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My dad is a hoarder and it takes a big toll on my mental health

My dad is a hoarder.

I still vaguely remember from when I was really young that the house used to be clean but this was a really long time ago. My sister who is only a year younger doesn’t remember it at all.

At some point my dad started hoarding stuff. At first it didn’t have a big impact, but as time went by friends/family would visit less often until the point that nobody visited us anymore.

I don’t remember much about how it was before high school except that i was bullied by my former best friend in the last year of middle school.

The first year of high school I was constantly daydreaming which made me feel amazing, but this came to a sudden stop in the second year. After this my mental health went downhill because living with the junk in the house became harder and harder for me to handle. My dad’s stuff was even in my room.

School and video games are a great distraction from the bad things but it’s not always enough. During the vacations I sometimes went out with friends, but for the most part I was in my room playing video games. Because I’m constantly home during summer vacations it made me feel horrible. During the vacation after my last year of high school the only thing I looked forward to was that I would have a dorm I would be at during the week. I thought back then it would be the end of feeling bad, but sadly I was wrong. Although it gave me a boost, it started going downhill again after a while.

During my first year of uni I was able to get all of my dad’s stuff out of my room which felt very liberating.

Even when i’m at my dorm I still have days I can’t sleep or cry myself to sleep because I start thinking about home. Coming home during the weekend also always brings me down. The worst are still vacations, a week vacation can ruin the next week and I still feel horrible for weeks after summer vacations.

I’m also really worried about my mom. She tries to stay strong but I notice she’s not doing well either. Although i will be out of the house in a few years, she will possible live here her whole life. She doesn’t deserve this.

Our house is pretty big but feels small because everywhere is stuff except for the narrow paths around the house. My room and the toilet are the only rooms left with nothing of my dad. In the garden we have 2 big sheds completely filled with his stuff and he has made a small tent to put even more things.

My mom has tried for as long it was a problem to get my dad to clean the house. We have all tried our best to get him to clean but nothing helps. He promises a lot that he will clean, but almost never does it. Most of the time he just takes stuff from one place and move it somewhere else and after awhile he fills it with new things. Sometimes he throws some things away, but i have the feeling he does it because he doesn’t have much space left to put down the new things he gets. I also got everyone to sit down together to talk about it and talk about getting therapy. The moment I mentioned seeing a therapist he got really defensive and started blaming us instead. He was still pissed at me a week later just for suggesting it.

I don’t know what to do about it and it takes a big toll on my and probably also my moms and sisters mental health.

In the past few weeks I have had a few days I felt good again, this week I even had 2 of them (but i did cry when going to sleep on most of them). I only get these days after something really nice happens, but they give me a little hope.

Thanks for reading this, I really needed a place to vent.

Hi @ImNotOkay,

Thank you for sharing and being here. :heart:

Decluttering is something easy for most of us, but for your dad it’s something that can put him in a state of emotional distress. I understand it’s difficult when you’re a relative and just want to get rid of all that stuff. It’s really impacting your environment and quality of life. And it sounds like your dad may be aware of the problem but doesn’t want to admit it yet. You mom can’t clean the house everytime if he doesn’t solve his own problems. It’s a manifestation of something else, something deeper, and he needs to get some help for that. Also, even if he throws stuff sometimes, the problem remains the same because he’ll still add new things. So it’s kind of a double work: it concerns the way he deals with his need of accumulation and the need, for everyone, to declutter progressively.

Talking to him, sincerely and in an empathic way could be a first step. I mean, not by asking him to get rid of things, but to really explain to him that it’s a serious problem and you’re worried about the situation. If he feels supported by your family, understood and helped, maybe it will be possible to help him taking the actions he needs. It can also be an occasion for you to express your struggles too and the reasons why the situation needs to change, for all of you. You can also try to bring external resources (folders, texts…) in order to talk about it with him, or try to ask for some advice from a profesionnal.

I’m sorry it’s affecting you and the rest of your family. And I’m sorry it’s putting you in an ungrateful role. You didn’t ask for any of this and it’s difficult to see someone you love behaving like this. What you described is absolutely legitimate. What you feel is legitimate. I sincerely think there are ways to deal with this, and maybe sincere communication can be a first step. I know how much it’s difficult and maybe you’re not used to do that in your family. But the situation you described needs serious improvement and it can happen through mutual help and compassion. I’m sorry your father is not responding to the idea of a therapy. I sincerely hope it’s only a matter of time for him to accept this idea.

Hold fast. :heart:

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Hi, Friend.

I have heard of people who hoard. I know there’s a lot of mental and emotional stress and coping involved. I don’t exactly know what to say in this situation as it’s all unfamiliar territory to me in regards to experience with it. But, I can totally see why it would be such a huge stress for you and your family. I’ve seen online and on tv how bad it can get for some people, but have never personally run into someone who hoarded to that extreme.

I imagine that if I was in the situation of drowning in someone else’s clutter, I’d feel very overwhelmed. I like a clean space.

It sounds like something your dad may have to work through. And that sometimes takes time. Maybe therapy for him, or even therapy together with your mom would allow him the space to talk about why he feels like he needs to hoard so much and what the emotional attachment is to these different things. It could be good to talk about how he’d feel if he let it go and what he can do to work through it.

And for you, maybe having your own therapist could be good. Just as a place to talk about your life and what home feels like to you right now.

I know not all people have access to therapy though so that isn’t always an available option.

I’m really sorry for the stress and hurt that this situation puts on you. Sincerely. I imagine it must feel very trapping. Especially if it pushes other people away from visiting.

I hope that you and your family can find some sort of resolve and peace with the situation so that you all can feel better.

Sending you lots of love right now.

  • Kitty
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Oh, I just realized I missed the part on the bottom where you mentioned you tried therapy and he was very defensive.

That’s very hard. Friend, I’m really sorry about this situation. I can only imagine how helpless it must leave you feeling when he gets that way.

I still will continue to hope for you that things will find a way to improve and get better and that your dad will eventually see how these materialistic things are hurting the people he loves.


Thank you both for the kind responses. :heart:

I’m glad I found this place. Talking about it and seeing the responses has made me feel a lot better.

I’ll try getting everyone together again to talk about it. I’ll take the tips you gave me into account when talking about it next time. Hopefully he’ll be more accepting this time.
I’m going to wait for it until after the holiday season because I don’t want risk ruining it.

As for myself, I have thought before about seeing a therapist. I just never had the courage to go to one. Coming here might be the first step to build up this courage. At school students get access to free therapy sessions so that shouldn’t be a problem.

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Hey @ImNotOkay,
This is never easy to live with. This is something that is going to take time for your dad realize is a problem and seek help. I’m glad that you have your dorm now and are able to get out of the house. Try talking to your mom and maybe coming up with a plan to help your dad. It is very hard for people to get rid of things they hold dear. For your dad, he cherishes all of his things and he does not want to lose any of it. Try to understand where he is coming from and maybe you can find a way to work together to make everyone happy.

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I think that’s a great plan. And I think it’s okay to wait till after the holidays. Focus on spending time with your family and enjoying each other the best you can.

Maybe if your dad sees how much it emotionally and mentally hurts everyone, he will have a change of heart. Maybe if he was offered some help in cleaning and making things look nice or even explained that he could donate things away to people who may really need it! Who would appreciate it. You could even raise a little money by using apps like Offer Up to sell. He’d feel so much better if the house was clean and full of light. And probably doesn’t even realize. I hope it works out.

I agree this is a great first step. Getting into therapy can be a hard step to take and scary. I know. I spent years avoiding it and finally a in the recent couple years I finally caved in. The first therapist wasn’t working but when I found my second one, she was seriously so amazing and I was so glad that I reached out. It’s a safe place for you to just be open as you need. It’s meant to be a good thing. Sometimes it takes time finding the right therapist but once you find that one, it can be so refreshing.

I wish you and your family happy holidays. Focus on the things you CAN control for now and don’t over stress in areas you can’t. Okay? Much love

  • Kitty
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