Spring Cleaning

My apologies for not having sent a newsletter for some time, but I have been receiving treatment for a very serious medical condition. Yes dear reader a month ago I became aware that for years I had been unknowingly suffering from ‘Diogenes syndrome’. Otherwise known as compulsive hoarding syndrome. I only became aware of my illness through chance. I was reading something on the interweb about the police having to remove a resident from their home due to the accumulation of clutter in the house making it uninhabitable. As I scrolled through the accompanying photo gallery of hoarder’s houses I became increasingly uncomfortable. I looked at amazement at these people’s lives. Stuff piled up to the ceiling everywhere leaving only small pathways through the clutter to get from room to room. It dawned on me that I was looking at my own garage.

Now I thought everyone’s garage looked like mine. Collections of artifacts stacked everywhere, boxes and boxes that hadn’t been opened in a decade, and cartons filled with broken things or uncompleted projects. Over the years I have had token attempts to clean it out, but this mainly involved moving it all out, sweeping underneath it then putting it all back in slightly neater piles with slightly wider pathways between it all. I could never throw anything away as most of it I deemed precious, useful or valuable. This condition should be called ‘I might use this one day’ syndrome, for that was my excuse. How this theory can cover items as diverse as a collection of classical music LP’s, a wire milk bottle holder (from back in the days when the milkman delivered it in bottles each day) or 20 year old tins of paint, I have no idea. But to me it was all treasure. Now I was a very neat hoarder and things were piled (neatly) in “like” groupings. Piles of torn sails from boats I sold years before were all heaped together as were literally kilometers of ropes that I had deemed past their use by date for sailing, yet perfect for my garage. Maybe I thought they might heal themselves if left alone in the dark for 10 years or so. Broken tools featured heavily, presuming one day I would get around to fixing them. Like that was going to happen. Many items became known as ‘spares’, yet whenever I needed a new part for something I went and bought one. Mainly because I couldn’t find an unbroken tool to fix it with.

Without me even realizing it I had become serious hoarder – ours is a four car garage, yet there wasn’t even room to get another skateboard in there (by the way I have 10 broken ones for sale if anyone is interested). The garage last had a car in it in 1999.

Realizing I may have a problem I began to research my syndrome via Google and was horrified by what I found! One learned paper described it thus -“patients were observed to have an abnormal possessiveness and patterns of compilation in a disordered manner. These symptoms suggest damages on the pre-frontal areas of the brain, due to its relation to decision making. Although in contrast, there have been some cases where the hoarded objects were arranged in a methodical manner, which may suggest a cause other than brain damage.

So as I am a methodical hoarder my pre-frontal brain lobes appear to be in working order. Thank God.

We hoarders apparently place great value on items that have no value except to us. Indeed my business diaries from the 80’s and 90’s fall into this category as do the numerous boxes of beer bottles that I designed the labels for 25 years ago. Not to mention a collection of sailing magazines that predates ‘Apollo’s’ last Hobart win in the mid 70’s. Now these things do serve a purpose. Once every 10 years I pull them out (before sweeping under them), look at them, relive memories then put them away again. I found boxes that hadn’t been opened in 20 years. They were like time capsules of a former life. Things that seemed so important then but not so know. Maybe I thought I was being disrespectful to the person I was back then by throwing them out. Packaging also featured big time. When I buy something I always liked to keep the box it came in. Just in case. In case of what I am not sure but I worked out that before taking stuff to the dump I could put a power tool that hadn’t worked for 8 years back in its original box before throwing it away. This gave me some satisfaction but I did feel a slight ache in my frontal lobe at the time.

So my time has been taken up with therapy. Yes I have been clearing out the garage for weeks. Now this takes time. Each item must be inspected, considered, put in the ‘to be kept’ pile, re-considered, then moved to the dump pile. When you realize that this included reading from cover to cover some 700 sailing and surfing magazines, you can see why you haven’t heard from me for a while (by the way the magazines didn’t make the cut! They are all piled very neatly now and are in chronological order. One can’t just go cold turkey!)

At first I found the culling process quite confronting. Then it became cleansing and with each item discarded it became easier. I started out using the ’10 year ‘rule’, that is if I hadn’t used it in 10 years it was gone. This negated the ‘I might need that one day’ rule. Then this became the ‘5 year’ rule, then the ‘2 year’ rule. I am now on a first name basis with the people who work at the dump and have hundreds of ads on Gumtree. So if anyone is looking for a copy of Anne Murray’s greatest hits on vinyl, or a Razor brand scooter (with spare wheels) give me a call!

The Bay was certainly uncluttered during last week’s 5 day course and with two boats out we enjoyed a wonderful week of great weather with our two yachts being the only boats in many of the anchorages we visited. Summer is here and the sailing weather is perfect so check out the dates for our practical courses below. One spot is still available for 3-day G20 course this weekend and we still have places available for this Saturdays VHF/HF radio course and exam.

That’s all for this edition. Until next time let’s keep those garages tidy.

Cheers Mike Job.

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2 Responses

11.10.14

Please send me the name of your therapist. I suffer from the same condition, as do nearly all of my mates

11.10.14

Been there done that . Lets face it, useless possessions ,yes i would say %80 is all crap. We are only one person, we only need what we use,keep what you truly love ,get the rest out of your life, then come up for air. It takes time to sort it (i mean throw it) you know when your at that point to change the way you feel about what you own, and that for me was standing in front of it all and feeling physically sick.The more i get rid of and the less i have has truly worked for me. My inspiration came from Peter Walsh’s books, what a marvelous bloke. Lets not bog ourselves down with things, lets have a happy one life on this planet with the joy of having experiences and being in good company with mates and loved ones. That’s my 2 cents .

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