You know those hoarding shows on television? The ones where some lonely, pitiful person is in danger of suffocating under piles of old newspapers or cannot use certain rooms or hallways in their house because it’s filled with so much stuff? I’m not a fan of these shows, and haven’t really watched an entire episode, but do see the commercials or catch a minute or two here or there. But I never really understood those people until recently.
Each person seems to have their own personal addiction – I saw one with pocketbooks and shoes, and another with paper goods and old newspapers – but they all, for one reason or another, cannot seem to stop buying (or saving) said items. Lately, I can’t seem to stop going to the grocery store. It’s not as though I need anything (at least most of the time), but it’s simply something to do. In my case, it kills time. It delays having to go home to where my husband no longer waits.
I meander through the aisles waiting to see what catches my eye, or if one of the shelves sparks a memory about something I “might” need. Last night, I stopped for a gallon of milk and ended up with several bags of stuff. Most of my purchases won’t spoil, and at least half is stuff I do use on a regular basis, and while I wasn’t out yet (toilet paper, for example), I probably would have been within the week. But aside from the milk, there wasn’t anything I bought that couldn’t have waited until next week.
The flip side to this, is that I also forget what I’ve purchased and end up getting several of one item and forgetting something I do need. It’s as if I have made a mental note (“we need ketchup”) that somehow gets stuck on an endless loop, and even when I actually buy the “ketchup”, I forget to check it off my list. So the next time I find myself at the store, I buy it again. And again. And again.
Or when I finally do mark it off my mental list, it remains off. Even when I need it again. My son was teasing me this morning when I realized I had no bread for his sandwich. I have a total of 3 packages of hamburger buns, 2+ hot dog rolls, English muffins, bagels, tortillas and even a loaf of artisan boule bread between the refrigerator, cupboard, and freezer, but no regular, old, sliced bread. He joked “you either have hot dog rolls and no hot dogs, or hot dogs and no rolls.” I just can’t get it together.
Not surprisingly, hoarding has fairly recently been included in the DSM V as a legitimate psychiatric disorder, typically related to OCD, but it can also be attributed to depression (you don’t say?).
So I think I now understand what these hoarders might be going through. There is some void in their lives they are trying to fill. Or something they’re trying to avoid doing or thinking about. Somehow they’ve created an attachment to some random element and are using it as a distraction. Not surprisingly, my attachment is to food. It has always been a comfort for me, and for whatever reason, I’ve always been afraid to run out. (Which is strange, because while we may have had lean times on occasion, I have never been even close to starving… One look at me, however, and you’d know just how far starvation is from reality.)
In any case, I’m trying to get myself together long before I need to call in the experts and/or get a call from the producers of a reality show wanting to document my own hoarding disorder.
As it is, I feel as though I’m preparing for the apocalypse, which concerns me more than most. My mother is a hoarder (who does watch the shows trying to make herself feel better thinking she’s not as bad as they are) so I have a proclivity for stockpiling stuff. My mother was an extreme couponer long before that became a thing, and at any given time while I was growing up, she had dozens of cleaning products, health and beauty items, as well as canned goods. On one of my last visits to see her, I noticed several boxes of microwave popcorn – they seemed to be everywhere I looked! – and remarked that if there was ever a nuclear attack, she could eat for months on the popcorn that would fill her home.
I really do need to get a grip, though. Because I hate that I’ll need to make yet another stop at the grocery store for the bread I have forgotten on the past 257 visits I’ve made this week. Wish me luck…
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