Growing to Understand My Father - Not OCD But Hoarder/Clutterer

I am working on a memoir based on this site -- an “exorcism” if you will with a fervent desire to reach out to others and to a wider audience. As I review some of my life story (which I initially wrote here beginning in 2001) I am thankful I have this record of events as many details have faded with time -- and of course memories become distorted; memory is not a “snap shot” of the past and memory is notoriously unreliable; it is colored by so many things.

Much medical information here (and in real life) is sorely out of date as well.

At this time I find it critical to update (with 100% certainty) my father’s diagnosis which is abundantly clear to me even though he has been gone nearly 25 years.

On many pages here I have noted that my father most likely had OCD (along with anxiety and depression). I now understand my father was a hoarder/clutterer. I have “connected” with too many such individuals in my life … it is more than coincidence. I have taken the time to listen to hoarder/clutterers over the past few years -- those I am very close to. And though some of you have seen programs on television such as “Buried Alive” or “Hoarders” (on A&E) and find them “exploitative” I have found myself astounded that these programs have helped me “connect the dots” re: what actually tortured my father -- what I frequently witnessed yet could never fathom as a child or young adult and what many psychiatrists today in many cases simply don’t acknowledge.

It is time to update my father’s diagnosis. Like DP/DR it has been missed or ignored or misdiagnosed as something else and is also grossly misunderstood. Many who live with the shame of the disorder never seek help or have no reason to seek it as they lack insight and/or are also to maintain a facade as so many of us with mental illness do. Hiding behind closed doors; hiding in shame.

When I have the opportunity, I will go through my site and update my father’s diagnosis. In the meantime, please note I see now he was indeed a hoarder/clutterer and this is NOT the same as OCD. There are some similarities, but it is an entirely different disorder unto itself.

I reach out to medical professionals to educate themselves about it. Many psychiatrists seem to cling to the OCD diagnosis or miss the diagnosis altogether; individuals who may present for help seem depressed, dysthymic, or anxious, yet are not asked the proper questions. It is not easy for someone to mention they happen to live in squalor, or have multiple addictions -- and with my father these were hoarding knowledge and compulsive gambling as well as living in flith and avoiding simple priorities most of us take for granted -- such as paying a bill on time.

I also have compassion for sufferers of this illness. It is ironic that I now understand my best friend from college had this same disorder and took her life exactly ten years ago as a direct result of a world collapsing in on her that she could no longer control particularly after the death of her father.

I will write further on the topic in my memoir. It is difficult to update this site while working on another project at the same time. Please make note of this. In the meantime, I have attempted to convince a long time friend with this disorder to speak out about it.

We must talk. We must educate. We must advocate for ourselves and others, without shame. There is never an end to learning and never an end to expanding our awareness.