Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday Thirteen - 282 - 13 Things We've Discovered in the Hoard

For most people, having someone come over to install a dishwasher wouldn't be that big of a deal. Perhaps sweep up, maybe move some stuff off of a counter.

However, when you're a hoarder, things are never, ever that simple.

The dishwasher installation is going to include some electrical work, which requires access to a room once intended to be my writing office, but which is now packed floor-to-ceiling with stuff.

My husband has rapid cycling bipolar disorder with high levels of agoraphobia, and a heaping helping of obsessive compulsive disorder in the form of hoarding tossed in.

We've been working on maintaining clear living spaces over the years, with baby-step successes. However, when an electrical-work-access situation crops up, I need to step in and move that section of the hoard out of the way.

I'm happy to report that Brad has been feeling only minor amounts of anxiety, leading up to this weekend. Previously, moving so much stuff and having someone come into the inner sanctum has been very hard on him. Years of continued treatment with his psychiatrist, years of slow-but-steady behavior modification which my husband and I work on ourselves, and going to acupuncture for the past few years have all combined to create this current state of not-doing-too-badly.

I'm very proud to say that Brad himself moved some of the stuff on his own while I was at my day job. The urge to root through the various boxes and bags is so very strong for my husband, but for now we're concentrating on clearing space for work to be done.

It's hard not to notice the odd thing, here and there. For this week's Thursday Thirteen, here are thirteen things we've discovered in the hoard:

1 - My black Bright Lights Big Stories keepsake bag from the Romance Writers of America 2011 writers' conference in New York City. When I got it, the inks on the bag were rather overwhelming for allergic-to-inks-and-dyes me. After two years of airing out, it looks good to go. Yay!   

2Brad's SWORDS OF CEREBUS graphic novel.

3 - My old, worn-out comforter. It was an awesome comforter. Got me through many a frozen Canadian winter night. But it was splitting open in spots. I opened a garbage bag and stuffed it in. 

Note: for many hoarders, the idea that there still might be some use for the worn-out object is too strong, and it gets set aside for 'just in case'. For my husband, the act of throwing out something that is quite obviously beyond its usefulness is highly stressful. For me, because I don't want to increase Brad's stressors to unmanageable levels, I wait for him to be in the right frame of mind before we start throwing things away. So yes, I've tolerated a worn-out comforter in the storage room for a few months now. My tolerance level for the hoard is quite high. I would rather that Brad feel lower levels of anxiety.

It also brings us more overall progress if Brad is involved in throwing things out, than if I simply start tossing things. He will just re-acquire objects to replace what has been 'tidied up'.

4 - A crumpled box of cassette tapes. Brad did make an attempt to sort through the box, but I reminded him that he can do that later -- we're just making room for the electrical work. We stayed on target.

5 - My National Ballet of Canada Rite of Spring ballet poster. I quickly stashed it away on my own shelf so it wouldn't get buried again. Time to get it framed.

6 - The demon mask we used in a short film we were making about an agoraphobic's attempt to make it past the threshold and out the front door. The film is unfinished, but the footage can always be revisited. 

7 - A taped-up box labelled 'Julia's lace curtains / Santas / figurine / FRAGILE'. Successfully left taped up. The urge to open and sort is terrible for someone like Brad when in the clean-up phase. That only serves to distract the person from the original game plan.

8 - An exercise medicine ball. Not helping us much, under the hoard! 

9 - A silverware chest. Presumably with silverware inside -- again, peeking inside successfully avoided.

10 - Another taped-up box, this one a mystery box marked 'flea market'. Still taped up, moved from the storage area without being opened.

11 - A box with unwrapped glassware and china pieces clanking around inside. I did glance briefly inside -- nothing appeared to be broken. I sense some future donations to Value Village are inside.

12 - A navy-colored down-filled coat which once got me through a winter trip to frigid Toronto, but has definitely seen better days. Not enough life in it to donate to anyone. In the garbage bag with the worn-out comforter it went. One wouldn't think that it would bother Brad if I want to get rid of a woman's coat. That's where the irrational part of the compulsive disorder shows itself. What is Brad going to do with it? It's getting easier for Brad to take a step back and answer that question with 'Nothing.'

13 - A stuffed Coca Cola polar bear holding a little bottle of Coke. Brad's animal totem is the polar bear, and his favorite tasty beverage is most certainly Coke. This bear has been patiently waiting for us to find him under the pile. He's now sitting in our living room where we can actually see him, and where he can make us smile.

More reports about our Adventures in Unearthing the Hoard as we progress.


Jennifer Leeland said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel! Though neither my husband nor I have anything close to the serious issues Brad has, we both have anxiety about throwing things away.
To be able to move a box without opening it is HUGE. Great job. So inspiring.

Mia Celeste said...

I like the idea of finding treasure--cool stuff in your house and I like how supportive you are. :)

Travis Cody said...

Sounds like you made some good progress with minimal stress.