Shopping at garage sales is a lot of fun; especially when you are able to accumulate things you’ve “always wanted”, especially at a good price. Garage saling can also take on a life of its own. Usually, it is a time for women to get together, have coffee or brunch and do something light-hearted and casual on a Friday or Saturday morning. Cruising the streets for sale signs, dropping in for a look, putzing around, bartering and then leaving with an armful of good stuff and pocket change only to go at it for another round.
As these treasures accumulate and as the years go by, it is fairly common to find a buyer in their packed home where there is no more room to spare. It is a dilemma for sure, but then again garage sale buyers usually beget garage sale sellers! Buying and selling is the draw, and the social get-togethers remain steadfast; unless of course buying without selling becomes a stickler.
Unfortunately, there are indeed some who just cannot part from all those treasures they have collected throughout the years; and as the problem merges further, they find themselves in cramped living conditions with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Countertops, book cases, sinks, stoves, desks, stairways, and all other surfaces are piled high and can fall in domino fashion with a simple nudge. And then, if there still isn’t room, there is always the garage, storage units or even stacks of stuff piled outside.
Individuals with a Hoarding Disorder have a very difficult time discarding their possessions because of their belief that they need to save. Even thinking of parting with their items brings them significant stress and anxiety, regardless of the actual value of the items. Common characteristics for those that hoard have difficulty planning, organizing, and making decisions, procrastinate and avoid ways to deal with arising issues, and struggle with getting rid of things or wasting anything that could be used later. They also tend to have an emotional connection with the objects collected, reminding them of previous times they felt happier or safer. There are treatment efforts available to reduce hoarding behavior and one finds they have grown out of their own home. However, many also can learn to stop and take action to reduce the clutter once they realize the problem. Keep garage saling fun by managing its potential aftermath!
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW