Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hoarders, Heartbreaking

Matt put Hoarders on the TV a few minutes ago.  I've been in a downright ugly mood today, which is bringing us down, and I'm afraid I totally freaked earlier and snapped at him.  When he knows I'm unhappy or upset, he always tries to placate me by putting on something he knows I like, which almost always means Snapped or Hoarders.  He's a good husband, there aren't many people who can put up with my moodiness.

I really only recently started watching Hoarders after I heard about it at school.  One of the English profs required her remedial students to do a paper on reality TV and they were watching Hoarders in class.  I can say, unequivocally, is that more than any other emotion, Hoarders makes me angry.  The people featured on this show have a serious mental illness.  I get that, I feel for them so much because I feel like I could become them any day now.  I'm a serious pack rat, my house is a cluttered disaster, and I hate to throw anything away.  I fear losing things.  It also bothers me because my aunt is a Hoarder.  Her house rivals the worst seen on the program, and is worse than most of them.  It affects her health, but she won't do anything about it.  She's also single and has no one else in her life to help her keep the place cleaned up from day to day.  I'm married, but my husband is no help at all.  Things pile up and if I don't break down and clean them up, who will?

It's not the hoarders who upset me, it's their families.  Have you seen this show?  Right now, "Linda; Todd" is on.  The woman, Linda, feel like no one wants to be around her, like her family doesn't want anything to do with her.  Her daughter keeps saying that she's not going to have anything to do with her anymore, because of the hoarding, and because all her mom does is whine about no one loving her.  Wait a minute, she doesn't want anything to do with her mom because her mom complains no one wants anything to do with her?  It sounds to me like Linda's (the mom/hoarder) feelings are justified.  Her family is so horrible.  They've not said a single nice thing about her, just about how she has to be told what to do and how they've wanted nothing more than to get away from her since they were 12 years old, or whatever.  How fucking horrible is that!  Oh, and to make matters worse, her husband is saying he's going to divorce her if she doesn't clean up the mess.  He keeps saying, "I don't want to, we get along well."  He's not saying, "I don't want to because I love her."  I really feel so, so bad for this woman.

For me, this show always begs the question, what the hell are the other people living in the house doing?!  I mean, most of the hoarders on the show have unsupportive families who don't understand them, but it isn't the case with all of them.  Often times the kids or animals are going to be taken away because of the mess.  Some of the people have upwards of 50 animals (some dead) in their houses, and the state is having to take them away.  Most of them are also married, but some are divorced, often because their spouses got tired of the mess and just left.  So, what're their spouses doing?  Why aren't they helping to keep it cleaned up?  What're the kids doing?  When I was a kid, I had chores.  I grew up in a clean house, and keeping it so was everyone's responsibility.  I cleaned all the bathrooms in the house every Saturday, I did the dishes, and helped with the laundry.  We worked as a family to see that our environment was safe and clean and livable.  Why aren't these people's families helping them?

I love this show, but I think I might have to stop watching it.  My heart goes out to people with this problem, it's an issue personal to me, and to see people who should be caring about the hoarder rejecting them, it makes me mad.  These people need support and help and that's what families and friends are for, right?  I can't imagine how they must feel when they see this show and see what their friends and families are saying about them behind their back, to a wide audience of strangers.  It just breaks my heart.


  1. I think the issue is that you're seeing the tail end of the problem, not the whole arc. These people's families *were* helping and enabling them for a long time for them to get to this point. These people are still there, so they obviously didn't bail the second the problem started -- but now, when it's gotten so bad, they are finally at their wit's end. The fact that hoarders have let it get this far shows that they won't change until something forces them to change. Maybe tough love and ultimatums is what they need at this point, since nothing else was working. *shrug*

    That show creeps me out. I can't watch it!

  2. You're probably right. They must have gone through a lot if they're on that show. My question about what're the families and spouses doing was more about why they weren't helping to clean the mess up from day to day, or whatever. Enabling isn't helping, that's for sure.

    It doesn't creep me out, but I am fascinated by it. Still, I may have to stop watching it, I just feel bad for the people on it (for the most part).

  3. Hey Kristyn,
    I LOVE that show. I DVR every episode. I was a little late watching the Linda/Todd episode because the DVR lost it's signal, so I had to wait until it posted on A&E and watch it on my computer. I have to say: I agree with Phoena on this one. The families of these hoarders have simply reached their breaking point. My heart goes out to the children of these hoarders, who believe that their parent values "stuff" more than the parent values the children. Whether this is true or not, the evidence supports this belief. The children grow up feeling worthless. They also end up becoming "parentified" children, losing out on their childhoods so they can parent the adult/s. No wonder they are seething with resentment! When I saw the Linda/Todd episode, I will admit that the son and daughter were harsh. To me though, it seemed that the son had emotionally cut himself off from the situation as his coping mechanism, while the daughter used anger as her coping mechanism. Either way, they are just two people who are hurting inside, and dealing with the hurt in a "safer" way, by distance and anger. As for the hoarders themselves...my heart goes out to them as well, but only the ones who have a genuine hoarding condition. There have been a few on the show who didn't strike me as true hoarders. However, out of the ones who are real hoarders, I lose my sympathy when they lose their kids, and they still won't clean up their house. I understand they are battling an actual mental illness. But if losing custody of one's own children still cannot prompt one to make these necessary changes, than I just feel sick. Kristyn, that is a good question though--about the spouses. What the hell are the spouses doing while this mess accumulates? That does piss me off. If my husband were a hoarder, it would drive me nuts, but the house would never get like it does on those shows, because I would be throwing crap away every day! I get angry about that because the hoarder actually has a mental disorder, while the spouse does not, so why DOES the spouse let it get so out of control, risking the loss of the house, children, family, etc..? It seems that SOME type of intervention should have taken place LONG before it got SO bad. ANYWAY...I plan to keep watching the show! Sorry it upset you Kristyn!

  4. I have to wonder how the relatives let it get so bad, too. I once argued with a group about a similar issue. They complained about messy family members (not THIS messy, but people who wouldn't help out around the house) and I said something like, "How hard is it to clean up a little every night before bed, even if you have to do their share? If the relationship is otherwise good, why not?" After all, I don't know why some people have this 50/50 idea in their head! And they said, "you just don't know what it's like to live with messy people!!" and they were right, I don't know. I've always lived with neat-ish people. So I just don't know how it gets that bad. So... I don't have an answer for you. Did they just give up because they were mad the other person wasn't doing their 50%? Were they just lazy? Or was it just so bad they couldn't keep up? *shrug* I just don't know.


  5. I was actually happy to see a show made about this illness. For 6 months about 6 years ago my husband and I lived with his grandma who is a terrible hoarder. The refrigerator is filled so full of questionable food that it can barely stay closed. The cabinets are so full of canned goods from th 70's that they are separating from the ceiling and could fall down at any moment. There are stacks and stacks of papers and boxes so that there are just little hallways between them to get places inside the house. It was depressing living there. So I was happy to see the media bring attention to the disease. But after watching several episodes I decided I couldn't anymore. It's too depressing because of the way the families treat the hoarders.