Recently, a Not Just Clutter reader emailed me with her personal story.  She has realized she is a compulsive hoarder, and wants to make a change.  We’ve been communicating back and forth the past few weeks.  I am humbled this person has trusted me with the details of her life as a compulsive hoarder, and I am inspired as she shares her progress moving forward.

She’s taking great strides to turn her life around, as difficult and overwhelming as it must seem.  And as she takes 2 steps forward, there’s a tiny step back as she revealed she still feels shame.  I want her, and anyone else who hoards to know this:

Dear Compulsive Hoarder,

do not be ashamed.  Please let go of that feeling; it has no place in your heart.  You’ve had the unfortunate twist of fate which left you with a largely misunderstood mental disorder (and NO, that doesn’t make you crazy)!  It means for some reason, you have this extra challenge even though you didn’t ask for it.  Totally unfair.  But you didn’t rationally choose to end up in this state.  You’re intelligent.  You’re accomplished.  And you have nothing to be ashamed of.

I don’t think you’re lazy.  I think you’re probably overwhelmed.  You might be in denial, to varying degrees.  I think you’re probably creative, and can see great potential every where you look.  You might even be a perfectionist, with super high standards.  You take comfort in your collections, and you love the thrill of the hunt.  I bet you’re a skilled bargain seeker, too.

You have some challenges ahead when you’re ready to face them…actually, whether you’re ready or not.  Problems that just don’t go away when you close the door or turn the radio up louder.  You probably already know that; but do you know this?

You are not alone.

You are not the only one with too much stuff.  You’re not the only one who doesn’t know where to start.  You’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed, misunderstood, defensive, or in wondering where the money will come to help you.  I think you probably have people in your life willing to help you, even if you don’t think you do.  And it’s good you’re not alone, because you can’t turn your life around alone.

It starts by clearing a spot in your heart to let others back in.  Place your trust in them so they may help you in anyway they know best.  They’re not out to get your stuff.  They may be confused, baffled, or as overwhelmed as you.  But they’re there for you if you let them.  People to help sort, make repairs, lift heavy things, tell you jokes when you’re feeling low.  People who see you as a good person, a neighbor, a relative, a co-worker, a valued member of society.

Clear space for these people, and you may find you have more treasures than ever before.

Good luck to you.  It’s a new year to move forward.  And it has great potential.


  1. Posted January 21, 2014 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    a great post- you are not alone as I receive calls for help almost daily!

    • Rae
      Posted January 28, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      I would be really interested to hear more about your experience as a cleaning crew!

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