Watching Hoarders: Buried Alive, Last Chance recently, I felt compelled to thank someone, somewhere, for what the show did for me.
Warning! This is long, because I'm kinda reviewing 10 years of craziness, realization, and almost a rebirth.
I've suffered addictive personality issues most of my life, but always managed to do something to break free. Shopping. Food. Collecting. Even as a child, if I bought a record from an artist, I had to have ALL their records. As an adult, I always collected functional things such as garden plants (I have over 120 hosta and coral bells, 139 Japanese maples, 32 crape myrtles, etc.) or anything that struck my interest. I got past that stuff, have gorgeous 3 acres of gardens, and lots of maintenance.
After moving, parents dying, job and career changes, a house fire with pets perishing, and a very, very ugly and hurtful divorce, I think I was a little depressed. To top if off, I was now obsolete in my field (IT) and was left with a yoga teacher's income. So at 45 I started waiting tables and bartending again, too.
My ex- was a GC, and when he left, I was living in the house he was to repair and rebuild.
I had 1 room with drywalled walls, 7 cats, 4 dogs, a toilet, microwave, the freezer 1/2 of a side-by-side fridge, space heaters, studded up walls, snakes falling out of the ceiling, mice running through everything, and DirecTV. And $643K of debt including 5 mortgages of very underwater property.
What I didn't have was heat, plumbing, windows, a kitchen, laundry, and enclosed house, nor electricity. What electricity I did have from extension cords poked through holes poked in the walls, stripped and hard wired to the breaker box. And we'd had a fire...
I started collecting materials from reuse centers, H4H, Lowe's bargain bins, Freecycle, you name it. See, he left 3 generations of tools behind, so I just thought I'd teach myself how to use them. Couldn't be brain surgery.
I did do a lot, but months of inertia would go by, which I now realize was depression. One day a few years ago, I was on the couch and had nothing to watch. I binge watched Hoarders. I was horrified to suddenly realize how closely I identified with the subjects of the show. Everything they tried to throw out I would have use for. "What a waste!" I thought.
It was at that point I realized I was turning sideways to walk to the (future) kitchen, between thrifted kitchen cabinets and other materials. I had stacks of lumber, molding and trim. Stacks of doors and windows. Pavers and slate, electrical and plumbing fixtures. Piles of paint cans. Right now I can't even remember what all was here. I am grateful I didn't save garbage nor piles of papers. Didn't get that far, evidently.
In my shocking revelation that I was burying myself in stuff, I began two things: Building and installing piles and selling stuff on Craig's List.
Another fellow who hoards suggested that if I hadn't installed or built something in 5 years, it should be moved back to my barn. Where he was "storing" some materials. I recoiled in horror yet again, realizing the road I could face.
I did decide if I didn't use it in 5 years, I'd sell it on Craig's List, though. Since then, over about 5 years, I've averaged about $10K in sales of stuff. Of course, that turned into a little business, where I buy off CL, turn around and resell it. If I can use it, great, but if not sometimes I even sell it with the seller's original pictures. And when I exercise the option of changeing my mind about something I've installed or built, I just take it down and sell it.
In the 10 years since my divorce, and really over the last 5 years, I've managed to seal up my house, install 32 windows, build 15 antique pocket doors, face my house on 2 sides with brick, enclose my back porch, build my own kitchen, mudroom, master bedroom and bath, and laundry room cabinets, lay my own kitchen (reclaimed, too) floor, built 16' of butcher block counter tops, and more. I save $ for HVAC, and soapstone sink counters! I also have a somewhat decent job managing a restaurant, which now at 60 gives me a more steady income.
This wouldn't have happened except for Hoarders. I still identify often with them, and I still fight with depression, but mostly I just understand.
So this was a novel. I guess I wanted to review my own success story. Thank you for letting me testify that this craziness can stop. I've come a long way on an epiphany, realization, and a TV show.