Do I have a hoarder house? The question that changed my life (Guest Author: Cherise O’Connor)

December 8, 2021

I realized my family was different when I was 9. I visited a friend’s house for the first time and noticed their house smelled like apple pie, not stale smoke and sweat.

Do I live in a hoarder house? I found myself questioning.

Do I live in a hoarder house?

It was clean. Really clean! There were no roaches to jump over and they had fresh fruit sitting on the table! I was in awe. Absolutely speechless.

That day changed me. It hit me, I don't have to live this way. I was determined to learn what I could from others.

Watching their habits, learning basic skills as well as the differences in how each family interacted with each other.

Do I Live in a Hoarder House?

I felt the need to understand the difference between each family’s lifestyle and ultimately why their lives were so different.

I came to one conclusion.

Thought patterns. This determined how they dealt with adversity.

Did they get trapped in the cycle of negativity or did they figure out how to make the best of any given situation? Did they let their thoughts overwhelm them? Or did they change them?

Every single thought is a choice. However, there are times when other factors turn the happiest of people into someone they hardly recognize.

For years I kept everything tidy and organized.

I was happy, spontaneous and light-hearted.

My life completely changed when my 3rd child was born.

I suffered from severe postpartum depression. Later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis as well as Fibromyalgia. Needless to say, I was beyond wiped.

Exhaustion and depression kicked in hard.

Am I Beginning to be a Hoarder?

Life stayed busy. I had little energy to do anything other than the bare necessities for the kids. The thought of cleaning was overwhelming some days.

I felt almost paralyzed to clean. The clutter overwhelmed me.

Nothing I had learned while growing up taught me how to manage the disaster our home had become. I told myself many times I would have a yard sale. This never happened. The anxiety was too much.

I continued to cram and stuff things into closets and drawers until everything was full. It got bad.

Our spare room became the junk room and that is where the overflow ended up.

Anxiety Consumed My Home and Mind

I told myself there was no time to deal with it. The anxiety stopped me every time I attempted to clear anything out.

I was in the beginning stages of becoming a hoarder.

One day I stood sobbing in the shower, trying to figure out how everything got so out of control. I had allowed myself to get sucked into a negative mindset cycle. Anxiety had taken over my life. At that moment it resonated it was time to break the cycle.

Hoarding Family Members

First, I had to start a plan of action, so I researched and created one. Determined to change my mindset. Determined I would not turn into my hoarding family members.

I posted affirmations everywhere. Every day I struggled. Self-doubt constantly nagging. Simple tasks seemed overwhelming. I cried almost every day in the beginning.

However, I refused to quit and kept on pushing myself toward the goals I had created.

The huge feeling of accomplishment after organizing that first space was something I held tightly. It encouraged me, and I was proud of myself. It was proof I could take on this overwhelming task and succeed one space at a time.

15 Minutes a Day

I spent at least 15 minutes a day after the kids went to bed organizing and decluttering one space at a time. The system I used was, keep, donate, and a trash pile.

This system helped me to tackle the clutter, and it worked.

How to Clean a Hoarders House

Each item went through a vetting process.

1. Does this item bring me joy?
2. Does the item have any negative emotions associated with it? If yes, it must go.
3. Do I use the item regularly?
4. Have I used it in the last 6 months?
5. Would this item be hard to replace should I need it in the future?

Regular drop-offs at the thrift stores were a must, as I freed my home of clutter.

Tip: You may even benefit from a dumpster rental if you're serious about making change.

Overcoming the Clutter

In the beginning, I kept too much. Getting rid of more became easier as I saw the house transform. I started feeling lighter, happier, and very proud of myself for all that I had accomplished.

Life happens, mental illness happens. But you can take that first step. Every little step is a step towards tomorrow. Sometimes we take several steps forward, and then a few backs.

The trick is to never stop.

Keep moving forward. Create healthy habits to stay on the right path. Do not lose faith in yourself. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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About The Author

My name is Cherise O’Connor. We all share a common bond. The need to be loved and accepted. Seeing people come together for the greater good above all else is what makes my heart sing.
In my spare time,  enjoy order and organization with a fun little twist.  A wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and teacher. Impatient, compulsive, indecisive, honest, forgiving, loyal, strong, sympathetic, supportive, creative, authentic, fun-loving, ambitious and adventurous.

About the author 

Sarah Mueller

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A Brain-Friendly Tutorial to Clearing Your Clutter

The free tutorial is for you if:

  • Your clutter feels overwhelming
  • You have 1 or more rooms that need significant work
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