The past 18 months have been quite a change for me.
I went from being a medium hoarder to becoming closer and closer to a minimalist.
My hoarding was not severe thankfully, I didn’t have a full on hoarding condition that meant I never threw things out nor did have trash in my house.
My house was clean but cluttered and I kept items for several reasons.
My family are very much gift givers and for someone like me who doesn’t even really celebrate my birthday it’s frustrating. Even when I tell them I don’t want anything, or I give them a list of things I ACTUALLY want or need… they usually just buy me things they “think” I’ll like or could use. However 9 times out of 10, they are wrong and those items just hang around my house hidden in cupboards.
This led to the guilt of getting rid of something I didn’t want or need but that had been a gift. So often I would hold on to the item for a certain length of time, but by then another celebratory day will have come and more gifts received.
It didn’t help that my family have a habit of asking about items. “Where’s that X I bought you?” and “I haven’t seen you wear the X I got you last Christmas?”
I spent a lot of my childhood with my Grandmother who was very much a “make do and mend” and a “you never know when this will be useful” kind of person. I then developed that but add that to the gift thing above and my house ended up with much more than hers ever did. I couldn’t throw out perfectly good items, or items I knew would be good when we finally bought our house.
So for years I would have things packed up in boxes, taking up space ready for that magical moment in the future when I could use it… hopefully.
This is similar to the above, I would often take on items other people were just throwing away because my deep rooted environmentalism shuddered at the idea of perfectly useful or fixable items just being thrown into the landfill.
Many people didn’t even attempt to recycle or reuse or donate items, so I become a hoarder of their items with the idea of fixing, recycling or donating. However my life was pretty busy and items came in faster than I could get them out. So…not good.
Finally everything changed when my partner addressed the issue. Our house was full of neatly packed and stacked boxes, full cupboards and shelves but felt small. When a four bedroom house feels small….and you have no kids…you know there’s a problem.
Not only was our house cramped, all this stuff meant cleaning it took ages and it truly affected my anxiety. After all the way you keep your house is a reflection of your mind and I felt overwhelmed, cluttered and confused all the time. My anxiety which had found comfort in my possessions was now suffocated and triggered by them.
He got me the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondor which everyone has since been raving about.
I read it in a few hours and instantly it sparked the desire to purge. Never have I felt the need to declutter and remove items from my possession.
Now for a hoarder that is pretty intense. The book covered aspects such as buying items of value that you no longer want (because it’s hard to get rid of something you paid a lot for.) Or items given as gifts or forced upon you by family members who are technically just passing their own hoard onto you. All this and more helped me identify what I was feeling and why it had occurred.
The purge has been going on now for almost 2 years. That seems like a lot but when going through all the items and donating, recycling, repurposing etc… my anxiety kicked in and I had to take several breaks throughout the process. I also needed my partner with me as he kept me grounded and stopped me becoming overwhelmed.
The book’s formula for getting rid by category works! I had in the past tried the formula of room by room or just doing 10 mins a day. They are useless compared to category by category.
I have always been an organised person, when you have a lot of stuff, you really need to be otherwise it becomes a huge mess. But organising while you have stuff is just shuffling it round. You end up buying MORE stuff to STORE your stuff. Very inefficient.
So this massive purge, really kick started something.
I worked hard to find methods for getting rid of items that didn’t just landfill them. I was able to take time to locate recycling centres and campaigns for items, used Freecycle more and even sold many items on Gumtree.
We have now found our current house is too big for our needs and when we next move can find a smaller house.
Also my anxiety has reduced dramatically and in fact it kicks in now when I find I have too much stuff. This is where I feel as if I have cross over and now I am interested in the concept of Minimalism.
Society and commercialism teaches us that we need things – to look good, to feel good, to fit in, to be accepted, because we deserve it! But we don’t.
Stuff does not make us happy. It crowds us and suffocates us and gets in the way of things we really want.
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I hope you found this article interesting. I know many people struggle with organising their homes, decluttering their things or even with (different levels) of hoarding.
I cannot recommend the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up enough, it was a wonderful catalyst that has completely changed how I deal with my items.
To go from a hoarder to (almost…still working on it) a minimalist is such a big change. It has made me feel so much better both physically and mentally. Also, by decluttering my home in such an intense way, I found my creativity that had waned has come back full force!
If you think it could help you, I recommend you read the book and start a Purge Challenge on your possessions. 🙂