Saturday, August 28, 2010


Welcome to "Behind the Door." If you're here, you are probably the adult child of a hoarder or you are currently trying to help a loved one who hoards. Or maybe you hoard. Whatever your reason for being here, please know that this is a safe place to post your comments and concerns, express your frustrations, congratulate yourself on a small victory, or just drop by and chat.

I don't know exactly where I'm going with this blog. At first, I thought it would be a good idea to keep a journal to keep track of my progress as I wrangle with the emotional rollercoaster of helping my elderly mother manage her "stuff." Then I remembered that, in spite of the outpouring of emotions and tangled prose that went into my high school and college journals, I hardly ever revisited those little volumes ... so perhaps keeping a journal just for myself woudn't be all that helpful.

But I have kept a few other leisure and professional blogs over the years, and it has dawned on me that having feedback from other people with the same interests (or the same problem) is tremendously helpful.

So instead of a journal, I chose to blog about my personal experience with hoarding, and I also plan to post helpful links and tips I find along the way.

I call this blog "Behind the Door" because that's how so many of us grew up: behind closed doors and drawn curtains, ashamed and humiliated at the conditions our families chose to live in.

Many of us are still "behind the door" because we do not wish to publicly identify a hoarding loved one, either because our loved one is in denial of their condition or because we do not wish to embarrass them. Those of us who are still "behind the door" are most in need of a safe place to tell our stories and make comments without fear of our loved one discovering their story being told in public. Many of us live lives of quiet anonymity on this subject. A lucky few may be able to discuss it with a sympathetic spouse or friend who understands that hoarding is a disease and that a ruthless one-time housecleaning won't stop the problem.

A dear friend who has been involved in Adult Children of Alcoholics for many years doesn't know this yet, but she gave me the idea to make this a place where people can comment anonymously if they wish.

Feel free to join me here. I hope my small effort is helpful to you in some way.


  1. My sister is a hoarder. Her home is as bad or worse than anything I have seen on reality t.v. She is a renter. Other people live in the large old home which has been made into apartments. I feel that I should call social services on behalf of my niece and nephew and the other people living in the house. It is a fire hazard and filled with live and dead mice and piles of their feces. I have tried talking to her, but nothing has happened so far. Her husband who does not have a job also lives there. My sister is mentally ill and physically very ill. I don't want to hurt their family, but also do not want to see her kids have to live in the mess any longer.

  2. I am sorry I took so long to get back to the blog after the holidays. Please know that if anyone is in danger, especially children, you are HELPING, not hurting, by contacting Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services in your community as needed. If she is also physically ill, it may be attributable to the conditions. You will NOT be hurting the family -- but maybe deep inside, you fear your sister will never speak to you again if you report her. In time, with therapy, she may be able to THANK you for calling the necessary helping agencies which can protect her and her family. If her hoard presents a rodent hazard, fire hazard and health hazard it is your DUTY as her sister to try to get outside help if she will not do anything on her own. She will be FURIOUS at you initially but with help and time I am confident things will change. And, personally, I would rather know my sister was getting the help she needs -- even if it meant that she was very angry and didn't speak to me for a long time. One of the most damaging things to family members of an alcoholic is "keeping the secret." Hoarders' families are very similar. If you have tried and failed to get her to do it on her own, you can say you tried, and then turn to outside help. Please come back and let us know how it worked out. We care!

  3. Thank you for posting this and for publishing this blog. It's helpful to know we aren't alone. I am the daughter of hoarders and at 36 years old, just discovering that I too, have a problem. I am committed to change. I have started my own blog to chronicle my progress.