Do you collect things? It could be baseball cards, coins, or shoes. Are the things you collect valuable and give your life joy? Or has your collection got out of hand? Collecting items gives the items we collect special value, and can be a source of pride if we can sort them and display them. Yet it can become a problem if the items we collect infringe on our living space or we pay extra money to store them. There are some collectable items that appreciate in value like antique cars and rare items like certain brands of musical instruments or coins. Yet, most items will not go up in value and the perceived value is to the collector alone.
Kids love collecting things. From toys to insects to just about anything that fascinates them. This is, usually, productive as children go out and collect different types of something, this greatly increase their knowledge and experience. With toys or anything that they’re fond of, letting go seems to be difficult. That is mostly because there is some part of us that believes that we might need the toy or you don’t want your younger brother to have it because you hate them (a funny and common case for little sibling rivalry). But sometimes, this healthy habit turns into a compulsion. This compulsion goes by the name Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. Hoarding is a sub category of OCD.
You know that moment when you hear a catchy song, and then despite being at the funeral of a long distance relative/friend, it refuses to stop playing in your head or when you’re in the middle of a test, failing or not, your head is bobbing to the beat of the song. Yeah, that. Multiply that “remembrance” by 10 and that gives you a look inside the head of a person affected by OCD. Most of the people who are obsessed carry out their compulsions in secret and thus are isolated individuals. Yet when they try conversing, the object of obsession sometimes dominates their conversations.
The things that an individual is obsessed with will be as important to them as their life is. More specifically acquiring the object of interest will occupy a majority of their thoughts. This is mostly because of the fact that obsession is, quite often, accompanied with anxiety. Anxiety can be taken as the danger alarm. Every time they see, for example, a toy car, their thoughts will tell them that they need it. If they don’t get it then their life as a toy car collector is over. And in order to calm down or relieve themselves of that anxiety they must act out the compulsion (that is to keep on acquiring whatever the individual is obsessed with).
There is somewhat a difference between hoarding and collecting. A collection can be of trophies or cars or other items of value. Hoarding can be a collection of items of value or of little value. Hoarding is when the collection gets out of hand. Hoarding is what many girls do with shoes. Whether or not it’ll be used is irrelevant in face of the need to get it and the need to possess it. The collecting becomes an obsession. Perhaps a collection may seem a simple past time up until the point you are asked to reduce or let go of the items you have collected and have big problems with deciding what to keep and don’t want to let anything go.
OCD is basically when your alarm system malfunctions. It’s like the type of people who put 20 alarms, 5 minutes apart, to wake up on time. Imagine the blaring alarm. Your first impulse is to obviously turn it off, but to do that you need to swipe or hit the snooze button to make the alarm stop. Only problem, you’re always putting it on snooze. And every time it rings, you must carry out the compulsion.
Even though it can be a big problem in you life, there are ways to stop this from getting out of hand. The first one being: get help from a professional. This is honestly the best option there is. The professional will perhaps prescribe medication and you will also get therapy to help you with what you’re going through. But in the case that seeking help from a professional is not possible, you will have to rely on your willpower and try to change your thinking and break the cycle, which consists of this: Obsessive thoughts followed by the recognition of threat which puts you into fight or flight, then comes compulsion and finally the short relief that comes from the habit. Meditation and mindfulness can help you to be aware of what triggers the response.
According to British researchers Ashley Nordsletten and Mataix-Cols (2012), up to one-third of adults engage in some form of collecting. In contrast, 2-5% of the adult population would meet the criteria for a diagnosis of hoarding. Are you concerned about whether you are affected by this? Take this quiz to find out whether or not you’re a collector or a hoarder.