Hoarding?! Help!

I have talked about how we may be unable to stay in our home because my husband lost his job. I got a part-time job but I'm not sure how much work I'm going to get from that, and he refuses to admit there is a problem. He also refuses to pack or get ready in any way to move out, if we can't make rent.

His mother is moving out of the family home where she has lived for 44 years. Her new accommodation will be much smaller. She keeps giving us stuff and he keeps taking it. We have pictures, books, envelopes (hundreds!), etc. Our house is already stuffed to the gills and he keeps bringing in more stuff. I am going crazy! I am supposed to keep all this ugly stuff and not sell it. What can I do to make my house make sense again? Why can't he see what his inability to provide for us and now, inability to have a house I can walk through, is doing to me? Or does he just not care?

I don't know if this is an ADD thing or if he just doesn't care.

Hoarding = Chaos

I HATE Chaos... It makes me really irritable and crazy. I am not sure, but I don't think hoarding is a ADD thing. Maybe he just cannot so not to his mom. That is something I understand :) I would guess he does not see that stacking the house full of is affecting you? Very ADD...


Outside people can see it

Her lawyer (a good friend) got her to see that it wasn't fair that she was putting the ENTIRE proceeds of the sale of her house into the house she is buying with one of DH's other brothers, and DH and the other brother would get nothing.

We have been really trying but I am about the lose my mind. I am handicapped and need clear space to walk. I don't think it's going to happen.

Some ADDers do hoard. They don't have confidence to make decisions about what to keep, so they just keep it all.

Clear the path... (DH)

I know it can be touchy with the ADDer's, but sometimes you might just need to push him on the issue. Ask him to help you "Right Now", when there is a good time, and maybe force the focus? I understand the indecision he feels.

It's like my workbench in the garage. It starts out pretty organized, then time passes with lots of little projects and not enough time to straighten up. My bench gets worse over time, then one day I'll get sick of the chaos and go OCD on my bench. If it is an area that I deal with every day, I cannot tolerate any clutter or chaos. Maybe I am some weird combination of ADD and OCD traits... Good luck Sueann.



My daughter is like you

ADD and OCD...

She works fast food (I hate that, she's waaay to smart for that.) and the OCD helps her. She will have her drawer perfect, her money will balance to the penny, her bills will be turned the same way, her counters will be clean and there will be exactly the right number of pieces of pepperoni on the pizza. She makes it work. My husband, alas, never does.

I understand too. His grandmother and great-grandmother painted those paintings, those figurines were wedding presents to his parents, etc., but we have the smallest house of any of the brothers, and they own their homes. So why do we have to have it all?

help right now

I have finally acknowledged the strong indications that both my BF and I are ADHD.  We are both sportsminded and competitive.   We also both tend to talk over each other; alot.   In an effort to curb that behaviour and the irritation it brings we just started a new thing...if one person holds their palm up we both stop talking and do rock, paper, scissors.  Whoever wins gets to express themselves without interruption first.  It sounds dumb but actually works really well in day to day stuff.  It does, however, tend to fall short if one of us is angry; kind of feels like an abuse of process.

Not to make light of your frustrations and the point you are at but perhaps it can work for things you need done.  rock paper scissors.  If he loses he does the job immediately.  If you lose you can't ask again for a set period.  We're finding the more we acknowledge each others efforts and the more we use preset guidelines to resolve issues the better things are becoming especially if we can use a little humor.



Hoarding, keeping it all, not deciding

I'm not sure how to handle this.  My clearly ADD wife of 28 years has always been a clutterer, and always in denial about that ("It's only temporary!"  "It's because I had to deal with so many other crises", referring now 16 yrs ago and deaths of parents 15 yrs ago...).  She HATES labels, such as ADD, and diagnoses.  SO we try to deal with our problems directly, with a little therapy and late night talks.   I'm very calm , usually, and I don't like to pick fights with her.  Most rooms in our house are filled with her junk, including stacks of paper from work, but also lots of old clothes.  And chairs and other furniture stacked up.

However, I don't know what to do when she brings more stuff into the house.  Should I confront her then? Draw a line in the sand and play 'chicken' with her?  Two years ago a neighbor moved out, leaving a big counter/desk/bookcase thing and an enormous analog TV (the old kind) that she dragged home, even paying a handyman to help move it.  They sit piled iwth boxes and stuff in a room we used to rent out and hoped to have her use as an "office", liberating the living room.  The livingroom is filled with papers and boxes.

So -- what do you suggest at the moment of truth?  Like when an alcoholic starts to open a beer, or a compulsive gambler starts to enter a casino.  How do you stop them when they want to do that so much?


Hard to Know

Hard to Know what your wife's reaction would be but I have actually stood in the open  garage door (arms crossed), and said kindly but firmly, oh, no honey I'm sorry, but I just can't let you bring that in.  We've talked about this remember?, and adding to our stuff gives me as much pain as getting rid of it does to you.  But while we work on thinning out in the future, I just can't go on adding more.  No.  Sorry.  Let me help you load that back up to go to the (Goodwill, Solid-Waste Transfer Station, back where it came from).  My guy stood there kind of perplexed, then said, but this is really good stuff, or some variation, and I just said, kindly but firmly, it might be, but we do not have room for it.  I just can't add any more.  I just can't.  He looked more perplexed, then said, wow, really?  Cause it's really good... "Yup, I'm very sure.  This is more important to me than you can imagine.  I just can't allow us to add any more.  I must have repeated it five times.  I will add that my husband didn't get "angry", he has only lost his "temper" 3 times in 35 years, so he responded like he usually does, like slowly rising tsunami, thinking that he would eventually wash away my arguments like he used to.  I just kept repeating the same kind but firm words, I'm sorry, but I can't.  I was willing to say No kindly but firmly one more time that he was willing to say "but I want it".  There is a HUGE difference, in my mind, between this and stopping an alcoholic, although the addict specialists would disagree.  An alcoholic knows it's their body they are destroying not yours.  A hoarder is destroying the home you both share.  And they have to know at some level that you have rights, too.  All that being said, my home is only full of crap in the garage, workshop, basement and attic, NOT in the living spaces.  I just keep hauling it to those other places when it appears in the living spaces.  You probably need professional help for this level of difficulty.  Do you have Employee Assistance at work?  Start with counseling for you, to get advice about approaching her.  Or call United Way, and ask for local resources.  Or pay someone if you have to.  Why wait?  it won't fix itself.  Best wishes to you. 

HeavenCowan's picture

To Gardener447

Thank you so much for writing about your experiences with your husband. I really like the idea that you are "kind, but firm". I am the OCD/ADHD person in our relationship. I know that I really appreciate boundaries. And since my husband is not currently home, it is all that more difficult. He is still trying to understand the way I work. He has read three or four books about OCD/ADHD and I think that is okay. But I know it is different when we  are in the same household; Living day to day. He will be home this fall.

There are many worries on my heart. I fear that he will not want to be with me because of the OCD and hoarding. It is very difficult to think about.

Even though I consider myself as a recovering hoarder; I have a long way to go in my treatment. It being a life time 'course'~~

Thank you! 


Getting out of DENIAL is key.

I love the idea of containment. One room-throw everything in there-I MEAN EVERYTHING. Every key, coat, paper, etc. Also, stop enabling. File separate taxes, let him do his own. Give him limited money, no access to it all-or it will be used up.  But, then what kind of relationship is this? It is like putting a kid in a box? I want my husband to be an equal-I want him to figure it out, go on meds, CARE.

After 30 years of marriage, if my husband does not get out of denial and get on meds-I am GONE. He is in denial that he needs meds for anything, he has even had a heart attack seven years ago and refuses to believe that he needs heart med, even though his cholesterol is 450 and the doctor told him he needs it. He had been diagnosed for 17 years with extreme ADHD by MANY and has gone to workshops for entrepreneurs with ADHD, etc. If asked, he will tell you that he is NOT ADHD. Here is the bad news-his mom is bi-polar and now hallucinates and in delusional. My husband's condition has worsened, I believe he is bi-polar. After reading a lot, I find out that it is common for people with ADHD to be bi-polar or to also have oppositional disorder. He, of course, will not get fully diagnosed. After being to a few psychiatrists he tells me that they say he has bi-polar tendencies.  Nothing seems to need treating, according to him.

I am at my wits end, we just lost our home since he has "worked" (chased his tail) 100 hours a week for the past 4 years and has SPENT $70K on his business, but has not made a DIME.

The guilt I feel at not wanting to support him anymore, and the guilt I feel to not want to enable him anymore is immeasurable. The kids (early 20s) say, Mom, you are the strong one, Dad has always been crazy. What has changed?"  They want their family in tact. But I am tired of working all the time and losing money. Ridiculous. I am tired of the mess everywhere. I am tired of endlessly conversing with someone about the same things over and over. I am tired of him never coming through and not seeing what is going on. I have sent him this site, he  is reading the book-and I he sees in it is how I don't treat him the way you need to treat someone with ADHD (yet he fails to admit he is ADHD). Feel like I live in a loony bin.

If he is not on meds DAILY and out of denial, I am out. He has another psychiatrist apptmt, and I cannot wait until he starts hallucinating like his mom, then I will stuck taking care of him for the rest of my life, when he can do something now. I am too young to be in constant distress over him.

He is NEVER in distress over me, over losing our house,etc.


Getting worse...

Our car is totally filled with the stuff from his mom's house. We had a hard time getting in the car to go home, there was so much stuff. We usually go to a Sunday night outdoor concert series with our dog, but we aren't going to be able to take him tomorrow. There isn't any way to bring it in the house and there isn't any way to leave it in there. I am about to scream. Of course, when we got home, he was "too tired" to do anything.