Is it OCD or OHO?

Have you watched TV news and TV reality shows about hoarders? How could anyone allow themselves to get into that kind of a muddle, you might ask. Is it a physical problem? Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or ability to take care of this stuff. Most likely time, energy and physical ability are only small pieces of this puzzle. According to the Mayo Clinic hoarding is the excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them. It may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). But is it OCD or OHO?

The other day, I went to my office to work and could not find a flat surface. I made excuses: I’ve been working lots of overtime lately, I’ve had lots of family stuff going on, etc. etc. So I moved stuff around, all I needed was a little space. And I sat down to work, looked around my office . . .

Image of a messy stack of papers--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?
Courtesy of Toms Baugis

Uh, Houston, we may have a problem.

No, I don’t hoard animals. (Though some would say two dogs are two too many). And I don’t have piles and piles of plastic bins full of stuff. (I don’t consider two or three a pile, do you?) No, nothing so exotic.

My desk is piled high with paper, books, things I was going to put away and somehow found their way in here. But the worst pile of all is the paper. Full-sized notebook paper, typing paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, receipts, scraps of envelopes, and I don’t know what else. They’ve got notes:  lists of things to do, ideas for stories, snippets of overheard conversations, goals, shopping lists, pieces of code that are useful. Sigh.

I confess

I hoard paper in all of its forms. It piles up to the point of being near avalanche proportions as you can see (please, don’t judge).

Image of a desk covered with stacks of papers--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?
Courtesy of L. E. Carmichael on Flickr Commons

And books.  They’re paper, too.

Image of stacks of books on full bookcase--alas I do hoard paper but is it OCD or OHO?Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-adventure science fiction
loaded bookcase by Lynette M. Burrows

I hate to throw stuff out, especially if it has something written on it! I might need it someday. (Now, now. I asked you not to judge!)

I’ve read ‘how to organize’ books ad nauseum. The only piece of advice that has stuck in my head is “handle each paper only once.” Only once? Come on now, I’m a writer. I write the first draft on the computer, but I edit on paper. Not only that, my manuscript pages go through multiple revisions, meaning multiple printouts. And since the manuscript is my first priority, all those bills and receipts and lists pile higher. And books? I’ve got books to read for pleasure, books to read for research, books to read for fun, and books to read because they sound interesting.  In my house, books multiply exponentially!

Wait. If hoarding is not being able to discard things, that’s not what I have. It’s not that I am unable to throw things away, it’s that other things take priority.

So in answer to the question OCD or OHO? Not OCD but, OHO (otherwise happily occupied).

I suspect there are a lot of us OHO’s out there. (if you like this post you may want to read about dust bunnies.)

It’s time for you to confess.

What multiplies in your house when you are OCD or OHO?

Confession Time

It’s confession time. I have watched some of the TV news and TV reality shows about hoarders with disgust. How could anyone allow themselves to get into that kind of a muddle, I ask myself. Is it a physical problem? Maybe they don’t have the time, energy or ability to take care of this stuff. Perhaps, but I’m guessing that time, energy and ability are only small pieces of this puzzle. Well then, I think, maybe it’s something genetic? Hmm, maybe, but if it were you’d think their children would be exhibiting the same symptoms instead of turning the public spotlight of television on them. No, it must be something psychological, an addition perhaps?

My Realization

This weekend I went to my office to work and could not find a flat surface. I made excuses: working lots of overtime lately, lots of family stuff going on, etc. etc. All I needed was a little space, so I moved things around. I sat down to work, looked around my office, and that’s when it hit me: I am a hoarder.

No, I don’t hoard animals. (Though some would say three dogs are two too many). And I don’t have piles and piles of plastic bins full of stuff. (I don’t consider two or three a pile, do you?) No, nothing so exotic.

image of tall stacks of paper--my confession time.

My desk is piled high with paper, books, things I was going to put away and somehow found their way in here. But the worst pile of all is the paper. Full-sized notebook paper, typing paper, post-it notes, pieces of napkins, receipts, scraps of envelopes, and I don’t know what else. They’ve got notes on them-lists of things to do, ideas for stories, snippets of overheard conversations, goals, shopping lists, pieces of code that are useful. Sigh.

I hoard paper.  It piles up to the point of being near avalanche proportions as you can see (please, don’t judge): I hate to throw stuff out, especially if it has something written on it! I might need it someday. (Now, now.  I asked you not to judge!)

I have tried to conquer this addiction habit many times.  I’ve read ‘how to organize yourself books ad nauseum. The only piece of advice that has stuck in my head is “handle each paper only once.” Only once?! Come on now, I’m a writer. I write the first draft on the computer, but I edit on paper.  Not only that, my manuscript pages go through multiple revisions, meaning multiple printouts.  And, confession time, since the manuscript is my first priority, all those bills and receipts, and lists that are in that pile get shuffled multiple times.

Addressing the Problem

I spent a good portion of Sunday going through papers. The avalanche reduced to a foothill so I think I did a pretty good job of it. But I know fear that that in three or four weeks I’ll have more stacks of paper.

I won’t allow myself to get to the unhealthy proportions that we see on TV, but I need to nip this in the bud. I am confessing to you, part of my twelve-step self-assigned program to overcome my hoarding of paper. And I feel so much better now that I’ve gone public. I’m sure I’ll be able to overcome this.

Well, I was sure until I went to the basement to start laundry. No-really it’s not as cluttered and disorganized as it looks. I don’t have a hoarder’s addiction. It’s not my fault. Really. It’s-it’s genetic! And if you believe that you might want to read “It’s not the Dust Bunny’s Fault.

Tell me I’m not alone. It’s confession time. What hoarding gene do you have?