Originally published at: This TikToker cleans hoarders' houses | Boing Boing
Originally published at: This TikToker cleans hoarders' houses | Boing Boing
People are nasty. Just nasty.
Whenever I see something like this I always wonder if there was something that contributed to them not throwing things away, like a long stairwell to get to a trash can, or maybe a landlord that locks the dumpster during late hours.
I mean, I know there’s hoarding disorder, but it can’t be THAT common, can it?
As far as I understand, when it gets to this level, it’s pretty much always rooted in some kind of fairly serious mental health issues. Not necessarily hoarding disorder, but something that leaves you without the energy or executive function to keep your home clean and clear, like serious depression or whatever.
Now all I have to do is figure out where Biggie Clean is tossing all that great stuff and I’m set!
One of my adult children was ill right at the start of Covid lockdowns and dishes etc. got ahead of them. Then, with lockdowns and working from home they let recycling slide, then trash, and while it wasn’t as bad as these videos, it was pretty close. Finally they asked me for help, and now their apartment is back in order and they are keeping on top of it more or less. I think there is a point where it gets so bad you are paralyzed and can’t face it, and then it just slippery slopes from there. My child also works entirely online, and all of their hobbies are entirely online, and I think it was easy to just never look up from the computer and realize how bad it was.
Strangely they had kept the bedroom area and bathroom fairly clean, but the kitchen and living room… so bad. It was heartbreaking to see.
I would be interested in how he manages a “too much stuff” hoarder vs a “all the crap” hoarder. Obviously there were objects in amongst the trash that was not ‘definitively’ trash…for example, I saw a blue and white glass vase (bong?) on top of one of his shovelful shots. So what if the problem isn’t a room full of trash, but a room full of belongings? Does he shit-can everything in that case too?
I’m really interested because I’m facing the “too many belongings” scenario in my own life. In my own house, years of grief and anxiety and depression were aggravated by low energy that, at least in part, was due to Thyroid cancer (now improving with Synthroid). Now my molehill is enough of a mountain that I’m opening a “Little Free Everything” shop in my little rural town to move all the ‘good stuff I don’t want’ and give it away…and I’m certain there will be a level of “well, that goes in the trash” during that process, but nothing like this video.
Meanwhile, my parents house is FULL of “it ain’t trash” and I know at some time in the future I will be called upon to deal with their large collection of stuff and things. The worst part? There are known ‘treasures’ in the house (like 4 original 12-back Star Wars figures, on card…from a Ben Franklin markdown), but they would have to be FOUND in the first place. And that isn’t going to happen if 55gal drums and trash bags are the go-to solution (like my siblings feel is the case).
ETA: “well, that goes in the trash” can also be translated as “how did that not end up in the trash in the first place” because really, in neither case is literal rubbish a problem. I may not have the energy to pick up toys or get rid of unused (but still very redeploy friendly) objects…but trash goes in the trash can; full stop.
ETA2: I’ve watched plenty of the Hoarders tv show as well (trying to get some insight into myself…plus tips and tricks), but I’ve never seen an episode truly comparable to my situation. Invariably, trash (of the “why didn’t you bin that already” variety) is a major component of every clean-up I’ve seen.
Gag me, very nasty. Not today Satan.
I do believe RHD and jbmonkeythumper have a point.
I’d venture to say that all of us have a bit of the hoarder in us, and I am no exception. But I try to keep everything shipshape, DIY parts and tools ordered and sorted, mementos dusted, repaired and stored appropriately, in self-built boxes if necessary.
What we see here is something deeper, and while these people certainly will appreciate a clean-up, more than that they need assistance for their mental well-being. I hope our generous cleaner is part of such an effort.
I’ve watched a fair amount of those hoarding shows over the years. A common thread is that a lot of hoarders have had a serious loss in their lives. It leaves a psychological hole that they’re trying to fill with all this new stuff they buy and with all the nasty garbage they don’t want to throw away. It’s somewhat related to or overlaps with obsessive collecting, where the things are linked to self-worth and self-image.
At a certain point they just sort of give up and accept that this is their life now, and so it goes unless someone intervenes. If not and the hoarder is elderly a fate similar to that of the Collyer brothers frequently awaits them, where the person gets trapped under a pile of the stuff and rescuers can’t get in quickly enough to save him.
I’m sure that plays a part too.
It absolutely is - my dad was a hoarder and so is my daughter. It’s rooted in deep depression and anxiety both. OCD is an anxiety/depression adjacent thing, and all of that stuff goes together. She’s on meds and is doing better.
Here’s an example: my dad had piles of garbage everywhere (not food or poo thank god). Think about junk mail. Piles and piles of junk mail all over the dining room table, coffee table, kitchen counters, end of the couch, stacked on the floor. Basically everywhere. Mixed in with the junk mail was the occasional important document. Each envelope, regardless of contents, had the word SAVE written in it. On top of that, he was a heavy smoker so I was worried about the fire hazard.
One day, I decided to help him out and clear off the dining room table. He came home in the middle and started panicking. He literally clutched the sides of his head in distress. I apologized immediately and put everything back as close to the original way as I could and promised not to do that again. He said “it’s ok, darling” and that was that. It took me months to go through all of that stuff after he died. It was very sad but also bittersweet whenever I found something cool amongst the detritus.
I’m also keenly aware that I have these tendencies so I go on a clean-out spree every couple of years or so.
Those After pictures look nice and all, but what you can’t shovel out is the smell. I bought a house from borderline hoarders (didn’t know it at the time, the realtor had cleaned it up) and it took about seven years for a weird smell in one of the back bedrooms to dissipate. I remodeled the room completely and it was still there. I never did figure out where it was coming from, but it eventually went away. Two other rooms had weird smells that did go away when they were remodeled.
This was all after multiple professional cleaning services had been through. There’s only so much cleaning you can do.
Dealing with a family member who did this - moving them so there was no ‘sorry and put it back’ - but the panic attacks, trouble breathing, and sheer trauma of going through what to me was not just trash but unreal trash - yeah I felt bad for them so it was mostly just keep them busy while we dealt with the majority of it.
They are getting help with adult ocd - and are doing much better as a result.
Obviously mentall illness and even just temporary exhaustion or seasonal malaise can’t be solved with a mantra …
but I have found myself during the pandemic saying to myself out loud “Own your stuff” whenever I see even a small piece of trash or a messy pile beginning to sccumulate, or something out of place.
It’s like a grittier, (non-toxic?) masculine analogue of “sparking joy” like, darn it, you wanted all these tools and clothes and dishes and plants, the least you can do is take pride in them and shine them up and “own” them.
It also has helped limit some of the frivolous buying that e-commerce has unleashed on my generation. Like if I don’t have a place for it and a commitment to owning it, I’m not getting it.
Anyway, these videos definitely reinforce the idea that if you don’t own your stuff your stuff will own you…
My rule of thumb has become, if I haven’t touched it in a year out it goes. Obviously there are things that get used rarely, but are kept around. In general that has kept the “junk” to a minimum. My grandfather had the depression era mentality of, hey one day I might use that. My dad was a bit better about it. I’ve cleaned out enough in-laws to realize that no one really cares about 90% or more of your stuff besides you. My box of mementos from my childhood only means something to me. If I’m gone toss that in the trash. Now all the hand tools I’ve inherited, you better keep that shit or at least find a good home for it.
As far as the “carpet juice”, I own a carpet cleaner and it doesn’t really matter - the water will always be nasty. If you think that juice is gross you should see what comes out of a seat in a car.
Hoarding is considered an anxiety disorder. There are a lot of people with anxiety that manifests in various ways.
One of the problems with TV shows that supposedly help hoarders by doing organizing and tossing stuff out is that they skip the root cause of the issue entirely. “Organizing” isn’t the issue that needs to be addressed.
My daughter, too! She’s been on meds for roughly 6 months now and is on a “get rid of one small box of random crap per week” kick. I’m proud!
At the time, we were in a triage situation with my dad (he had pancreatic cancer) so the anxiety/hoarding was pretty low as far as problems go. I was able to clear out enough of the back bedroom so I could move in and care for him, though.
It sounds like something might have seeped into the subfloor. Was your remodeling that extensive?
Yah, that was my guess as well. We pulled the baseboards but not the flooring itself, so it must have been something under there. There was no signs of a spill or other flooring damage though. We also found nothing unusual in the crawl space under that area. The other rooms where the smell went away were torn down to the subfloor and studs, which may have helped. It’s all good now, but it shall remain a mystery.
My almost-mother-in-law is a hoarder, but with a different bent. She is creative and uses little treasures in her art, be they glass pieces, or feathers, or fabric, or broken furniture. Everything is a treasure to her, and she loves a bargain. She also loves to gift people odd used things. Most stuff just stacks up because she doesn’t have enough time in her life to make all of the things she envisions.
I see a lot of hoarding-adjacent activity in suburban families who are either keeping up with the Joneses, or just filling the empty hole in their life that purpose or activity would occupy. Instead of maintaining their house, they buy a lot of fancy single use tools. Instead of playing a video game, they have every console and drifting piles (or accounts) full of games. A hobby turns into a gear-up excuse where that gear hardly sees use. “Own Your Stuff” is a fantastic mantra, because stuff isn’t life.
TL,DR: go outside and play!