Do I have a hoarder house? The question that changed my life

I realized my family was different when I was 9. I visited a friend’s house for the first time and noticed their house smelled like apple pie, not stale smoke and sweat.

Do I live in a hoarder house? I found myself questioning.

Do I live in a hoarder house?

It was clean. Really clean! There were no roaches to jump over and they had fresh fruit sitting on the table! I was in awe. Absolutely speechless.

That day changed me. It hit me, I don’t have to live this way. I was determined to learn what I could from others.

Watching their habits, learning basic skills as well as the differences in how each family interacted with each other.

Related post:  She sells all her clutter and what happens next will amaze you

Do I Live in a Hoarder House?

I felt the need to understand the difference between each family’s lifestyle and ultimately why their lives were so different.

I came to one conclusion.

Thought patterns. This determined how they dealt with adversity.

Did they get trapped in the cycle of negativity or did they figure out how to make the best of any given situation? Did they let their thoughts overwhelm them? Or did they change them?

Every single thought is a choice. However, there are times when other factors turn the happiest of people into someone they hardly recognize.

For years I kept everything tidy and organized.

I was happy, spontaneous and light-hearted.

My life completely changed when my 3rd child was born.

I suffered from severe postpartum depression. Later I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis as well as Fibromyalgia. Needless to say, I was beyond wiped.

Exhaustion and depression kicked in hard.

Am I Beginning to be a Hoarder?


Life stayed busy. I had little energy to do anything other than the bare necessities for the kids. The thought of cleaning was overwhelming some days.

I felt almost paralyzed to clean. The clutter overwhelmed me.

Nothing I had learned while growing up taught me how to manage the disaster our home had become. I told myself many times I would have a yard sale. This never happened. The anxiety was too much.

I continued to cram and stuff things into closets and drawers until everything was full. It got bad.

Our spare room became the junk room and that is where the overflow ended up.

Anxiety Consumed My Home and Mind

I told myself there was no time to deal with it. The anxiety stopped me every time I attempted to clear anything out.

I was in the beginning stages of becoming a hoarder.

One day I stood sobbing in the shower, trying to figure out how everything got so out of control. I had allowed myself to get sucked into a negative mindset cycle. Anxiety had taken over my life. At that moment it resonated it was time to break the cycle.

Hoarding Family Members

First, I had to start a plan of action, so I researched and created one. Determined to change my mindset. Determined I would not turn into my hoarding family members.

I posted affirmations everywhere. Every day I struggled. Self-doubt constantly nagging. Simple tasks seemed overwhelming. I cried almost every day in the beginning.

However, I refused to quit and kept on pushing myself toward the goals I had created.

The huge feeling of accomplishment after organizing that first space was something I held tightly. It encouraged me, and I was proud of myself. It was proof I could take on this overwhelming task and succeed one space at a time.

15 Minutes a Day

I spent at least 15 minutes a day after the kids went to bed organizing and decluttering one space at a time. The system I used was, keep, donate, and a trash pile.

This system helped me to tackle the clutter, and it worked.

How to Clean a Hoarders House

Each item went through a vetting process.

1. Does this item bring me joy?
2. Does the item have any negative emotions associated with it? If yes, it must go.
3. Do I use the item regularly?
4. Have I used it in the last 6 months?
5. Would this item be hard to replace should I need it in the future?

Regular drop-offs at the thrift stores were a must, as I freed my home of clutter.

Tip: You may even benefit from a dumpster rental if you’re serious about making change.

overcoming clutter

Overcoming the Clutter

In the beginning, I kept too much. Getting rid of more became easier as I saw the house transform. I started feeling lighter, happier, and very proud of myself for all that I had accomplished.

Life happens, mental illness happens. But you can take that first step. Every little step is a step towards tomorrow. Sometimes we take several steps forward, and then a few backs.

The trick is to never stop.

Keep moving forward. Create healthy habits to stay on the right path. Do not lose faith in yourself. YOU CAN DO THIS!

* * * * *

hoarder house

About The Author

 My name is Cherise O’Connor. We all share a common bond. The need to be loved and accepted. Seeing people come together for the greater good above all else is what makes my heart sing.
In my spare time,  enjoy order and organization with a fun little twist.  A wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, and teacher. Impatient, compulsive, indecisive, honest, forgiving, loyal, strong, sympathetic, supportive, creative, authentic, fun-loving, ambitious and adventurous.


If you’ve got clutter you’d like to clear out, you will LOVE our free Step-by-Step Decluttering print book!

step-by-step decluttering print bookWe’ll walk you through the process of decluttering your home, one section at a time.

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21 thoughts on “Do I have a hoarder house? The question that changed my life”

    • Sarah, you’re welcome!
      Let my mess turn into a message, my test into a testimony and let my trials be triumphant!

      I love your website! It is so full of tips and inspiration for those of us who struggle each day to see the light. Thank you!


  1. Alone is bad. Spouse’s death closed all the doors. With little money everything is saved “just in case.” A psychologist persuaded me to toss one box. I have missed that box for years.
    It is nice you have found a way out of the mess. Enjoy all you can. For me, death will be my escape.

  2. Wow. I sat down to read this after cleaning off my dining room table. I raised my children in this 4 bedroom house that my husband and I still live in about 12 years after our youngest daughter married and left home. We have filled up every nook and cranny. We recently bought a new to us very nice luxury vehicle. My son-in-law required that we keep it in our garage since it was his deceased father’s car. My husband cleaned out our garage and now our granddaughter’s bedroom and the guest room are a disaster. Our bedroom is crammed and my sewing room is always a disaster. This year we also moved my other into assisted living and I have some of her stuff still here, though I have gotten rid of a lot. We added 4 chicks to the household who live in our back yard. So now our back yard is a mess since we let them out of their pen each morning and then they go back in themselves at dusk. We have a garden and greenhouse and I vowed this year, my 60th, I would get everything in order. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. I have fibromyalgia and I was recently in a 4 car pile-up (not my fault) and I am in even more pain than normal. My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and our final daughter was married in May. I retired in 2016 and thought for sure I would be done by now. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I can do this one day at a time!

    • I totally understand your situation. I retired a few years ago and we really should be downsizing into a smaller space. But I love all my sewing stuff and computer and desk area, but rarely get around to enjoying all the things I planned to do when I retired. Every room is a mess: I don’t know where to start and am so overwhelmed with everything I should be doing. I didn’t even plant a garden this past summer, something I have done for 40+ years. I keep all the gifts people have given me, even though I don’t use them. My husband won’t let me get rid of his books (we have 100’s). All I do is watch TV and cook our meals, then just feel “bushed”. I don’t go out of the house unless it is for a doctor’s appointment. I give a list to my husband who does the grocery shopping (thank goodness).I think I need professional help to get out of this rut I am in. Maybe I will try the 15 minutes a day thing to do at least one little thing daily and hopefully things will get better. I am petrified at the thought of going into a retirement home where I will have to socialize, because I don’t really feel the need to have people around me. I like living out here in the country so I know I have to “pull up my socks” and get my home clean and organized.

    • Diane, clutter can feel overwhelming. Remember to start small. In one room, one space. Consciously keep that space cleared when you move to the next space. Don’t be to hard on yourself! Take deep breaths and keep going. You can do this. I have faith in you! You are not alone!


  3. So true. Our thinking affects our living. My counsellor suggested to put notes of correct thinking in frequented areas to help recreate good thinking habits. I am in tears as I realize the hoarded mess. I have a wonderful “coach”, my 13 year old daughter! What a blessing! (I birthed her when I was 44) She had been a horder, but the LORD has helped to change her heart & renew her mind. She helps me think right. We have actually had fun together, sorting through boxes, totes, closets & determining what items to be given to family, friends, thrift store or discarded. Though it is a slow process, we work through it & are making progress to “freedom” from clutter! Thank you for your transparency!????

    • Your story sounds a lot like mine. :/ I had severe postpartum after my first daughter was born. I decided I would never have any children after her. Then 6 years later my husband and I decided to have one more. Georgia changed our lives forever. She has severe ezcema which is induced by a severe allergy to dust mites. Needless to say, my house has to be dust free. This has been my lot in life. My livingroom and her bedroom are clean but everything else is a complete disaster. Clothing and toys surround me. It feels as though they taunt me. I can almost hear them say, ” you’ll never be able to get rid of us. Doesnt matter how hard you try to organize or think of spaces to put us. We’ll always be here, in your face”. In fact as I sit here I’m staring at the abyss that is my closest. Walking in there is like stepping into a different dimension.
      Nevertheless, I will keep pushing forward for I know I am not alone in this endeavor. There are others like me who have conquered their demons. SO WILL I.

  4. I can give you food for thought! I came home to find my husband in the recliner and not breathing. I dialed 911, pulled him out of the chair and began CPR. The ambulance personnel arrived, ushered me downstairs on the pretext of finding my husband’s meds. My son was outside and, unbeknownst to me, the medical personnel had called the building inspector and said they might be in a hoarding situation! My son went off on the inspector when he arrived and said his dad was laying possibly dead on the upstairs floor and how dare he come along and try to do an inspection!!!!???? As it turned out, my husband had worked for the town selectman for 10+ years and she told me not to worry about anyone coming into my house. Very embarrassing to hear this. As the state trooper was sitting at my kitchen table, some of the things started falling off the piles as he bumped them with his elbow. One can only be so nonchalant about that! You would think that would have been enough to get me cleaning (2018) but not so far. In the summer I say I will do it in the winter when there’s not so much yard work, etc. In the winter, I don’t know why I never get to it. I just don’t want to leave this mess for my kids to have to deal with.

  5. I am in desperate need of help! I think I may be a hoarder – not sure, but I am an avid reader, and I keep all the books I’ve bought over the years. I re-read most of them from time to time but some of them are Shakespeare, or how-to books (in case of an emergency and I need to fix the refrigerator…you know the drill!), I don’t have a lot of money cos I’m retired and I have a fairly new dog (for about six months) who was seriously abused as a puppy, and she is NOT house-trained as the shelter supervisor advised me. So my day (every day!), starts off picking up poop, cleaning up pee, mopping the floor where these things were deposited, THEN walking the dog and cooking her breakfast which she often doesn’t eat – she’s just been diagnosed with heartworms which apparently she had when she was taken to the shelter, and she requires 2 tablets of antibiotic every day, 2X a day, and it’s a struggle to get her to take them…sometimes she wants to bite me cos she’s resistant to me putting my hands in her mouth, and I have emptied the capsule powder into her cooked hamburger, added soy sauce, dumped the powder into the mix, and mixed it up in an attempt to get her to eat, but she often refuses. So the first HOUR of my day is spent with the dog. THEN I have laundry, shopping, all the details that come with having a house, I live alone so it’s all on me, and when my mother passed away, I shipped 2000 pounds (a TON!!) of stuff from her house to mine, and some of these items are antiques. One is a treadle sewing machine made before I was born in 1943 and my mother made clothes for me with it….moreover, for many years I collected angels, and I have a BOATLOAD of them from dear friends…and I love each and every one of them! I have pictures of my son and daughter, and my son died at age 15 in 1987, so I’m NOT getting rid of those pictures. I keep accumulating stuff and don’t buy new clothes AT ALL, cos I have enough to last me for another 10 years, assuming I live that long….

    I need help in organizing all this stuff…HELP!! I’ve signed up for the January challenge and am hopeful it will turn the tide for me! God bless you for the work you do!

  6. Thank you for writing this article! I have been trying to help someone “organize “, and have been stuck how to help and maybe change her mindset.


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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