• Welcome! It’s great to see you. Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

    If you'd like to talk with people who know what it's like

Advice Needed - Compulsive Hoarder

E

Esteban

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
6
Hello everyone. First I want to apologise for the long post, but I hope you can help to identify whatever may be going on here - I'll supply as much information as I can, but a lot of this will be written as I think of it and may be a bit disorganised.

My dad is in his mid-sixties and he's a compulsive hoarder/clutterer; our house is literally full of his possessions. There's stuff stored in the bathroom, in all the bedrooms (the spare bedroom is absolutely full and you can't even get into it) and even the stairs. In fact there's at least one item on each and every stair - boxes, tools, paint cans, a footpump (for blowing up tyres) etc. etc. etc. About ten years ago, our fridge-freezer broke down and he couldn't repair it (he's usually good at repairing things) so he and my mum decided to get a new one. However he didn't dispose of the old one - instead he put it into the garden shed. A few months ago that new fridge-freezer also broke down and despite replacing the thermostat, he couldn't get it working again. So my parents bought another new fridge freezer - and the previous one is now standing in the back garden - he won't dispose of it because he wants to take his new thermostat out of it again but he says he doesn't have time, so it has stood there for months.

It's also difficult to get into my room - there's a pile of boxes on one side of my doorway and a set of stepladders on the other so to get into my room I physically have to turn and walk sideways between the items. Usually I have to move the ladders too, as he places them across my bedroom doorway to get into the other bedroom (and doesn't move them back when he's done!)

His favourite item has to be televisions. In our household, including the televisions we watch in the living room and bedrooms there are no less than 11 television sets, four of which are in my bedroom. In fact one of the televisions stored somewhere (possibly the garden shed) is so old that it was based on the old fashioned "405 lines" system (as opposed to today's "625 lines", which even THAT is becoming obsolete what with HD TV) and so would not be in any way useable whatsoever, yet still he hangs onto it. When I was little I had a Sinclair Spectrum computer and he brought an old television to our house for me to use with that. That television broke down many years ago, and so he put that in the shed too, with the fridge-freezer. Our main television (an Amstrad) in the living room broke down about a year ago - it was very old but had been kept going by my dad's excellent repairing skills, and had given us brilliant service. In fact this TV actually previously belonged to his mother (my grandmother) who died about 25 years ago. For various reasons he decided not to repair it again, but to buy a brand new LCD high-definition TV. He bought this new TV over a year ago, and where is it now? Sitting on the floor of our living room, still in its box. For the past year, we've been watching a tiny portable TV that was originally bought for my parents' caravan and it doesn't look like the new TV is going to be set up any time soon. And further, he's said that he won't throw away the old Amstrad because it belonged to his mother and has "sentimental value".

Getting on for 20 years ago, he bought a large compressor - a tool for doing all kinds of jobs such as painting, inflating car tyres and much more. It's standing in the living room now behind one of the chairs where it's been most of that time. It's only been used a couple of times since he bought it, if that. About 15 years ago, my late sister accidentally chipped the paint on it and he flew off the handle. "It's ruined!" he shouted, going on and on and on and on and on about it, as is his way (and I'm pretty sure that it wasn't actually ruined). To be honest it wouldn't matter if it WERE ruined for all the use it's had before OR since.

In fact another of my dad's favourite things is tools. He has all the tools in the world - not just one, but two or three of every tool available, yet he doesn't do anything with them - he says this is because he doesn't have the time. But knowing he doesn't have the time, why does he buy the tools in the first place? He's constantly watching the shopping channels on TV and if anything catches his interest, he'll order it. He's got all these tools, and yet the paint is peeling off the kitchen walls, the living room wallpaper is extremely shabby etc. It's just like he gets bitten by the "I've got to have it" bug every time he sees something on TV or in a shop...

He's forever saying he needs help to do jobs and can't cope, but a few years ago when I offered to have a go at painting the kitchen walls, he refused point-blank to allow me. And he won't have anyone in to do the jobs; he says he wouldn't trust an outsider to do it, and he can't afford it anyway. He still has his mum's house which has stood unlived-in for 25 years yet he "doesn't have time" to sort that out and get rid of it either. Again, a few years ago, my sister wanted to buy it from him to live in, but he wouldn't sell it because he didn't have time to sort through the contents and clear it out etc. My sister offered to help him, but again he refused - for some reason it has to be my mum who helps him - no one else. My mum and I think this is because he knows he can manipulate her more easily and convince her that "this, that and the other" (from his mum's house which is also full of all sorts of stuff) is "too good to throw out" and "can we keep it?"

The armchairs in the living room can't be sat on (although there is a 3-seater sofa that can so we're not totally without seating). The two armchairs are piled high with boxes, packages and papers. About two years ago, my sister and her boyfriend came to visit and, ashamed of the appearance of an armchair piled high with "stuff", my mam draped a blanket over it to at least make it look more tidy. Today, that blanket is still in place only now it's covered with a new layer of yet more "stuff"! In other words, the things that were covered over by the blanket have lain there two years without being used, touched or even looked at. Yet they absolutely CANNOT be thrown out or disposed of.

My mum is desperate for him to sort the house out, tidy it up and so on but he insists he doesn't have time. Admittedly he works long hours, four days a week on a physically demanding job and he is exhausted when he gets home from work. He has actually fallen asleep literally while eating his evening meal after work, but he does get three-day weekends which I'm sure he could use at least part of to sort things out.

He refuses to be told by my mum that he should sort the house out. "I don't have the time" or "I'm too tired when I get home from work" are his excuses. And when I try to talk to him about it I just get berated for being disrespectful. He's the father, I'm the son, and I've got no right telling him what he should be doing.

From here I can only see two ways out. Either he has to realise and acknowledge that he has a problem, or my mam and I should leave him. It's looking increasingly like the latter. Does anyone have any advice on how to get him to confront his problems, or would you say that the only course of action is for us to leave?

Hope you can help.
 
Last edited:
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
Some explaination

It sound that your dad is insecure, and is trying to make contingencys on a "what if" basis, this has become a form of OCD ( Obsesive Compulsive Disorder ), and now he cant help himself.

It also looks like he is hanging on to the past, and parting with any of his possesions is like throwing away part of himself , there is a lable for this but I cant remember it.

Call some orginisation, try "MIND" first, the phone directory people will give you the number in your local area, or they have a web site , dont try to do any thing yourself, if you did it would prob blow up on you, explain what you have said here, and see what they say.

Your options right now are stay or leave, I dont know how old you are, I think you need to find out what help is available first, and get your mother involved, you say your dad works long hours, do these things while he is at work, it may sound like plotting, it is not, it is just finding out if you can help your dad , and what your options are.

Hope this helps ....... boB
 
E

Esteban

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
6
Call some orginisation, try "MIND" first, the phone directory people will give you the number in your local area, or they have a web site , dont try to do any thing yourself, if you did it would prob blow up on you, explain what you have said here, and see what they say.
Hi iffybob,

Thanks very much for your reply. I've written a letter which I intend to send off to MIND as soon as I can get my hands on a stamp!

In the meantime I've been doing a little bit of research on the Internet. While I realise it's walking on very uncertain ground to diagnose someone without qualifications based on information from a webpage, there are very striking similarities between my dad's behaviour and the symptoms of a condition known as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (note, NOT OCD). The most notable of these are:

- Hoarding,
- A belief that one is always right and everyone else is wrong,
- Not trusting others to do jobs, or allowing them to do jobs only with strict supervision,
- Excessive perfectionism in everything one does.

(see: http://www.bpdworld.org/latest/96-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder)

These all fit my dad to a tee so I'm inclined to think this is what the problem is.

I don't know what MIND will suggest, but I can't imagine any way to sit down with my dad and talk about this calmly. He'll refuse to acknowledge that he has a problem. From his point of view, everyone else has a problem and he's fine. In fact just talking about it will cause the whole situation to blow up...

I guess all that's to do now is wait for their reply.

Thanks again for your advice. It's appreciated.
 
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
Yup

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (note, NOT OCD).
Its the same thing, OCD is just short for OCPD , OCD has many sub groups and many ways of pronousement, as do Personality Disorder (PD)

Yeh I figured it would blow up if you try and deal with it yourself, if you dad has a brother or sister, or an uncle or ant, he may take it better from them, but it still has the blow up risk.

I don't know what MIND will suggest
Neither do I but I am not realy qualified to say (my diagnosis is different , and I do not give advice outside of what I know, but I thought I could point you in the right direction), they will have people how have dealt with this situation before.

Hope this is of help......... boB
 
A

Apotheosis

Guest
Hi Esteban

I am not saying that it is not a hard situation, or difficult to deal with. But there are far far worse things to try & deal with. Remember that what really matters is the person that he is - & I think he sounds great.

I never knew or met my dad.
 
Q

quigon

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Portsmouth
Having read Estebans entry and your responses there is ine thing that does surprise me. Nowhere does it say that anyone has tried to talk to Esteban's father about why he keeps all these things. Nowhere does it say anything about why he might be behaving like this. Is he happy in his job? What else is missing in his life ( apart from room)? Everyone seems quick to apply the OCPD tag but fail to look at what else is going on or what else has happened. Perhaps, Esteban, you could tell me when did this hoarding start? How old was he? What else was happenning in his life at the time? You say that he works four days in hard job and comes home very tired. What sort of social life does he have? What sort of social life did he have before his hoarding? I doubt this started without a reason. Try to find the reason and you may find the solution.
 
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
My view

Apotheosis - I think there is a huge difference in the idea and the living with it, I can see living with this situation esp for a long time can be opressive and restrictive.

quigon - from what I read in the original post, he "refuses" to descus it, I agree there is an underlying reason/s for his actions, but they affect the people around him, and others are entitled to have room to live and grow, he is denying them that by his own behavyour.
 
Q

quigon

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Portsmouth
Ok. Maybe he is refusing to discuss it. Just as many people refuse to discuss things such as poor health or whatever out of fear for acknowledging what is really wrong. Anyway, I do not see any profit in speculating until it is known why he is doing this. But even if you never know, what else can be done? Esteban, you say that his stuff makes things awkward for you to get in and out of your bedroom and you have 4 TVs in your room. Could I ask what is stopping you leaving home? If your dad is in his mid sixties you must be around your mid thirties by now. Do you have a good income to allow for this? Do you live in England by the way? What if you and your mum did leave him? How would he respond do you think? Maybe action as drastic as that is what is needed to bring this to his attention. Sometime you need to do such things. It seems to me that he will keep on doing what he has always done and as long as you keep on doing what you have always done, which doesn't seem much other than putting up with it, you will keep on getting what you have always got.
 
A

Apotheosis

Guest
Apotheosis - I think there is a huge difference in the idea and the living with it, I can see living with this situation esp for a long time can be opressive and restrictive.
Have you lived with people that have severe mental illness - like paranoid schizophrenia? Have you lived with heroin & crack addicts? have you lived with people that are very violent? Violent alcoholics & serial abusers?
 
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
No ground

Have you lived with people that have severe mental illness - like paranoid schizophrenia? Have you lived with heroin & crack addicts? have you lived with people that are very violent? Violent alcoholics & serial abusers?
Apotheosis - My mother torched and beat, starved, druged, neglect me from 5 to 14, and did things to me I would not write here, if I did I would be severly moderated, and possibly band, and she did not have the excuse of drink or drugs for her actions, nobody stoped her even when they witnessed these thing.

It took 2 years of psychotheropy for me to talk to anyone, dont ever ask that question again, or imply it with that tone.

I was never scared of monsters as a child I lived with one.

She was also a compulsive horder, and disposed of anything I had to make way for her stuff.

Rant over.......... boB
 
A

Apotheosis

Guest
Apotheosis - I think there is a huge difference in the idea and the living with it
OK - Sorry to hear that. I have experienced horrific things too, although of a different nature; & under different circumstances - I still go back to my point; I think it best not to loose sight of the person; the human being, over his hoarding (i.e. a label/condition).
 
Q

quigon

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Messages
58
Location
Portsmouth
Phew, I'm glad that one is sorted. Thanks for opening up Bob. The way I see it is to help Esteban and his family you need to go to the root cause of things which is his dad. You can offer as many words of comfort to him as you like or even a way out but the problem with his dad will still be there. Sort him and the rest should just follow.
 
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
Shoe box

When I left home and went into care at 14, my "personal" possesions fitted into a shoe box, about half full.

@Apotheosis - sorry you hit a nearve with your question, thinking of the answer lit up bad places.
 
E

Esteban

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
6
Its the same thing, OCD is just short for OCPD , OCD has many sub groups and many ways of pronousement, as do Personality Disorder (PD)

Yeh I figured it would blow up if you try and deal with it yourself, if you dad has a brother or sister, or an uncle or ant, he may take it better from them, but it still has the blow up risk.
iffybob, I respect your opinion but I'm afraid I must disagree. I've seen a few websites, all of which clearly state that OCD and OCPD are distinct and separate conditions. Three examples:


Unfortunately my dad's parents both died 25 years ago and he has no siblings. In fact he has no older relatives (that could hold some sort of authority over him) at all.

Apotheosis - I think there is a huge difference in the idea and the living with it, I can see living with this situation esp for a long time can be opressive and restrictive.
I agree completely. Apotheosis, I'm sorry that you never knew your father, however if you were in my place you wouldn't see my father as "great". Do you know my mother sleeps in a double bed, half of which is covered in boxes, packages and parcels that she can't move? The linen on the bed hasn't been changed in YEARS (she can't move the stuff and my father won't). The windows in the house are permanently closed and screwed down to prevent anyone entering and burgling our house. I'm not trusted to do even the most simple tasks around the home (painting the kitchen walls, for example, as mentioned in my first post) and I'm not allowed to use or borrow his tools. "Buy your own f***ing spanner" was a response I vividly recall from a few months back. "Oppresive and restrictive" is an understatement.

Could I ask what is stopping you leaving home? If your dad is in his mid sixties you must be around your mid thirties by now. Do you have a good income to allow for this? Do you live in England by the way?
quigon, nothing is stopping me from leaving home I suppose, but why should I be pushed out? Besides, I'm as concerned for my mother as for myself. She hasn't got the confidence or the means to move out. This is the only life she's known for the last four decades. Yes, I'm in my early thirties, and I'm wondering why I can't just have a normal home like my two closest friends (same age, who also still live with their parents in normal, tidy, decent homes.) They've never been welcome in my house because I'm ashamed of them seeing it and I'm sure it has affected our friendship.

Yes, I live in England.

What if you and your mum did leave him? How would he respond do you think? Maybe action as drastic as that is what is needed to bring this to his attention. Sometime you need to do such things.
On a couple of occasions in the past my mam has threatened to leave him. At first his reaction is explosive, ranting and raving, shouting and swearing. Then comes the total breakdown into tears and the begging, "please don't leave me". Compared to the outbursts I know he's capable of, it's pathetic.

It seems to me that he will keep on doing what he has always done and as long as you keep on doing what you have always done, which doesn't seem much other than putting up with it, you will keep on getting what you have always got.
"Do as you've always done and you'll get as you've always got" - precisely my motivation for posting here in the first place - seeking advice and suggestions!

...I still go back to my point; I think it best not to loose sight of the person; the human being, over his hoarding (i.e. a label/condition).
I don't disagree that my dad is still a human being. And if I could just walk up to him and calmly ask him to seek treatment without him launching into an abusive tirade against me I would in a second. Unfortunately the reality is that my mother and I have exhausted all avenues of opportunity and now the only visible solution left is to leave him. In trying to avoid that, and in trying to get the best outcome for my father as well as me and my mother, I've posted on this forum for advice.
 
iffybob

iffybob

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
4,858
Location
England
Make Choices

On a couple of occasions in the past my mam has threatened to leave him. At first his reaction is explosive, ranting and raving, shouting and swearing. Then comes the total breakdown into tears and the begging, "please don't leave me". Compared to the outbursts I know he's capable of, it's pathetic.
This sounds like manipulation, other it could be that anger is the first responce, then fear upon realisation.

I think that if this person persists like this, you and your mother could possibly move out and live together for support, and to allow youselves to build new lives, and then figure , what to do next, when you are not in such confining circumstances.

This is just my 2p worth, you have to make choices and those are always the hardest, this is your life .......

Ultamatly it is up to you, but it does not seem you can live like this .... boB
 
Top