Aspergers and Hoarding

I am currently in the process of having a huge clear out as I am moving house in the next month. Sorting through my stuff has made me realise just how much of a hoarder I am. I have come across lovely birthday presents that genuinely meant a lot to me at the time I received them that went into a drawer and were forgotten about until I found them when I was emptying my desk out. It’s not that they were unsuitable presents or that I didn’t like them-I just have so much stuff that I lose sight of some of it.

I am a hugely sentimental person-I love to keep old birthday cards and various other cards to celebrate occasions. I keep cards going back several years and eventually run out of space to keep them and have to throw them away and I always feel really upset, as though I am turning my back on the people who have written them even when I know logically that this is not true. Similarly, I don’t like to get rid of any birthday presents or Christmas presents I get even when they’re not to my particular taste or I have not got round to using them. A prime example for me is the fragranced gift sets you often get with shower gels and soaps. I have loads of unopened shower gels and soaps that I never get round to using but also forget where they are stored and buy regular shower gel from the supermarket instead! Yet I hate having to get rid of them. It is better now that I donate to local charity shops rather than just binning items as I always think people can still get use out of them.

In terms of clothes, I don’t feel my hoarding is that much of an issue as I hate clothes shopping and only update my wardrobe once every two years on average. I become attached to certain items of clothing and like to wear these for months and even years at a time, even when they are long past their best. A former colleague of mine once commented that she was surprised to see me in a new top as I usually wear 4 or 5 favourite tops in rotation. I do still have items of clothing that I no longer wear but I think most people have the same issue. What I tend to collect is small ornaments and trinkets that you can get in gift shops and as holiday souvenirs. I am slowly coming round to the idea of giving some of these to a local charity shop so that other people can benefit from them but it’s a long process.

I am not, for one moment, suggesting that hoarding only affects people with Aspergers or similar obsessional behaviours (indeed I think it’s simply a trait of being human) or that my case of hoarding is particularly troublesome or severe but I do think a huge element of my hoarding is one of the hallmarks of Aspergers Syndrome-the inability to make decisions and the stress that having to make such decisions leads to. I have, in the past, attempted to have a huge clear out only to become so confused as to what to keep versus what not to keep that I give up and shove everything back somewhere I can’t see it. It is only the fact that I am moving that is forcing me to actually do something about all my “clutter”. The odd thing is I am a neat person and I cannot bear clutter in my general living area but all too often end up with clutter because I just have too much stuff!

While I am in this phase of sorting out all my possessions, I am likely to be quite irritable as it all becomes a bit too much sometimes but I do think it’s good to have a clear out once in a while. If anyone has any tips for making sorting all my possessions a little easier, I would welcome them!

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