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Help- I'm new- How does this work?

Posted: 20 August 2020 - 03:46 PM
That's all very good to hear Lizzie :D

We are relieved you will be staying out of the line of fire and being supportive for your boyfriend.

Many times we can make progress addressing it from the safety standpoint with much less resistance from the hoarding person.
Sure, it's not the total results we would like but at least they are safer.
Posted: 20 August 2020 - 01:54 PM
Thank you, you have been so helpful. I've spoken with my boyfriend about going at it from the safety angle, and he think it sounds like a good idea. I am going to have to take a step back right now though and just be supportive to him.
Posted: 19 August 2020 - 08:56 AM
Lizzie just want you to know that we think you are wonderful for caring so much despite having insults hurled at you. You are a hero in my eyes. When my mother moved from her large spacious condo to one room in assisted living, one of her neighbors said something to me about not liking me. And not wanting me around. And my mother didn't stand up for me. I just had to stand there and take it. You don't need to hear these hurtful things about you. They become like a tape you keep replaying in your mind. Please immediately replace it with something positive like you are a good person or you are fantastic. Don't let her live rent free in your head.
Posted: 18 August 2020 - 05:59 PM
Hi Lizzie

Right now at this time I suggest that you keep your distance for your own mental/emotional health and peace of mind.
Stay involved with this issue but from a distance.
Advise your boyfriend and his brother about what tactics to try using on their mother and have them approach her.

I understand just how hard this can be, all the resistance and horrible things they say.
It's even hard on the professionals who do this for a living.
So please always remember to take care of yourself.
Stay out of the line of fire as much as possible since her sons are there trying to help her.

Another tactic to have the brothers mention to her is about city/county ordinances and the department of adult protective services.
Scare her that should they find out about the hoard they can and will take action and she could lose everything including her independence or impose impossible fines or condemn the place.

They will find out should she ever need emergency services like police, fire or ambulance.
Or if a nosy neighbor makes a complaint.

All this is true so they wouldn't be lying.
Posted: 18 August 2020 - 03:52 PM
We have not fully gone about it with the health aspect being the most important, but that is an excellent idea. She is always talking about how sick she is, how she is "minutes from a heart attack," and just a list of health issues. Our thoughts are her living situations are partly to blame, as when we moved her out of her last place, there was a lot of mice feces and a chipmunk living in there. Perhaps if we approached it strictly from a health stand point, she might hear us differently. Right now I just feel like everything we say goes in one ear and out the other.

Another thing I'm really struggling with is she says such hurtful things when she's upset. Last night she told my boyfriend he shouldn't be with "someone like me" and that I'm a "mental case." I know she is just saying these things out of emotions, but my mental health has been such a struggle for me, it's hard not to take it personally. It's getting harder and harder to "turn the other cheek." I just wish I knew if she even realizes we are trying to help her. Even when moving her, it was just her constantly yelling at us for putting things in the wrong spot or stealing or losing her things.

I'm emotionally exhausted.
Posted: 18 August 2020 - 02:57 PM
The book "Digging Out" goes into how you are allowed to make changes for safety reasons.

Making sure combustible materials are not stored near the stove, water heater, heater vents, etc.

Making sure paths through the home are clear of any trip hazards and wide enough to allow for emergency workers to get through.

No doorways or windows are blocked in case a quick exit is necessary or emergency workers need to enter.

Things are not piled up so high that should they fall over nobody would be hurt or trapped under the stuff.
That means no higher than knee high.

The bathroom, kitchen and bedroom need to be usable and in good working order.

No mold or insect or rodent hazards.

Just all the basic necessities for us to live and function in a healthier way.
Even in a non-hoarded house we need proper sanitation to be healthy and be able to age in our own homes.
The squalor associated with a long standing hoard of miscellaneous items and not maintaining the property fixtures can and does make people very sick and too often kills them.

Sometimes a person who hoards will allow these changes when it is gently but firmly put to them as a safety and health issue.
Posted: 18 August 2020 - 09:26 AM
Welcome, Lizzie!

I know your frustrations. I am a hoarder and went through the process of letting go. I had a lower level case as I could always walk into each of my rooms, nothing was stacked to the ceiling, but boy did I like my stuff. My mother is a bit more like your boyfriend's mother, and it was really tough when I had to move my mother into one room in assisted living. Oh how she fought me on magazines. Magazines that's shed moved with her four times. Four. Even now it's tough.

I think that one thing that could help your frustration is not to put it in terms of the stuff or the relationship with her kids. That's not her thought process. Think about safety and making room for her to live nicer. Otherwise it'll be about her caring more for her stuff than her children. And that's not it. She wants both. So I work with my mother, sometimes more gently than other times, and I tell her I don't want her to fall or if she needs a nursing home she can't take her cat. And so I putter away. I also don't give her anything in a nice box. She wants as many boxes as possible to put things in. So everything is unboxed when I give it to her. Otherwise we end up with more boxes that are useful and good and can't be thrown away. Her Easter "baskets" are now paper plates. Which I then learned that the decorative paper plate can't be tossed because pretty. So this year she got a bag of jelly beans taped to a chocolate bunny.
Posted: 17 August 2020 - 09:36 PM
Thank you for your suggestion. I will have to check that book out. I am familiar with how hoarders view their items, and the way they think to an extent. I majored in psychology, and I will admit that both my boyfriend and I have hoarding tendencies... I completely understand that she views her things as more than just "stuff" and there is an emotional attachment, as well as comfort there too. We are just at a point where she doesn't want help- she doesn't think she has a problem- and if she does not get help, I fear that the little relationship she has with her sons now will be gone. I sincerely just want to help her, but I don't even know where to begin.

I will check out the daily chat and see if I can find some help there as well.

Thanks again.
Posted: 17 August 2020 - 06:51 PM
Hi Lizzie

A very good book for you to read is "Digging Out".
It's written to help people who are trying to help a hoarder.

There are a lot of things NOT to do and it gives ideas for ways to help.

Another good book is "Buried In Treasures".
It is a workbook for people with hoarding tendencies but by you and the brothers reading it it can help you see how their mother thinks and the emotional attachments she has to her belongings.

The book uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT has been found to be the best therapy to help in these situations by helping the hoarder change the way they think about their items.

Also, since she just moved to a much smaller home and gave up her storage units she is probably feeling very vulnerable and worried about her future.

Good luck and best wishes

You can reach us any day in the thread titled
"The Daily Chat" :D
Posted: 17 August 2020 - 04:43 PM
Hi there,

I called the number on this site, and the lady suggested I join the support group for some advice. Here's the situation in a nutshell; we are trying to find help for my boyfriend's mother whose hoarding has gotten increasingly out of control. She has recently moved all her things from a house and three storage units into an apartment, and, well let's just say all of her stuff didn't even fit. We were there yesterday to move more of her stuff (because that's all she's worried about is having her stuff), and there is only a small pathway in the apartment now. We could not get her to throw a single thing away (my boyfriend and brother approached with tough love, and I tried to empathize with her- but nothing worked). It is destroying her relationship with her son's, as all she does is accuse them of breaking or stealing her things, so they don't even want to help her anymore. I have mental health issues myself, so I have a soft spot for her because I know she really just needs help... but when I asked her yesterday if she would allow us to get her help she said no.

So... any advice?

This is our last hope
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