Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"But I might need that later!": Ramblings of a Minor Hoarder with a Semi-Clean Closet

Guess what? I cancelled my last appointment with the head shrinker, and I quit taking my meds a little over a month ago. This was less a conscious decision about my distrust of the medical and therapeutic professions (though those do exist) than a reality check about the fact that I am still unemployed and my FSU health insurance runs out in August. (Of course, I have been having the attendant weirdness that comes along with dropping things like Zoloft cold turkey; the insomnia, general discombobulation, and minor hallucinations have been the worst.) Anyway, this means that I have been dealing with my OCD symptoms all by my little lonesome (as Mema used to say), and it has not been pretty. I've had some pretty gnarly mood swings from the manic depression, and my poor brain once again feels like it's being shaken around quite a bit. However, there's not a lot I can do about this. There are, as my former therapist mentioned, low-income helpers for people like me, but I've been through that before. It is not as easy or as helpful as she thinks it is, unfortunately, and I'm sure my low SES buddies with similar probs can back me up on that one.

In any case, the last few weeks have been exceedingly stressful, and all of this has been pushed to the front of my long line of worries/concerns lately. Today's particular mental discussion panel covered my relatively low-grade hoarding (partially because of a friend's blog, which can be seen HERE). A few weeks ago, Anna and I finally tackled the closet. Now, that may sound simple, but as my faithful readers will attest, not so. The last time was nightmarish (as can be seen here, and again here, and one more time in this one), and that closet was minuscule compared to this one. Here we have a walk-in closet, and it was stuffed to the rafters with decorations, clothes, general crap, and also several large plastic tubs from when we raided the storage back home last year. We could barely get in and out to dig up clothes, and a small but noticeable mountain had begun to form in the back. Every time I opened the door, I felt the panic rising, so I knew it had to be done. However, knowing this and actually doing it are two different things. My poor Anna suffered through a two-day ordeal in which I managed to purge WAY more than either of us ever thought would be possible, but still not enough, says the responsible monkey in the back of my mind.

One of my big things is office supplies. I love pens and pencils and notebooks, and if I find them cheap, Katie bar the door. So, when we were purging, you would not believe the number of journals, notebooks, pens, pens, and did I mention pens. Clearance is a beautiful thing just after school starts in the fall, and so very many places hand out free pens. I had at least 20 of one particular free pen. No joke. But I cleared 'em out. I still have a drawer with a basket o' pens, and there's a storage bin under the bed with a good number of journal and notebooks type lovely things; but all in all, I did good. I got rid of a lot of random crap I had been hanging onto for no discernible reason, and a good (if dusty and panic-stricken) time was had by all. Friends dug through some of it like ferrets, and then a junk-buying lady from craigslist took the rest. We were both quite proud of me.

BUT, and there is always a but when my OCD is involved, I still think I could have done better. At the same time, I know that if I had gotten rid of too much more, my brain would likely have liquefied and come gushing out my ears. I did well considering my issues surrounding stuff in general, but today I sat looking at our bookshelves thinking that I intentionally avoided them. Yes, we do purge them every so often because our apartment is too small to support the book habit we have had for so long. But school enabled me to hang onto extra books--"I'll need them later." I would say, and most of the time, I would be absolutely right. I used them for papers and my thesis, and was proven absolutely right. Now that I'm effectively thrown out into the world, I can't really claim that for a chunk of them. Oh, I plan on getting into a grad school eventually (I hope) and continuing some of my research interests, so a part of them need to stay right where they are. There are others, though, that I know I will likely never use again, and if I do, it will be years and years away, making the space worth more than the money I might save by not buying it again later. Other books are simply hanging around because I love them. I won't get rid of certain things EVER, but some are peeping around double stacks of overflow and I know I will likely never read them again despite the fact that they were wonderful or entertaining. But I panic worse at getting rid of books than almost anything else in the world.

And so, you are wondering, where is she headed with this long, rambling post? I absolutely hate the hoarding part of me. She drives me nuts when she starts mumbling about "keep this. We might need it later." and "For Goddess' sake, don't throw that out!" I know I don't need fourteen of the same pen or every single cute notebook I see. In fact, since I am floating in a non-academic limbo right now, I don't even have an excuse to buy them anyway. But I still do it. I still see stuff and want to take it home when I know that a) we don't have room and b) it serves no purpose at all. As many hoarders do, I say it's collecting, and some of it is; but not nearly all of it. Another case of I know it's nuts, but I can't do a damn thing about it. I'm staring at a row of binders stuffed full of articles, and hoarder Dawn is whispering, "don't even think about it. We'll need those later."

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