I don’t know how to throw things away… I was always the kind of person that would keep things as opposed to throwing them away. I do the same with people.
For example, everyone who went to high school with me still comes to me to ask if I know the whereabouts of so and so who was in our grade 8 class, because they know I probably still have their number. I’ve always considered this to be a good quality.
However, I actually realised that I did the same with material possessions. I just never threw anything away. I had the shirt from my prefect days back in high school - it doesn’t fit or look great at all - but I kept it, along with a whole range of things I truly have no business keeping.
For me, my inability to throw things out got worse when my mother died. Her possessions, in particular, I could never bring myself to let go of. For a while, I was surrounded by clutter until I realised that “noooo, man!” this can’t be right.
I spoke to someone about it, I was a hoarder. It wasn’t as extreme as some cases seen on American dramas and stuff but I was a hoarder. I have since learnt that while I still can’t throw anything away, I have no problem donating things… So now I do that.
I keep one or two items to represent a time in my life or things I feel truly sentimental about but the rest? I give them away.
However, you may have crossed into hoarder land - sometimes without even realising it.
So hoarding... What Is It Anyway?
ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) defines hoarding as the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value.
Remember: It's common to save some things because they could come in useful in the future or they are special. Hoarding is when your need to keep things mostly causes you distress or interferes with your day-to-day life.
So Is It A Mental Health Issue?
Yes, it is. Mind.Org says hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. So, you might hoard by itself or as part of another mental health problem.
So Why Do People Hoard Things?
Most people hoard because a thing is too sentimental, unique, valuable and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away. Others keep an item as a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won’t remember an important person or event. Or you just don’t want to throw your ex-boyfriend’s jacket away because it reminds you of better days or whatever… For others, the anxiety of letting go keeps them from parting ways with a thing or they strongly believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future.
Okay… Maybe You’re A Hoarder. What Now?
Talk to a professional about it. Enlist the help of a therapist/psychologist who will help diagnose you (if necessary), get to the root of the problem, and essentially help you find your way out of hoarding land.