation. 

      • Kari

        Your not the misfit – its your mom.  Your story sounds so much like mine. I totally understand the blowing up or crying thing.
        I don’t believe my mothers carpets have been cleaned in 30 yrs or more, talk about gross. 
        I agree the LYING is the worst part. My mom lies constantly and uses every excuse in the book for her FITHY house.
        In fact she just called today & began her endless list of why she can’t get things done or cleaned. The REAL truth is she sits and smokes and gabs on the phone untill her 80 yr old boyfriend comes to take her to the casinos. She closes her door & pretends its all ok. My advice would be to put your family first, and be honest with your son.We told our grandson, great grandmoms house is dirty because she is lazy. When he visits us we make him do a few small chores to teach him responsibility. Today I told my mom I quit being the mother and she has to be responsible for her own mess. She went into her normal rage and blaming, and I told her I am not getting into the silly blame games. I think down deep they know they are responsible for how they live. My mother grew up being babied and spoiled. She married my dad who continued to spoil and baby her. She had NO time for me or my brother. She turned our 4 bedroom 3 bath home into a barely 1 bedroom 1 bath toilet.
        After fighting with her for 40 plus yrs, I decided my husband and family are more important and my sanity. The less I talk to her or see her the better things are. I keep her in my prayers.
        And I dread the day I have to clean up that place. I am new to this website too and also am not sure how it works. But I feel better to
        vent here with people who understand. I watch hoarders once in a while but most times it makes me angry so I have to change the channel.  Just remember ITS NOT YOUR FAULT. 

  • Hoysruskc

    I need some advice. We are getting ready to do long term foster parenting for a 13 year old who’s parents are extreme hoarders. How can we help this child? The hoarding was not the main reason that the child was removed from the home however it was considered a big issue. How can we help this child as she adjusts to our home?

    • Elizabeth

      If you’re on this site, you’ve already taken a really good first step in trying to educate yourself.  A few ideas off the top of my head: hoarders are very controlling about space (or so neglectful of it that there’s none left for anyone else in the house) and this girl will need extra support and compassion in learning how to take responsibility for space in a normal way.  She has had no role models and has had to guess at and figure out a lot on her own.  At 13, I’m sure she’s already desperate to be just like everybody else, she knows what normal is supposed to look like, but the details of how to achieve it are very difficult to know if you haven’t lived with functional parents.  Another possibility: in the hoarded home, she might have taken on an excessive amount of responsibility, a role reversal where she was attempting to care for her parents or address the home issue (to whatever degree was possible).  Basically, she hasn’t had the opportunity to grow up in a healthy environment and feel safe and *cared for*.  At 13, she has looked around her hoarded home and recognized (at least subconsciously) that her parents are not caring for her properly.  That is a painful thing…. and sometimes instead of facing that truth, children make other, self-blaming assumptions.  Deep down, this girl might feel that she doesn’t deserve a clean and functional home, she may have been told that the home condition was her fault and that she wasn’t doing enough.  Every situation is different but these scenarios are common.  The things that you should be particularly generous about offering to her: privacy, her own “space”, validation that SHE is a competent and capable person.  I hope she’s getting counseling, as well, to help her understand that her parents are ill.  This girl will benefit in a huge way from simply living in a functional household and seeing how it works.  Thanks for visiting this website, it’s so encouraging to realize that a younger generation of COH has a fighting chance of being understood and feeling less confused about their situation!

  • Chris spall

    I believe my sister in law is a hoarder.  i have not been to her house in 5 years and the last time I was there it was showing signs of major clutter. you could not walk through the living room , her family room had a playpen filled with toys{her daughter was 5 at the time so had not been in that playpen for years].  Her dining room was filled with the boxes that things she had bought had come in. You could not see any free space on her kitchen counters or kitchen table.    One time my brother in law was driving by her house and his daughter really needed to use the bathroom.  He stopped at her house to use the bathroom and my sister in law was mortified to even have my 4 year old niece come in.  The sad part is she has a 10 year old daughter who seems emotionally not right. She is extremely shy, obviously can’t have friends over, and is an anxious kid. We all wonder if this is just how she is or if the household environment is making her this way.  I always wonder how she can concentrate on homework in a house like that.  My husband recently saw my sister in law’s car and he said it was filled to the brim with bags and boxes of stuff. We all know she has a problem yet noone does anything about it not even her husband.  How long do we let this go on without saying something to her?  How damaged is my already fragile niece going to become.  This whole situation makes me so sad.

    • Kat

      might have to call child protective services now so that little child doesn’t have major issues later. Its really does hurt these children.
      From what you wrote your sisterinlaw is a hoarder. Many spouses are afraid to take a stand or leave.

    • Desiderata

      You are in a difficult situation with a sister in law.  Obviously you are worried about your niece.  Is there any way you could have a chat with her husband about it?  Or get your husband to talk to him and ask him if he wants help?  One other suggestion would be is to offer to have your niece visit you for a week at at  a time to see how a normal family behaves, she may pick up some of your habits and it will give her a ‘safe’ place to vent when she is a teenager.

    • holly

      You need to call the child welfare services in your area, that child is being abused having to live like that, maybe it will be what your sister-in -law needs to clean up her act and save this child from a lifetime of mental issues. Believe me, it will cause the kid issues, I wanted to die as a teen because it was more than I could handle having my mother be a hoarder. Do something!! No one did anything to my mom, she got away with her filth for years at my expense! Help the child you say you care about.

  • Carissa2

    My mother is a hoarder for the over 20 years and most of you as I can guess and read are probably living in a relationship like I was with my mother..she lives her way I live mine. Now that she is elderly , on kidney dialysis because she never took care of herself or bothered to maintain her health I am taking care of her for the past almost three years. Sadly, I am finally now seeing the deterioration her hoarding has on my family and my marriage. We have given her ulimatums with no avail and she just gets ugly when anyone talks about her 2 condos in Pasadena or her car that has been sitting collecting dust for the past three years. When she became sick I let her initially ride it out at my house because I just could not…would not return her to her fly infested, molding, bug infested, dead rats everywhere den. We have helped her many times get a fresh new start at least 2 if not three times. Everyone in our family has tried many other times to clear a path for her empty her trash just for her place to return to total filth in just as little as a few weeks. In 2010 after she has lived with me for a few months she became worse and needed kidney dialysis. Of course with kidney dialysis you have to have a completely sterile clean environment. She keeps promising to have her places cleaned up by these wonderful people she knows of, but nothing is getting done. I struggle as a daughter to do the right thing in God’s eyes and honor my mother. My relationship with my sister is non exisitant now and my mother has made sure to nail the final nail into that tomb. My sister shut the door on my mother and me because my mother refuses to let go of her two condos in Pasadena that she has been paying over 800.00 a month on to store all of her crap. We have offered to help her get into assisted living and just get what she needs out of her condos but she gets really ugly really fast when we ask her to let go of all of her stuff. So the day goes on and my mother is still living with us. Now her hoarding is taking over my home with three little children. My new kitchen counters are swollen where she has left water sit. Her corner in the kitchen has grown and grown and there is dirt , crumbs and waste all over the counters. Her room here in my home is knee deep in bags and medical supplies. My garage is half full of all her crap she keeps bringing back from the condos. The bathroom smells of urine and amonia where my children have to use the toilet. My attitude lately is…I just don’t care..I guess she will finally succeed in making one of her daughter’s home a hoarding home. I have pics I can post later. I just needed to let “Children of Hoarders” know it does not get better and there is no resolution. My best advice would be NEVER NEVER no matter how hard it gets do NOT remove a hoarder from their environment…Any advice on how to commit her would be lovely…PLEASE someone with real experience and advice help in response. God Bless.

    • misfistmonroe

      Im sorry Carissa. I understand your pain. Have you spoken to her doctors and discuss options? Maybe they will do a psych evaluation? I will warn you, I attempted this route a couple of years ago the last time my mom was in the hospital. She flipped out and didnt speak to me or my sister for a couple of months. The doctor said she appears to have a issue with anger, OCD, high anxiety and denial. No kidding. He prescribed her some anxiety meds but she refuses to take them so that was whole situation was pointless. 

      It is incredibly hard to commit someone. My only suggestion is to talk to her doctors. Maybe you can get power of attorney. ?? I have no idea what I will do with my mother. She still works full time and has a host of serious medical conditions. I am trying to talk to her about being realistic about what kind of money she will have when she retires (below poverty level). Since she makes a fairly decent wage right now and collecting SS she thinks she can spend like she’s 20 yrs old. I had to take her dog away from her. She wasn’t caring for it and I got sick of hearing stories about the dog being left outside in temps of 100 degrees with no water or shelter. But then again, the horrible backyard is still better than the inside of her house. sigh. Its a really good dog too. I finally convinced her to give me the dog but only because I have to play the card of how good it would be for her and not the dog. Mom is too self absorbed to think about anyone else. The dog is a mess. I spent 200 bucks at the vet getting the dog up to date on shots and address its serious skin issues. I had to tell the Vet that the dog didnt live in the best sanitary conditions (that was fun). So we got the dog on meds and the vet says its “environmental” allergies and nothing too serious. Mom did inquire about the dog and I told her. her words, “BULLSH*T, the dog is allergic to wheat.” Ya okay. The vet said dog food allergies consist of approximately 5% of allergies. He could tell by the condition of the dog’s coat that it was related to being dirty too long. Your comment about your counter top really hit home with me. My mother did the same damn thing to us. I live out of state but within driving distance so Mom comes to stay with us a few times a year for the holidays and a weekend or two in the summer. Its like a toddler just showed up. She manages to destroy my house within minutes. She carelessly drops her stuff everywhere. She piles things on the counters and just over all takes over. I understand why her house is such a wreck in no time. So anyway, she left a wet glass on the seam of my countertops. It puckered the seam and lifted it. I didnt bother to tell her because I didnt want to deal with her crying fit or anger. Its always crap shoot on which response I will get. So we replaced our counters with granite only because the home improvement store was having a huge sale and it was not much more than replacing the formica. Mom finds out and says in a snotty tone, “it must be nice to get granite.” Really? Yes, its nice but we actually wanted to go on a vacation this year. Instead we replaced 5 yr old countertops because you left a damn glass out. It wasn’t worth the fight to tell her the truth. What really pisses me off is her house was adorable when she bought it 10 yrs ago. Freshly painted, new flooring through out, cozy and now its just a horrible horrible place. She destroys every house she has ever owned. 

      • Carissa2

        Yes, thank you for your advice…I have thought about talking to her case worker again and getting more advice from her. Not like they can really do anything. Just last week her doctor says “Is your daughter making sure that you have three square meals a day?” Goodness! I have three children why would they ask such a thing , my mother knows when dinner is ready we eat at the same time every day…Oh ya thats right because no one but her family knows just how bad her selfishness is. I talked to my mother-in-law about everything that is going on finally too and she says she has never heard of someone being so selfish and that my mother just HAS to go, she is telling us to get our family back on track as well..without her. My mother makes twice what my mother-in-law makes in social securtiy and disablity and my mother-in-law lives in assisted living cute little one bedroom apartment up north.
        So, yesterday me and the kids were out to eat and I ran into my neighbor who has just donated her kidney. I thought it was to her mother-in-law, but no she said it was for her own mother who had been on kidney dialysis for a couple of years and she was a match. I looked at her and said “Wow, you and your mother must have a very special relationship.” She says “Yes, my mother is an amazing woman”. I could not imagine saying that about my mother so I just wonder what in the heck is wrong with me…why can’t my mother be just a little bit selfless…just a little…My mom has been on kidney dialysis too for the past going on three years and there is no hope for a donor. And if she even got another one…she would trash it by living poorly again and not take care of herself. There are so many precious children and loving people out there that deserve a donated kidney more that my irresponsible mother..isn’t that terrible to say?!?!?
        So, I will call her case worker up and talk to her on the phone some, the last time I spoke with her it was with my children and my mother all in the same room. And there are things you just do not say in front of your children.
        God Bless Ya’ll. I know God is a good God and all of this too will work out to Glorify Him…I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing in His eyes. Honor your mother and father.

        • Tc_jj

          I feel you have done enough honoring your mother to last for several lifetimes! It is time for you to get to enjoy your own family, before they grow up and resent the time you spent on someone who doesn’t appreciate what you are sacrificing. Yes, it will undoubtably affect your relationship with her, but you’ve done your best to fulfill your duties to her – now it is time to think of your own kids.

    • fooks

      Does the state you live in have a Dept on Aging/Eldercare program?  My option if my parents we’re not going to cooperate with me was to report it to their Dr. who by law has to report it to our state agency.  I live in Illinois and our Dept on Aging rules that hoarding by the elderly by law is self-neglect.  After it is reported they investigate/evaluate the degree of health/safety hazard it is, then take the necessary steps to protect those elderly that hoard (which can mean removing them from an unsafe/unhealthy household).   Check out what laws govern abuse of the elderly in your state and see if they have anything on the books for elderly hoarders. 

  • Left_to_clean

    I’ve been trying to find a chat or comment section here but can’t find anything.  Today is the first day I have tried to seek out a support group for children of hoarders.  My mom was a hoarder and dad just followed in with it.  My mom died in that house and had to have emt’s come in.  I was mortified by this living in a small town but more so by my mother’s death.  But now I WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH THE HOUSE AFTER MY DAD DIES.  My mother died at 48 in 2007 and I’m now 26.  I’ve never told anyone this, ANYONE.  With me being an only child it will be solely my responsibility to do whatever with the house once he does die.  I  envy those people on tv who have parents who hoard ‘stuff’ my childhood house is garbage!  Animal feces, my dad hasn’t had running water in maybe 6 years.  Idk how he personally cares for himself and I don’t want to.  It’s disgusting makes me depressed thinking about it.
    Once he dies though what can I do?  Can I have the house condemed and just ripped up and thrown in a dump truck?  Burn it?  I will never go in this trash pile again, but idk what to do and am mad at my dad for leaving me his crap to clean up and bare alone. 

    What have any of you done that have had to deal?  Cleaning is not an option, the last time I went I fell through the floor as all the garbage rotted the boards away.

    What can I do?  Any help from anyone please?I created a new email and I would GREATLY APPRECIATE any advice!!


  • Onlychild92660

    Has anyone had success in helping their HP recover and live a normal life? I am at a point where I can no longer ignore my mothers living situation. She is 65 and I an concerned for her health and saftey. I approached her 6 years ago and she threatened to disown me….shocking given the fact that I am her only child and I know she loves me very much. Maybe my approach was poor as I had not done much research on the condition. For the past several days I have educated myself, ordered a couple of books and reached out to a professional. She gave me some tips and sugggested that I speak to my mother in persone. I’m not sure that that is the best approach as I don’t think she will listen to me. Maybe I should write her a letter??? Any thoughts or advise would be much apprieciated.

  • Hi everyone. I would like to thank all of you for sharing your stories. This is really a difficult thing to deal with. I have a similar story. As long as I can remember my house has always been a mess. It was not until recently I learned that it is more than a “messy” problem. I always get skittish when someone rings the doorbell even if if is presentable. My mother has come to realize her issue but my father clearly states that he will not be put in a class with those on tv. He simply works too hard providing and does not have the time. He recently developed a skin disease which I believe is due to him not bathing properly or taking care of his skin. When we ask him to clean or pick up we are being inconsiderate because he is still recovering although it has been over a year since his diagnosis he works and he goes out constantly to functions and to visit family. Although we are suppose to sit on our hands and wait for him to “get better” everyday he comes up with more suggestions on how we can make his life more comfortable like having pans washed out immediately so when he comes by he can use it wiping down the stove or cleaning the microwave. He pitches a fit when something isnt done but if we want stuff done the smell or mess isn’t that bad. I told him recently the basement full of his precious junk was smelling up thr house and he basically told me I dont have any grounds because i dont work or clean. That he doesnt lay back because “cleans” the kitchen ie wiping down the stove and microwave with a sponge. That hurt my feelings because I cleaned up after him all the time. He complained constantly about wiping down the stove while the rest of us cleaned the entire house plus wash his clothes. Anything we want isnt urgent but it is the end of the world if we dont do something he wants. Ive mentioned therapy for hoarding and he insists it is something we will get to on ourown. Im not intitled to an opinion because I dont work. His tedious demands like using one cap of laundry detergent or checking the dryer every thirty minutes so it wont catch on fire makes perfect sense. Everyday it is something new that he wants done but everything else can wait. I find myself hating him a little more each day. Cant wait to get out of here where I can have a clean space. Im finding myself freaking out about little things as well. I rip up receipts and throw them away because they are always around. I constantly toss things because i im so nervouse about livingnlike this kn my own

  • Annie

    My oldest sister is a hoarder.   She is 12 years older than me, and in her late 50’s.   The whole time growing up, we had to walk on egg shells around her because she was prone to tantrums.   She moved back home after college, and lived there until my parents downsized and kicked her out at the age of 40.    During the time she lived there, while I was in some of my most formative years, she would have tantrums every day about how my mom ruined her life.    She kept most of her hoard relegated to her own bedroom, but it did start to spill over as she had her own two storage rooms in our attic, and various pieces of furniture stored though out.   Her bedroom was absolutely disgusting, with garbage strewn all over the room and plates with half eaten food on them.  My mother tried to clean out her room a few times, and finally stopped because it wasn’t worth listening to the wrath from my sister.     On a few occasions, when my parents hosted parties, my sisters door would always have to remain closed.  (My mom was a wonderful housekeeper, and it probably vexed her).     My sister’s hoarding is now worse than ever.  She has two houses and two storage lockers. I’ve only seen one of the houses, and it is filled wall to wall, floor to ceiling with junk, garbage, junk mail… She is now trying, on her own, to downsize to one house.    She refuses any help.   Because of her problem, my mom made sure she inherited extra money, and now she’s just squandering it away on two homes, storage lockers, etc.    Every time I call her on her cell phone (which is no longer very often), she’s out shopping.     

    I am so resentful of my sister, it’s not even funny.   Part of me feels badly for her that she has to go through this, but most of me is pissed off because she’s brought my whole family down to such a miserable level.   She loves being miserable, and she’s not happy if everyone isn’t just as miserable as she is…  She’s jealous and bitter at everyone.   I have a really hard time being around her.  Up  until a few years ago, I was hosting every holiday at our house since our parents have passed away, but I’m tired of doing that, too, because all of the good memories of our families’ holidays from growing up are clouded because she would ruin every holiday by throwing a tantrum (I didn’t get to put up the ornaments, I wanted to set the table, I wanted to put up the xmas lights, I wanted Mom to make fresh cranberry sauce, but she only put out the canned stuff, you put garlic on the primerib)!!  I swear, it was like a battlefield.    My poor mother!    As a mother, myself, now, I can tell you I’m amazed my mom even made it through some of these holidays with her without having a breakdown.

    I’m having a hard time resolving my feelings.    All of my siblings have tried to help her countless times only to be rebuffed.  And we can’t be direct, let alone forceful, because we’re still walking on eggshells afraid of her tantrums.  At this point, I’m just ready to throw up my hands and tell her to live like the pig that she is…   (I know that sounds horrible, and it makes me feel horrible to say it, but that’s how I feel!).   Needless to say, I haven’t been extending any invitations her way, nor have I gone out of my way to see her.     And the thing is, I feel guilty for this!!  

    I can’t win for losing.   The whole thing is absurd and ridiculous and I’m just tired of it.    

  • Hilaryhunter

    I am 32 and have finally realised that both my mother and father are compulsive hoarders. Things have gotten worse since i moved out at age 23. I avoid visiting as it annoys me so much to see the clutter everywhere. Its getting worse and fear they’re goin to end up on the news by being buried under the junk. I decided to call round yesterdat for the first time in about 6months. When i arrived they where out so i let myself in and had a good look around. The reason I’m concerned is that they have been taking my 2 year old run to their house as i have just had a baby. I wAs grateful for the help but after seeing the state of the place see will nit be goin back. The fridge was full of out of date food, up to 2 years old. Various

  • Nennyflump

    I am 31 and my parents are hoarders. It started back in 1991 when the recession hit (we live in the UK), and they almost went bankrupt overnight. We moved 80 miles away to be nearer family, etc.
    I am now married with children, and am constantly struggling to keep things clean and tidy. They always are, but I never feel as if it is. Slightly obsessive about it I suppose!
    My parents have still got boxes packed up from the move in ’91 that haven’t been opened. 3 years ago, my mum was diagnosed with MS, and she is fading fast. She can hardly walk now, but the house is still full up with crap. Even when I went and cleared it when she was first diagnosed, it has all come back again.

  • Nennyflump

    My main fear now is that she can’t really walk at all, but cannot move around the house, and I am worried that she will end up in a home. Dad still blames me saying that it’s all my stuff (and my sisters), yet neither of us have lived there for 12 years, and have already cleared it once!
    It upsets and frustrates me, and I worry for their continued safety, not to mention the eventual headache of having to clear the place once they ‘move on’. Funnily enough, one of the things my mum hoards but never uses are box files and storage boxes. Can’t fathom that – perhaps she feels she’s clearing by having them there. Empty. And in cellophane!

  • fooks

    Growing up I was ashamed of having friends over because of my dad’s clutter.  I did manage to have one grade school friend over and at the time the house was cluttered and the garage was full of hoard.  Now I’m 49 and this past summer it was evident that my parents can’t keep their house decently clean (evidenced by moldy food left out and mice droppings on the kitchen floor).  My two brothers and I have started the process of moving them out to a senior apt nearby.  It is overwhelming to go in and start cleaning out the filth in the garage and the kitchen (N-95 masks, coveralls, and working boots required).  My dad will not admit to being a hoarder, but when I put it to my mother (I told her, “you know dad’s a hoarder right?”)  her response immediately was “No SH#T!”. My reply to her was “just making sure we’re on the same page here”.  Watching TLC’s Hoarders: Buried Alive has been a huge help to me in understanding it and approaching the cleanup so as to not cause anymore stress than there already is and to also be able to get help if the stress becomes too much for my dad.  I freely talk about it with co-workers and friends because the show has taught me that my family is not alone in having this disorder.  Once we get them into their apt we will be able to (with therapy if necessary) keep the apt clutter free (regular visits to go through accumulated stuff with him).  Like the majority of children of hoarders, once we kids moved out we were gone for good. There were maybe a couple of times that my brother and I spent the night (years ago) and that was the last time we swore that would ever happen again.  I’m just glad that there is support and help for it now—it is truly a bizarre behavior to watch in action—–while I was in the garage shoveling filth into the dumpster, all my dad said was “it got over whelming” and then proceeded to try and blame my mother for it— and that’s it—no comment about geez–this is really disgusting or how could I let it get this way.  It’s an experience like no other that’s for sure. 

    • Freegirl

      I did move out at 18 and that was 22 years ago.  I was determined to never move back and I never have. It hadn’t occurred to me that there were so many other people just like me, kids who survived chaos and made so many similar life choices. 

  • dc29

    One Saturday afternoon the power in my living room went out. I had told my hubby to go see if the superintendent had any extra fuses (as they usually replace them for free in my building). My husband left to go downstairs and when he returned, he had the superintendent with him. He came in and checked the fuse box. Now…while this may not sound in the slightest as upsetting to most, I found myself absolutely MORTIFIED! I began to panic, hyperventilate, I shut myself in my room and began to sweat profusely. I started crying quietly and shook my head. My chest was pounding and my vision became very bright. I had no idea why I was over reacting so horribly! My little boy who I would never let see me upset let alone in this state came in because he heard me sobbing and I couldn’t control my emotions. He was scared because I was so upset, and I had to keep telling him I was completely fine though I certainly did not look it. The super was only in for a very short time and when my husband came in to say what the super had said he saw the look on my face and thought I was dying! All I could mutter was “How could you???” It had just occurred to me at that very moment that I had always controlled the situations where we had visitors. The house was cleaned every time to my liking (which was what my husband calls “the crazy clean”). If the house was not to my liking, the visiting was canceled or we would meet up somewhere else. We rarely had visitors because I never lived to think “wow I can’t wait to see my sister in law, I haven’t seen her in ages!” it was always much more of “Okay so I need to definitely clean the bathroom and where is my duster for the ceiling fans, or should I use a wet rag? I need to go get some more cleaner…what kind should I get to do the tile?…I never noticed the baseboards looked so scuffy earlier…and there’s a bit of dust behind the chair rails in the dining room I need to remember to wipe that…oh and the light switches, always wipe the light switches!I don’t remember wiping the picture frames in a while” Okay yes obviously a bit nutty I will admit though that’s always how I’ve been because I am a child of hoarders, also because of their hoarding I was taken into foster care for a while, it wasn’t discussed much there was no closure for that and I strongly believe that because of those life experiences I became very particular on how my home looks, especially when people are over. As a child after returning home from foster care, my home went back to the way it was when they removed us, even worse years later. I survived but not without many scars. So now as an adult I find this site and I learn about doorbell dread and I feel a little less crazy now…well maybe a little less alone and now aware of WHY I’m crazy with my cleaning. Now that I know I try to take it down a peg or two…Okay maybe three or four:) I don’t panic so much now and as long as I don’t rush to dust the top of my wall hangings when people come over I’m making a little progress. So thanks for all of you being here and sharing your stories. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share all of mine.

    • Susanna

      I feel so much better reading this post. For 2 weeks I’ve had a ground sprinkler leaking in my back yard but can’t seem to call the repair guy. Everyday I panic thinking I can’t call today because I need to pick up the dog poop first, or vacuum, because the breakfast dishes are still in the sink. Ridiculous because I doubt he’ll even need to come inside and even more ridiculous because I know my water bill is going to be horrendous. I live in a very nice, clean, normal home but I’m still so screwed up from growing up in a messy hoarder house. Still, to this day, I meet the pizza delivery people out front and wait till the UPS guys leaves before opening the door to get the package.

  • fooks(Michelle)

    I am so grateful for this support site.  The process of moving my parents out of their home has been underway now since the beginning of October and it has not been easy.  My father is a hoarder who doesn’t think he has a problem.  For years he kept saying that he was going to get rid of the house and move to Taylorville.  I always knew it was just hot air because of all the stuff/junk he accumulated.  He could never bring himself to do it.  So when it became evident that it was getting too much for them I had to sit them down and tell them it was time. My dad has made me executor of his will and told me that when it came time that I had to make decisions that I had the power to do it.  Telling them it was time wasn’t difficult; discovering the degree of the rodent infestation in the garage that spilled over into the kitchen (a lot of dry dog food available to get into) was shocking, horrifying, disgusting, extremely disturbing, depressing, and made me very angry.  I always knew I would have a junky house to clear out but nothing prepared me for having to deal with a 2 1/2 car garage packed with hoard that had mouse droppings covering EVERYTHING.  The summer’s severe drought and excessive heat drove them to find food and they found it in the dog food buried in the hoard he had in the garage. According to my mother “you couldn’t set enough traps to keep up”.  I about died—nothing prepared me for the magnitude of it. I called my brother on the drive home to tell him how bad it was—my dad wanted to be moved by June 2013—now with this discovery it’s as soon as we place the dog in a new home they will be moving.  I just can’t get over that this doesn’t bother them—that they had adapted to this condition— and were hoping to stay there a few more years. This site helps me to understand it and how to deal with them to get through it. It is also a tremendous help in writing about it—the more I talk about it the better I feel—not so burdened and depressed because of the sad state of their home.  

  • Ck158

    My husband is the child of hoarders, he has 1 sister and both have no intention of having children, I believe the father is the primary hoarder but my husband deeply resents his mother. Is it common for children of hoarders to refuse to have children?

    • fooks

      It might be, but it also could be due to other factors that just haven’t been mentioned.  Out of six kids, I and three of my brothers did not have children.  I chose not to because of the unusually high occurrence of schizoid-affective disorder that is in my immediate family.  My siblings and I all resemble each other a lot (I heard about a thousand times growing up how we all looked alike) and very much shared a lot of traits.  Two brothers were severely disabled with schizoid-affective disorder and one has Asperger’s.  The only “normal” brother had two children and my sister (who’s adopted) had two. It just so happens that my dad is the hoarder with my mom being the co-dependent hoarder. When I was clearing out the garage hoard last weekend I did think to myself, this is another reason I’m glad I didn’t have kids.  The youngest brother that has schizoid-affective disorder has in the last 5 years become increasingly anxious and has hoarding tendencies (lots of plastic grocery bags with his clothes stacked in them lined up on his bedroom floor and lots of to go cups stacked to the ceiling in the kitchen). The oldest brother that had the same disorder commited suicide 3 1/2 years ago (would not take his medication).   On another note—my mom was a nurse and my dad a state trooper (occupations of public service).   

  • charlottestaff

    Hi Everyone
    I’m a British journalism student studying at Columbia University and I am hoping to do a Master’s project on hoarding in NY and the difficulties hoarders face. I am very interested in this topic because although not a hoarder, I feel like I have some hoarding tendencies (I find it hard to let go of old newspapers) and I was hoping to meet some hoarders and to maybe shadow them to see what they have to face on a daily basis. It will be a print piece with photos. I was wondering if you knew anyone you might be interviewed or forums that could point me in the right direction? I am particularly interested in talking to families who are affected by hoarding and how it impacts on their lives. Any information would be extremely helpful. 
    Thank you so much
    Charlotte Stafford

  • fooks(Michelle)

     Each week that I go up and work on clearing my parent’s
    hoard, it feels endless because of all the layers and layers of accumulated
    stuff, dirt, and rodent filth. We have a mini commercial dumpster with weekly
    pick up and this last weekend my nephew and I filled it to 1 1/2 times its
    capacity with contractor bags filled and put on the curb.  My husband and
    nephew finally understood what I had been talking about after being there first
    hand to see the damage it has done to the house and garage.  My nephew
    hadn’t been there in 3 1/2 years and was shocked to see how much worse it had
    gotten.  My husband worked all day clearing the garbage from around the
    outside of the house and mowing it.  They both now see why I have said
    that we have to move them out before the end of the year.  My nephew found
    that the black rats had gnawed on wiring in the attic; he had to turn off the
    fire alarm system because of it.  He also found a fuse box in the garage
    where they had nested and gnawed.  So not only is this place a health
    hazard due to mold and rat infestation but also a safety hazard because we
    don’t know the extent of damage to the wiring throughout the house. They live
    in an old ranch house that was built with electric heat in the ceiling–so
    these rats have been up there doing all kinds of damage.  When I told my
    brothers this (and that I removed 2 dead rats from the dog food container in
    the kitchen), we all agreed that they have to be out by the end of the
    year—no arguing—no discussion. When I told my mother that she better get
    started thinking about moving next month she protested and said she wanted a
    few more months—I put this question to her, “the basement is full of
    mold, there is a rodent infestation, would you allow your mother to live in
    these conditions”?  She had to think about it and didn’t say
    no!!!  She said “Welllll”.  Now I know how far off from
    normal she is.  I have found a good home for my dad’s dog—my dad has
    accepted that he has to move; his health has really declined and if he were to
    try and stall/delay it, it would have been over the dog.  I am placing the
    dog with good friends of ours on Nov 24th.  After the dog has been removed from the home,
    the preparations for moving my parents will begin.  I finally went into the bedroom that my
    sister and I shared growing up—so sad—it’s completely hoarded up with
    rodent feces in abundance.  So sad and
    depressing that they think this is acceptable living conditions.  I wrote my mom’s youngest sister (and my
    favorite Aunt) a 3 page letter letting her know what was going on with my mom
    and dad.  She knew the house wasn’t in
    great shape when she was there 3 years ago, but she, like me, didn’t know that
    there was a massive rodent infestation. 
    I’m sure she probably cried when reading it—I know I would if I got a
    letter like that about my sibling.  Each
    week when I find something that’s worse than the week before, I experience the
    full range of feeling shocked, angry, disgusted, and extremely disturbed. This
    site is my salvation in keeping my sanity through this experience.  It helps because I don’t feel so alone—no
    one at work that I know has this issue to deal with—so when I tell them the
    look on their faces says it all.  Writing
    about it helps me process and deal with it. 
    I’m preparing myself mentally (and with respiratory equipment) for
    starting in on the moldy basement next week. 

    • Given the damage to the wiring, etc by rodents, would the house ever be salvageable? It is something to think about before starting to clean out the (also dangerous) basement. Do you have to clean it out if the house is not liveable – ever? Of course, I don’t know the condition of the house so perhaps am wrong.

      • fooks

        My brothers and I know that the house is being sold as a tear down—the lot the house is on and the adjoining lots my dad owns will bring in more money.  The only reason we are clearing out the filth and trash is to make room to put saleable/auctionable items my dad has stored in two storage sheds across town.  We need to get those items consolidated into the garage/house before December rent is due on the storage sheds. We’re hoping to get what we can at an estate auction and that’s about it.  So to make it as presentable for auction as possible, we have to clear the garbage out—and that includes the hoard in the basement which also includes household and garden chemicals.  Hiring a company to do all this is way too expensive and we have to follow EPA disposal guidelines for the chemicals.  We’re removing the bulk hoard/trash/and filth but there won’t be any extensive cleaning/just a shop vac to get rid of the rodent feces and dirt. It is still a lot of time and effort but it’s the only way we’re going to recoup any money from a complete wreck of a house. 

        • Eeek! Don’t vacuum up the rodent droppings – as I understand, it is not a safe way to clean them up because it spreads dangerous viruses/bacteria around. Your health is more important than what you describe as a “complete wreck of a house.”

  • mfooks

    I was able to go up last Sunday and Monday to start on clearing the hoard out of the basement.  Each week I find something worse than the week before—the basement was completely neglected for the 41 years my parents lived there.  My dad never put in a good drainage system (no sump pump) and for the first 20 years never had rain spouts to direct rain run off away from the base of the house. When there was a good rain, it flooded every time.  There is extensive damage from all the moisture (he tore out the drywall and wooden floor out of the front room/the walls have bowed in and have large horizontal cracks) and it’s full of mold.  I now discovered there is also extensive damage from termites.  I remember seeing the deterioration start 20 years ago but didn’t realize the damage I was seeing was from termites.  I found a 2 x 4 behind a storage freezer channeled out by termites.  It was the final nail in the coffin for this house.  My dad completely neglected taking care of this place (we remember him always going off about “his house, his rules”) and the damage/deterioration is beyond repair.  A neighbor expressed interest in buying a lot from my dad, my dad got carried away and interpreted it as the neighbor wanting to buy all 3 lots with the house.  My dad has deluded himself thinking the house has resale value—the only thing it’s worth is what the roof, siding, and windows cost that he had installed 5-10 years ago—talk about trying to polish a turd.  The price my dad quoted the neighbor was ridiculous and clearly not realistic. This is the one aspect of this disorder that continues to drop my jaw—I can’t get over the denial and how unrealistic hoarders are with the deteriorated state of their dwellings.  They just don’t see or accept the degree of damage and what they’re left with has little or no value.  Then when they’re told their house is a tear down it’s all a shock to them.  My brothers and I can’t wait to unload this mess and maybe get some money from auctioning off whats sell-able.  I go up later today to take the dog out of the home and place it with good friends of ours.  I felt really bad for the dog after realizing the conditions my dad subjected him too—and my dad considered himself a “good” dog owner.  Another unrealistic view he had of himself.  There really does seem to be a personality issue that goes along with this disorder—I’m thankful this holiday season that I didn’t inherit this from my dad.

  • Kathrynherterich

    My 87 year old maternal aunt’s husband passed away about 7 years ago, just two weeks after my mother, her younger sister, died. Concerned friends and family members have watched helplessly as my aunt’s already precarious health worsens and she becomes increasingly buried in piles of junk mail, newspapers, old containers, stockpiles of dry goods and unworn clothing. Aunt’s hoarding also includes felines. Recently, Aunt was hospitalized after falling and breaking a hip. Her hospital and rehab facility rooms quickly filled up with clutter, stockpiles of packaged foods, newspapers, etc. We have had to confront her and to remove food squirreled away in unappropriate places such as her purse.

  • sally

    I am 55 and my mom was a hoarder since I was probably about 5.  Never got along with her during my teens – always embarrassed – never had my friends over although I would go to other houses all the time.  We never had relatives over but always went to visit them same with my parents’ friends.  I did clean but if I tried to dump anything my mom would yell and scream and somtimes chase me out the house to get the junk.  It was horrible – living in that mess.  It has definitely affected me throughout my whole life.  My self esteem was really bad – I always tried to please people.  Really bothered me up until my later 40’s.  Now I feel like i haven’t gotten past it – but it is horrible to live in the mess!  Psychologically – it is hard – my dad wanted us to clean and my mom would get mad. It was a no-win situation.  Don’t know what more to say.  I had problems drank alot – and other stuff of course.  Never dared to stand up for myself cuz we never allowed to my dad always said don’t say anything to her just leave it alone.  I often wonder what my dad was trying to cover up something – cuz he never approached her on any of it.  Always let her get by and never told her anything was her fault – as kids we had to just put up with it all.  Our childhood was good also – my dad made sure of that.  But ignore it to this day – she is 83 – looks pretty good.  But nothing is ever ever approached because we were always told to never say anything and if we di she went nuts.  I have 10 brothers and sisters and alot of times they make it sound like I was the bad ass – for tryin to clean and confronting her.  Nothing worked so it didn’t do any good.  I feel like I suffer yet and should go talk to a counselor to get past some things but I haven’t.  Enough for now – will check inagain.  If anyone ever wants to start a support group near Sioux Falls, SD i would be willing to join. 

    • Susanna

      My situation is so similar to yours, except it was my father that hoarded and my mother placated him and allowed him to rule (and ruin) the roost. My mothers go-to response, “Don’t antagonize your father”, is forever burned into my brain. There were 7 kids and some of us would band together and confront him, which sent him into a rage. We didn’t understand that he had a problem and thought we were the only ones with this dirty little secret. Years later when we all had money, we talked about sending our parents on a vacation and going in and cleaning their house without my father knowing, but my mother squashed the idea.

      Our 5 bedroom split level house was big, but the entire down stairs (which was supposed to be a family room, bathroom, laundry room, office, and 2 bedrooms) were filled to the ceiling with all of my father’s tools, gadgets, hobby crap, etc, so we were all forced to live in half the space upstairs. The living room/dining/kitchen area was fairly clean. There was no trash or bugs or piles of junk, but it was disorganized and messy, and it just wasn’t enough room for 9 people. The garage and grounds around the house were filled with useless broken crap. My father, being the typical selfish, self-centered hoarder, would totally abuse the little space we did have to live in, leaving stacks of books he was reading piled on the couch or leaving his constant stream of hobby crap all over our one and only kitchen table. If we moved or even touched the stuff, he’d go on a tirade for hours, insisting that some precious item is now missing, etc, etc. It was exhausting. On top of his hoarding and messes, he also would take on “home improvement” projects, but never finish them, leaving our home in a constant state of construction. Throughout my entire childhood, he would tear apart necessary rooms, like bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, but never get around to finishing them. One time he tore the kitchen up and “temporarily” moved the stove, table, and sink into my bedroom. We lived like that for 5 years. Another time he decided to install new super-duper insulation in the walls of our main small living area, but never got around to putting the sheet rock walls back up, so we lived with exposed insulation as walls for about 6 years. We even offered to pool our money and hire someone to fix it, which totally pissed him off (money wasn’t the issue). My mother just let him take over the house and I grew up feeling like a second class citizen in my own home, not to mention living in constant fear of being found out. Now in my 40’s I still let people have their way, letting them choose what shows to watch or food to eat.

      Even though my home is nice, the doorbell freaks me out and I never answer if someone comes by unannounced. The intense shame of growing up in a home that had to be hidden and spending years spinning stories and faking it, has left me with little self worth or confidence.

  • mfooks

    On Nov 15th I took my parents for a tour of a senior retirement home in a nearby town.  I got my dad to sign up and reserve a small two bedroom apt for them both.  I moved them Dec 1st.  My brother and I had told them for that whole two weeks that they needed to have a list and start packing what they wanted to take.  Well on Dec 1st we go to their house to start moving and they’re both in bed (at noon)—my dad was doing a crossword puzzle and my mom was sleeping—not one thing packed.  So it was absolute chaos trying to get them ready to move.  My brother and husband took care of the beds/dressers/and TVs.  I had to pack my mother up and take her.  The day before I had to spend the entire afternoon and evening cataloging their cabinet full of Hummels because they never made out a list of what they owned—then I had to pack those to move.  Dec 3rd I had a 30 yard dumpster delivered to their house.  We filled it in three days.  Everything that went in there was either broken or had rodent feces on it.  With the loads from the mini dumpster it totaled two 30 yd dumpsters of crap that was hauled away.  I’ve made a simple 5 item list of things they have to do weekly at their new apt or else I will move them to a Masonic Nursing home in Eastern Illinois.  The five things are 1)change bedding weekly 2)take garbage/old mail&papers out weekly–3)have laundry done weekly 4)have carpet vacuumed/apt cleaned weekly 5)shower weekly (specifically my mom—dad takes one everyday).  These things can be arranged to be done with help from the staff at this facility—if they can’t manage to do these things for themselves where they’re at then the next step is this nursing home.  My brother and I have told them but I’m going to put it in print in their bedrooms as a reminder.  Everyone’s extremely relieved and glad they’re moved out of that rodent infested $#*!hole they called home–except my dad of course—he was the control freak who let things get so bad. The estate auction is set for Feb 2nd.  I just found out that I can’t find the title to the truck we want to auction off at the sale.  My dad says it’s in this metal box where he had his papers—I went through everything and did not find any titles to any vehicles.  It gets so irritating and makes me angry at how screwed up my parents had everything.  Then my dad makes comments like its our fault that it’s missing.  It will always be about what got thrown in the dumpster and not how we helped them. Well that’s what they get for not taking care of it themselves especially when year after year I kept telling him he needed to unload the house and move. I will be up to their apt weekly to make sure it doesn’t get messy and hoarded.  We’ll see how long this lasts.  

    • misfitmonroe

      This brings back memories. When I was in my early 20’s my mother sold our childhood home. The place was a wreck and even after we cleaned it out, the carpets were a disaster. I was shocked when she sold it. On moving day, not one damn thing packed. She said she had to run to the store and didnt return. No boxes, nothing. So we were throwing stuff in garbage bags and got her moved into a much smaller home. She bitched for weeks about stuff we had lost. She had so much junk it was hard to tell what was good and what was bad. I had hopes that she would keep a much smaller place in order. Nope. Then 5 yrs after that she moved again. The house we moved her into was in perfect condition. Fresh paint, flooring…the works. Again, I had hope. Maybe this place would be different, so neat and clean. It didnt take her long to destroy it. She refuses to pay for a lawn service so she lets her yard get so out of hand that by the time one us family members go over and cut the grass its an incredible task. Knee high grass, mid summer heat. She doesnt think anything is wrong with that. Its embarrassing pulling up to her house.

  • anon

    When I was a child I hated my home so much I dreamed about burning it down. That’s not the way a 10 year old kid is supposed to think. But that was my life. I’m just now realizing that I don’t owe them a darn thing. My parents not only are hoarders, but also they verbally abused each other at the tops of their lungs every night of my childhood. Police were sometimes called. They may love me and despite everything I do love them, because, they have many redeeming qualities, but that love does not mean I am obligated to come to their nasty home ever again.  

    That house and their environment was neglect and abuse of a high order. I am an adult and I live my own life.

  • Snuzzelumpkin

    I just found this blog through a special I saw on MSNBC. I am crying reading all of this. To know that this is a community. I am a grandchild of a hoarder. He tells me all the time that if I don’t like it I can just find a new place to live, however my mother wont let me move in with her and I have no income and can not get one due to a motorcycle accident a couple years back. I grew up in this house, and the hoard wasn’t here then, only after my mother and I moved out when I was 13 did it start to grow, and grow and grow. Now it has sucked up the whole house. The house that I grew up in. Where I learned how to live. Paths now lead to a solitary chair in the living room. Books about being scholarly and impressionism flood the living room floor because he sees no need for bookshelves. People have tried to help and as recently as this morning I have cried to him trying to be as sensitive as I possibly can while having a HUGE age difference. I feel there is no way I can get through to him and let him know that he can be happy in other ways.
    It bothers me all day every day to know he lives here.

  • GeminiMoon

    Wow, I’m seeing myself here as well. Comments such as Sarah’s – “we have always had an inverse relationship – where I feel like the parent and he has come to expect me to ‘take care of him.'”, feeling all sorts of negative things toward your parent for being selfish and then you feel bad for feeling that way, and above all, the minimalist I was turned into because of growing up with a hoarder, and apparently I’m not the only one. Which is a lifestyle that has really worked for me, and made me contemplate the nature of possessions and owning things in a philosophical manner, so I learned something. That’s one good thing that came out of it.

  • ROXY2012

    I am almost 50 years old, my mother was an extreme hoarder and my father was a chronically depressed man who could not work or function in our society. They both passed away years ago. My story is not unique according to what I can read here but having to deal with a extreme hoarder as a mom and a very depressed father from the time you are born to the age of 17 when I finally could leave the house was a very traumatic experience. I remember when I was a kid my mom would give me my diner on a small corner of the kitchen table, we could only eat one at the time due to the garbage’s that were all over the table, I would eat quickly and leave. The house was full of everything from old aluminum cans, old clothes, newspapers, plastic medication containers, you name it and it was there. I never invited friends over, I was ashamed when people did come over, I just wanted to hide. I will not go into all the details of my childhood because I could go on and on and most of you already lived similar situations.
    Now I can assume my childhood and talk about it but most people don’t get the hurt and negative feelings that follow you through you adult life, like the old saying “you can’t feel what I feel until you walked a mile in my shoes”. I lived most of my adult life by myself and I can say that I am a neat freak. Now I live with a lovely woman and her three teenagers, I find it extremely difficult because the house is not as tidy as when I lived by myself and this is creating a lot of tensions in my life, I noticed that it even affects my blood pressure. Should I go back to living by myself, can therapy help, any suggestions?       

    • TC

      If you want to stay with her, then therapy would be a good thing to try, because having her (and her kids) with you guarantees that your house will never look like it did when you were by yourself. But I’m guessing that the reward of having them in your life outweighs the disruption.

    • Freegirl

      Yes-my personal experience is that therapy can help a lot. I have spent the past 3 years working on this with an excellent therapist who has been very supportive as I worked through a number of issues, including being a COH. 

  • Heulerfrigm

    Here I am, 28 years old, and holding back tears as I read the stories of other Children of Hoarders. Wow. There are so many feelings i have kept inside, the dark side, that resurface when I read others stories.
    I’ve watched hoarders on tv once or twice and wasn’t able to watch the whole way through. People that watch these shows are amazed by it and find it appalling, gossiping about these people, that to me is very much a reality. I’m sensitive to this topic. Very sensitive.
    As a child, I was embarrassed of my home, and of our mom’s car. I remember not wanting her to pick me up or drop me off in front of the school. I couldn’t bear the pain. I couldn’t handle anyone seeing. Same with our house. If someone dropped me off at my house I made sure they didn’t drive around the alley and see the porch, disarray and smothered with clutter.
    We did not have friends over to our house. No way. This was our secret, that would ruin me if anyone at school found out

    • Finding this sight and reading other people’s struggle has helped me know I am not alone.  As a COH I can say that I find the hoard at my parents home apalling and disturbing.  I can’t watch a whole hoarding show-it is too disturbing and true to life.

  • Kats9livesfive

    My DAUGHTER—> is the HOARDER ..I am a 58 year old Widow trapped in this HELL that is my Daughter Disorder. It is taking forever to move,and we have a Unlawful Detainer with time running out.I have a disability,and have no one that can help. She limits who will move just the Shelve,tables,but doesn’t let them come in any further then that. My daughter refuses to have an outside opinion to what is going on. She has drug in my other daughter who just doesn’t get that nothing is progressing and the clock is ticking. It won’t be long before the Sheriff comes to change the locks. HELP. Who can I can without her flipping out. It;s this or homelessness.I have a couple cats that I worry about because they will have no where to go if we don’t make it over to this other place that my daughter already started renting.And we still owe money for this apartment.That is why we have an Unlawful Detainer. I have no one in the world to help me… Again.My daughter is the hoarder. I wish people would get it through their heads that it’s not always a parent with the problem. My daughter is the hoarder. There’s no support for ME. I am in HELL.I would like help. Also I don’t have the money to pay this SELFISH world because it takes money for people to give a crap unless you have money. So my option is very hopeless. Her dad who died inn 2000 was a severe hoarder so I have been living this hell for a long time. I don’t have the job  skills to survive on my own. I just sell my deceased husband’s collectible on eBay.. It is a lot that I try to sell of what he hoarded too.My daughter apparently got it through hereditary from her dad..

  • mfooks

    I started writing about my experience with my parents last fall 2012 when the conditions in their house deteriorated and threatened their safety and health. I managed to get them moved the weekend of Dec 1st. After that weekend we Purged their house and filled 2 x 30 yd dumpsters. In Feb and March I sold their house , lots, and what personal property we could salvage that wasn’t rat infested. I had to take my dad’s yellow lab and put him in a very good and loving home—my dad had him penned up in the extremely hoarded and filthy garage at least 22 hours out of the day. Right after I completed the last property transaction, my dad starts in with wanting to get a dog. The senior facility they live in can only accommodate small toy dogs. My dad and his fixation/compulsion wants to turn their living space into what they had at the old house (a moldy, smelly, rat infested , hoarded dump). He keeps talking about getting a dog to “run” and “train” and digging up and planting garden stuff in the courtyard—he has no perception of what’s normal. This all started just 7 weeks after moving them there. My dad then took a huge mental shit on me by telling me that I took away the one thing he really really loved and I enjoyed doing it. I was so pissed—the facility has staff to monitor my parents and I’ve taken care of his problems from the old dump house—so I am not going up to their nice clean apt anymore because all he is fixated on is turning it into a dump. I told my dad that there’s a certain expectation of cleanliness to live there and if my parents can’t abide by that then it’s off to the Masonic nursing home for them both. My whole life that I’ve known my dad this how he’s operated: Make a problem with the house, dump it on your family, don’t take any responsibility for it, then blame it on family members even though it’s so obvious he was the genesis of it all. His priorities have always been dysfunctional and screwed up—and that’s what led to the house and property ending up being a total disaster. My family is splintered—my sister and one of three brothers can’t stand my dad to the point that I would not be surprised they didn’t go to his funeral, one brother lives in Hawaii so he’s away from it, my youngest brother is mentally ill and drinking himself to death. Not one of my siblings will take over as Executor or Power of Attorney for him—I was tagged it and have had to make all the shitty decisions dealing with my dysfunctional parents. I’ll keep the appointment but will not go and see them anymore—I’m tired of my dad and his mental bullshit. When I was 19 years old and my dad was taking a mental shit on me—I had a premonition that he was going to die a very very lonely old man—guess what’s coming to fruition—and I don’t feel one bit sorry for him. I wrote his only sister to let her know all this so it’s not a surprise later down the road—she never once set foot into his house—the whole 41 years he lived there—so he’s always been distant from her. She’s now finding out how screwed up her older brother really is. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about them and that I don’t have to go see them—my dad’s going to screw up his health and the nice apt where they live—it’s just what he’s always done.

    • TC

      You’ve done all that you can do, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about your decisions. It is more than enough that you are still handling their legal affairs. In that role, you might want to make sure that the facility where your parents live now knows about the potential for their hoarding the new apartment. It is in their best interests to monitor that closely, and maybe it will help keep things under control. They don’t want the place damaged and then have to go though all the legal hoops to get a tenant removed.

  • DetressedandDepressedinWV

    I feel guilty because I lost my cool with my mother over the phone. She’s going to be 80 this year she’s not going to change but it’s distressing to me. I try to avoid even thinking of her living in those conditions since it really depresses me. I feel so guilty for yelling at her, but sometimes her hoarding strikes me as so selfish and I get angry that there is no homeplace for any of us to return to where we can all get together.

  • Jessica

    When I lived with my mom she loved to watch Hoarders. She’d
    try and make me sit and watch it with her every time it was on. She’d point at
    the screen with this insane pride and say “My house isn’t that bad.”
    I’d look at her and want to cry because 9 out of 10 times our house was worse.
    I couldn’t tell you the color of any of the carpets in my house and the shower
    hadn’t work from ages 2- 14. I was insanely short and I still had to duck so as
    not to hit my head on the ceiling because the garbage was so high. My brother
    could barely breath between his allergies and the mold and there were rooms in
    the house I hadn’t set foot in since I was a baby. She was so proud that we had
    a running toilet and nothing dead was decaying in the house, it made me sick
    inside. Even now just watching the commercials for Hoarders makes me sick.
    People like my mom can’t be fixed and CLEANING THE HOUSE DOESN’T HELP!! They go in and make everything clean, but that’s not the problem! It’s something wrong in their head and all they can do is hurt the people close to them.There are
    some days I just want to take her to the nearest dump and tell her to have a
    happy life there and never contact me again. I’ve been out for 2 years and I’m
    still so angry about all the opportunities I lost, all the friendships that
    couldn’t survive the lie she made me live. A part of me just wants to get her
    and everyone like her together and kill them all. It should be a crime to be a
    hoarder. They should have to go to an institute or a prison for being the way
    they are. I read the things on this site and I think, we survived, we made it
    out, but at what cost? My brother and I are so damaged we can barely function
    outside the house. I go to family gatherings and everyone asks why we left and
    how could we do that to her. I look at them and think, You knew, you all knew
    what we lived in, and none of you did anything. I heard all these speeches as a
    kid about parents who beat their kids or did drugs and I kept thinking I wished
    I could blame a controlled substance for how my mother is. If just one person
    had come to my school and told me the way we lived was wrong and they could
    help I would have said something. But I all had was my mother whispering in my
    ear that if anyone found out they’d send us to foster care and we’d be raped
    and beaten and she’d kill our pets if we weren’t there to take care of them. I
    hear people use the word hoarder causally and I think to myself that they have
    no idea what hoarding is. They don’t know the hell of only getting to shower
    twice a month or the feel of bugs crawling over you as you sleep. They don’t
    relish every shower, every clean pair of underwear, or foot of clean space like
    a hoarder’s kid does……..Maybe I’m just an angry teenager that isn’t coping
    as well as I could be, but I can’t help feeling like the world owes me an
    apology. I want just one person in my life to look me in the eyes and say:
    “I’m sorry I didn’t help you. I’m sorry the system didn’t catch the
    numerous signs of neglect. I’m sorry you had to play mom without ever really
    having one yourself. I’m sorry that you had to bear the weight of the world on
    your shoulders and live in fear that the piles would swallow you up and never
    let you go.” If just one person in my family would take account for what
    happened instead of pretending nothing happened, I would be happy….. I just
    really want to stop being angry all the time. I wasn’t even this angry when I
    lived in her house. I accepted the fact that nothing was going to change. It
    was the only way I could make it day to day. Because no one came to saved us. I
    had to save us myself and now that I have I’m so angry. Because I didn’t really
    think it was possible until it was done. How easy it would have been for
    someone to do it for me…..Someone should have done it for me. I read about
    you other people that live the way I did and all I want to do is find you and
    hug you all. I want to meet other people who understand. My brother shut down a
    long time ago. He’s so locked up in his own head he barely talks at all. I was
    the target of my mother’s hatred and wrath and I tried to shield him and make
    his life as normal as possible, but we were both so isolated. He doesn’t know
    how to interact with other people so he doesn’t try. I’m scared for him, for
    his future. I did my best, but I regret not getting him out sooner. I should
    have done something sooner. I want him to meet others like us too. I want him
    to talk about it instead of bottle it all up inside and pretending it never
    happened. Neither of us are coping well. I want to be like all of you who see
    the hope of this site, but all I can think is that the world let us down. We were
    all hostages to parents or relatives with a mental disorder and we’ll live our
    whole lives with the shame of them hanging over us. It would have been kinder
    for my mom to drop me and my brother off at hospital after we were born and
    never contacted us again. Then we would have had a chance at a normal life……Anyway,it’s nice to get all this out of my system. It’s just so hard at times to try
    and make others understand how bad it really was. If nothing, I’m glad this
    site is here so that the people who read this will understand. It feels good to
    know that others went through this and survived. Thanks for putting up with my ranting. Writing this does make me feel a lot better.

    • TC

      I’m so sorry – I wish I could hug you, too.

    • misfitmonre

      Hugs. I wanted to reply to you because I wanted to let you know that there is life after growing up with a hoarder. I am 40 yrs old and have a beautiful home that people tell me looks like something out of a catalog. Somehow I thought growing up dirty would follow me into adulthood. It did not and it will not follow you either. One thing I learned is we are all a product of our past but we do not have to be prisoners of it. I wont lie, some things spark ill feelings. I tend to be a neat freak at times. My mom is still a hoarder but not on a grand scale. Is her house still filthy? Yes. Have I cleaned it and organized it multiple times? Oh yes. It’s kind of amazing really to throughly clean a home and go back a month later and its like you never touched the place. I agree with you, cleaning doesnt fix the issue. When I have had serious talks with my mom about the condition of her house she cries and throws fits. Its mentally exhausting. I felt cheated and angry but the aspiration you feel is how your family felt too. After a while you learn that the only things you can control are what you do in your own life. Once you get a bit older, you realize how little of your life is your childhood. You have a wonderful life ahead of you. Keep going, build yourself up and know that you are worthy of great and wonderful things.

    • brandolinium

      True dat, my friend. True dat. I couldn’t relate more, although I think that my house wasn’t quite as bad, but 15 years out of her home, at age 33, hasn’t helped. My will is broken. These people are f**ked up, and usually in more ways than one. And people who casually use the word hoarder unwittingly stab a knife through me as I feel both ashamed that I know of their ignorance and jealous of it.

  • btdt

    Anyone still come to this blog? I need to share and only children or siblings of hoarders would understand. I will never discuss this with friends or family. There are things I can’t even tell my therapist.

  • CB Price

    Hello. I’m a 49 and my mother is a hoarder. However, I wondering if anyone else is dealing with the same situation that I am where have three adults: Mother (89 years old), Sister (51 years old) and nephew (30 years olds) all living in the same cluttered and smelly house, and neither one seems to be willing to clean up the mess. If you’re dealing with this kind of family issue, I’d like to read your story….

    • TC

      HI CB – there is a Yahoo chat group, private, for children of hoarders that is very active.

  • Jennifer W.

    I am facing the difficult decision about calling APS or the Health Dept at the recommendation of my mother’s therapist. We held a “clean-up” effort several weeks ago, and she has stalled on scheduling another effort. Her therapist has been working with her for a couple of years and little to no progress has been made. She’s pretty much filled up all the space we cleared and there’s not much evidence of any of the cleaning that took place. The therapist suggested I give her an ultimatum – either set a date for another clean-up NOW, or I should contact APS. I’m going to consult with a lawyer before taking that step, but I was just wondering if anyone reading this has any experience with APS or the Health Dept in this situation. Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated.

    • TC

      Hi Jennifer – I thought I had replied to you, but apparently not yet! There is a Yahoo chat group (see some of the recent posts for a link) where there will definitely be people who can give some advice/thoughts.

      • Jennifer W.

        Thank you, I’ll check it out.

  • Jessica

    I know how you feel. My family was the same way. They wanted me to clean the house, but didn’t defend me when my mom screamed or beat me for doing it. I had to try and clean in secret as a kid or my mom wouldn’t feed me. I’m glad you still have your religion though. I’ve never been able to forgive her for what she did to me and my brother and I became an atheist in fifth grade. I don’t believe that any kind of god could exist that would make me live the way I did. I prayed till I was blue and no one saved me. I had to save myself. My advice is to just leave her to rot in her trash. You can’t fix a hoarder and they’ll only hurt you for trying. And don’t let your family make you feel guilty for it. All you can do is try to love her from afar. You can forgive her without taking on the responsibility of her. Good luck.

  • Free Girl

    I have determined that I cannot change the past or my mother’s hoarding behavior. Here is my blog about Space and Freedom. http://freegirlsjourney.blogspot.com/

  • Emma93

    I’m 19, and to the best of my knowledge, my father is a hoarder. He buys things he doesn’t need, we have what my friends call “the DVD wall” because the shelves are that packed that we can’t see much of the wall behind. Years ago he began an internet shop that went down the drain because of his compulsive need to buy things – most of the stock remains within our house and we are unable to use the dining room because of its warehouse state.

    We’ve lived in our current house for what’s coming on to 11 years – he only just sorted out my younger brothers bedroom, after almost 10 years of being unlivable and full of junk that was in the attic when we moved in.

    My own room is used as “storage” for everything he has yet to throw out or “give away”, there is the remains of a broken up bed and mattress from when my older sister got a new bed several months ago, and although he says that he’ll take it away, he hasn’t done anything – even after the pile fell down and I had to dig my way out of my own room.

    The house is a state and it is not something that can be sorted by ourselves, my father says he is trying to sort it out but he refuses to get any help with it, and in fact threatened the thought of anyone even attempting it.

    It is difficult to say the least and I fear that the state of this house is threatening the state of my sanity.

    • Jessica

      I’m 19 too and I know what you’re going through. The day I moved out the little amount of space I’d had on my bed for my personal stuff was devoured by the piles. Being a hoarder’s kid will drive you nuts and there really isn’t a solution. All I can say is that after I moved out my life got better. I’m still horribly angry and I still have a lot of social issues, but actually being away from the piles helps a lot. I know what it’s like to be buried, both figuratively and literally, and sometimes the best solution is to just take a step back. Good luck.

  • NeverMoveBackHome

    Thank you for understanding my pain. I sneak the millions of fast food condiments into my lunches to work to throw away. I wear extra clothes in the winter to sneak to the goodwill donation centers. I thaw out the old frozen food, cook it and feed test it to my dog. I throw my trash away at a gas station so my mother will not go through my trash. She actually found a used pregnancy test that my brothers ex girlfriend threw away more than ten years ago in a bag of trash in the basement. Really gross. Add that to the peeping out the door to spy on the neighbors, digging through their trash can to see what good stuff they threw away, accusing everyone of getting rid of her stuff when she cant find something (it’s here somewhere, trust me), never having friends over, i cant get rid of old food until she decides it is old, being squished into one bedroom with everything i own (which makes me look like a hoarder too), she wont go on vacation with my dad because she doesn’t trust her children to not “STEAL” her stuff, watching her go through my sons toys and telling me what i am not allowed to get rid of because she wants them back, i cant buy new furniture to help organize the small space i occupy because there is nowhere to put the old furniture that we are not allowed to get rid of, the hundreds of newspapers everywhere in the house, the horrible guilt that gets thrown on us when we make her heart pound because we bring it up, the rearranging anything we get organized, the cute little outfits that she has held onto because her nephew looked so cute in it, the arguments when i try to keep my personal life (or anyone else) to myself, the stories i have to hear several thousand times about how someone has screwed her over and wronged her and that’s why she keeps so much, the opinions about everything that everyone does that makes them horrible people (yes, i am in that group of people), etc. I have actually been told NOT to buy bulk because we have nowhere to put it. The constant excuse that she just needs time to go through everything but everyone keeps asking her to do things for her because she doesn’t work has been a 30 year excuse that lost its charm years ago. I have problems with claustrophobia, have issues with relationships that seem too controlling, negative, and am constantly on the defense waiting for an unprovoked emotional attack. i think i need therapy but then i will have to explain where i am going. Dear Lord. Help! If i could afford a small place in a decent neighborhood for my son then i would be out of here! Oh then i will need to make her mad when i cant let her have an extra key for emergencies because she will come over when i am at work and look through my things to see what i have stolen from her. I feel like i am robbing my son of a good upbringing being here. He wont let me get rid of any of his stuff because he doesn’t know what it feels like to live in a normal household and not keep things that are broken. i am trying so hard to pay off bills so i can get out and never come crawling back again. This is the first time that i have found people that i think can really understand the chaos that i live in. Thank god for you all!

    • Jessica

      I know your pain. I did all of those same things growing up. (It’s really comforting to know I wasn’t the only person in the world who hid trash in their backpack to throw away at work or was accused of stealing trash) I swore to myself I would sooner be homeless than move back in with my hoarder mom, but I understand that you have a child to think of. My advice would be to see if you can stay with other non-hoarder relatives for the time being. We know what it’s like to grow up with a hoarder and you son shouldn’t. Try and get him away from it as soon as possible before he starts developing the mental issues that go along with being a hoarder’s kid. (Not to mention what child services might do if they found him living like that.) I wish you the best of luck. Remember that you can always vent here.

  • Larry Humphries

    My parents were hoarders and they both passed away this past year within a month of each other. For years we fought with mom about cleaning and organizing the house, and though we were mildly successful in cleaning the living room last year, we are facing the Augean task of cleaning out the remaining three bedrooms, full basement, 2 backyard sheds, and four storage units in two states. I am the executor on the will (lucky me) which is quickly turning into a nightmare. Part of the problem is that my siblings all have some hoarding tendencies of their own. They are asking me to inventory every barbie doll, every Chevron car, every hot pad, every piece of Avon jewelry, and cereal bowl. One sibling accuses another of stealing from the house and even taking loads of trash to the dump requires photographing before I can haul it off (of course she has not offered to help). It has become a nightmare.

    If you can resolve the problem before mom and dad pass away, you are so much better off.


    After my mother passed away, my nephew moved in with my father to help take care of him. Then after my dad died, he has stayed there and has actually helped in cleaning up the house (bathrooms, airing out odors from pets, yard work, etc.). The problem is that one of my sisters is actually asking that my nephew be charged back rent for staying in the house, even though I feel having him there is a valuable service, as does the insurance company. How would one determine the rental value of the property? Would you need to consider the overwhelming cost of preparing the house to be occupied?

    • Jessica

      You could argue that what it would have cost to have a professional do it would more than have made up for any back rent that he could possibly owe. Cleaning out a hoarders house is a task I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so I’d tell your sister to shut it and appreciate that someone in the family was willing to try and make a difference in their day to day life and the condition of their home. Hope this helps.

  • Larry Humphries

    My parents were hoarders and they both passed away this past year within a month of each other. For years we fought with mom about cleaning and organizing the house, and though we were mildly successful in cleaning the living room last year, we are facing the Augean task of cleaning out the remaining three bedrooms, full basement, 2 backyard sheds, and four storage units in two states. I am the executor on the will (lucky me) which is quickly turning into a nightmare. Part of the problem is that my siblings all have some hoarding tendencies of their own. They are asking me to inventory every barbie doll, every Chevron car, every hot pad, every piece of Avon jewelry, and cereal bowl. One sibling accuses another of stealing from the house and even taking loads of trash to the dump requires photographing before I can haul it off (of course she has not offered to help). It has become a nightmare.

    If you can resolve the problem before mom and dad pass away, you are so much better off.


    After my mother passed away, my nephew moved in with my father to help take care of him. Then after my dad died, he has stayed there and has actually helped in cleaning up the house (bathrooms, airing out odors from pets, yard work, etc.). The problem is that one of my sisters is actually asking that my nephew be charged back rent for staying in the house, even though I feel having him there is a valuable service, as does the insurance company. How would one determine the rental value of the property? Would you need to consider the overwhelming cost of preparing the house to be occupied?

  • windowclark

    I grew up with two hoarders. Mother and a brother. Got married very young. I am not nit picking neat but I can’t stand filth. So I am fairly normal average clean. I used to like cute collectibles—but only quality items—never just junk. Now, I see the effects of the hoarding from my past. I can’t stand stuff. I mean If my surropunds feel busy—I just give stuff away. I can’t tell you how much stuff I have gotten rid of. I can’t atand piles-clutter-stuff. I don’t even like too many clothes. Now isn’t that amazing? I play guitar. I gave away an extra guitar I really loved to my son. It was sitting around. Not into hoarding.

    • Jenny Islander

      It’s weird how I can feel a tension between my mother’s hoarding-ish tendencies (post above) and my own heebie jeebies when piles get big. I think reading here and at blogs by COH has helped me get moving. I live in an area with long winters, so I fall clean anyway to prepare for being shut in by bad weather, but this year’s reading has catapulted me into tackling stuff that I was mentally flapping my hands over for years. The husband and kids pitched in, bless ’em. Two garbage bags and two grocery boxes’ worth of stuff that we can’t use came out of one afternoon’s work. I ate the damn elephant and it feels good to look over at this or that shelf and actually see the back wall!

  • windowclark

    One observation that is wierd to me is how much every little thing means to my Mother. She has a poor memory but never when it comes to me. If I asked to use something or asked for something as a gift–She may give it to me—but she will ask for that item back! So I never ask for anything of hers or never ever borrow anything of hers. Mom wants any tiny thing that I ever have borrowed or used even if it was 15 years ago—she wants it returned back to her…She also suspects me of taking things! I do not often go to her house. I just call her because of so many of her actions. This is the truth and it is totally bizarre! She does not do this to ANY of her other children. Hard to believe? But it is a fact. Her other children (except 1 older brother) charge $$$ her for every tiny thing they do—high sums of money for every thing—she pays them…One has stolen a lot of money from her…One has broken countless valuable items, and has hoarded the house full and is an animal hoarder also…One has a severe disability and has delusions…But me, I am financially independent, she treats me like I am an outcast.

    • Jessica

      Mayne she resents your stability and sound mental health. Hoarder moms are funny that way. My mom does the same think.

      • windowclark

        yes…She loves to jab you and says things like, You are always “right” and I am always “wrong” and what she is trying to do is shut off all conversation and put a guilt trip on anyone who is trying to help. She says I am sure YOU wouldn’t have done it THAT way…(always compares me to her with a lot of sarcasm). She rarely speaks of me without sarcasm. She rarely praises me.

  • Jenny Islander

    I grew up “weird,” but I didn’t have a name for what was wrong with my mother. Yes, she drank, but there was something else going on. I still don’t actually have a name for it, because by the strict definition of hoarding she wasn’t a hoarder–no piles, no collections. But does this sound familiar to anyone?

    *Rent going up, has to move with us 3 kids. Has options–has a solid job, good credit (never had a credit card, never got calls from bill collectors), etc. Could rent or even buy something pretty good. Chooses to move us into a doublewide in the woods that you have to drive over a runoff creek of raw sewage to get to. It has stood empty for several years and was used as a party place by local teens. No maintenance then or ever, the roof leaks streams of greenish water whenever it rains, edges of floors are soft, windows haven’t opened in years, stairs up to the door are wobbly underfoot . . . It continues to get worse; 1 of the 2 showers breaks, is never fixed . . . her reason for choosing this pit over something less horrible? Because the last tenants before the place stood empty had been friends of hers. We stay there until the landlord tells us we have to leave because he’s going to knock it down and subdivide. She immediately gets a mortgage on a much nicer trailer closer to town. And never repairs it. (No money to pay for repairs, but there’s always money for whiskey, wine, and cigarettes.)

    *Blender breaks. Does she throw it away? No she does not. Does she dig out the manual and attempt to figure out which part needs to be replaced? No she does not. She leaves it on the counter because–I am not making this up–“Maybe in a few weeks it will be better.”

    *Cat unplugs freezer full of fish and crabmeat. It’s a good tight chest freezer so we don’t find out about this until the next time it’s opened. She won’t touch it–just flaps her hands and cries. Won’t let my older siblings touch it either, and I’m too short. Finally consents to touch it when my adult brother, the commercial fisherman, discovers the situation and points out that a large amount of rotten shellfish in a confined space can produce a toxic gas cloud that kills people. Then she screams and hollers at all of us for “making” her do the thing that she wouldn’t let us do.

    Am I looking at hoarding behavior without the actual hoard, or what?

    • Jessica

      She sounds more like someone who is unable to deal with situations of any kind, but loves being the subject of pity. I don’t think this counts as hoarding, but there are different levels and forms. Feel free to still post here either way.

  • Ally Lomnicki

    Hey everyone,
    We have to do several assignments for uni on any chosen topic. I have chosen to focus on the effect on the children of hoarders (my interest being sparked by moving into my mother in laws home, who is a hoarder). I am not from her family obviously, rather marrying into it, and wonder a few questions regarding early childhood living. I wonder if anyone can respond to a few questions to my email. I am curious as to if there was intervention from any organizations during childhood- were people aware and therefore trying to help, or were there a hushed environment which left children more or less alone to deal with this? And how have you found help? I work in mental health, and found this topic to be misunderstood and misdiagnosed. As those who have lived through this, I wonder what could change that would have helped you?
    I do not ask for much information, but if anyone is happy to share I would appreciate it. Very touched by all the stories I have seen, hardness you have overcome and togetherness you share.

  • Sarah

    I’m only 17 and my mother is a hoarder. It isn’t as bad as other cases I’ve seen/read about, but it’s been bad enough to have completely robbed me and my older brother of our childhood. She refuses to admit she has a problem and blames us, us meaning my father, my brother, and myself. I want to live elsewhere once my senior year in highschool is done, but I worry about the whole money aspect. I also fear that I will turn into my mother and I lack the basic knowledge of how to take care of a living space. I struggle a lot with who I am and so does my 20 year old brother who still lives at home. I know this is aimed more towards adult children of hoarders, but I just don’t know what to do….

    • TC

      We are all here to help you, and age doesn’t matter. You can ask for advice as much as you want. There’s lots of info out there about housekeeping (like at http://living.msn.com/home-decor/cleaning-organizing/

      I check it from time to time for inspiration on how to live like a “normal” person. There’s also a FB page called Adult Children of Hoarders that is very active, plus the Yahoo chat area.

    • Jessica

      Maybe you could try sharing these financial fears with your father or another close family member. My dad took me in after high school and was cool about teaching me all the things I needed to know about how to keep a house right and act normal. It’s a one step at a time process and I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but now I’m so good at cleaning I make money doing it for other people. If worse comes to worse, save as much as you can and get out as soon as possible. If you can manage I’d try selling off some of the hoard when your parents aren’t looking. Hope this helps.

    • Phoenix08

      Sarah, I have found a website called flylady to be very helpful with basic housekeeping skills. Google her website. She will also send you multiple daily e-mails to help keep you on track with upkeep of your home. She is a valuable resource as she once struggled with her home and best of all, she is FREE! 🙂 So. as scary as it might seem, there are a lot of us who start out without being where we wish to be.


    when my childhood home burnt to the ground I was traumatized, how could I be happy with this, what kind of a person was I. It was also the same year I began buying housekeeping books due to the obvious lack of knowledge and skills. A few years later and a third baby on the way, I was elated that my apartment was evacuated because of a major flood and everything was swept away, happy to start all over with nothing, what kind of a person was I. A few years later I am a single mother of four and homeless so everything goes into storage including the garbage, I feel blessed by the grace of god when it is sucked away by a tornado, what kind of a person am I. A few years later I have a home of my own and a husband that tries to help clean, I work hours everyday at housekeeping and do my best, it just is not enough with such a mess. what kind of person am I. A few years later the mess is getting better as the children get older, I have raised my children in a mess, what kind of person am I. A few years later my children are grown only one remains at home, I am a grandmother, the house is sometimes a mess and I struggle with housekeeping daily. what kind of person am I, I am a survivor of a hoarding family.

  • idunno22

    I am a daughter of a hoarder. She had been a hoarder ever since i can remember. It started with the garage 24 years ago and slowly moved all through the house. As a child/ teenager i could never have people over because the house was to full. I had to make up excuses and lie as to why my friend couldn’t come over. Now as an adult i feel a lot of responsibility to help my mom out. To make sure no one finds out. She recently expressed a desire to clean the house. I have spent every free moment i have had helping her clean, which is exhausting in itself. I feel cheated out of a childhood and can’t bring it up because i know it will hurt her feelings. My brother lives across the country and i feel resentment that he no longer has to deal with this. I just wish hoarders could realize how much this affects their children.

  • Tim Budig

    My name is Tim Budig and I work for ECM Publishers, a newspaper group in the Twin Cities. I am trying to do a story and hoarding and would like very much to talk to Minnesota family members of hoarders. My email address is tim.budig@ecm-inc.com.

    Would greatly appreciate the help. Thanks.

  • Charleegirl

    I am a daughter/sister of hoarders. My mother and brother live together. There are years of “collectible” items piled high.
    I got into an argument with my mother this evening. We were discussing Christmas.
    Ugh. I dread Christmas.
    Every Christmas is like a drug to my mother and brother: It’s the perfect season to acquire. For them, the larger the pile of gifts, the better. It’s an opportunity to attempt to spread the joy of their hoarding. Quantity over quality!!
    Tis the season for me to donate to Salvation Army.
    I attempted to explain to my mother that I’d prefer only a few gifts this Christmas. She treated me like I’d committed a sin! How dare I not want the wonderful things she and my brother bought me!
    Some days I feel like I might be the crazy one. What compels them so much to hoard? What compels me to purge?
    For me, clutter and piles create anxiety. Yet every day I visit that house. The anxiety of my mother falling, then getting buried alive, creates more anxiety.
    I wish my family realized how much more I treasure them over their things.

    • TC

      Christmas is a tough one for us COH, isn’t it? My mother still equates giving gifts with giving love (she never says she loves any of us) but to complicate things, she doesn’t have much money to spend on gifts and easily feels that her gifts are inadequate compared to those from other people. I keep telling her that spending quality (and quantity) time with us is more important than getting gifts from her, but she’d rather complain about money/inadequacies than understand what I’m saying. Then she turns around and spends money she needs on gifts that we don’t need.

      • Charleegirl

        I’m sinking in the same boat with my mother. She’ll skip paying her mortgage to shop, then call me crying.
        It is difficult. Things aren’t love. How do we know this when a parent doesn’t? Weren’t they the ones that taught us?
        I’m sorry you mother never says I love you. I can’t imagine not being able to say that to my child.

        • TC

          Guess what I say to my kids all the time? I joke that they’ve been kissed and told I love you more than any other kids in the world.

  • pammie

    I’ve just been reading your blogs with great interest as I have two mums who share this obsession. My birth mum’s hoard is significantly worse than my adoptive mums. My adoptive mum lives in a very clean home where stuff is stacked, ironed, folded, into neat piles and cupboards and wardrobes/hanging spaces. My birth mother it’s just stacks of bags and boxes and furniture piled up to a dangerous level. I have a certain level of input over my adoptive mum’s state as I have refused to look after her unless she keeps the house safe to enable me to help her and I’ve found the shadow of me disappearing over the horizon has prompted her into some decisive action. I’ve had to tolerate tantrums, shouting, and endless quantities of tears, but at the moment we are friends and I’m able to aid her in being able to keep her home, which is ultimately what she wants.

    • TC

      That’s a big burden for you, having two separate hoarding parents. I’m glad to hear that your adoptive mum is at least a bit willing to have you help her so she can stay in her home. My parents have this fantasy that they can stay in their home even if they become disabled, but an able bodied person can hardly use the house.

  • My story-a hoarders child

    I am 23 years old. My mother, 66 years old, is a hoarder, an animal hoarder and on top of this she is suffering from another illness that I can not specifically detect. I think it is schizophrenia and post traumatic stress from where my dad lost his business and financial stability years ago.
    I grew up in this environment. I love my mom and until about a year ago I pretended that there was nothing wrong with her…but I knew that I couldn’t grow up to be like her.
    Unfortunately, I ran away from the problem and went off to college just hoping that she would “change” and that the problem would “go away”.
    My mom and I have a close relationship, however, I can never address the problem to her because she feels like there is no problem, rejects any help or therapy, and blames my father.
    My dad tried to get her help many years ago, and she rejected it. I am scared that this will happen again.
    Growing up, we moved from house to house, cleaning up after her, which now I understand masked the root of the problem. My dad did this because it was easier to keep the “peace” in our family then to get her severely angry when trying to get professional help for her.
    I now strongly regret ignoring the problem and I wish my dad and I had taken stronger measures years ago. Since she rejects voluntary therapy, I am frightened about the next step to take.
    This is a very painful time in my life. I know my dad and I are strong enough to get through this. It is just very hard to feel like I am losing my mother to these diseases.
    I also feel remorseful for my father because he stuck by her side and taken a lot of emotional abuse from her, and yet she still manages to blame him for her problems. He has wanted to leave her years ago, and simply stuck around because of me.
    This week I took my blinders off and decided to try to clean up my parents home with my fiancé (who has been so supportive through these last few months after opening up to him about all this) The house is beyond a livable condition. They have been sleeping in their cars outside for over a year. My parents went on a week long vacation and we managed to clean up the outside of the home which was a wreck. We didn’t have time to clean up the house. I hadn’t been in the house for over 5 years. I did not know that it had gotten so bad, and that they were living in these conditions.
    It was then that it hit me, that I have a problem so large on my plate that I am going to have to seek professional advice. This is helpful to release some of my thoughts. I know this is the beginning of a large journey that I can’t run from again. All that I am doing is because I love my mom and I love my dad and they need better lives. I hope and pray that the mother I know and love will come out of this.

  • Tammi M

    Materialism and the Holidays…Please see my post at http://freegirlsjourney.blogspot.com/

  • cinders au

    In the 1980’s I remember stacks of news papers and books.

    Years ago after mum got sick, 1990’s, I tried cleaning up a little bit.

    I got told I was just like my father . For throwing away her things, he had thrown away a that was a book that she had hid money in 1960’s.

    Now she is in aged care and I again have the clean up. 2013. The worst thing I found was my hair from when I was 4. I’m 50 now.

    Balls and balls of wool were taken to op-shops. but she kept her knitting needles and sewing pins. Still sorting patchwork sewing things. a few items will fly back with 4000ks I came down with 1 suit case and will leave with 2.
    I hired a skip bin and filled it very fast. And still there is more to go.
    Books now stored by my brother, he lives in a rooming house. He’s just doing what she wants. Keep them, I hope he does not. He also has the job of putting all the family photos on the web.

    And now we are down to the collectibles and the auction houses are shutting up for the Xmas break 5 weeks before they can be sold.

    After crying and trying I am saving my mental self and flying home in two days time.

    I do love my family but I can not stay any longer

  • Lisa…Distanced by the hoard

    I’ve just joined. Out of absolute disappointment I now see it may never change. My mom got put in the hospital with Cdiff. Once transferred to a nursing home to recover all she did was complain about wanting to get out of there and be home! Soooo I put on my angel wings and went to her trailer and put all of her stuff out onto her carport and sterilized her mobile home. “Yeah for me”! Right?….. Wrong. Now she is home in an absolutely beautiful clean home and guess what. She wants to keep all of the stuff. We started going through it and almost every nick nack is in the keep pile. I GIVE UP! I am going to tell her in home support person to just put it all back in the trailer with her. I won’t even want to go over. If she trips on the stuff because it is overflowing into her walking path and ends up back at a rest home or dead from a fall, so be it. I can’t do this anymore. Her stuff will continue to keep me at a distance. I will stay away and just call her on the telephone to talk.

  • Www.hoarderswife.wordpress.com

    I didn’t realise my mother was a hoarder until I started noticing all the symptoms in myself. I thought Id just married a hoarder, I thought my mother was just busy, or that we ( the kids) were really just messy. I always thought it was my fault. I never learned how to keep a clean house, or personal boundaries, or emotional intelligence. All those things I want my children to learn…

  • Kate

    First I would like to start off saying how great I already feel for being able to talk to someone about my life growing up with my mom as a hoarder. I have never been able to truly express to anyone how bad the first 16 years of my life were. I am a 21 year old girl. For as long as l can remember, the house my mother brought me up in was completely trashed. And I mean TRASHED. I remember being terrified growing up as a child with all kinds of bugs, mold, and the worst, MICE. I would go to eat cereal and find mouse droppings in the cereal box, or in the bowl. There was trash everywhere. It was as if nothing was ever thrown away. I remember how upset I was never being able to have friends over, and hearing comments about how I always smelled from the rotten food, dog shit and piss, and who knows what else. I remember going to school in clothes with holes in them because of the mice that got the best of them. In 4th grade my uncle passed away, and my mom was left the house. I was never so happy to move. Unfortunately, everything happened all over again in that house too. All I wanted was to be able to have my friends over. I had so many friends and some would even come to the house and I would run away from the door and hide because I didn’t want them to see me or the house. It smelled so bad. I really wanted to do something about it. It would take me a week, but I would clean one room completely and my sister who is one year older than myself would just throw her trash on the floor, leave her dishes ot, and soon enough it would look just as bad as it did before. It was so frustrating. I would ask her nicely to pick up after herself and she would always say I wasn’t the boss of her. When I was 16 my grandmother died and she left her house to my aunt who lived out of state. My life got much better after that, although I still suffer from depression probably from the way I was brought up. Not only was the house trashed, by my father divorced my mother for another women because of it, and he left us in the mess. There are 4 of of us children. I feel as though my childhood was stolen from me. I am jealous of the relationship people have with their parents. My dad was gone most of my life and my mother was home but never around. She sat on the computer all night after we’d get home from school. I rarely remember instances where we actually spent time with her besides holidays and special occasions. She wouldn’t even help me with my homework when I ask. It really hits me hard sometimes. It always will. I feel like my father couldn’t have loved us to leave us like that. Although I have a great relationship with him now. I think it’s sad I call it a great relationship when I like halfway across the country from him and never see him, but I guess it’s great compared to my mom.

  • Amanda d

    My name is Amanda and I am here to try to help my mother in some way. My mom is the hoarder you may think, just the opposite, it’s my dad. From about the age of 5, I can remember my dad keeping things that seemed silly to me like news papers and empty boxes. By the time I reached middle school, it was so bad I couldn’t have friends over, or do laundry any longer. That is when my relationship with my dad really started to fall apart. As a child I didn’t understand why these boxes, bags, trash, old newspapers had to always be around when my friends houses could be cluttered but still livable. Throughout high school I saw my parents fight more and more about stuff, my mom trying to clean and my dad literally freaking out and becoming so enraged. My mother is a sweet lady, who just backed down and when I moved to college, things got even worse. In a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, only 1 bedroom is accessible to a bed and one bathroom has barely enough room to use the toilet, to take a shower things must be moved. He has collected 6 cars, (most now too old to “fix up” and just fills them with stuff) which he refuses to sell. My mom has fallen in the garage, which I, a 23 year old, can barely navigate safely. She recently had knee surgery and had to stay at the hospital for rehab because there was no where for her to recover in the house. For years my mom has said she wants to leave him, but always hangs on for some excuse or another. My younger sister and I really have no desire to try to keep a relationship with our dad because he always chooses his things over us, but we love our mom beyond words could express and I want to be able to help her out of their abusive relationship. She owns the house, he pays for nothing, and he has let the whole house just fall apart and rot. Does anyone else have parents that separated because of hoarding? Does the non hoarder have to decide on their own, or what help can I get her? It may sound horrible but I really have given up hope on my dad, no one is allowed to touch his things, he keeps trash and there are bugs, and he refuses to admit he has a problem no matter what way we present it to him. I have accepted that relationship with him, but I cannot stand to see my poor mom held prisoner to this any longer.

  • Elizabeth

    Amanda, I lived the same nightmare for ten years, wishing my father could/would leave my mother. In my family, my father was paralyzed by the fact that Mom (hoarder) was on the deed to the house. By the time we were really desperate for him to leave (it wasn’t safe for him in the house), he didn’t feel he could afford to move into assisted living without selling the house… and Mom refused. She didn’t care if it wasn’t safe for him, she had no idea about money, she just figured he could move out and she should stay in the house. Dad struggled in that house until a debilitating stroke. (He died miserable in a nursing home last month).
    I don’t have any advice for you about how to achieve the separation but I feel your pain in WANTING it. Same scenario for me. I couldn’t do it, once my mother said she wouldn’t agree to sale of the house. My father had earned 100% of the money that paid for that house, but my mom didn’t care, she had the power because she was on the deed.
    Before my mother’s ultimatum, what I did was take my dad on lots of visits to other places, let him see how nice they could be. He was super reluctant to go, but seeing how nice they were and talking to managers at these places, he really came around. Your mom is obviously not elderly, but I would encourage you to do what you can to show her a different kind of life, maybe take her on tours of condos or apartments or whatever other housing would be appropriate for her. She needs to see it and imagine herself somewhere else away from the hoard.
    Spouses and families generally get a very mixed message about their role and duty to support hoarders. Right now, experts are focused on reducing the stigma of hoarding, so the damage to FAMILY and the reality of how we are victimized is very much downplayed. Consequently, we have our own stigma to deal with: a stigma related to leaving and choosing NOT to accept the abuse. Unfortunately, if you give your mom any of the “family support” books on the topic of hoarding, they will advise her about how to play therapist for your dad, how to stay and how to “be sympathetic” to your dad and remain a victim.
    I really really feel your pain here. Do everything you can to get her out of there.

  • TC

    If your mom is willing to consider a different place to live and can afford to move, start to talk to her about her options for living in a better place. She might not agree at first, but with time may change her mind.

  • CBHapp

    I am a 40 year old female with two older brothers. We all have spouses and families, but none of us have hoarding tendencies. Our parents, however, live in a 5 bedroom house with a large garage stacked with “stuff”, because of my mothers hoarding. My mother used to blame my brothers and I for the horrendous mess when we lived at home. Ashtrays overflowing, half drunk cups of coffee all over the house and pikes of garage sale/clearance purchases stacked amid trash and dirty laundry all over the house. We have all lived away from home for 20+ years! and it’s just continued to worsen. I live within 20 miles of their home, but have not actually been inside for about a decade. For years, my daughter (now a teenager) has asked to go to their house and visit and maybe spend the night, but there isn’t anywhere for guests to sit, let alone sleep. So, as a result, my children have also gone about 10 years without visiting their home. In the past, I’ve suggested helping clean out the house, but my mother only acts offended and gets upset. So, I’ve given up all attempts at assisting them in this matter. I do worry that their advancing age makes navigation difficult, and in the event of an emergency, they could not flee the house easily, and emergency workers would have trouble reaching them. But, since I want to live in peace and do not have any effective voice in the matter, I must leave it as my mothers problem, and not accept it as my own. I’ve heard that hoarding is often preceded by a significant life event, and may be genetic to some degree, which terrifies me. Could I become a hoarder later in life? I will do anything to make sure that doesn’t happen. Does anyone else worry about becoming a hoarder?

  • believe it!

    Please see my blog Diary of a hoarder’s daughter http://www.hevsblogs.blogspot.co.uk I have tried to write it with humor. I hope by injection humor it will help anyone else affected by this to see they are not alone. Perhaps they could also have a bit of a laugh – where’s the harm in that?

    There was a TV program in the UK called ‘can’t stop won’t stop hoarding’. Featured my case plus a case in Bristol UK and Florida.

    🙂 Thanks for reading. xx


  • sasha

    my mother is a hoarder and ive had to move in with her and its driving me mental i am allergic to cats and she is also feeding all the neighbours cats and letting them in the house and making pile s of old cat food tins and cat blankets, the cats needs are more important to her than my health and she gets so angry when i ask her to stop feeding them. i clear a space in the house then the next morning shes re filled it, every day the furniture moves around as well and the piles keep growing of things that need to be sorted , i have grown up hearing thats going to be sorted later, so i so relieved to find this group. i watched the video on why people hoard and she studies every detail of objects like the doctor said, we have bin bags full of corks, clothes labels, buttons, wall paper scraps and my friends all laugh but she keeps her important documents in an old fridge she wont throw out, ive removed 99 bin bags from the house and it just re filled. we now have rats living here in the walls and she leaves food out in the garden for the animals. i feel desperate to get away from her and it makes me feel guilty sometimes but i feel i am drowning in her stuff. my gp told me to tell to to stop feeding cats but she cant do it.

    • Izabelle Winter

      Sasha. 🙁 I can really understand your issues. How old are you? I lived in a similar house when i was young – you have no alternative. However after i moved out my life drastically changed for the better. I was so allergic to dust and animal fur that I had a respiratory arrest aged 22. You have to bide your time until you are able to leave (that’s why I asked your age). Even try getting seasonal jobs abroad or moving away to Uni?

  • Child of A Hoarder

    I’m an adult child of a hoarder who has recently found this site, and reading up on the blogs to the right has been a huge comfort as I deal with my own mother. You all inspired me to start my own blog, but I’ve been hesitant to list it, as I know my mother would be furious if she ever found out about it. But she hasn’t done anything to make her feelings more important / sacred / valuable than mine, and I would really love to be part of a supportive community. So, if you’re interested, check it out: homeiswhereyoukeepyourstuff.blogspot.com

    • Hi, Child of a Hoarder – Thanks for letting us know about your blog. It’s been added to the sidebar! (Also, thanks for the kind mention of my own blog in your May 3, 2014 post!) – Hoarder’s Son

  • Tracer Thong

    I am 27 and my mother is a hoarder. She has been a hoarder for my entire life. I still hate her so much and blame her for so many of my problems today. I have severe ocd, social anexity, and panic disorder. I truely beleive these problems have come from my upbringing in a house where nobody ever came to visit because we were all afraid of embarrasment. I read something on this site about the nervousness felt when hearing a doorbell ring and that shit is totally true. I also think I have mild agoraphobia. I have been unable to get a real job and move out of this house. I seriously am to the point of contemplating suicide every single night. I dont know what to do. My whole fucking life is a mess. Thanks for letting me vent a little on the internet.

    • Tracer Thong

      I just want the courage to stand up to her and say, “Fuck you bitch, you ruined my and my brother, sister, and fathers life because of your fucking problem, you fat disgusting cow. I seriously hope you die very soon you piece of worthless shit. Dont blame it on a mental disorder, you chose to have children and you decided your mental problem and your crap was worth more in this world than your family. I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU!”

  • OK
  • Frustrated

    How do you help a hoarder mom??

    • Jessica

      You really can’t. You just try to survive them.

  • 30 yrold daughter of a hoarder

    Can I just say it is nice to know I am not alone, that there are so many others in the same situation. My mum has every trait listed and as a result, I am the opposite. I live alone with 2 young children & I chuck most things, constantly clean and I am very minimalistic, probably more so than I should out of the fear of ever becoming a hoarder. I just wanted to say rest assured COH’s you are not alone. I go through fazes where I give up being the bad person and trying to help tackle my mums problem and focus on my own life. I find comfort in this website and reading the blogs. Sending you all strength and hope Xxx

  • martisco

    I am fortunate that my mother is probably not what you’d call a traditional hoarder… in that she is merely “guarding” the hoard left behind by her mother, who has been dead for 20 years. My mother does not add to the hoard; she merely maintains it out of some sense of “duty” (or, her ever-present hope that she will find good homes for each and every item). Her hoard occupies the whole cellar (making it difficult to move around or for utility men to get down there), a spare room, and most of her bedroom. Any conversation about the hoard (and I never use that word) inevitably turns into a screaming match.

    Every couple years, she assents to my suggestion to rent a dumpster for the weekend. Very little actually gets thrown away. It’s more like a weekend of arranging stuff and just tossing a few absolutely rotty items. In a few weeks we’ll go through the Dumpster ritual again. Last time, I managed to cart out a dozen bags of trash without her noticing (the Dumpster being too tall for her to peek into). I was literally running down to the cellar and scooping up garbage and detritus with my gloved hands and tossing them into bags, running upstairs and hurling them into the dumpster out front, while she dithered around in the shed rearranging things in the back yard. With every hurl, I knew I would have X less pounds to deal with after she’s gone. (“Ton by ton, life is fun!”)

    Creative rearrangement is also necessary work as the idea is to remove more bulk while keeping her few actually personal items that are actually hers (old dolls and the like) reassuringly in view.

    My question is, since I know I’m lucky to have a mom who at least considers Dumpster rental, how I do I make constructive use of this opportunity without causing an argument to start? I’d really like to get at least 12 more bags out of the house. Any suggestions? Especially since I’m starting to run out of easily baggable items and what’s left is broken furniture and huge boxes.

    And yes, I totally cop to the charge that I’m just doing this for me. Because I know most of this stuff won’t get out of here until she has passed on, which will be for a long time. I love her, but she is really out of touch with reality and what her children are going to have to do (the time and expense of cleanup) after she is gone.

  • Under the Hoard

    Hello, I am a child of the hoard. Reading these comments really made me cry, just knowing that other people have gone through what I’ve gone through (so many of them, too!) and have gotten out. Of course, I’m also crying because mother dearest just came into my room and, seeing what website I was on, said I had a problem in my head for thinking she was a hoarder, which she is totally not, of course. Well, that’s basically what she said under all the yelling and insults.

    I am the second-youngest of five children, the youngest being my little brother at 11 and the oldest being my brother at 19. My mother is the hoarder, and, at 14, I am sick of it. I can barely remember a time when the house was clean. That time being when I was around 6, and my dad bought this big, beautiful 1-acre piece of land. I remember being so excited to live in such an amazing house. Well, a few years ago that 1-acre of land was completely filled with junk, all throughout the backyard, the garage, the house, the kitchen, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the hallways, and the front yard. Oh, and don’t forget the storage rooms (yes, plural!) she rented, and one of the houses we were supposed to be renting out.

    My mother has periods of time that I like to call ‘worse’ and ‘worst’. Right now, she is thankfully only in a ‘worse’ period, which means the only thing in the kitchen is a spare dishwasher and I can make my way through most parts of the house. This is probably due to the fact that my dad’s been threatening divorce again, her sister and my dad’s mother came over from Europe for the first time ever (and auntie spent her ‘vacation’ trying to help), and we children have set down the law that our rooms are off-limits (not that she doesn’t try).

    The bane of my existence- Craigslist.
    Around sixth grade, some person that I dearly wish my mother had never met (I have no idea who it is) introduced my mother to Craigslist. Now, as an unemployed woman, my mother spends every. single. minute. of her life taking pictures of her junk, uploading it onto craigslist, writing a description and price in bad English, waiting for a buyer to email or phone her, and renewing, deleting, and changing her posts. And even though she sells a bunch of it, she buys even more furniture and stuff from churches and garage sales, and even picks up stuff that people left for the trash collectors or want to get rid of. The people at church know her name, and give her discounts because she’s such a good customer. All the money that she earns is spent buying more junk. She calls it an ‘investment’. As she yelled at me a while ago (more like an hour ago) she said that she’s not a hoarder because she earns money, that all the furniture and stuff is an ‘investment’. My dad, helpful and hopeful, bought her an easy to use tablet that she now uses for craigslist, carrying it with her everywhere, even bringing it to her friend’s houses. The sight of her sitting there, clicking away, drives me mad.

    As I’m sure you know if you’re on this website, the hoarding ruined my social life. I believe the last time I invited one of my friends over was my best friend when I was what- 10? That was once, almost five years ago. I have maybe 3 or 4 very close friends who know about it, only because two of them are neighbors, and the others have picked me up or dropped me off. Though I know that they wouldn’t stop being my friend over it, I never, ever even bring it up. And I’ve never invited them over to my house. Whenever I go over to there houses, I always get a little jealous, because there houses are so clean, and I always have so much fun without having to worry that I’m going to bump into something. It hurts even more because I am naturally a very social person. I love going to parties and school functions and hanging out, anywhere that isn’t home.

    The hoarding also ruined my family life. In elementary school, I hated my mother. We would get into fights every day, yell at each other, I’d say that she wasn’t my mother and that I’d laugh at her funeral, and then I would shut my self into my room and cry myself to sleep. In middle school I had suicidal thoughts. I thought that maybe if I killed myself, she would see the error of her ways and clean up the house. The only thing that stopped me was the thought that it would hurt if I cut my throat. I didn’t even think about friends, because I didn’t have any good ones. And I thought that my family (and my mother) would be better off without me because I was such a bad person, always telling my mother such horrible things when we got in fights, and that was somehow the reason that my mother was a hoarder.

    What makes it worse, I think, is that my mother was (is?) such a good, wonderful person. She was always such a social person, loving kisses and hugs, always there to listen to your life story. A month or two ago, a group of kids were walking down our street with a mother or two. She gave them lemonade and cookies without asking for anything in return. And I love her so much for doing things like that, and just for being my mother. But then I come home to this mess, and we get into fights, and I just feel so tired and angry at it. And now she’s just so…negative about everything. And she promises that she’ll clean it up, but it never gets any better. And I tell her that this is a problem, and she says that it’s not, she’s earning money, and she’s not doing drugs or anything bad, and that every family has its problems and this is a small one. But this hoard is destroying my family, eating up my mother, and I just want my mother back.

    My sister is off at college, comes home once every couple of months, and while she’s here and before she left for college I rarely saw her, as she was always out with her friends or in her room on the computer. That goes for all of us siblings, actually. People at school think it’s strange that I love school so much, but I don’t think it’s strange at all. I hate coming home- I go straight to my room, which thankfully she’s stopped trying to put stuff in, and spend basically the whole day there trying to ignore my mother. She calls me a robot, and says that I’m always obsessively on the computer (though all I really do on it is read), and I laugh because she’s the obsessive one. Me, I’m just trying to escape reality. We tried to clean up multiple times, and we still do, but it always comes back, and we’ve almost given up hope. Hopefully, I’ll get a job soon, cook up a scheme to get my mother out of the country while we clean up, and take her to a psychiatrist when she comes back. 🙂

    Wow, it feels really really good to rant like that for the first time in- ever, actually. Wonder if anybody’ll actually read all that. Just realized that it sounds like I’m living in a trash dump or something. Its just that this is years of frustration finally being let out. I love my life, actually. If it wasn’t for the hoarding I think It’d be perfect, but we can’t have it all. Well, good luck to all the other children of the hoard out there! I feel you pain, guys. 😀

    • TC

      So many of us here have been through some version of your experiences with a hoarding parent – we get it. I know what it’s like to try to keep your HP’s stuff out of your room, get in trouble for cleaning up, and hoping that the future will be better. You are fortunate that you’ve found a way to make your room yours – fight for that and keep working hard at school so that you can get scholarships and head off to college and away from the hoard. You don’t have to be like your mom.
      PS – I read to the end. 🙂

    • Sickofthis

      At 14 you are are very well written. I’m 32 and what you are describing sounds like my childhood. I was suicidal also, and to this day I have many feelings of worthlessness. I saw counselors and psychologists throughout high school however I don’t think I ever mentioned to them that my mother was a hoarder. Maybe it would have made them understand my feelings because COH’s feel like their parent’s stuff comes before their own children hence feelings of worthlessness. Anyways, it wasn’t a word being used as much back then. There were no TV shows.

      The bane of my existence- EBAY! My mom would always have these conversations with me, “Oh that set of dishes I bought at a garage sale for $20 I sold for $100 can you believe it!”. Uh huh great..what about the mountains of things that did not sell on Ebay. Are they worth that profit? It reminds me of scratch-off tickets. The profit you might make of one of them in no way amounts to the damage you did with all the other ones.

    • SB

      I remember being 14 and how awful it was living in a hoarder’s home. Stay hopeful and positive because there is a light at the end of the
      tunnel. As soon as I graduated from high school, I never had to live in a messy crazy house again. I first moved in with my
      older sister and it was heaven to have a normal house and social life.
      During college, I had my own apartments, and when I got married, I had
      beautiful, clean homes.
      When I was 14 and made the cheerleading squad, I found out that it was a tradition to surprise the new cheerleaders by decorating their bedrooms with all kinds of crazy stuff when they weren’t at home and to also take turns hosting sleepovers. I immediately went into panic mode and quit the team. I grew up with so many secrets and shame. Back then there was no TV shows or websites
      about hoarding. I thought we were the only ones living like that and I
      didn’t think anyone would understand. Now, because
      of the Hoarding TV shows, I think people are more understanding and accepting. I’m not saying it makes it any easier to live in a hoard, but I’ve found it’s easier to talk about because there’s a clinical name for it and an awareness that’s an illness rather than just being dirty or weird. Today, I have teenagers of my own and they accept that their grandparents are hoarders. Because my kids and husband have seen episodes of Hoarders, they aren’t totally blown away and shocked when they see inside my parents home. My advice to kids living with hoarders is to stay strong and hopeful and to keep reminding yourself that one day you’ll get out.

    • Jessica

      As an older hoarder’s child I can honestly say I found 14 to be the hardest year of my life. For some reason it really hits you the hardest at that age just how little you feel like you can do about the situation. I’m proud of your determination and I truly hope your plan works. Don’t be afraid to ask for more help here. 14 was the age that I nearly killed myself because of the hoarding. You shouldn’t have to face that alone.

    • bandaid

      I want you to know I read your entire post, and I was 14 at one time. Now I am 40, and my heart goes out to you!
      Recently, I have been looking for support and I didn’t know the scale of “THIS THING” they call hoarding. When I was your age, it was never mentioned. Like it was a normal behavior. I cried when I read your post, because I related to it so much. I just want to tell you that by sharing your story has helped me to better understand the feelings I had growing up and how it has effected me as an adult.
      I want to tell you so many things, but, instead I won’t. You are on your own path and I think your off to a good start!
      With my Utmost Empathy,
      P.S. You’ll be alright!!

  • -josh

    I am 29 and my mother is a hoarder. It’s not until the last few years, as I’ve grown up a bit as a person that i’ve realized just how bad it is at her house. Her utilities work but she only has one working element on the stove and her toilet is terrifying. It blocks every time and you used to have use a stick to unclog, she wouldn’t get a plunger. And the cat vomits everywhere and goes moldy and she nevers cleans it all up. My brother is 32 and socially phobic and lives with her. I worry so much about him not getting any life skills, because she enables his withdrawal from society, because she doesn’t want anyone to push her. He needs to work hard to engage with people and make friends and its important, but if I don’t challenge her about it then he’ll get no life skills and when she dies hell be totally screwed. But when i do challenge her she has a thousand excuses and is so smiley and passive aggressive its impossible to get anywhere.
    Like everyone else here I’ve felt guilty about being ashamed of her hoarding. I pretty much never brought friends home because of it growing up. As Ive gotten older I went out flatting and went into denial about the situation. Now that my eyes are open about it, I’m afraid to really push it because she just closes off, says I’m being like my father (her ex) and gets even less done. My relationship with my father sucks, so Im afraid of screwing up my relationship with my mother, even though it would be her fault if her hoarding came between us not mine. I know i should just let it go, but its so hard. I’ve gone through a difficult period with my partner and asked my mum to let me stay with her a few nights. She says she wants to, but its like pulling hen’s teeth, because of the work she would have to do, or allow, to clear a space for me to sleep. It makes it feel like she values her worthless junk more than her children.

    • peacefrog021

      Josh, sounds like we grew up in the exact same house! I to have a old brother still at home, who she refuses to kick out no matter how much damage to the house he does, I also have her only two grandchildren, and well two years ago we needed a place to stay while we were in between places, she turned her own daughter and grandchildren away because there was no room. I’m so sorry about how you feel, know that your mother is sick, like mine and that they do love us in their own weird ways!!

  • Lori

    Starting about 20 years ago my sister-in-law Nancy stopped letting anyone come to her house but she was never really a neat housekeeper so I think we all just thought she was embarrassed. She had been an obese woman all her life and gotten worse, so I figured it must had been hard for her to clean. Her daughter always lived with her and she has md (muscular dystrophy), she had finished school and has always had a job but does’ nt do much more. Well Nancy fell friday the 24th of last month in the bathroom and she would not let her daughter call for help because she did’nt want anyone to come into the house, but she did finally call her sister Kim 300 miles away and she called 911 on sunday after laying there 2 days. When the ambulance got there either they or other officials told them that the house was condemed and that they could not go back in then they took her to the hospital. Her kidneys started shutting down tuesday, they tried dialysis and her heart could’nt take it, by tues. Night she was gone. We still don’t know about any health issues besides her weight, I know that show hoarders treat it as a disease and treat them with kid gloves, I wonder if her will to live was gone when the ambulance and officials came to her home and condemed her house and also told her they were filing social services charges against her. So sad, also hot water heater broke for a year so showers at ywca and broken furnace so floor heaters for the last few years. I wish we would have known, I would have called a therapist and some help or ? For her. I will miss her.

  • Garrett

    I love my dad with all of my heart. However he has a bad case of hoarding. We live in a small apartment with 4 closets altogether. One of the closets is full of boxes smashed all over the place of “valuable” items, and this is the largest closet in the whole place. Then another closet is full of stuffed animals, that is correct, stuffed animals!! He gets mad if i touch anything, and all I want to do is organize the place, and get rid of junk. He always says that he got this stuffed animal at such and such place 20 years ago. It is absolutely ridiculous, and I don’t know what to do. I have a friend who wants to come stay with me for a few weeks, because he has a vacation. I am embarrassed for him to even stay in the house because it is gross. Please help me!

    • bandaid

      it’s okay, i know that may sound useless, but it is true! true friends will understand givin’ the opportunity. for that matter they may be willing to go beyond, just to help you feel better. i get the panic, trying to acommodate your friend to your standards and deal with your father at the same time will only deprive you of enjoying your time together with your friend. i get “gross” truely, i mean rodents, dead rodents, dead cats, cats eating dead cats, on and on. as long as you can provide a clean space to eat, sleep and shit you and your friend will be fine. your father loves you as much as you love him, if not more. that’s just coming from a parents perspctive. i hope you are able to have quality time with your visit and let the stuffed animals go! your relationship with your friend isn’t about your father, i wish you the best!
      remember things always change,

  • bandaid

    I was able to get through helping my mother move, even though she was not present for it. fortunatly i had wonderful family members to help, such as cousins, nieces and nephews. not siblings! apparently my sister’s were unaware of my mother’s needs, even though we speak daily. to my limited knowledge, mom’s hoarding will only flare-up in her new enviroment and it has! we moved 3 20′ storage containers and still left a PILE behind. she is now in a house larger than the one she moved from and insists on unpacking everything herself, even though she never packed ONE box! ofcourse! her insistance is based on never knowing where anything is and this way she’ll know.
    a year and a half ago, i started packing up my mother’s 11 room farm house, where i grew up. the orginal deed on this property went back to the 1830’s. the kitchen and bathroom were literally made out of log. the house was added onto over the years. growing up in this house was at times a living hell. (if i never see a bat or mouse again, it will be too soon)
    my mother declared she wanted to move, so i supported that process and a year and a half later, it happened. i, with help of my dear cousin, packed up well over a hundred boxes inorder to get the place on the market. (which mother orginally listed for 100,000.00 more than what it was worth, ofcourse!)
    this is starting to sound like the “mister ed” theme song! a horse is a horse ofcourse of course!!
    well that’s what hoarders do to ya! make ya sound like a fucking frustrated idiot!
    okay! i’m better now.
    i spent three weeks of my “free” time finishing up the packing and move. i promised her i would not leave her hanging and make sure she would be able to function. i.e. eat, shit and sleep. which required an additional 3 days after the move. it has been, 8 days ago since then.
    the thought of going to her new home, makes me physically ill, keeps me awake at night and makes me flat out bitchy!
    if i hear one more time what her plans are, i’m gonna fucking……
    she has been chronically needy and helpless for all my life and I just want to escape her prison!!
    in getting her established or unpacking a box (or packing) she would say things like, “that’s a frying pan, I use it to cook with.” with EVERYTHING!!!! it made me want to take that frying pan and knock myself out of my fucking misery!
    i’m going to my local library this week and request that they order a “kit” i found online from hoard no more. which claims that their cd’s are very effective in treating and targeting this fucked up behavior. this is really my last attempt.God help us all! if i find some help, i will say something.
    thanks for letting me rant,

    • TC

      Good luck, Amanda. I imagine that packing/unpacking for my HM would be very similar. EVERYTHING has a use and purpose, even if there are 10 of them and 9 don’t work.

  • Libby Mellott

    I am not a child of a hoarder, but someone that feels your pain. First off let me just let you know I work for a family owned womens business that does specialty cleaning and also organization. With that said we feel a great deal for anyone that hoards and we our here to help even if its just questions you need answered. Our company name is Sage Restoration. 913-905-0500. We our a 24 hour restoration service and have many outstanding testemonials. We our here to take your stress away if you are ever in need of our services. If you would just take the time to check out our website and read our blogs about hoarding. Sometimes when you have family that will reject your help or the help of others it maybe of great intrest to you to contact the Adult protection services. Sometimes when they are disabled or sickly the APS can help you pay for some or all of the cost. It is hard for hoarders to let go of anything they find of value even when it is trash. We take great value of what they call theres. Just know there our people out there that can help you take your stress away.

  • chrissy

    Hi I am 28 and my mom is a hoarder I love my mom but I wish she was a different person
    As a kid her hoarding messed me up I refuse to do that to my own kids my kids spend a lot of time with their grandparents but it’s always at my house people don’t understand why i won’t let my kids go stay the night at their grandparents house and I can’t say why even though they spend all their time with them what the reason why is I’m glad there’s a place where we can come and talk about the things I don’t say in front of other people when I was little I thought we were the only ones there was never a name for it my mom and dads house is condemnable and there’s nothing I can do about it talking about it brings me to tears I appreciate those who read this and understand that I just need to get some stuff off my chest

  • annie grandma

    I am not a hoarder, but i have a serious question to children of hoarders.My son had a child, is not married to mom, but pays child support and has relationship with his son , as well as the mom. I am grandma. My Concern…The mom and dad are on again, off again…but that is neither here nor there. The mom is a hoarder, and for the first 3 yrs in the relationship she always brought my grandson to visit us( out of state), I would throw birthday parties, etc..Finally she needed help and my son asks if I could go there and help her because he was unable because of work and college. She was panicked stricken and my son told me that her family are hoarders. I assured her I was going to be going to visit my grandson and to keep him busy while she studied for finals, after days of telling her I don’t care what your house looks like…I’m not visiting your house, I’m visiting my grandson.I had no idea, someone can live like that. In a huge country kitchen, I could’nt find a spot to put down my coffee cup.Couches in front of other couches, clothes everywhere, in boxes, on boxes, on furniture( four couches and no place to sit) , hard to get in front door. Now for my question, I Don’t want to offend anyone… I have concerns.
    My grandson is now at school age, he had alot of days late and absent last year in kindergarten, and this year a few so far. He tells me all the time he wishes he could live with us, where he could have friends. He says he only has 1 friend who he plays with at school. He tells me he can’t have play dates, because no one can come to his house, and his mom is alittle selfish with her time. She bartends at night and sleeps late, etc. Should I worry about my grandson having emotional problems, and if so what should I do.? for your info…my son also worries and has conflicts about what to do. I’d appreiciate any feed-back. Thak you. Concerned grandma

  • Fight the Hoard

    For the past several years I’ve attempted to tackle my fathers hoard/hoarding behavior as my mother has had medical issues rendering her almost immobile. My efforts have been ineffective and this week I have finally been contacted by adult protective services for the county as they’ve had referrals from neighbors about the situation the house is in. I’m not sure how to explain my fathers hoarding tendency to them or why I haven’t been able to clear the house out of material already.
    What can I expect from these services in terms of support? How can I assist them so they are able to work with my dad and he doesn’t have a nervous breakdown about them throwing out his stuff?

  • Eve
    • Thanks for sharing the link to “Finding Grey” – interesting stuff! I’ll add it to the blogroll.

      • Eve


  • Daughter

    I’m a 34 year old daughter of a hoarder-mom and alcoholic dad. I left home when I got my brother out at 19 and I’ve only been back the house 2 or 3 times since, none of which have been in the past 8 years. I don’t have fear of becoming a hoarder but now that I’m a mom, it’s affected me in other ways. I feel incredibly guilty for flipping out on my 3 year old this morning because we couldn’t find 1 of his sneakers. My house is 95% clutter free, like a “normal person” but I completely lose my marbles when something gets misplaced or is missing. I can’t let go of things that go missing because that’s how I remember things in my home growing up. Can’t find your shoes? Guess we aren’t going anywhere for days. For me, it feels like the first step in the slippery slope of giving up on life if I let go when I lose something. Now I have to figure out how to break this cycle and not have a kid with a different set of psychological problems because I flip out. I sound like a horrible person but I’ve completely given up on my parents and I’d rather just deal with it once when they die than fight it for decades. Instead I’m going to put my energy into how to deal with my issues for the sake of my kid.

    • bandaid

      I am 40 year old women and mother of a 5 year old daughter, my mother is a hoarder and my father was also absent. Children have a way of motivating and I respect your feelings. Guilt plays a huge role in being a child of a hoarder and an alcholic or emotionally absent father.
      You are right about over reacting to the missing shoe. But at least your looking for help and seeking answers. Don’t be too hard on yourself and your child. Nobody really wants to be super women, we just want to be. Ignoring your parents and your up bringing is only going to prolong recovery and attribute to the missing shoe and the “95% normal person clutter free, like a normal person” irrational thought. Your child is 3. Parents of 3 year olds don’t live in 95% clutter free homes. Not unless, they are a child that grew up in such a disfuntional enviroment, that their natural instinct is to control order. I don’t apoligize for sounding harsh, I’m sure your son is worried about your harshness when he behaves like a 3 year old.

  • JennAsh1395

    I just happened across this site as I was trying to find if there might be other people like me. My dad was an awesome housekeeper until my mom and him divorced. That’s when the hoard really began. What started as a few boxes in his basement turned into rats and piles of boxes/ DVDs/ stereo equipment and all kinds of trash piled to the ceiling. Sadly the air conditions in the home led to his death six years ago when I was only 15, but I still remember the cleanup. Finding paperwork from 1983 and receipts for cigarettes from the 70s. It terrified me. Flash forward to the present day. I am now 22, married, living on my own with an almost 2 year old daughter. I keep finding myself getting extremely anxious about throwing things away, including clothes I wore in grade school and am able to make up excuses on why I might need it. So far it’s been confined to closets and a small attic space, but I’m terrified of becoming my father. Having been the daughter of a hoarder sometimes I feel like there’s no real way to escape the reality that one day I’m bound to have piles of nothing too.

    • bandaid

      Dear Jenn,
      I was 22 once and I remember what it was like to be afraid, sometimes it’s really not such a bad thing! It can be a good motivator to keep one aware of their tendencies. That may not sound like much, but awareness is important. I’m sorry for the loss of your father. It maybe difficult to discard items that are attached to the time in your life that remind you of your father or other memories. It’s alright! Your OK! And you should and can keep what you want, as long as you need. As long as it doesn’t interfer with the health and development of your family.
      None of us are perfect, but as my grandpa use to say, ” We do the best we can at the time”.
      P.S. Everyone get’s their own closet, that means one;)

      • JennAsh1395

        Thank you so much for the advice. As I said earlier I didn’t realize that other people had the same dear of this as me. Makes me feel a little more at ease since I know that I’m not alone in my confusion. Sometimes I know that something has to be thrown away but my brain manages to twist a resin to “hold onto to it and decide later” which next time cleaning day comes around the process just repeats with the first thing and a few more and so on. Hence the multiple closets at this point

        • Donna

          I understand those twinges of emotion you describe. See my long vent above. I am sorry about your father. I also remember finding 20 year old oil change receipts my dad kept. I figured out a ways to deal with my hoarder twinges so I want you to know that there are ways to get past it. There were useless things from my parents and my past I paid storage for for years because I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. Try to talk to yourself like you would talk to someone else. It took me 10 years to get to this point so don’t be hard on yourself. Just find what works for you. I found what worked for me was seeing other people attached to things I had no interest in and then looking back at myself through the same eyes. But like the other person said, awareness is the first step. If a scrapbook of your “hold on to it items” doesn’t work, think of “stuff” as a living thing like money, by giving it away think of the happiness it will bring others. Good luck.

  • Donna

    I never heard the word hoarder until I started watching the show. I identify with the others on this site. My mother’s father would cruise dumps and find things he could sell or fix. i remember when he was widowed and I was small you could barely walk through the house. My father was a high functioning hoarder. If there was a sale at the store he bought 3 or 5 additional items so he would have a backup. He didn’t shop at garage sales, etc., he just couldn’t let go of magazines or paper or letters. Or car parts in the garage. Or planks of expensive rosewood unclaimed on a ship stacked up in the garage for years. Or tables he saw at the scratch and dent store he got cheap that were very expensive and would be that way again once he repaired the broken leg and restained it. Or 200 Bradford plates still in the styrofoam containers in boxes that were a good investment. Or 30 years of boxed and labeled IRS returns (they may audit him someday) or National Geographics that started with his father and he continued to collect (every month back to 1950). Of course, it goes on and on. We moved every 5 years or so for my dad’s job so the houses never got too bad. I don’t remember ever being able to get a car in the garage though. When I was in elementary school my mother had bridge parties so the house was kept clean. I did kitchen and vacuum every day. I always kept my room clean. I spent Saturdays organizing and cleaning my room and decorating it. By the time I was in high school I couldn’t invite my friends over because to get to my room they had to walk through the rest of the house and I had to spend all day organizing and putting papers and magazines up. My friends houses were spotless and seemed so “empty” while I was too embarrassed to bring them over. By the time I was out of high school my mother had resigned herself to one room of the house and stayed in there sewing or watching tv unless she came down to chat with my dad or cook dinner. That was the only room she could keep clean. When my mother died the rest of the house cluttered up. It was never too bad to walk in the living room or main areas of the house, but the garage was full floor to ceiling and so was one room upstairs. The room was 4 foot high with magazines and papers and files and boxes of stuff. I never tried to throw anything away that belonged to my father. My mother would get so frustrated she would get mad and go back to her sewing room. I just knew that throwing things away would upset him and it wasn’t worth it. When he passed away I was left an only child with a 3000 sq ft house of stuff and repairs that hadn’t been made in 20 years. Friends offered to come help me clean the house but I was too embarrassed. I had started going over there every day after work and working a couple of hours and then going over there on weekends trying to get rid of a little at at time. That’s when I realized the hoarder tendencies I had. When my husband and I cleaned out his parent’s house after they died, we went over there with his siblings and in one day loaded everything into trash or a uhaul or put out in the yard to sell. In the course of a weekend we had their entire house done. I had no attachment to their stuff. It took me 2 years to clean my parent’s house. I had to go through every drawer, every cabinet, every file. I had to make sure that I knew exactly what my parents left behind and what happened to it. Eventually my husband tried to come over and just start throwing stuff out and I felt the emotions I saw the people on tv have. I got resistant and irritated because I felt I needed to know what was thrown away in case there was some treasure from my childhood or something valuable. I had to know where everything went so that later on I wouldn’t look for something and not know what happened to it. It was a very slow process. My issues were the need for controlling the stuff and making sure it went where I wanted, the need to keep things that had sentimental value, and the need to make sure nothing of value was thrown away. I grew up being taught that you pinched pennies and never wasted anything, so if there was something someone could use, I couldn’t stand throwing it away, I had to make a special trip to the recyclers or to charity. I never collected things or had a problem spending a bunch of money on junk because I never had much. But getting rid of things of monetary of sentimental value caused me endless anxiety. I didn’t think I would ever be able to sell their house because I wouldn’t accept help and it was just too overwhelming for me to finish it. The garage had heavy equipment in it that I couldn’t ever lift. Finally there was a man who flipped houses that said any condition, and he came over and looked at it. I was surprised he said he would buy it if I got it cleaned up. He advanced me money to get a dumpster and a storage unit. My hoarder issues led me to get 3 storage units for stuff I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. I wish I could have had an estate sale but I was too embarassed for the neighbors to see the inside of the house. But, I was able to throw away 4 huge trailer dumpsters of stuff. Then when deadline was approaching, family came to help. They were kind and asked me what I wanted to do with stuff, but the most traumatic thing for me that some people would think is silly, is when I started throwing shelves and boxes of my mother’s fabric she loved so much down the stairs and they put it in the dumpster. My issues wanted me to donate it but there wasn’t time. It would have crushed my mother to see that. I remember staying over there loading things for days. I stayed there all night for several weekends getting the garage cleaned. Finally it was cleaned and the flipper came in and basically ripped everything out and made the house beautiful. My mother never had the house clean and organized and all I could think of was how she would have loved to have it that way. It took another year of going through things in the storage units to empty them and get rid of the furniture. It took me another 2 years to go through all the boxes of files and papers that my father had left. I want through every one of them. I did find valuable papers, about $500 in cash, birth certificates, pictures, etc. But I felt so relieved to be out from under the responsibility of the house. And I realized that I needed to never wonder if I missed anything in the process of disposal. I think that perfectionism is one of the issues. The best therapy for me was watching Hoarders. I would look at their mess and think why don’t they just throw it all away but of course, their stuff wasn’t my stuff and I knew the emotions they were feeling and the anxiety from losing control of the stuff. I watched the show for 2 years. I would tape it and not let my husband see me watch it because I didn’t want anyone to know i was watching it because i didn’t want him thinking I was a hoarder too. It really was therapy for me. I saw the dysfunction other people had and knew what that felt like on some level. The more I watched it the easier it was to get rid of stuff. I learned not to ever collect anything because I taught myself to think how many times I would have to clean it. I never had a problem with garage sales but I learned not to ever go to a garage sale or a mall unless I needed something specific. I learned to pick the best pictures I took over the course of the month and throw the rest away instead of having 100 pictures a month. I learned that the easiest way for me to clean is start at one corner of the room, or the door, and get one small 3×3 foot section perfect and vacuumed so I feel some sense of accomplishment and then move to the next section. I learned that even though I might be able to lose weight and wear those clothes again, they wouldn’t be in style by then. The clothes that were old that I couldn’t part with because my mother made, I took a picture of the item, cut a scrap of the cloth that I could touch and smell, and made a scrap book. Then I was able to throw them all out. I tried to ask myself why I was feeling anxious and to figure out a way to get rid of the stuff and still satisfy whatever my anxiety was. I guess I have been on both sides. The need for control is irrational. My son and I can joke about things we need to get rid of. He will see some slight resistance on my part and yell “Hoarder Alert!” and we will laugh and I can overcome the emotion. Some shows I watch and say, they aren’t hoarders, they are just too lazy or overwhelmed to clean the damn house. And some shows I watch and see the emotional anxiety over losing control. When I look back at how hard it was after my father died to clean up his house, i think i should have started before he died. But I honestly would not have chosen that over having a relationship with him at the end. The house did get cleaned and sold after he died even though I didn’t think I would ever get through it, and my father felt loved before he died. I remember when I left home and got married my 15 year old dog was at the house and my father at one point had decided to put her down without telling me because he didn’t think it was any big deal. My mother stopped him. i would never have forgiven him no matter how much I loved him and he just didn’t get it. I think that must be the way bad hoarder cases feel when their family goes behind them and throws out their stuff. I don’t have answers. I am 56 and have been dealing with it my whole life but it really helps to know I am not alone.

  • Researcher on OCD

    Hello, I’m a student at Raffles College of Design and Commerce.
    I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree. Being a research student, I research
    on hoarders as a part of my assignment. I’d like to get some information which
    helps me compile material.

    1) What was your reaction when you first got to
    know that your parent was a Hoarder?

    2) What was the impact on your social life?

    3) How did OCD impact on your parent’s health and
    other relatives?

    4) Did you try to get help from any organization?

  • laura

    Here is plan me and my 2 sisters have for our parents hoarding. We ask them yearly each if they would like us to pay for professional help. the answer has been no for last 14 years. when we stop, well I stop cleaning out their house every summer.

    they cannt live with me or my younger sister. My middle sister is on the fence about the move in part. If they get to sick to take care of themselfs haha, we will call adult services to have them removed from home, to live in assisted living.

    When they die in their hoard nest, we will threw everything out. and donate the house to the church like my mother wants. well she wants us to go threw everything to give it all to goodwill. If the church will not take the house, the plan is beg the local fire dept to burn it down for training after cleaned out.

    Yes we actually had this conversation with our parents in person all together. It was very painful and of course my mother blames me for turning her good children against her, but still loves me and calls me for all her lifes decision, because in reality im her mother have been for last 31 years, oh and im only 44.

    Im just waiting for the phone call. that someday will come. they arent will to make changes and im not waisting anymore of my life cleaning the hell hole.

  • laura

    at 30 when I stop cleaning out their hoarding nest every june. for 9 years. I started telling everyone the truth and I have pics for now and in my childhood to prove it. My mother can sugar coat what ever she wants but pics dont lie.

    the best therapy was having my aunt break down and cry and told me if she really knew she would have come and rescued us. little to late, but it felt good to hear.

    I dont hide any of this family history to my real friends or extended family.

    Stop pretending and stop hiding the abuse “dirty little secret” you know how they say the truth will set you free, it set me free. Im not mean, crazy, worthless. I didnt not do this to myself, this was done to me till, I stood up for myself. Whats the worst that can happen. Your childhood abuser will stop abusing you?????

    Best thing a therapist every said to me your cant cure crazy, but you can fix how you deal with it. haha they really said crazy too.

    • Fight the Hoard

      I’m 33 and have been trying for years to ameliorate the situation of my fathers hoarding for my mothers sake. Even though I’m older and have been on my own for years it still hurts me emotionally to try and cover up for him. Being around it even as an adult has definitely hindered my maturation or creating my own identity. Reading these blogs and speaking with other COHers I feel that my best option is to move as far away as possible so that I no longer have to have the hoarding as part of my identity.

  • Sarah

    I am female 21 in college and my father is a hoarder. My parents got divorced when i was 3, therefor the divorce never affected me because all I have ever known is a home with just my mother and I. My mothers’ house was a normal house but my fathers’ apartment is something nobody ever could understand. I was always embarrassed to tell close people in my life about my fathers’ apartment so I kept it a secret up until college. For so long I felt like i have been living with this dark lie. There was a reason I never told anybody, the reason being because nobody could even fathom what my fathers apartment looked like. I remember telling my recent boyfriend that in his home there are empty boxes stacked to the ceiling and his response is “wow.” I feel like nobody understands the dark place that my father is in and just a “wow” response makes me feel even more alone inside.
    My fathers hoarding is is just empty boxes and mail. He hoards boxes that he gets from the stores and stacks them up to the ceiling. You can not even walk in his apartment without almost knocking a whole stack over. Sounds funny, right? It is sad. The mail he accumulates is put into piles of mail. His kitchen is just stacked with sale item goods. The place is filthy there is mold in the showers. I stopped visiting my dad at his apartment when I went to middle school. The apartment was just too depressing for me.
    It upsets me to see my father being this lonely depressed hoarder. When I call him he acts like he cannot be bothered with me, but when he calls me he makes it seem like I need to call more. There is an unhealthy relationship between my father and I and it has to do with most of my problems.
    I actually came across this website because I was looking up ways to feel”worthy in love.” My fathers hoarding has definitely contributed to me not loving myself and for me participating in dangerous activities. I am so happy this is a website, now i feel less alone.

    • bandaid

      I’m sorry for what you have been through with your father. You don’t deserve it and none of us do. As a child of a hoarder, at the age of 40, I’m still trying to understand why this happens to people. I know for myself it feels like a wound that will never heal, and it won’t. Seeking the love of a parent with a hoarding disability can be very painful. I just know, it’s not my fault and if they really knew how their behavoir effected their loved ones, they wouldn’t do it. But, as hard as they might try, they simply are not able. This is the truth about our parents. I see it as caring for a person with mental disabilities, even though we think they are capable truly they are not. In my experience real “help” for my mother is quite fleeting or unrealistic. Although, my advice may not be comforting, simply loving them for who they are, maybe the easiest approach.
      I hope this finds you well.

  • Blameless

    honestly the older I get the more resentful I am about my mother’s hoarding…..it has had a tremendous detrimental affect on my 3 brothers and I……she has three homes all stacked with furniture, clothing, collectibles, craft supplies and household items…..I suppose we are lucky as there are no infestations/garbage like others here have suffered with….us kids are getting old and tired and have our own career, health and family problems to attend to but my demanding mother doesn’t give a hoot…..I cleaned non stop as a kid and even when I went to live and work in another state was expected to spend my weekends helping her with her inane “projects” and cleaning….now I live cross country and when I came home for 2 months last year to work like a dog, only to have to sleep on the floor after backbreaking work, well I reached a breaking point…. I AM DONE…..the guilt can’t hold me any longer…..she chooses her stuff over her wellbeing and relationships….well I get a choice too, and I choose ME…..finally at 52 I am breaking free……my heart goes out to all of you…..the hoarders have made their choice, you have one as well, be kind to yourselves, know you deserve better

  • peacefrog021

    I honestly don’t even know where to start, I’m 34 years old, my mother’s hoarding started when I was around 10yrs old, and my parents divorced. All through my teenage years I never had friends over as I was too embarrassed. My older brother has basically lived with my mother his entire life, she’s kinda been hoarding him to, well she found out she’s taught him every she knows about hoarding, as he’s been hoarding his urine in her house. My mother has never hoarded anything like this, yes plastic storage containers and papers, and her projects, but nothing unsanitary and gross. And when she told me this and I got upset crying and mad that someone would disrespect her home, well I became the disrespectful one in her eyes. She even left me and her 8yr old granddaughter well over 15 miles away from home for us to find a ride home after her crazy out burst in public. She said, well I’m just going to have to teach him he can’t be doing this……teach him…..teach him…….he’s 42yr old man, wtf are you going to teach him?! That not walking down a flight of stairs to take leak is beyond lazy, vile and gross. I’m so upset, hurt, and angry.
    And because of her crazy hoarding, I’ve grown into someone who sees no value in any belongings, I clean and over throw things away because I can’t bare the thought of even being a morsel of her, I’m the total extreme opposite of her, my ocd is so bad that not one dish can be in the sink, no papers left on the table because as a kid that’s what the table was for was paperwork, and more paperwork.
    I found this group a few nights after she told me what my brother has done to the second floor of her home, the collection of urine, the cat litter everywhere, dog poop and piss, things she would never allow as she’s never been an unsanitary hoarder, she’s always kept things clean and sanitary just had piles of papers, boxes and crap. I told her she should kick him out now, her house is going to become condemned because of this!

  • Fed Up

    I have to be really honest. I am married to a COH and he is the only adult child (he is the oldest of 4) that feels responsible for his mother’s life, feelings and hoarding. To make things worse, I am messy… and he has picked up her hoarding tendencies. His maternal grandmother is also a hoarder. He moved back home after college to help, and then moved with his grandmother to help her too. 🙁 – Both houses are now worse than ever!!! Actually his grandmother has TWO homes filled to the brink with things.

    I have thrown things away numerous times only to come back and them be BACK in the home. Our relationship is so strained. I am now in therapy. He has been diagnosed ADHD, but won’t stay with any treatments. I realize that growing up in a hoard is very complex and affects people deeply.

    It seems my husband’s pathology is “once my parents house is hoard free, I can live my life”. The loyalty and responsibility he feels to his Mom has affected our marriage in ways I can’t describe. I want a divorce. I resent his Mother!!! She has caused such continued pain and angst for him! Her husband of 30+ years is just there….he has checked out. He has no influence.

    His mother WAY over compensates because of her hoard. She is overly friendly, always has tons of gifts and really has no boundaries. When we come in town, it as if she expects us to spend all of our time with her and her longtime friends. My husband is 30 and has no life!!!!!!!!!

    She is also very manipulative and plays a childlike role if she doesn’t get her way. I am sick of it and sick of her! Their family dynamics are such, I don’t even go to family events anymore because I don’t want to be frustrated.

    I have tried to have compassion for both my husband and hia Mom, but it is hard. I find her very selfish. If you KNOW you need help, why not do what is necessary to get the help? I have an anxiety disorder, but follow my treatment plan. My life and life decisions are MINE. Not fair to put that on others’. I especially feel this way about hoarders who have children!

  • Theodore Tzougros

    I just wanted to say that this is the first time I have reached out about growing up with a hoarder. My mother suffers and I as embarrassing as it might be got out of rehab for the second time for drug and alcohol addiction because I didn’t know what else to do to deal with my family life and all the stuff- the physical stuff in the house everywhere and all that. I just wanted to share that, and that I wanted to thank whoever made this cite and for all the people that have been transparent about their suffering they’ve dealt with because of their loved ones struggle.

  • Geomars74

    It’s not even the stuff I’m 19 and can’t stand it anymore I always been told I was the reason the house is messy and now that I’m a little older its not even me I’m not even home most of the day and it gets worst I feel bad not cleaning up there mess and I shouldn’t feel like that but in the only one who will clean up its crazy but I’m just not going to do it anymore let them see for themselves that they have to clean up to have a clean house and not put the blame on me I understand I gotta help out and I doo but they do nothing its a shame.😕

  • peacefrog021

    How many COH have anxiety when you’re going to be having company? My house is basically spotless, especially compared to aisle and pathways I grew up in, but when ever someone is going to be coming over, I freak out, maybe it’s because we never had company when I was a kid so I wouldn’t know how to feel about it. We are having people over for my daughter’s birthday, and I can’t sleep, I have such bad anxiety right now it’s not even funny, I hate this!

  • disqus_9ueg5dC2uC

    My heart goes out to all of those facing this problem. I don’t understand it as I’m the exact opposite, which is a problem. Brains are wired differently… I wish I could relax and not get completely stupid over something being out of place. I continually mop, dust, rearrange, scrub, wipe… I make everyone around me crazy. The trashcan can’t have anything wet or smelly in it. All food cans have to be rinsed and dried before going in the trash. The bathroom can’t have one hair visible after I go in there. The closets have to be color coordinated and hangers spaced evenly apart. The hardwood floors must be white sock clean. If anything new enters the house, something must go out in order to stay organized in my mind. Is there help for someone like me? Disorganization causes a total distraction for me. I can’t complete anything if something is not where it belongs. I get stressed and go into a depression when I think things are out of control. The pantry, the drawers, the cabinets… it’s never ending. Not only do I mop the floors, I mop the walls and ceilings! I’m sixty years old and the older I get the worse the problem gets. Nothing is clean enough or straight enough. I’m driving myself to madness with this obsession. Has anyone had a lasting degree of effectiveness from the help they’ve received from “Hoarders”?

  • Sydney E


    I am 24 y/o and the daughter of a single mother who is a hoarder.
    It started when I was younger and she always had tons of papers and tons of
    clothes. She was a single mother and well I was never with her at all so I
    guess I didn’t notice it. She was always depressed and didn’t always want to
    clean up. Over the years it stayed that way with piles of clothes and papers
    just hanging around. Eventually we had to move in with my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s.
    We had to get rid of a lot to move in with her so we could fit. I always remember
    the place was so beautiful, clean and clear of clutter. Her house was like
    perfect. I had finally told my mother that my step dad had been molesting me
    and my poor grandma was losing her mind and her home. My mom really started
    collecting shit. It was horrible. I remember my friends couldn’t come over
    without asking why my mom has so much stuff. When people would move she would
    collect their things. The whole living room/ dining room became her place to
    put things and then her room once my step dad moved out. When my grandmother passed
    away I know it was really hard on her since she was her caregiver. But her hoarding
    became worse and she became lazier over the years. I was constantly in and out
    of her home and when I wouldn’t live with her I would see the house a mess. I
    felt bad for my little sister because I couldn’t really do much for her. My mom
    keeps bringing my sister in with her on collecting things. They always need “stuff”
    my mom gives her stuff instead of memories. I hate it. I hate it. People keep
    giving her stuff and now my grandfather who is an extreme hoarder will be
    moving in next week. My mom asked me to help her get rid of some stuff this
    weekend because she constantly says that she needs to clean her stuff out. And it’s
    a constant cycle. She says it but doesn’t to it. I am very organized and controlling.
    I share some of my mother’s traits. What is hard it that we also work together.
    I have 2 children that she “always wants to see” but she never picks them up to
    do anything. I feel that she is unmotivated by daily life. I want to be there
    for her because she is my best friend but the moment I pick the topic to throw
    something out its my fault and im hurting her and she’s in tears. I have just
    done research on her condition and ways to handle it. But I feel that I need to
    express my ways to her. She is keeping herself from her grandkids. I refuse to
    let them go over or spend the night anymore because the house is a mess. She
    spends $ on clothes and more things instead of putting in new carpet that was
    destroyed in the hall. There are nails as you enter and leave the hall. My kids
    are constantly tripping and hurting themselves when they step into the home.
    Its hard because I just want to help. She is always there for other people but
    not herself. I wish I could help her evaluate her life. Im lost and don’t know
    where to go to help her help herself. I love her so much I do. But all of this “stuff”
    is getting into my way. I cannot think clear in the home, I cannot bring my
    kids who live on my hip to her home. Most importantly I feel bad for my little
    sister. She sees no problem but I’m done. I know I will be at my god mother’s
    home tomorrow. She accepts my help and loves the fact we can organize her hoarding.
    I help her get rid of things (her thing is “bags”) and I do let her keep her durable
    bags but we were able to go from about 80 plastic bags to 6. (3 big and 3
    little). We have started throwing out other things that have cluttered her
    home. And man oh man I love her for her courage. Where is my mom? What is stopping her? I think she knows that
    she has a problem because she says I have all this stuff and we will need it
    one day. She sees her dad whose home literally needs to be condemned because
    the house its self is falling apart roof to floor and then there is stuff in
    every room and corner and shelves. It’s a hazard. She wants to “respect his
    wishes” but not just throwing things out but going through 30,000 things. I
    wish I knew who to go to tell her that the stuff is not worth much because its
    really all been ruined. The house is covered in black mold and it smells. I
    want to tell her LOOK that is YOU in 15 years. My sister will move out and what
    will be left of my mom? Her stuff and with no one by her side…

    It’s a shame and Im not proud that Im letting “stuff” control the
    way I feel about my mom but I have just had it. I can’t help someone who doesn’t
    want help. And she will only continue to get worse. I am letting her “stuff”
    control my feelings and Im sick about it.

  • Glenny

    I am a child of bilateral hoarders. I knew from a very early age it was not normal. I used to fight with my parents all day everyday, especially to stay out of my room. I eventually could handle them by organizationing their “items” into boxes labeled in detail, then there were boxes everywhere. By the time I moved out at 18 there was barely a path to walk besides my room was ocd organized! Now that I am 35 I have major issues and anxieties about keeping my house cleaned. I wish I could be normal.

  • D

    Growing up we were a family of Four. My parents decided to raise my half-brother and I in a four bedroom single house which my father grew up in himself. 35 years later, I am a surviving adult child of Hoarders (COH) and Alcoholics (COA).

    I watched as my brother was buried 9 years ago due to overdosing at the age of 35. At the time, my brother and I were estranged to my parents. I say “my” because my father never accepted my brother as his own. The relationship between a mother and son and/or daughter and father and son and/or daughter was very complicated and touchy.
    We became a family of Three. I had always played the helper role. I would always want to help. I turned my back on my parents but watched from afar. Waiting for a verbal request for help.

    I received a call 2 years ago to get to the hospital. When I got there, my mother was on life support due to being diagnose with stage 4 lung cancer. The doctors explained everything on which has happened and the present situation. The doctor asked me if I spoke to my father. The doctor continued to explain, he does not believe my father is understanding the condition my mom is in (meaning life support).I spent the next 4 days next to my mother’s side. My father was still a no show. On the 5 day, I came to see my mother later in the day to only discover my father signed the papers, took her belongings and left. She pasted three hours later by herself at the age of 59. She had a twin brother with a family of many brothers and sisters.

    Now we were down to a family of Two. I knew what I was dealing with in regards to my father. I stayed close until he pushed me away. He pushed everybody away but kept two people somewhat in contact. So I stayed away but watched from afar. Waiting for a verbal request for help.

    I received a call 1 month ago to get to the hospital. When I got there, my father looked like he was on life support. Due to the multiple health issues it was easier to have him sedated and comfortable. I spent the next 2 days by his side. I knew what was about to happen. If my father makes it out of the hospital, I was going to jump through the hoops and go the distance to medically find him incompetent. On the 3rd day, the doctors expressed their main concern regarding my father’s health. At some point with in the last month he had a stroke which he was never treated for. The stroke caused a blood clot which was heading for his brain. I stopped all treatment. So I stay and watch. He pasted at the age of 62. I waited for the verbal request for help from the two people which stayed in contacted with my father.

    One! One is left.

    Tomorrow I am scheduling more quotes for the clean-up process of the home which my father’s grandfather and father had lived in since the house was built and were alcoholics themselves. More quotes because I hired a clean-up crew a week ago and gave them some money. Yesterday they quit. During that week of waiting for the clean-up crew, I cleaned out and sorted the living room, dining room, kitchen and all four bedrooms with no working bathroom.

    I sorted because my mother was a material girl, loved to shop and never knew what mail and/or documents to save. Needless to say she saved everything. In my opinion, online shopping is a hoarder’s best friend; you don’t have to leave your house to bring more material in. Everything filled the four bedrooms and attic. Since my mother’s death my father only stayed within his domains of the house. My father was a collector of junk not limited to empty beer cans. His domains are trashed which involves the need for a professional crew.

    As of this moment I am neither angry nor sad. I am grateful. Everybody has their demons. Some conquer them other never brake from them. To the family I have buried I do hope they found there happiness. They were not happy in this life, there life story only tells it. I know I have a bright future. I made a wonderful family of my own. My brother gifted me with a beautiful twin. I only want to bring joy, advantage, excitement and happiness to the grandchildren whom seem to always be affected by our family tragedies.

    Family stops by to help or visit. Their faces change with emotion when they see the conditions of the house. I can name all the emotions because I have been there and watched the house become what it is. It is a family tragedy. There stands a house, a house which was brought down and destroyed through two generations of alcoholics. Sadly to say every child born and raised in an alcoholic and hoarder family may or may not be affected. The roles we all take in hiding, helping, denying and/or contributing affect us in the future generations we create.

    One! It only takes one to start a moment. I don’t feel like a one. I feel like a one of many. Brighter days are to come…..

    That is this one’s promise!

  • Holly Ann Schofield

    Dear fellow COH’s, hello, my name is Holly & I’m from southern England. I’m 52 & my sister Joanna is 55. We grew up with a hoarder mother from 10 & 13 years, when our family life fell apart & our mother’s mental health with it.
    My story today is not about that so much, as a recent happening. Our 84 year old mother fell & broke her arm & was unable to go home & look after herself, so I had her to stay with me ( in my tiny 1 bed caravan!) I became aware of where she ‘was at’ in terms of caring for herself. My sister & I went to her flat to prepare it for when she went home, so she’d be able to carry on living there for now. Before we knew it, we just started throwing old, broken things out…. & basically blitzed the place. It took 5 days, we had no prior plan to do so….I thought it would happen when she died. We made it in to a proper, clean, functional home, complete with a beautiful sofa & armchair. It was hard, tiring, emotional…we raged about her…it all came out, & it was cathartic. We filled the place with flowers & brought her back home! Next, we emptied her lock up garage of a lot of old garbage, furniture, paperwork, crap, but left other things in a clear space.
    She has, as expected, gone ballistic. We saw her today for the first time & I in particular am mud! We believed she was becoming incapable of looking after herself…she’s been telling us both for months that she can’t cope. We were paving the way for carers to be able to come in & help/ and or move… & the garage was to be cleared to save the rental money for that purpose. I admit I looked in to her financial situation to assess her situation. She has never been able to organise anything for herself, so we believed we had to.
    And……although furious, she thanked Jo for her part in tidying up!!!! But not for throwing anything away. She was sitting on her sofa, with a full dinner prepared on the stove. Fresh flowers were in a vase. The place remains tidy?! She’s really angry & I’m crap, But she is still alive & has had her first ever visitors in 6 1/2 years!!!
    She even admitted she’s a hoarder & asked if we knew when/ why it had started. None of it is her fault… nothing ever has been, everyone else is to blame.
    However, it feels totally miraculous that this has happened. We’ve always been sub consciously frightened of her, cos she’s so bloody angry….. But I’m not anymore!! We’ve decluttered her, with all good intentions. Not that she believes us, but we know & that’s enough.
    We’ve stood up to something & shoved the elephant out the front door to roam free!!
    We don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’m OK with it all, so far! It all just happened & we have great faith in these life events 🙂 Whether its freed us up, we’ll find out.
    I just wanted to share with you all, cos I know how hard this journey is & I wanted to share an unusual outcome with you. Maybe a cycles been healed? I’ll post again when any news happens.
    Wishing you all the very best & continued strength, try & keep the love alive…mines barely flickering, but I haven’t given up,
    Hugs, Holly xxx

  • Fight the Hoard

    Efforts to deal with my father’s hoarding through therapy and cleaning out his house have been completely futile. Being forced to clean up after him has proven
    to be the most frustrating and upsetting experience of my entire life. I’ve
    tried to separate myself from it by not going over to his house anymore. That
    didn’t work so I allowed for a public conservator to take over my mother’s
    finances so that since they are still married my father’s estate would end up going
    to them. My father is still trying to rope me into attending financial planning
    sessions which I know will just be another ploy to get me to clean up his
    hoard. I don’t see myself as having any other option than having letters from attorneys written up to give to him showing I no longer have any ties to his estate or his hoard.

    I’ve attached pictures I took of the hoard 2 years ago so you can see what I’m dealing with.
    Thanks for being a place where I can write about this.

  • SingingtotheLillies

    Just 1 post for now.. About forgiveness and escape with a story from today and a flashback twist. I hope you enjoy!

  • Lisa Thomas

    Hi, I’m the 45 year old only child of a lifelong compulsive hoarder here in the UK. My dad has recently had to move into residential nursing care, so I’ve been left with the mammoth task of clearing out his house to pay the nursing fees. I’ve started a blog to record the cleanup and provide me with an outlet to vent my emotions and find some humour in an otherwise grim situation. It’s at

  • Blindsided

    My mom had open heart surgery in 1998 and never did physical therapy or improve her lifestyle. She had more stents put in due to poor health in later years. We’ve seen her over the years change with depression, she has no interest in anything anymore ,makes excuses to not be with friends, stays in pajamas till after 2:00 sometimes and can just be so mean to dad! She just turned 70 which is still so young for todays standards, We also have often expected she took too many drugs, we just weren’t sure what. My sister and I live out of state, I go home at least 2-3 times a year, I’ve tried talking to her about some lifestyle changes buts she’s very defensive!! In the last 2 years whenever I would go home I started to notice the dust, floor needing vacuuming, things piled in the sunroom. I would just grab the vacuum and mop and go to town! She never got upset or had her feelings hurt about it! When I cleaned out the sunroom she watched as I gathered things for trash, I would ask ” keep or trash?” She had me throw tones of it away! She just recently had knee replacement last week, my sister went to help out, everything was fine until the 2nd day! She became enraged at everyone, ripped off her bands, shaking, dry heaving. It became clear it was drug withdraws!! This broke our hearts but what came next hurt more. My sister went to their home (she always kept her bedroom door closed, her and dad sleep in separate rooms) it was locked, I told my sister do get in that room and find out what all drugs she had in her bathroom!
    What she saw was heart breaking, couldn’t even see the bed! Explains why she’s been sleeping on the couch, she said her bed was too high to get in with her arthritis in her knee. Ok…so we believed her, my sister said it was so bad you could get one thing under the bed, no trash or weird things just all clothes, shoes, purses, all her b-day and Christmas gifts, etc. She finally got into the bathroom to find it in worse shape!! She realized the shower had no water!!! I’ve cried for 2 days about this! We had NO idea she had this secret!!
    Obviously she was so ashamed of this she never told dad about her shower!!! We can’t wrap our heads around this! I told my sister she had to clean her bed, just fold everything and put in bags for her, not to go through anything just get things where she can recover in her bed from surgery!! Then we made the decision to show dad, he was crushed, shocked, and speechless! They spent last night folding and putting things in containers so he could get to pipes in closet and fix the plumbing. My point to all of this (sorry so long) our mom is in a rehab facility for maybe a week. We decided it was best to not let her know we know this so she can concentrate on her rehab…did we do the right thing? What happens now when she comes home? My heart aches for her to have her soul exposed…what steps do we take now!? This is so new to us and we’re are still in shock!







  • Stephanie

    So I’m just coming to the frustrating realization that my grandma is a hoarder. For years she always justified all the stuff she kept around and gave me as ‘things to pass down through generations’. A few things here and there didn’t make much of an impact but I had a tendency to move a lot so many things were given up or back to grandma and I think that was the only reason there was no significant accumulation. I’ve officially been living in the house I rent now for 3 years. During this time I’ve had to continually fend off my grandma from over cluttering my house. I realized there was a serious problem when I was making at least one trip to the good will a week to get rid of things that she brought with her when she visited. It’s not just a few things anymore. I recently took a carload of 7 decorative wooden shelves, a box of home interior pictures, 4 bedspreads and at least 3 sets of curtains that I found out are at least 30 years old. I know that she’s trying to be helpful but a trip like that every week tells me there’s a real problem here. I feel like Plastic ice cream buckets, cardboard boxes, packages of socks, decorative knick knacks, and other useless things are taking over my house and I’m continually fighting to keep them out. She gets mad when she finds out I’m not using the items or that I’m giving them away. She is also very critical of how my house looks after she’s been in to ‘clean’ and effectively makes everything worse by adding to the clutter. Then insinuates that the clutter isn’t the problem I’m just a bad housekeeper. I’m 7 months pregnant and exhausted from all this. Where do I start to help her and myself out of this situation? Can anyone give me some advice?

  • sabrina

    I would like to engage someone with an issue I see happening.


      Sabrina, What have you noticed?

  • Lindasue Roach

    I have known a few hoarders in my lifetime. Not family, just friends.
    The situation now is different. My Landlady is a hoarder. She half-way acknowledges this.
    I feel, as her tenant, that I am being held hostage, like one of her things.
    Her dogs are kept locked up all day, her daughters always have to be within beck and call, her aging father needs her to help out at his house. And she is always angry.
    Somehow, we have all failed her.
    Is hoarding associated with emotional hostage taking, of things, pets and people?

  • Kathleen Fitzgerald Rode

    just started a blog documenting my journey on successfully cleaning up my parents

    hoarder home please check it out and follow it.


  • Helping someone with squalor s

    “White Trash” is the label I would put on the how I grew up. Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a great person. She has a caring heart and would and will put herself out to help someone, but she lives in filth. In her defense she has had more than her share of setbacks and letdowns witch left her severely depressed. She has always been the got person when you was in need. I feel like she has given so much of herself doing for everyone else that she has nothing left for her. Divorced mother of two, while living with parents she struggled and work her butt off to pay off a house she lost her will. She has taken hoarding to a new level. The house she worked so hard to pay off is now a large filthy box with nothing more than a path to walk through. I have did a hoarders cleanout twice hauling truck loads off each time only to see it return. I love my mom and won’t more than ever to help her change, but I starting to feel resentful and hopeless. I think she has squalor syndrome disorder but Don know how to get her tested. Any suggestions on how to go about getting help or ways to get her to change. She deserves so much more than the way she chooses to live.

  • Fight the Hoard

    I’ve decided to stop dealing with my parents hoarding after several years of severe frustration. Has anyone had any success with proactively disinheriting themselves from their parents estate to avoid the issues of clean-up? I’ve read advice from attorneys that seem to go both way.

  • Anastasia

    I am a child of a hoarder and worried about becoming one myself. I have just started a new blog to try to organize my thoughts and my life: https://lifebeyondhoarding.blogspot.com/

  • A reader requested that we anonymize this comment:

    I can’t thank the creators of “Hoarders” the tv show, and this site enough. I had no idea that his disease even existed until the show aired. It has helped knowing that I’m not alone with dealing with my dad, who I discovered was a hoarder after I became intrigued with the show.

    He has been absolutely no help in the clean up process despite my pleading. I’ve taken this huge undertaking on all by myself after setting him up in an apartment. I know this does not help his condition and I’m just setting him up to have it happen again. I just couldn’t stand knowing he was living in his house with no functioning a/c (in Texas), shower, oven, microwave, fridge, etc…He also had no place to sit or eat.

    I am not the type to ever seek counseling, but after everything I’ve seen and smelled, I would love to meet up with a professional and vent. I would normally turn to my wife, but I would rather not tell my wife any of the details.

    – Anon1


    Hi Anon1,
    I never thought I was the type to seek counselling either, but I did, and I’m glad I did. It’s not as awkward or embarrassing as you might think, they’re professionals and are pretty good at getting the ball rolling.
    Cheers 🙂