If you’ve ever seen the TV show Hoarders or the film Grey Gardens, then you’re probably telling yourself right now that it’s impossible for you to be a hoarder yourself. After all, your things aren’t exactly spilling out of your home, your neighbors aren’t complaining about your filth, and strange cats aren’t taking up majority of your floor space. But, you also have to remember that all hoarders started out relatively normal lives, too.

Find out if you have the potential to be a hoarder, and nip it in the bud before clutter takes over your life.

1. You have a hard time letting go.

Hoarders are sentimental creatures. They have a hard time giving their things away even though they haven’t used or even laid eyes on the said items for more than a year. “Hoarders have great difficulty making decisions, especially around the value of their possessions,” says Michael Jenike, an OCD expert and professor of psychiatry at Harvard in an article on TIME.

Do you feel like you “need” everything in your house? Do you always have an excuse not to throw anything out? You could be a hoarder.

2. You collect everything.

Most hoarders start out as innocent collectors, but they soon develop a habit of taking everything back home with them. According to the Mayo Clinic, serious collectors have specific items that they put on display, while hoarders have “random items they encounter in their daily life and [that they] store haphazardly in their homes or surrounding areas.”

Is your house filled with all sorts of collections? Can you identify all of them without seeing them or looking at a list? If you can’t, then you might be a hoarder.

3. You have turned other rooms into storage places.

With a constantly growing collection, hoarders usually have no choice but to convert other parts of their home into storage areas. There’s nothing wrong with having more than one room for storage, especially if you’re organized, but if most of your home has been taken over by your belongings, then you could very well be a hoarder.

4. Your home brings distress to you and other people.

Hoarders eventually get so used to the mountain of clutter in their home that they don’t realize just how bad the situation may be. Unfortunately, according to Examiner.com, stress may lead to hoarding and hoarding may add to stress, making the cycle a bit harder to break.

Being messy is one thing, but if your clutter reaches the point when even your closest kin stops setting foot inside your house, then you just might be a hoarder.

5. You cease functioning normally.

According to the Scientific American, “compulsive hoarders often have other mental illnesses as well: 50 percent have major depressive disorder and 48 percent have either anxiety or social phobia, according to various surveys.”

But it’s not just about disease, either. When your home is too cluttered for you to be able to get a good night’s sleep on your bed, when your kitchen sink doesn’t have water, or when you have to climb over things just to make it to the room, you could be a hoarder.

(Screencap from Grey Gardens courtesy of HBO)

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