It’s been about 5 years since I last visited my childhood home.  It’s a compulsive hoarders home now, thanks to Mom’s mental disorder.  Lynn and I snuck in while Mom was out and did a tiny purge of her hoard.  You’d never even be able to tell we’d spent 2 hours working on a 4×4 foot area just putting spare papers in recycling bins.  We removed 4 bags of trash and yet, it didn’t make a dent in her hoard.

How bad could it be?

I took photos while we were there of the general state of things.  Given so many years have passed without anyone else stepping inside, I can only imagine how high the stacks are.  Oddly enough, I found the CD of photos as I cleared out my basement decluttering my own junk.

Merely Existing

I knew the photos were going to be bad, but they still took me by surprise when I loaded them up on my computer.  If you’ve never seen photos from inside a compulsive hoarders house before, brace yourself.  I know you’ll probably wonder how could anyone live like this?  I don’t know if you can call it “living”, actually.  I think having to survive in such a space is reducing to merely “existing.”

A view of a living room of a compulsive hoarder

A view of a living room of a compulsive hoarder


The dining room of a compulsive hoarder

It’s hard to tell, but this is a dining room.

This was my home once.  I lived here with my sister through all my childhood, and only left when I went away to college.  I have good memories of birthday parties, Christmas mornings, and watching Sunday morning classic movies on PBS.  And I’m willing to bet there are physical remnants of all my memories still left inside that hoard.

Now, we stay with Lynn when we visit my hometown.  Mom comes over to Lynn’s house to sit with us for a while and we make thin small talk.  I’m curious to try to get over to my old home while Mom is out again.  I probably won’t get in because neither Lynn nor I have a spare key.  But I want to see how the old place is holding up…or quite likely, falling apart.  On the other hand, do I want an even worse mental image of my home if I should see it in such disrepair?  It’s like when you visit an ailing relative in the hospital right before they die, and they’re frail and forgetful…they’re not the vibrant and fascinating person you remember anymore.

I do want to know how my Mom is existing, though.  It’s important to me to understand what her daily life is like.  No matter the mental disorder, it pains me to think of her living in such conditions.  I wish I knew how to make it better…and I wish she actually wanted it better, too.


  1. Lynn - Rae's Sister
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    WOW! I had forgotten how bad things were 5 years ago. I’m sure your all thinking that this is really bad, however I know it has gotten worse over the past 5 years. When my mother and I go out and I happen to drop her off at home she wont even open the front door in front of me if I’m helping her with parcel’s. This hoarding issue has really torn our family apart and thinks makes me sad. But I am too tired to worry about someone’s problem when they don’t see it as being as one. Rae and I are pretty tight right now, however I worry about this tearing us apart after our mother passes and the real cleanup begins……….


    • Rae
      Posted August 3, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Yeah, it’s going to be tough. No doubt we’ll have trouble sorting through everything. It’s not just the “stuff” but the emotions attached to all our memories. Just don’t leave me alone to deal with it all, ok??!!

  2. Posted August 7, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Wow! First time reading your blog. I’m intrigued to keep reading.

    • Rae
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Always glad to welcome a new reader!

  3. Posted August 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Just found your blog. This sounds like my parents. I have the same dilemma of what to get for birthday gifts, etc. One year for Christmas I said I would help her clean up my old room (now her “craft” room). Many weeks and hours of labor later it looked great! About 3 weeks later, it looked like it had before I cleaned it up. My parents each blame the other for the clutter. I have started telling them that when they die, I will have to clean it all up, and then I will be mad at them. (I am usually not so blunt.). It hasn’t changed them at all. My mom now will not have guests over, so she sends all the houseguests to my house, which I resent terribly.

    • Rae
      Posted August 28, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Yes, that does all sound familiar! I no longer live in the same town as my Mom, so when I go to visit I stay with my sister, Lynn. I’m sure it’s a pain for her to always have to host. You went through all that effort and probably feel like it wasn’t appreciated or respected…I get that.

      Do you think the hoarding is coming from both parents, or is one the hoarder and the other enabling?

      • Lynn
        Posted September 4, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        No Rae, I dont think its a pain to have you guys here. Your always welcome here.

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  1. […] grabbed the laptop, launched and called up the photos from my Visiting a Compulsive Hoarders Home post.  I didn’t tell her I took the photos.  I didn’t tell her it was Meema’s […]

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