So there isn't much I shy away from talking about in the relative safety of my internet bubble. Homelessness, depression, anxiety, suicide, heartbreak, love, family... I'm what can be defined as an open book. But we all have our secrets.
My secret is embarrassing, shameful and not even my closest friends know. My therapist however, after hearing my stories of love and support thinks that being open about my issues will help me. She likes you people.
I have a 5 seater car, until last week it sat 2, me and one other person. And not comfortably.
I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. Only one bathroom is used and really neither bedroom should be.
Part of my anxiety disorder has caused a hoarding compulsion.
I am a hoarder.
Now, to be straight, I am not like those people on A&E who live in a house filled to the rafters, have dead animals buried under newspaper and are "collecting" jars or dolls or books or old medical specimens. I have floor and know what it looks like in most rooms (all but mine actually). I am however, chronically disorganized and have a very hard time getting rid of things.
My house is stacked full of stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff, stuff I have forgotten exists, Stuff.
I am paranoid when it comes to getting rid of things. After being homeless and losing everything, letting go of things feels near impossible. I worry what would happen if I needed something I got rid of and couldn't replace it again. Even ridiculous things like clothes my daughter has outgrown, dollar store items that are broken or of no use anymore, things that i'm not sure where they came from or what they were for but I must have gotten for a reason so I can't let go.
What I didn't realize entirely until the last month or so is how much this impacts every aspect of my life. I don't use my kitchen. This is an expensive and inconvenient problem. Monkey isn't home 2 meals a day during the week, so during the day I just don't eat. After I pick her up we go to the grocery store or a restaurant and get what we need for the night. Constantly buying small amounts of food is so expensive, sometimes I just buy for her and I skip dinner too. Weekends and some evenings were not home as much as possible, we eat at my mums or friends or eat out. I spend a lot of my time planning how not to be home.
Until this week, no one but myself and the Monkey had been in my house in over a year. I'd just say our house was too small, or point out that it was out of the way for people to come to our place out of town, or just flat out say no. I would tell people my house looked as if a tornado came through and they would laugh and say "Oh mine too" and I would laugh along because they had no idea.
This week I got notices from my building that it was inspection time of year and that they would be coming to do inspections for damages and to check safety equipment. I panicked. I have spent most of the week having full blown anxiety attacks and throwing up and twitching from stress. (Did I mention my doc changed my meds last week? I'm sure that isn't helping.) Completely incapable of even starting to correct the situation.
My amazing boyfriend cleaned out my car last week and I had admitted to him that my house and my car were pretty much the same. I tried to get through to him the severity of the issue without causing him to run screaming for the hills. Somehow I was convinced (still not sure how, part of me thinks voodoo was involved) to let him help me. Armed with garbage bags, cleaning supplies and more paper towel then you can shake a stick at, I took him to my house. He took a look around and said "Let's get started". No shame, no badgering, no attempt at therapy, just let's get started. It was exactly what I needed. Someone to tell me what to do and when to do it. It's not that i'm incapable of doing the work, its that I have become so overwhelmed by it that I have no idea what to do. I needed someone to take charge and I needed to not be alone doing it.
In two hours of work we filled 7 garbage bags of junk, 4 bags of donations and did a rough sort of the things I planned on keeping. All this was solely in the front hall and kitchen. There were clothes I forgot I owned, things I didn't remember buying and garbage, just hoards and hoards of garbage. Garbage and shame. Every time we would uncover another bag I forgot about, there was more shame. I had become so accustomed to not being able to find things that I just would replace them, which just added more and more stuff to the already unmanageable amount of stuff I owned.
Hoarding is a vicious circle.
Thursday they are supposed to be coming to do the inspection, tonight I'm making an incredibly hard call to see if I can postpone a week so that I have a chance to make changes and hopefully clear out some things, make space and find the home amongst the mess. Tonight I am also formulating a plan. Last night I tried just diving in and ended up a puking, crying mess on the floor who accomplished nothing but upsetting myself into a massive panic attack. I am making check lists for every room, breaking the tasks down to their simplest, smallest element. I am preparing myself to walk in and work.
I know this is a problem, I don't enjoy living this way and I know the Monkey deserves better. This sets me apart from most hoarders. I want to change. I just need help. So tomorrow I'm going to try. I can't make promises I can't keep, especially to myself, but I can try.