Print this Page

Ridiculous Things I Have Done For My HP

We know you’re out there.
We’re right there with you.

We offer this space to share those ridiculous things you’ve done for your parent,
courtesy of the disorder of Hoarding.

Thanks to a member of the COH Yahoo Group for the idea for this topic!

(you can use the comment section below to post or send your Ridiculous Thing for us to post anonymously for you:to info@childrenofhoarders.com)

Permanent link to this article: http://childrenofhoarders.com/wordpress/?page_id=4406

  • Sent in to site:

    -There are just too many, I don’t know where to start! Bagged up the contents of one hoarded home to include frying pans with cigarette butts in them, in black garbage bags and moved them to another state, to start.

    • windowclark

      Several people like this “picked” me and wanted me to be their friend. After suffering abuse after abuse–I don’t make friends any more. I am a loner. I do not trust myself. Everytime The same kind of succubus person is attracted to me.

      • windowclark

        I packed up rotton smelling dishes too for a “friend”…it is sick!

  • K.A.

    Spent nearly all of my childhood vacation times trying to clean and organize the house, with all of my friends making fun of me for not wanting to get together with them.

    • windowclark

      I used to lie to my Mom and get off the schoolbus with another girl and say I missed the bus because I knew all that awaited me at home was cleaning. I usually never had time for homework.

  • Joni

    The nuttiest thing?  Last year my stepdad died, I went to Arkansas to help her move to montana, only to have her fill three storage sheds and a trailer house full of stuff in montana – then moved back to arkansas, where she filled another house and garage, and now – this week – she is returning to montana.  I fear there are not enough storage units and houses in this world for her.

  • Yipee

    I used to go there once every couple of years and clean my mothers house practically spotless after months of guilt trips that she couldn’t physically do it and it was my brother (living with her) who never helped (blah blah insert whatever excuse here). It would take me weeks of non stop labour, days worth of laundry and dishes and decluttering to no end, just to leave depressed and unappreciated and have it go back to its messy dump a few weeks later, then I get a phone call every single day for a full year asking where did I put this and where did I put that, and if I knew where that envelope went that was under the table that had a very important phone number on it…I lost it when I was asked to pull my little boy out of school for a week to clean her house AGAIN when her bathroom started caving into the basement….I said no:) first time! Never touched her wretched home again.

    • Lucie

      You were clever enough to get really rid of the rubbish. When I tried to help my sister (who is a hoarder’s wife and became a hoarder)  getting id of a bit of her mess, I only left it further on the street, because it was the rubbish truck day. Later, they called me to tell me that I wanted to get rid of important stuff. 

      That day, I drove almost 300 km to help them do that and I learned that they had taken all back to their apartment. I’ll never help them any more (and as I said that it was not a place to live, I’m no more allowed to go there anyway).  

    • Syndicalista

       WOW, this has happened to me many many times…. I am glad to read that you have decided not to get sucked in to that ever again.   My mother has complained many many times she needs help, when I’ve gone to help her, there’s barely anything I can do since she doesn’t want me touching anything. My mother also has no concept of time! She spent half an hour cleaning only the toilet once, spends about 2 hours to do a sink full of dishes and many hours, even days “sorting” through a single box from the basement!! Then when I say she needs to clean, she says she has spent hours working. I’m sure in her mind she was working, but there’s no concept of RESULTS with her. I am so glad I found this web site because I’m at a loss for coping with this.

      • Minnie

        OMG.  One of the characteristics of hoarders is that it takes them like 4 hours to go through one box.  They have no concept of getting results; they get lost in the memories etc.  THis makes it so frustrating for others to “help” — because they usually don’t want help either!

        • root2crown

           you are so right minnie, it’s like you are speaking with my voice.  <3

      • Noranna Schultz-Krebs

        I think we have the same mother! She is now “cleaning” out the house. Doesn’t want any help from me because she can do it herself. My brother, sister, and I cleaned out a 2 garage garage she was renting for storage last year and it took us 3 months. How is she going to clean out another 2 car garage and a huge over-stuffed 2-storey house by herself by spring?! She says she is making great progress (3 boxes this week) and is enjoying going through all the stuff. At this rate she might be done one small room by spring. She tells me all the time that she spent the day working, but in reality she spent 2 hours working (she takes many breaks to recoup because she is in poor health). She has no concept of time what so ever – she always thinks a 4 hour job will only take 20 minutes. She wants me to come over every Sunday and she says she will have 7 boxes to get rid of – at this rate everything will be gone by 2017! Any she thinks she is making GREAT progress.

        • Rosa

          She probably won’t make the goal of clearing out the whole house, but any time she spends getting rid of things is time she’s not acquiring more – and it really does seem like making actual progress (not just churning) makes for a kind of snowball – the work of making decisions gets easier and easier with practice, so it does get faster & better over time.

          It’s the constantly “cleaning” without making any progress at all that’s harmful. Slow progress is still progress.

    • L Hocking

      Oh my gosh you sound like me, only I have said  I’m not comming back, have stuck to my word for a short period of time and then I always get guilted back in. I want to get my mom some professional help, I myslef can’t help her, but I think someone else can. How do you keep your mind from feeling guilty as I feel I am going to feel guilty my whole life and there is nothing i can do!!!

      • Phoenixfeather08

        I understand your feeling guilty, so do I. If I clean at Mom’s (and when I do it is unpleasant, time-consuming and only lasts for a short time), there is the guilt of enabling and also of the time spent not with my own family; if I don’t clean, the guilt of allowing them to live in that horrible and unhealthy mess. I don’t know of a way to get rid of the guilt either.

    • done4

      Oh my goodness, yes! It is always someone she lives with fault! She is a “buyer of things for a life she wishes she had”, Dad is a “waste not/want not”. Kids are “why clean if no one cares” and “too overwhelming to start cleaning”

  • Laurie

    Most ridiculous thing I did (this week, anyway) was bag up hundreds of unread, still rolled newspapers covered in cat hair, spiders, dust bunnies, and in some cases cat urine, then haul the multiple bags upstairs to the room I have to sleep in while visiting and surround my bed with them. She wouldn’t permit a single paper to be gotten rid of, and there was literally no other place to put them that she hadn’t already filled. Spent the rest of the visit hopping over the bags to get to my bed, coughing madly, and sleeping with the window open/fan on in November so I didn’t die from the fumes.

    • suckstohaveaparentwhohoards

      throw the bags out the window when she’s asleep, and put them in the trunk of your car and take them to a dump the next morning. That’s what I did one time. Sure it will fill up again, but they’ll never notice those are gone.

      • windowclark

        after dealing with the lifestyle all these years and watching the hoarding shows. Every single show reveals the self-centeredness of the hoarding personality. The hard evidence proves time after time that THEY will not make 1 MOVE moves toward change. I am with you… Don’t have mercy on this disease.

        • Kit

          Here Here!!! After all my slaving and “helping” and trying to fix things all i got was toxic nastiness from my mother. A hideous selfish sickness of the mind..

        • katietalk

          My mother hoards mail, and since she contributes to every charity known to man, she gets plenty. When she moved to an independent living facility, I pulled the solicitations and junk before giving her the important pieces (we hadn’t changed her address yet). She caught on and changed her address, so now she gets a ton of mail again. She has been late on bills several times, even having her phone disconnected. Last night she told me how wearing it was to go through all of the mail. I offered to go through it and get rid of the junk again, so she only had bill to handle. She whined that her head was just too full too think about that. Now I realize that my offer would just enable her to keep the junk coming and that there is no reason to spend my time doing it when she could cancel the solicitations and get on the “no junk mail” list. I must mention that she was not allowed to go back to her home after staying at a skilled nursing facility because her house was so full of piles of paper that it was considered unsafe, unless she had 24/7 home care. Her apartment in the independent living facility is filling up with piles now, too, and she can be evicted if the apartment is too messy. She is choosing to live like this and I’m not going to ruin my health by trying to change her. We won’t even talk about her other junk…

          • windowclark

            oh JOY! We must be kin. You would think all those papers have cashable bonds in them. “Magical thinking” would cover believing that MAIL is somehow SACRED–as if “it” is a “person” so, it would follow that if I have a relationship with the mail and I experiment with it bySENDING MONEY AWAY (esp. sacrificially to the unknown hinterlands) – LOGIC FOLLOWS that someone or the FATES will respond to me and supply something I am in desperate NEED OF. This is a very poor replacement for interpersonal relationships. This is a relationship with nothing—out there. This isn’t even a relationship with “pick a number”. That is LOW LOW self esteem. That explains why she wants you to approve. Pat Robertson came up with his “Law of Reciprosity” in one of his books way back in the 80’s ? No doubt his charity: Operation Blessing has helped many—but many have sat lonely hanging on his every word and send him gazillions for a flat one-sided love affair when they should be making relationships with local ministries.

    • Noranna Schultz-Krebs

      When my siblings and I were cleaning out a 2 car garage my mother had rented for storage, I took 5 huge Rubbermaid containers full of old National Enquirers to the recycling depot. When my Mom found out she cried off and on for a week because they were gone. “I was going to read all those when we got the house and garages cleared out”. I pointed out that it was going to take the rest of her life to clean out the house and therefore she wouldn’t be alive to read them.

  • Disgusted

    I spent an entire month remodling a home F-ed by my hoarder mother. It took me that long to take down all the hooks COVERING all the walls. Here’s a hint fellow COH – disown them. There is NO HOPE for them and the only thing you can do is restore peace in your life. I’m quite sure hoarding is connected to Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is nothing you can do but go no-contact. Life is TOO stressful to have these crazy-makers destroying yours. 

    • Freegirl

      Disgusted. Horrified. I haven’t gone the disown route. But have very limited contact on my terms mostly and have a wonderful therapist.

      • windowclark

        STAY in therapy. It works…

    • MissNikNik

      OMGOSH!!! I just found this page and I can relate sooo much! I am ANGRY!! I’ve been putting up with my mother’s hoarding my ENTRE LIFE!!! She hoards garbage, not things and it’s disgusting! She has destroyed every home she has lived in to include my grandparents home that she inherited. I have had her in my house for 5 years and her 10×13 bedroom and personal bath is a wasteland that every 3 months I have to hire someone to clean because I can not do it anymore. I want to strangle her to death!!! I have found some (very little) solice in the wonderful person who comes to help me do this every quarter. It is disgusting and mostly I just feel ripped off, taken advantage of, and continually disrespected!!! NOT t o mention all the crappy support for the hoarding from all her so called therapy that I am supposed to be patient with! I am so SICK to death of that!! WHAT ABOUT ME!!?? I am far from selfish but I wish I was because I would put her out of my home and never look back, and it sure would be nice to have that almost 100,000 dollars of my personal money that she has cost me over the course of the last 20 years cleaning up her messes!!!!

      • suckstohaveaparentthathoards

        Amen Sister!

        • windowclark

          I just reinforce that I do not have anything like that in my house and I enjoy the tax benefits of donating. Let them swim in it.

  • Syndicalista

     I moved in with my mom again two years ago, hoping she would be able to help me with my troubled teen. I thought her hoarding was something we could work on as a family. (??WHAT WAS I THINKING??)  My teen got fed up and moved out. Now I’m stuck in a house with her and all her stuff which has been getting worse and worse. NUTTY THINGS I’VE DONE…. spent $$$$ hundreds $$$ of dollars on storage boxes, storage bins, shelving units etc. Stayed home from countless social activities, Most ridiculous thing is yet to come. Tomorrow is New Years Eve, I’m so upset about the state of this house, I am 100% likely to be home stacking boxes in the basement, because I can’t bear returning to work with that hanging over my head. I’ve threatened to move out about 5 times now. I can’t seem to follow through….  I think this web site will help me follow through.

    • Journey

       hang in there

    • batshtcrzymom

       Move out now!  You cannot change her, she cannot even change or stop the hoarding.  Stop blaming her for your decision to avoid activities.  Realize that she will ALWAYS be a hoarder and you are being an enabler by spending your time sorting and stacking, etc (this is part of the hoarding syndrome- it’s called “churning”).  Get out and re-focus on yourself immediately.  Separate yourself and whatever issues you have from your mom and her hoarding.  You have to do this now and it will probably take years to put the effects of her hoarding on you in perspective but it is worth it.  Go now!

    • TC

      You’ve given two years (or more) of your life and things have only gotten worse, you say. You have given it a good effort and it’s time to get on with your life, in your own place. On your own, you are unlikely to be able to change your mom and the money you spend on her to help her “organize” is not well spent without professional interventions. It is a new year and time to work on your relationship with your child and start really living again.

    • Patience

      Very similar story here; wasted money and 6 months attempting to help and what was the result?  Shrieking; trying to stab me with her scissors.  Why?  I had brought a delicious meal, used real dishes and then washed and put them away.  What was the saving grace?  Her knees were so rickety that she couldn’t stand up and stab me at the same time!  Move.  Now.  Breathe fresh air.  It’ll clear your mind and give you proper perspective.   (And frankly, I’m in agreement with “Disgusted” who points out that there may be – at least in my mother’s case –  a connection between Hoarding and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.)    

      • windowclark

        definitely Narc Per Disorder and Hoarding are hand in hand.
        There is a very good book on that subj.

  • Journey

    Despite a lifetime of knowing better, I rode in on a white U-Haul when mom got evicted from her apartment… 4 kind and dedicated friends and a hired hand spent two days packing a one-bedroom apartment for/around her… moved her into our familial house where I’d made a HOME for my two young children… right thing to do, right? Less than two years later, I had to move out of the house and into an apartment to save my sanity…and I have paid the mortgage on the house AND my own rent for three years, even though she’s promised to contribute over and over again. I stopped letting my kids visit her there, and stopped going inside myself sometime last year. Now the house is worse than ever. I’m tired of rescuing/enabling her… but I don’t know what more to do or where to begin. 

  • sent in to info@childrenofhoarders:disqus :

    “Helped
    several times to get “lots of things” ready for sale in the big annual
    community garage sale.  Last time I did it (ever) I drove five hours and
    worked three days straight to produce about two things a reasonable
    person might buy and yards of “free to good home” items that a
    reasonable person would say is trash.  A woman I knew came by during the
    day and she looked baffled and horrified.  So at the end of the day I couldn’t bear to drag it back in the hoard.  My HP wouldn’t
    agree to throw the stuff but did agree to donate it to a local
    organization that was having their garage sale in two weeks.  I stuffed
    my car full (tearing a hole in my backseat upholstery in the process)
    and pulled up to

    the charity.  I explained that I my HP wanted to donate; I knew it was
    garbage but I couldn’t take it home.  I just needed to know how big a
    check I needed to write to be able to use their dumpster.  So, my HP
    pocketed 50 cents proceeds from the big sale and all it cost me was a
    tank of gas, about 40 hours driving and labor, and $100.  Strangely, it
    was the hole in my car upholstery that served as my constant reminder to
    NEVER be such an idiot again.”

    • h’orderve

      oh this made me laugh so hard. often i cry, sometimes i laugh. thank you!

      i am being charged with animal abuse, because i took my HP’s animals to a shelter and wouldn’t (couldn’t) tell them where i got them. they flipped out and charged me with three separate counts, including allowing someone to be cruel to animals; now i am on bail, with multiple restrictions on my life, and i had to give my dog of five years away until it’s settled. i haven’t seen my dog in four months, and my trial is not for another 6 months. i am praying that i do not get convicted. they even put it in the newspapers, with my full name, so now anyone that googles my name (ei: any employer, ever.) will get a full page of “she’s a poopy poodle animal abuser”

      • h’orderve

        it’s me, H’orderve again….10 months of bail, one trial date, another 5 months of bail, and i have finally been convicted of animal abuse. actually, i plead guilty to one charge of ‘allowing animals to continue to be in distress’, so that the other two charges were dropped, and we didn’t have to go through two more days of trial. i am being punished with three years of probation with the spca, and 1000$ of fines.

        the story: i was put in charge of my HP house when she went into the hospital. i spent two weeks trying to clean the place up, which included scraping inch thick feces off the floor, van loads of garbage and recycling, and a major mental breakdown. there was +10 dogs…finally i took 5 to the spca.

        apparently i was supposed to do more, or do something different. like most of society, i don’t think the justice system has the capacity to understand the hell of being the child of a hoarder.

  • nina

    As a child my grandparents lived nearby. I would gather trash clothes and anything else that I thought my mom wouldnt notice was gone and I would put it in trash bags and walk them to my grandparents (my mom’s parents) house so that they could hide them until trash day and then set them out for me. Sometimes I was lucky and she didn’t notice other times she threw complete fits. 

    • TC

      Me too! I used to throw out magazines when my parents were away. Sneaking around doing this like a secret agent.

      • Phoenixfeather08

        Wow! I can so relate. I used to fill trash bags while mom was working in the yard or was out shopping and then my older brother would quick run them out to one of the barns. We did this all of our teenage years. And guess what I spent yesterday doing??? Yep, you guessed it. I filled up trash bags while my younger brother quick ran them out to the barn. Only now I’m in my 40’s!!!!! Is there not ever going to be an easier way to deal with this???? I haven’t cleaned in that house for over 2 1/2 years and it is worse than ever. I’m now under the belief that I need to step in before the health dept. condems that damn place. I am finally beginning to understand that this will never get better and that I will always be the one responsible for that house of horrors….Bummer!

      • Kent Dorfman

        I live in the lower duplex of my inlaw’s house. They live in the upstairs apartment. They have had the house for 40 years. In this time they have amassed a hoard of junk that is stored underneath the house in the dirt. There are boxes of clothes, old computer stuff, books, old prescription drugs, tools, broken tiles and timber, furniture and paperwork from jobs they had dating back to the 1970’s. During the 6 years I have been living here, I have systematically removed approximately half of the junk. Whenever they go on holidays, I’m down there chucking things out. My father in law has gone down there a couple of times but hasn’t mentioned anything missing – he probably doesn’t even remember what is down there or maybe he doesn’t care. So, I’m going to continue throwing stuff out when their backs are turned until it’s all gone! If they notice, I’ll just insist they gave us permission to clean it up. I don’t care because I don’t want to wait until they are gone to deal with it. They’re in their 70’s now but could live for many more years & I’ll be too old and cranky by then to bother so my kids will end up with the responsibility and that isn’t fair.

        • TC

          You are fortunate to have been able to do this and not get in trouble with your inlaws. I’ve only been able to do this with things from my parents if the items have been left at my house/given to me.

          • Kent Dorfman

            Even if they got angry I wouldn’t care. They invited their son & myself and our 2 kids to share the family home – we didn’t ask to move in. There are two separate 4 bedroom apartments with plenty of storage space in the duplex which is more than enough room, yet they expect to have the entire upstairs apartment and half of ours on account of their crap. No way. My own mother is a hoarder and the only reason why her house isn’t like what you see on the ‘Hoarders’ program is because my father is firm with her and throws stuff out whether she likes it or not. May sound harsh but you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes. Hoarders feel entitled to all of the space available for their stuff which is both selfish and disrespectful and I have no tolerance for that.

            • windowclark

              My brother is not only a hoarder but he destroys property that belongs to others–that are not his things!…If you have something in your parents house—(where he has lived his ENTIRE life long *56 years) eventually he–and he alone will have broken it. Nothing in my Mom and Dad’s home has not been affected by this brother…even doorknobs are broken off., even light fixtures… The intercoms are gone! He is mechanically gifted but he will not fix anything for my widowed Mom. He has jerry-rigged the wiring—It scares me. There are live wires in the house Main electric outlet. It is atrocious. My Mom however is stuck fast to him and wants him there.

        • windowclark

          not to mention—that situation is a serious health hazard—and probably carcinogenic to all involved.

    • Freegirl

      I would put my trash bag from my bedroom into my laundry basket as a teenager. We didn’t have running water so I would take my laundry to my grandma’s house to wash it and i would dispose of the trash in the dumpster behind my grandma’s house.

    • windowclark

      God bless you dear one.

      • windowclark

        I stayed home from school to clean up our 5 bedroom house when I was 10 years old. My Mom was never home. She just couldn’t handle being a domestic Mom and wife. But she had 6 children! The truant officer came to see why I missed so much school. I missed 30 days every school year. Mom was not home when the officer came. I simply said, “I do not know where she is…” Mom came sooo close to being investigated.

  • Lkhall5547

    I spent more then 15yrs trying to clean up after my mother. In the very end when she broke her back & then her hip. I was left to clean again the main house, 2-20 yd dumpters, 1-10 & 40 heftys-plus a dead raccoon that my dog killed in her office after it ate a hole in the floor -trying to exscape.She has been dead since 2009 oct. and I am still hauling garbage out of the house, I also had to move into it because my husband became sick &I disabled and could no longer support the family-I work full time and rented my house out to pay the taxes etc. No one would buy let alone rent her house at the time. It is now much better but with everything else that has happened to me & my family-I am now 53-I am running on empty. She would tell people that her house was a mess because of my kids and my stuff. Her office with the raccoon did it-they were about to send her home after the back healed & I told her she had a new furry pet-named Hairy Harry, I said this in front of a whole dining table of little old ladies at the nursing home. She said how can I go to sleep if I know he’s at the foot of my bed? I said don’t worry I got him a leash & a collar-he can be your new best friend and pet. All the ladies at the table started to snicker-I couldn’t help it after all those years of blaming me & using my family as an excuse, to poke some fun at her. There are many stories. Signed Busted, Broken, Dirty, Ruined.

  • Grown Daughter of a Hoarder

    I am feeling so much better already just reading all of your comments.  I just helped my mom (the hoarder) move to a new city because she lost her house because she wasn’t paying the mortgage.  My sister bought an apartment for my mom to “rent”.  I warned her that it wasn’t a good idea.  Moving my mom has been a nightmare.  She really didn’t “pack” anything.  The day the truck arrived she was still going through things and the movers didn’t know what to put on the truck because she kept saying she hadn’t “gone through it yet”.  She knew 3 months in advance that she was moving – she had plenty of time to pack/organize – but she also had plenty of excuses.  I packed 2 of my small children in a car and followed her to the new city to unpack the truck and then bring her back to original house to finish packing what was left.  Yesterday she filled a 3rd truck.  She moved to a much smaller apartment than her house and the stuff is just shoved in there and stacked – no place to sit or breathe.  She is in lala land and thinks that everything is just fine.  I have finally come to a point (I am 40 and spent almost 20 years helping her clean and organize until I put up a boundary – and it made me much happier – still guilty feeling – but happier) where I don’t really care how much she hoards and how she lives.  I just care when it starts to effect me or my children.  The kids have never spent the night at grandma’s house and they aren’t allowed to go over to her house because it is dirty/unhealthy.  When my middle child was born I took him over to her house and she had to lay down a sheet on the carpet because there was so much dried pee and poop and yuckiness.  It’s wierd – she knew to lay down the sheet but I don’t think she thought the floor was dirty – I think she just thought it would be soft for the baby.  After that experience I decided that I just have to do what’s right for me and my children – not for her.  After 3 full trucks of stuff moved to the new city and years of boundaries – she has pulled me back in by leaving boxes and boxes in my garage -“that she will get a little at a time”.  I just can’t take it!  I said “no” to her putting it in my basement.  And she said “Why?” and I said “Because who is going to be hauling it up and down the stairs – not you obviously with your bad knee etc. – you may not put anything in my house.”  Now she is staying in our house for 8 days while she transitions from her old job to the new city (where she does not have a job yet – guess that wasn’t on the to do list) and she is already making my household tense – my husband and kids are on edge and they know mommy is on edge.  My mom keeps asking us to do stuff for her, and she doesn’t even clean her own dishes after a meal.  She lives her S__t all over our house like an out of control teenager.  My husband I talked tonight and we will ask her to leave if it gets any worse.  Arrrggggghhhhh!  I really can’t stand her most of the time and I walk around angry all the time when she is near.  I can’t hide my feelings.  I laughed at somebody’s comment about the garbage.  My mom kept her car full of garbage bags of kitchen scraps/trash/food because she “didn’t want the bears to get it”.  Yet, you want to drive around with a car full of trash??? I don’t get the logic.  The only thing that soothes me in my later life is knowing that this is truly a psychological disorder and as much as I wish she would change – she never will – I must accept her the way she is and draw very clear boundaries to protect myself and stop wishing for something that will never be.

  • Brenda

    I refuse to go in my parent’s house anymore (been hoarders my entire life and I’m 28 now) but I still visit them on their porch. They’re unwilling to come to visit at my place for some reason, so we sit on the porch with my new baby daughter so she can see her grandparents. Even now though they seem to find that too much of an inconvenience. I’m pretty much done with them. If they can’t get over their issues to know their damned granddaughter, I’m done trying. 

    • windowclark

      “Precious” grandaughter… Very sorry, it is their loss. They are very ignorant.
      God Bless you honey…

  • Jasmine

    Don’t know what to do. Mother is cat hoarder. 94 years old and can barely take care of herself. We cleaned her house 3 years ago and I ended up almost dying from pneumonia and we found out recently that my husband, who has been ill for the last three years (Dr. thought it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) found out last week that he has been suffering from a bacteria infection. (Cat Scratch Fever) Her house is getting worse and worse – filthy with feces, and still breeds her females – we try to take them to the shelter before they become ill. She is stubborn and very angry when we bring up a solution to the problem. She will not let us help her and she has a very bad heart. Any intervention I know would cause her to have a heart attack. I don’t think I could live with that – it is hard enough to know that she is living the way she is by choice.

    • lindaclark

      incredible—My precious 85 year old Dad was living in a Cat infested house. Grrrr. He was on oxygen and cat hair was in the filter everytime I visited. I washed it. He used a C-Pap that was not sanitary.. I replaced the tubing the only time it ever got replaced. My Mom is a book hoarder and their bedroom was upstairs. We wanted Mom to agree that Dad (a bypass and hip replacement patient) should live downstairs…She would NOT agree to this. So, we had to fear every day that he could fall down those stairs every single day. She did not want any hired caregiver there. She had three grown unmarried sons living there also. One is a severe hoarder and he has blocked up all the spare rooms in the house and he has totally blocked the garage. The house has roaches and mice and feral cats. So, in 2011, Dad fell in the bedroom, and broke his ribs. He did not recover. He got an infection of some kind in his lungs. But I believe his lungs were already infected from the unsanitary conditions. The saving grace that keeps me is my faith in God and what a strong and free man my Dad was when we were younger.

      • lovelycowgirl

        Just recently, my mother, a hoarder, had a stroke. When the paramedics came they could not get a stretcher into our house and had to carry her out. My first thought was ‘I can throw everything away before she comes home from the hospital.’ My second thought was ‘I don’t have the strength to clean that dump.’ She miraculously recovered and is home now and actually cleaned a little since she can’t go to her job (she gets restless). I stress ‘a little’ though. I have always felt that she cared more about her job than our family and that she cared more about her family of origin than my dad and I because she brought all of her parents things into our home and forced us to adjust to it. I also get embarassed when I don’t know things like how to use a traditional mop. I just tell people I use a swiffer wet jet (which I did when I had my own place) and leave it at that.

    • windowclark

      they won’t change.

  • Freegirl

    I am starting to reflect more on this hoarding thing and here is a statement I made once to my mom after I did a little clean up. “I cleaned off this counter. If you put anything on it you can’t have any of the cookies I made.”  The counter did remain junk free for a few days.   Can’t believe I actually said that-but I remember it clearly. 

  • Jasmine

    Just a word of warning… it is no joke. After cleaning my mom’s house 3 years ago I almost died at the time from pneumonia. My husband has had a ‘mystery’ illness for the last 3 years and almost died – after a battery of tests and a lot of money spent on trying to diagnose the problem we finally convinced an infectious disease doctor to test him for bacteria. We told him the story of my mothers cat hoarding and what we were exposed to. My husband tested positive for Bartonella hen. (cat scratch fever). They call these bacteria ‘stealth pathogens’ because they are very hard to detect and you can become extremely ill. Some people have been wrongly diagnosed with MS, Chronic Fatigue, etc. when all the while it was this bacteria that was causing the issues.

    • lindaclark

      I am going to remember this valuable information.

  • Gigglecake

    The worst thing I ever had to do for my mother was at the age of seventeen, having to clear 12″ of cat poo out of the bath with a shovel, along with the removal of 300 milk bottles (containing rotten milk) from wardrobes and cupboards. I guess I was fortunate that I suffer from anosmia (no sense of smell), having grown up in a house full of animal urine and poop/dead pets/rotting food/maggots/flies/blocked toilets and sinks/general rubbish etc etc etc.

    • lindaclark

      God bless you honey.

      • Kit

        I really feel for you! Its unbelievable how hard COH work to help cover-up this sickness of the mind- how is it we feel that we somehow have to manage and try to fix it? I never stopped cleaning as a teen- but the monster was way bigger than me!
        take care

  • Atwitsendmom

    My daughter is a hoarder.  She has a seven year old son and I am worried about him.  I thought perhaps someone might have some suggestions of what I could do or not do that would make life a little easier for him.  I have had many fights with my daughter of the condition of her home and have cleaned it a time or two.  I have been working on it the last week because she was hospitalized and gets out tomorrow.  I know she is going to have a fit when she finds out I’ve been in there cleaning but I just don’t know what else to do.  Anyway, I was hoping to get some perspective on the situation from people who have been there.  I feel so badly for my grandson because he can never have friends over or live like other normal children.  Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • TC

       If she was abusing drugs or alcohol and you were worried about the safety of your grandson, society would easily say that you should call in social services. Abusing kids by making them live in completely unacceptable, horrific conditions shouldn’t be any different, but it is harder to get societal acceptance for this.

    • nogooddeedgoesunpunished

      mine is too..but her son is only five. Your grandson will get bigger and able to come see you on his own soon, and I bet he’ll be happy to! Seems like you will have to have your relationship mainly with him at your place–it’s not ideal, but you will hit a brick wall with your daughter that could end up ruining your contact ability w your grandson–avoid this! Just because you’re right, she doesn’t have to listen to you, and some daughters are very competitive with their moms–mine sure is! Instead of cleaning her place or discussing it with her, try to compliment her on whatever she actually does do right for her son..then, grab him and go do something fun with him!I am completely baffled myself with my own daughter,; used to help her clean so she would pass her inspection–I’d get a last minute call for help, once at 9 at night! So I did it, a couple of times; also did the same for my sister. but I charged her (daughter)a $20 overtime fee and three hours at $20/hr. that helped for a while. her son is very aggressive and bullying at school, and I’m afraid that having the house a mess(his room is the only neat place in her apartment!) is going to be even rougher for him. Most of the sites are for children of or the hoarders themselves; I have a sister who is a hoarder and I’m about to give up going there at all, it’s disgusting. she does nothing but make excuses continually and guilt me about making her feel bad, guilty, depressed, blah, blah..so as far as my daughter,I can only keep an eye on her place and if it gets bad enough, I could threaten her with losing her child–do we want to do that? I would if it were actually a fire hazard or the fridge was toxic, tho..Could ruin our relationship..so I pray, a LOT. I’ll keep trying to think of ways to help, let me know if you come up with something!

  • kathypullin

    My mother just recently passed away. She horded most of my life, and blamed me and my brothers and sisters for the mess. We would clean up the house and she would praise us at first, but within an hour or two she would go insane about us losing her important things. I tried to have a relationship with her after I moved out, but after several years I realized I had too much anger towards her and it was better to cut my loses. For years my brothers had cleaned up her house for her. And it would go to hell within weeks. the phone calls about missing things would go on too. When it got messy again it was always someone else’s fault. She would let one of my brothers or sisters live with her, and they would become her focus of anger and blame. This is the main reason I cut her out of my life. She did this to us as kids, and as adults it still went on. There were times she would scream at us “you bastard children have ruined my life” As a teenager I realized she had ruined ours, that we were not responsible for her brokenness. I’m sorry that she could never get past her illness and live a better life, but in the end that’s her responsibility, not mine, and not my brothers or sisters.

  • done4

    I hired a maid, because there were still had small siblings and her elderly mother in their home. She didn’t talk to me for months. I filled 2 construction dumpsters full and there was still 2400sq ft left to clean up. Eventually the maid quit when my dad berated her for throwing away a plate with petrified ketchup gluing a dead mouse to it. That was the last time I tried to “help”. I insist that all family gatherings happen at my house now. No grandkids go visit. My grown siblings and I have discussed torching it for the insurance when they die.

  • Boo

    I gave up a live out west and moved 1600 miles back home to help my mom clean out my mother’s house. My parents rented an apartment for us all to live in while we clean out and fix the house… I have been allowed to work 4 hours in the house. Most of it was cleaning out the cupboards. The rest of the time was moving things around, I have not been allowed to do any work without her there, and there is never a time that “works” for her.

    • Boo

      life* not live

      • TC

        I’m sorry that the help isn’t being accepted – our HP seem to give us glimmers of hope that they are going to change but they turn out to be mirages. If there’s no change to the situation, maybe it would be good to think about heading back west and reclaiming your life. You shouldn’t lose out on your own life because of a HP.

  • Worst Daughter Ever

    In 2012 I removed 3 homeless squatters (Yep my mom hoards homeless people), 2 dumpsters full of animal feces, cans of food that expired in the late 90’s, animals so long dead that they were unrecognizable, moldy fabric, tattered clothes, countless newspapers, magazines, unpaid bills, paper napkins, paper coffee cups, broken appliances and more.

    The entire time I was told how valuable the stained paper napkins etc were that I was getting out of the house. I lied and said I would recycle. I lied and said I was donating extras to church. I lied and said that I needed whatever duplicate appliance or tool I found and would give it a good home.

    She cried as I threw out wet salt packets. She cried as I threw out used Starbucks cups. She cried as I threw out shattered ceramic figures.

    She did not cry as she told me to throw out my baby pictures. She did not cry as she threw out my high school portrait. She did not cry as she threw out my wedding invitation. She did cry when she found a Polaroid taken of a TV screen had been chewed by a mouse.

    I’ve been told that I am the worst daughter ever. I’ve been told that having children is more heartache than it’s worth and that if she had it to do over again she wouldn’t have me. I’ve been told that I’m over-reacting. I’ve been told that I am too sensitive and that I should support her and help her.

    Who is helping me?

    I walked away in January and haven’t called since. I’m not sure she noticed. I’m not sure I care.

    I do care. But I wish I didn’t. What did I do that I am valued less than a stained paper cup?

    • Wow. I so relate to this. While my mom doesn’t seem to value the individual things in her hoard as yours does, she certainly values the lifestyle of hoarding more than me or my seven-month old daughter. She’d rather keep living as she does than accept help so she can see her granddaughter. Just as you said, “I do care. But I wish I didn’t.” I don’t know if I’ll ever let go of that tiny sliver of hope that she’ll change and be the mother, I was going to say, the mother I wanted, but really, I should say, the mother I deserved.

      • Worst Daughter Ever

        Thank you – I guess this is a mutual “You’re not alone”. I wish this site functioned more like a forum with conversation. It seems you get to vent and disappear but there is not a lot of community…

    • TC

      You didn’t do anything – but she has a mental illness that makes it virtually impossible to see clearly. I struggle with how much my own hoarding mother is nearly oblivious to the damage she is causing and compare her to my MIL with unmedicated bipolar disorder who also cannot see the damage. They are frighteningly alike in many ways, but still people say that her hoarding doesn’t hurt anyone else. You know it does.

    • Free Girl

      I am so sorry that you have had to experience this. I fear that this exact situation is coming with my own mom. If I “help” in her way-it will make me physically ill. If I “help” in a normal fashion (shovel & a dumpster) she will disown me. Not a lot of great choices for us. I understand why you walked away. But know you are valuable, no matter what our moms may incorrectly believe or how they devalue us.

    • lindaclark

      She truly is diseased. I am truly sorry. You surely are very intelligent. You are a very good writer… She is broken–and a derelict, it seems.—I don’t know why. It is inexcusable–I was told by what I think is the best therapist there is, to “be your own mother.” It works for me. You can’t live with zero mothering. That void has to be filled. We can fill it with our own style of mothering. But it took a bit of doing for me to get the knack of it. I started with hanging my baby picture beside my bed so I could see it when I woke up–first thing. I thought – when I got up, and looked at me “Could you hurt her?” The answer became more and more obvious. “No!” And little by little I decided to stop being mean to “her.” (me). That meant stopping everyone else from sticking it to me with words or deeds. The biggest way I do this is by NOT allowing people access to me if they have harmed me.. If I deem anyone or anything harmful to my mental status—It “ain’t” getting near me…Notta. That was a biggy for me, a hoarders child. Hoarding is so comprehensive—because you have to live in it when you are young–especially if you are made to clean it when others are allowed special priviledges to make mountains of mess with no consequences–(this was my case). I felt valueless.. I had to establish WALLS to have a value. I got married at the age of 15 and got out of my Mother’s care. It amazes me how many of these hoarder stories are about women. Sorry, if I said too much. What you posted struck a similar nerve in me. Blessings to you.

  • DOAHF

    I’m married to the Son of a hoarding FAMILY. When I was engaged to my now Husband, I moved IN with his family(unknowing of the hoard I would be living in for 8 months). For hours a day I would clean my then fiances’ bedroom, and the hallway, and the fridgerator, kitchen..and dining room. I threw out so much expired food, junk/trash, old toys.. etc etc. His Mom knew about my Obsessive cleaning since I asked permission to clean. She welcomed it, but I was leary about what I’d find. 6 month old expired food.. dead mice(my worst enemy).. spiders.. oh my lord the spiders.. I was furious that the family I had only just met, yet was marrying into didn’t clean?! There were always walkways, pathways, tricks to maneuver around the home. One time after I moved out into my own duplex, I accepted the invite to ‘clean the basement’ each person was given a dust mask. I recall my mother in law discovered a water leak.. they fixed it, but after that they gave up on cleaning or ‘organizing’.. and since then, I’ve come to the realization everytime I help, it ends up back to the same cluttered chaos… they have stated they just aren’t the cleaning type of people, they want it cleaned, but don’t manage it once it is. So it ends up messy again. I don’t know what triggers or started the hoard, I’ve been married to my husband for 2 years now..I don’t doubt for second the hoard will ever get better.

    • TC

      I’m amazed that they let you clean their house when you lived there! My mom flips if you do more than vacuum.

  • jimmie

    I would have to say when my mother went threw her divorce, she started making up all these stories to keep the horses so they wouldn’t be sold as martial property. I let her unwilling put a bunch of junk in my name and I lost 2 cars a jet ski b/c I got sued .. what is sad is her brother is a Chicago evidence tech for there PD and he committed 20 felonies and till this day won’t help to get her on meds and blames it on everyone else about the way she is …

  • JB

    Not the child of a hoarder but the ex-spouse of one, with kids, and this site is an incredible resource. To be honest, even as an adult, the clutter and mess was absolutely overwhelming, and I would never have people over as a result. I would spend forever cleaning to just have my ex destroy the place again within a day or two.

    It took me 2 years to move her stuff out of the house we lived in together for 12 years, and I realized while I was doing it that 95% of the stuff in my house was hers, and she had just abandoned it there. I boxed it all up and moved it into her shed at her house. Not my problem.

    My problem is that we share our two kids and her place is typically disgusting and unsanitary, with piles of everything everywhere, and it is the kind of house where they don’t want kids over, and my older daughter has taken to trying to clean her room there on her own.

    To her credit, she is bringing in an organizer that helped me make the push from 90% done with my house to completely reasonable, and I think she’s ready to try to make the effort to keep it clean and organized, once she’s had some direction.

    Fingers crossed 🙂

    • TC

      (I tried to reply earlier last week, but messed it up somehow): It is a good sign that your daughter is interested in keeping her room tidy; she is not absorbing the lessons of hoarding.

  • SP

    The craziest thing I’ve done for my HP is to continue to live as if the hoarding (and everything else that comes with my family) isn’t slowly driving me crazy. I live in a household of 4 people – 2 adult hoarders (one with autism, the other their codependent,) myself and my daughter. All I can think about is my future. I’ve had panic attacks and nightmares after living with two family members who have a strong desire to control everything that my daughter or I strive to do in our lives. We are not meant to live like this. I feel like I have no voice and what I think doesn’t really matter. For a long time, I felt like I was stuck and would rot here. It feels really good to type this……

  • asonofahoarder

    My mom’s hoarding starting becoming very obvious shortly after I moved out… And what I mean is, in hindsight I should has suspected it. At the age of 19 I moved out and year after year it became worse. I am nearing 29 now, 10 years later and like many here, still dealing with it.

    I think my mom is, or once was, an intelligent and caring person and so it pains me to see this is the way she lives. I will one day have a family and the dream of being able to visit grandma seems very far fetched. My wife has never seen inside the house as i wouldn’t dare want her to… nor my mom. But when you ask her about this and it seems clear that the answer is to clean everything up, she’s resistant like a typical hoarder is. Everything has value.

    She has complained about money this whole time since I’ve moved out as well… And I’d believe her and feel bad for her. That was until I started really appreciating the dollar bill, having to work myself like most people when they move out, and asked ‘Where the hell is all of your money going?” Simple… It was going to pay for everything she buys at Goodwill and other thrift stores. She refuses to pay for cable… $50 a month for nice entertainment, but has no problem spending hundreds a week on misc. crap?

    I am realizing now that it is a terrible cycle… Like an alcoholic who looks at their life and how terrible it may seem goes out and buys a bottle, she will look at her mess and go out and buy more things, just for that buying high. Where does it go? She doesn’t really know where everything is, but does somehow, and everything has it’s purpose, even if it was bought 10 years ago… She just needs to “get around to it one of these days.”

    I’ve sadly told her out of desperation that one day she will not have “one of these days” and she will leave this life with none of her things… she will be forced to leave it all behind, losing not just her piles of crap, but also losing all the time she could have spent enjoying life and family.

    I know I’m not alone on this. I wish I could give up on her, but I somehow can’t.

    • alena

      Omg, yes! I’m crying now thinking how spot on that is for my mom =/

  • alena

    I’m 19 and sometime near the beginning of highschool our washer and dryer broke, then the ac (not heat), our second fridge and some other stuff I can’t even remember– oh plus the dishwasher was broken when we started renting. My mom left my dad when I was 2 and her father died about 10 years back. She just kept crap: papers, stuff, “clean trash” ( she saved Starbucks coffe cups and those cardboard cuffs for them). I did the same as COH, I would go home after school and throw stuff from the kitchen counters into my trash just to get it out. She then came home, noticed, got po-ed, then back the kitchen up in trash bags and in a rage, threw it right into the “guest” storage room. She was so worried about her stuff that I stopped eating at home… every time i tried to make food, she came in upset about what I was moving to use the stove so first I limited myself to only using the microwave in food prep… thank god I started working where I got free leftovers when meal service was done. So thru my final years of adolescence (half my life @ 20) I had to start dealing with my HP. I believe thru highschool I fed myself, (hand) washed all my clothes, I feel like I took care of myself. I made money, I wanted to help, she wouldn’t let me help or buy a new washer, I didn’t have internet my whole life and my high tech school required internet for everything. I felt like crap and now I barely have any self esteem to hold on to… When I was graduating I moved out with my fiance, but now that she lives alone its worse. Idk what to do, I can’t just leave her to “get a call one day that she died in her s*!t” I have hope because she keeps telling me she tired of living in clutter ( medium hoarding) … Ty for listening 🙂

    • asonofahoarder

      I’m sorry to read this (as I am with all cases of hoarding) but am glad to see that you have been able to move out… You, or any of us, can’t let your HP define you as a person. Moving out and realizing there is life outside the hoard is very important… Why should you miss out on life because of this terrible disorder? You can take this opportunity to get to know yourself and begin to live your life as an adult.

      This isn’t abandoning your mom. This is reclaiming your life and you may even be more of a help to your mom outside rather than inside the hoard. Have you talked to her about seeing a therapist? My mom was very resistant to it at first, but after many arguments and continually pointing out “No one ever said you had to go through life without any help.” After a 2 year hiatus from therapy due to legitimate health issues, she has agreed to go back.. I hope it works for her this time.

      Stay strong and don’t ever think this is your fault or feel guilty.

  • a b

    I have made the mistake (a few times) and called her to ask if I can use/have some old thing (an edger for example) when I was in a pinch, but all that has done is reinforce her “saving” junk. She always says “I’m glad I saved it” as if the world would come to an end if she had tossed all of her unused junk.

  • Matt

    It’s been nearly ten years since I left and I consider even entertaining the idea of going back to be ridiculous.

  • brandolinium

    The craziest thing I’ve ever done (and there have been a lot) is to continue having contact. I cannot reason with my mother, find any common ground, have put up with her telling her and my friends lies about me, have cleaned up after her repeatedly, send her money every month, have repaired broken crap, have paid for her vacations, and still am told that I treat her like s**t despite it all.

    But I’m almost there. I can easily see a day when I am finished. My rope only has a few threads left.

    • TC

      Your self-worth is more valuable than having contact with her, and so is your own financial future.

  • jhjhv

    So many.
    *Called in sick at work so i can clean HP house because visitors coming. I dont live there!
    *Hidden gross stuff in my car to take to my house for disposal (to stop bin raiding!) *Dug a 3 foot deep hole in the back garden of HP home to bury a huge bag of rotten maggot infested food scraps (including meat) because i had no idea what to do with it. Gagging/ Crying/ Laughing at the insanity of what i was doing/ Worrying that the neighbours may see

  • Anthony

    Where do I start? Grew up with a hoarding grandmother and mother. Now I’m 40 and my mother is 61 and in danger of losing her home because of her hoarding. She has a 2 bedroom house filled to the ceiling with garbage and clutter and is paying for two extremely large storage units which are both filled to the brim with junk. I have tried everything over the years to help her and nothing is ever successful. She is on disability and can’t afford her property taxes because she is spending so much on storage units. So I am in the acceptance mode that she will lose her house and thus present another crisis for me to have rescue her from. I just can’t give her the money, she is like an addict and will not stop shopping and accumulating needless things. I feel horrible for things I have not yet done, but I refuse to enable her by paying her taxes while she hoards in those damn storage units. Is it me or does this only end when the parent dies and you get to clean the mess as you grieve?

    • Anthony

      The hardest thing I think is going to be to turn away when she needs help. She is very manipulative and lays down a mean guilt trip. Feeling like a bad son, but I cannot take from my family to save someone who really does not want to be saved. I hope someone has some feedback out there!

      • TC

        I look at hoarding like drug addiction and alcoholism: would you give an addict money to spend on drugs? It’s the same for hoarding. I think if you give them money to pay bills because they are using their income to pay storage fees instead of taxes/food/medical costs, then it is enabling them to remain addicted. You’re doing the right thing by not giving her money if she won’t get help.

    • lhall

      GROUNDHOG DAY AGAIN, I stopped cleaning after 15 yrs plus some , 2 yrs before she died during that time she bounced back & forth from the hospital/ rehab/nursing home. I asked the first time she came back to just sit in the back room & go through her papers in the “THE OFFICE”, the night she got home she just stared in shock at the kitchen etc. I was told that when social services came if they found it the way it had been I would be charged with elder abuse so I cleaned & fixed for weeks just to get a few rooms functional. She just cried & cried & said I hated her, I felt like a monster but it had to be done.I read her the riot act & told her go out, throw out, give away! I wish I hadn’t stopped cleaning because when she died I was left with an even bigger mess that I am still dealing with 6 yrs later. Two 20 yd & 1 10 yr dumpsters plus oodles of hefty’s and 1 dead raccoon(found in office nesting) later. I pray for the day that things are not broken, busted, dirty, ruined. It took a long time for her to become like that, I personally feel it’s a form of OCD and I am trying to remember the good things about her before she became like that, it’s been very hard for me. My anger after 6 yrs is no longer white hot. I know now it’s not my fault or her’s. I still struggle every day with the mess and no I have yet to grieve, I hope in the future I can finally put on her gravestone the day she died, I couldn’t afford anything except her birth date and was so angry & broke because of her. Here’s to a New Year! not Ground Hog Day!

  • NeverMoveBackHome

    Keeping my mouth shut is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever done. But hey, why fight a losing battle when you are living with them. Honestly, letting my mom dig through the vacuum bag to see what i sucked up is pretty ridiculous. Or keeping the broken dishes that she wants to glue back together (One day….) Or asking her to move ten thousand things away from the modem because you need to reset it. Too many things…….

  • suckstohaveaparentthathoards

    Question? What’s worse than having a filled to the brim, 4-bedroom home parent who hoards?
    Answer- Having a Parent who owns 2 homes, who has filled them both up, who just this week, lost insurance on one of them, and has a urinary incontinence issue too!
    I’m losing my mind!

  • Andrew Los Angeles

    I throw things out sunday at midnight, and trash day is monday. My dad goes through our trash can at 6 am before the trashman comes. I started throwing garbage in one neighbor’s trashcan. Then my dad started going through that trash can. Then I started throwing trash in 3-4 of our neighbor’s trash cans up and down the block. I don’t think he has caught on.

    I also started destroying every recyclable item with either a knife or hammer, so he can’t reuse it. I also destroy old junk that is mine, I cut the cords to electronics, otherwise he will save it to donate it to the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  • lindaclark

    When I was only in grade school, I often missed school and did not do my school work just to clean up after our large family. It was my Mother’s responsibility, but she left it to me. I would miss up to the limit, 30 days, every school year. The truant officer came to our house on two different school years asking why I was missing so many days. I was warned that I would fail my grade. I still have nightmares about failing my grades. I passed them, but barely. I made up excuses for the truant officer both times. She wanted to know where my Mother was. Both times I told her the truth, I did not know. My Mother was not home every single day until the late afternoon. We did not know where she was. She did not work and she had six children. Five of us were still home. I was the first girl and the middle child. Our dad operated two buinesses to support us. Once, because his clothes were so full of grease, the washing machine caught on fire. It was an electrical fire. Really! Flames were licking on top of the water as the washer was agitating. I shut of the “main” power switch. I was about 12. I called my Dad. He was astonished. I poured baking soda on the fire. The main hoarders are one brother and my Mom. The two are exactly alike and still live together now for 57 years.

  • windowclark

    Today, my brother in his 40’s came by. He brought back the pet cage that I had loaned him yesterday. Bless his heart. He is innocent and he is doing his best. He has Delusional Disorder. He lives with my widowed Mom, 81, and two other unmarried brothers. One of the unmarried brothers has never been independent. He has received bailouts from my parents for 40+ years and he hoards obsessively. Also hoards stray cats. My other brother was trying to help the cat population not grow any more and had set up a cat spaying appt. with the humane society. The brother who keeps hoarding cats and letting them multiply does little or nothing responsibly for the cats welfare and they have suffered. The cat in question is feral and needed to be caught and brought to the vet to be spayed. The other brother didn’t catch the cat on time during the day. He put it off, was lazy all day and waited until dark to search for the cat. So he did not find it and the vet appt was a total loss. My disappointed brother who made the appt. (trying to do what the other brother should have been doing) came by my house and asked if the cats could be quietly euthanized while the brother was away… This “good” brother lives in a state of quiet desperation… I sure do understand how he got delusional.

  • Ell

    My father passed away last year, so my mom had me clean out his car recently. Afterward, I walked the dog. By the time I came back home, she was halfway in the garbage can outside, digging through the trash, salvaging rusted nails, mildewed gloves, and Walgreens receipts. I can’t imagine staying here for another year. I have to cover my nose to walk outside of my room.

  • windowclark

    The narcissism in my Mother was manifested when I was very young. Long before the hoarding was evident. That lead to secrecy and separation and denial—and living a lie–We lived a double life. I believe many hoarding families go through a “pre-hoarding” period–and then they just stop caring about social norms and let it all hang out. Before the true hoarder matures and ripens—they have already put their children through the mill. I was asked to clean up after adults as early as age five. As soon as I expressed interest in sweeping and vacuuming and dishwashing–I was doing it for real. I was asked to run my Mom’s bathwater—gather up dirty clothes—anything that I could carry. Anything. Of course, I believe in chores. I believe children should do chores. But I was asked to do everything! My 3 years older brother was asked to do nothing! He ended up becoming a severe hoarder. He spend 20 some years buying from E-bay and hoarded up storage buildings and rented a large building that cost more than some people’s house payments. He only worked irregularly. My parents have long bailed him out like a dripping faucet. I have never understood why they have this weakness for this one son. My Mother aided and abbetted rushing up my marriage to a fellow who I had only known for less than three months who was from out-of-state when I was 15. That was 39 years ago. The contrast between me and my brother is insane. He is 57 and still hanging on a teat. I have no hate in my heart It seems unbelievable that we have the same Mom.

  • Abovedclouds

    To make some room in Mom’s house, I dismantled one of her 5 broken sofas. I got it into pieces that fit in kitchen bags and smuggled it out over a 3 month period. Remember you must put chicken bones, diapers, rotten veggies, and other strong deterrents on top of each bag.
    If you aren’t a COH, you may not realize the need for that last step, it’s because hoarders must monitor the trash that leaves the hoard.

    • Brenda Stokes Barron

      Oh boy do I relate to this! One time I tried to throw away some old lotions and perfumes that had long since expired when moving out of my parent’s house six years ago. My mom dug them out of the trash, screamed at me for throwing away “good stuff” and put them in a shoe box. That shoebox is still in my parent’s living room. It’s gathered tons of dust and she never used the lotions, of course. The layer of too-gross-to-touch stuff on top of the trash is imperative!

  • Abovedclouds

    Lie to the preacher who popped over for a visit. “Oh no! The place is a wreck, we are working on a garage sale.” Of course, every time he came we said the same lie / excuse. Isn’t there a level of hell for people who lie for their parents to preachers?

  • Abovedclouds

    I completely organized and then cleaned my mothers “art room” for her. Vacuuming the newly exposed floor, wiping the baseboards for mildew, the whole nine yards. She praised the work and then immediately emptied the boxes onto the floor into big piles. She didn’t want the boxes in her house, and asked me to throw them away on my way out. Not one rag, scrap of reused christmas wrapping paper, silk flower, or popsicle stick was thrown away but the boxes had to go.

  • Abovedclouds

    Ridiculous things I’ve done for my hoarding mother– having a yard sale and ending up with more stuff than when it started.
    I came to help and have a table of my own at her yard sale. She ordered everything from my table be taken in her house, she wanted it. No profit for me. She priced all her stuff as though it was new and unbroken so it didn’t sell, either. So no profit for her. I lugged back into the house more stuff than had been taken out.
    Now twenty years later, she’s downsizing and funny if this stack of stuff from my tables doesn’t appear on the very tip top of her 4 million hoard items. She’s still telling everyone the mess isn’t hers, points her finger at the stuff, and boldly blames me. She was worried me and my siblings would fight over her estate, but truthfully, we would rather fight over the gas can and match used to torch it.

  • disowned

    The craziest thing I did for my HP was move her to NY from VA. She was told after work at 7 pm we were going to hit the road. I worked all day after having spent late the night before sorting, packing etc. It was taking so long because she had to see evry box and item and label everything and sit here for an hour a box talking about old things she found that she was soooooooo happy to see cause she thought she lost it. I got off work to find not even half the apartment was packed and my sister and brother were helping her the whole time! I lost my patience as she was going over the latest box and memory. We already weren’t on talking terms. Then she started telling me to “shut up” while I was losing my patience. I told her I was leaving. She said,” that’s fine!”Then my brother said he was too. This. Was at 2 AM! By the time we hit the we hit the road it was 3 AM on day three of packing an apartment into a house size truck (wshe has a house size storage unit still unpacked from her other move also). She refused to talking to me even as I tried to replace her blown tire on the jersey turn pike. When I did get a word from her she told me how abusive I was! W have not spoken since. She still has a storage unit in Va and I believe in NY too. She is on social security disaility and paying for these storage units with that money and taking foodstamps to help out witth food. Mean while I am so afraid of getting like that I have hardlanything not practical in my house and almost panick when there is a strange smell in the house.. I didn’t realize my mom was a hoarder. Didn’t know a category like that exised. But reading what you guys have written is like reading about my mom. Oh and once I was moving some of her stuff from the storage unit to her house and it was in the back of my pick up truck. A tupperware lid blew out and she made me geet out on the busy road and get it because it was useless without the lid! I could have gotten killed. I think that is when it really hit home that her stuff meant more to her than me.

  • penguin

    I was never allowed to have friends over nor did I dare invite anyone because of my home. My mother has been a hoarder all of her life to the point where there’s not even a narrow path to walk between things. You literally have to climb things to get from room to room. Ridiculous things I’ve done for my hoarding parent is make up excuses to friends and turn them away at the door when they came over unexpectedly so I could cover for my mother’s mess.

  • RI

    Has anyone ever had to deal with the city authorities where the hoarders house is insisting that it be cleaned out and repaired?.

  • Alison Evans

    I bagged up decades of mail, and had to go through them in case here were any void paychecks in there that she still wanted to try to cash. It took me about six hours to clean the kitchen floor where all this mail was. The kitchen was probably only 6×7 feet or so. She then went back through all of the bags of mail that I had put into a dumpster and brought them back into the kitchen. A few years later, a similar incident happened and I was chased through the yard with her screaming. I moved out shortly after that and haven’t really been back to the house since.

  • Lauren

    I thought I was the only person who had a hoarding parent. The hoarding in my house has become so severe that I cannot function or do basic things like shower or eat. What can I do? Should I move out and leave my mother? She recently lost her job and is depressed and the hoarding has gotten so bad. I really don’t know what to do.

    • Tina Sue

      Yes you should move out. It is hard to do but you have to look out for yourself. I am middle aged but remember the problems. When I visit now I stay in a hotel and am only in my parents house for a minimum of time. We spend a lot of time driving around doing things so I can stay out of there.

  • Frustated!!

    OMG!!! I am soo glad I found this site. I don’t know what to do anymore. My mom has hoarded up my large workshop in my backyard and my 2 stall garage to my house. She don’t even live there. I got divorced 6 years ago, started staying mostly at my boyfriends the last 3 years, and she has took over with packing my garage and shop with nonsense stuff/crap. My boyfriend and I decided to put his house up for sale and move to mine eventually and now my mom is forced to clean up. I have tried to help her with letting her do it herself, then planning a weekend to help her start cleaning it up, with her just putting me off. Her excuses are she don’t have time, she doesn’t feel good, its to hot outside, she has a doctor appt, she has to take this person here and that person there, blah, blah, blah. I am tired of the excuses. Last weekend I was going to help her with sorting and boxing stuff up and possibly yardsaling the junk off. Took a truck load of stuff out and set up for yardsale and boxed up stuff. The next day she put everything to a halt. NO yardsale, NO more packing and getting rid of nothing. NOTHING.. I took off that Friday to help. I missed work to help. What do I do with her stuff that’s at my house???

    • Jenny Islander

      It’s your house, right? She isn’t on the title anywhere?

      Box it up and put it on her property. And then change your locks.

      Yes, this could cause fireworks, yes, it’s abetting hoarding–but you take care of yourself, and let this grown-up person who is competent to live on her own even if it’s in a godawful way take care of herself.

  • Tina Sue

    My elderly parents home… where to even start. I just found this website and I am so happy to know that there are others with this COH problem. I love them to no end but all I hear when I go to visit is how it is my father’s mess and all of my father’s things. Father works all day (self employed) and is understandably exhausted by the end of the day. Yes he does bring a lot of the stuff into the house. Mom sits in her recliner and reads all day, every day, from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed around 2:00 a.m. No cooking, nothing. Just reading. I once dabbled with cleaning the kitchen. Made it spotless. Came back one month later and it was as if I had never been there. And the SMELL! They carry it with them when we go out (to eat or to the park or whatnot).

  • Flyinghair

    My dad is classic OCD (diagnosed by a professional) who is a hoarder. In my teens and twenties I made regular “dumpster runs” with garbage bags of papers, magazines, and misc stuff that my dad wouldn’t throw away. I couldn’t put it in our own trash cans, of course, because ONLY HE was allowed to put the trash out. He routinely inspected the trash to ensure that he approved of everything being thrown out/recycled. So I resorted to collecting as much junk as possible in trash bags and driving them in my car to various dumpsters in low traffic areas where I would toss it. Cheerleader by day, trash dumper by night.

    One time we received a phone call at home from the owner of a business whose dumpster I used. Apparently a security camera caught my activities and they went through the bags. They found an address label which they used to track me down. They threatened to call the police on me if I ever did it again. So I became extra stealth about my dumpster runs. I felt like a criminal sneaking around……..not only was I “stealing” my dad’s papers, but I was illegally dumping! Looking back, I feel such pity for my young self.

    I was a classic fixer-type, always hoping/longing that things would get cleaned up and organized. It wasn’t until I married and moved across the country to California that I finally loosened my grip on trying to “fix” my parent’s house. Took a lot of time and therapy on my part. Now I focus on making my own home the home I always wished my parent’s house was: clean, organized and beautiful. I’m a compulsive cleaner who tosses papers before anyone has time to read them. My parent’s are actually terrific grandparents and they visit us often. But I’ve had to push back as my dad has started accumulating “stuff” at my house. He has 2 storage bins in my garage and 3 under-the-bed boxes in my guest room. It never ends.

    My sister and I don’t know what we will do if my mom dies before my dad…..she is the only force maintaining a habitable condition in their house. I remind my dad all the time that “you can’t take it with you” and “all this stuff is going in the trash when you’re gone” but I think that only makes him more anxious. I actually love my dad dearly and try to appreciate all of his good qualities rather than this illness. My mom and dad have both had therapy for this and other issues and there has been periodic progress. My mom has really pushed for him to get help and he has made some efforts at cleaning up after treatment. But I don’t think things will ever be truly normal/better.

    He grew up dirt poor, put himself through college and graduate school, and had a career as an engineer. He was a kind and encouraging father and is a fun, involved grandfather. But OCD is a crippling condition that has certainly cost him much joy and freedom in life.

  • laura

    There are too many to list. but my best and worst was giving up 9 yrs of summers after moving 800 miles away to return and shovel out the hoard and clean the house.

    This is instanity only other COH will understand.

    I would pack up my children and leave my husband for the month of june to fix my parents.

    Stay at my friends house with the kids. Leave my young children with my friend at 9am, bring breakfast over to my mother. Help her make a list of what she want to get done while I was there for the month. Work my butt off while she sat around complaining, watching the christian network channel. Leaving at lunch time to pick up lunch, getting weird looks and wrinkled noses at my smelliness. Buying out all the black trash bags at one walmarts and having to go to the next nearest walmarts to repeat the craziness. Lieing to my mother and paying goodwill to allow me to use their dumpester. Ducktaping plastic tarps in my mini van to haul away her hoard. Paying to dump her trash at the local dump, oh and being on first name basis with the guys at the dump on my daily trash run at 4pm .

    Hosing myself off and throwing away my cloths at 5pm at friends house. Emptying her hot water tank in the effort to be rinse off the shame, guilt and smell off me.

  • M

    Waiting until my HP was out to take bags of stuff down to the bin all the way down the hill from my house so that he wouldn’t know I had thrown things out/get angry at me/be able to get it back. Or rush home after school before my HP would be home so that I could clean and hoover and tidy things like the cutlery draw. Sitting in the cold park on my own every day just so I didn’t have to be in the house. Avoidig certain questions from a social worker so that me and my siblings wouldn’t be taken away. Tidying as much of the hose as possible before a social worker visit so that we wouldn’t be taken away. Lying to my friends that I couldn’t have anyone over or had forgotten my keys so I didn’t have to face the embarrassment of them knowing my situation.

  • Sequoia Kam

    I was the only one who could “fit” my arm under the water heater to remove the dead rabbit babies of the rabbits that ran around the house breeding freely and leaving dead rabbit babies or hamster babies to rot in random corners. So pretty much from 8 to 14 my chore was removing maggot filled rotting animal carcasses as well as euthanizing of whatever animals my psychotic mother deemed had cancer 0 vet examination, because she could not afford to have the vet do it. I never thought about the fact that I actually was not the only one who could have reached the carcasses or that if my mom was too poor and wanted her animals euthanized she could do it herself.

  • MorrisCoveMom

    After watching both Hoarders and Intervention, I have found a few things to be true. Everyone offered help on the show thinks that NO ONE UNDERSTANDS them. And everyone watching finds that something happened to them: assault, rape, disease, death of close loved one. It is all the same. But you have to admit there is a problem and then WANT to treat it. My parents won’t do either. And are now hacking because of the mice and mouse droppings.

  • Elnora

    Each time I have helped my mother clean her hoarded house, I spend the following weeks or even months playing my favorite game that I call “Where’s my ____?”

    Where’s my walmart sack of plastic bottles?
    Where’s my box of soda cans (I’m going to make jewelry from them you know)?
    Where’s my black garbage bag full of my important mail? It was sitting right next to the trash can.

    On one occasion, my mother proclaimed that I had lost a check made out to her for $1600, and that I owed her that money straight away.

    When I visited my mother last year with my toddler son, I saw there was cat excrement all over the rug. When I protested that hey… that’s gross, my mother launched into an immediate defensive polemic about how it was ok. It’s not cat poop, it’s cat VOMIT.

    Somehow in her mind that made it ok to leave it there and not clean it up.

  • duncan

    Omg this really has me in tears. Ive spsnt my entire life living like this until i was able to get out and actually learn how to live. I am the only famliy member left that speaks to my mother.My mother constantly lays guilt trips on me to clean her placd but ONLY if shes there. I have offered her 500$ cash to clean her livingroom once and was denied. Now she is on a breathing machine and reqires my help to clean her appt enough so the machines can be maitaned by the oxgyne company. Shes staying with my familiy for now and my wife and I can not take her hypocrisy any longer. But I do not have it in me anymore to clean up another distroyed appartment. Mind you No body can know!So I went and did the unthinkable! I told the church my mothers problem and asked them for help! She dossnt know yet but ill be surprised if she dosent die of embarresment right there on the spot but frankly Ive done my time! Black trash bags. Being accussed of stealing. Teaching my own children im a theif! Yeah fuck her! Ill keep you updated