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Welcome To The COH Site Online Support Group

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Information for new and existing COH Online Support Group members, affiliated with the COH website. ...

Information for new and existing COH Online Support Group members, affiliated with the COH website.

Attached at the end is the YouTube animated general information about COH site, slideshow. You can view the non-animated version, with clickable links inside, on the www.childrenofhoarders.com home page.

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    I am Modester by name good day. i just went to your profile this time true this site (www.slideshare.net) and i got your detail and your explanation in fact the way you explain your self shows me that you are innocent and maturity and also understand person i decided to have a contact with you so that we can explain to our self each other because God great everyone to make a friend with each other and from that we know that we are from thism planet God great for us ok my dear please try and reach me through my email address (modester4life4@yahoo.c/o/m) so that i can send you my picture true your reply we can know each other ok have a nice day and God bless you yours Modester
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Welcome To The COH Site Online Support Group Welcome To The COH Site Online Support Group Presentation Transcript

  • Welcome to the COH Online Support Group Only for children of hoarders and their spouses "Your Parent's Living Conditions Are Not Now, Never Were, Will Never Be, Your Fault. You don't need to carry any guilt for it. “ -Norse, group member
  • "If you want to give something power, keep it a secret.“ Tracy, group member
    • We are glad you have found us! We'd like to make sure everyone feels comfortable here in the group area and is aware of everything the " Children of Hoarders " site and support group  has to offer.
  • Looking forward to meeting you and hope we can support you.
    • Here's a bit of information about our group, and loads of other things like commonly asked questions …
  • Who We Are…
    • This group is for/to support those, who grew up in a hoarding environment and/or had or currently has, a parent or in-law who hoards. This group and the COH Website were created 2/8/2006 because there were no other resources out there exclusively for the children of hoarders. ( Contact site admin. )
    • Sadly, we don't have the magic answers to "fix" things, but can share our insights and experiences with each other hoping to find what may help. Often, we are carving "new pathways", no pun intended.
    • There are no doctors or therapists facilitating this board. (We tried that in the past and it didn’t work out.) Nor do we follow any recovery model.
    • We are strictly the children of hoarders, supporting other COH.
  • Please don't apologize for long posts…
    • We like reading about others who can finally relate to us! When children of hoarders (COH) share, it gives a voice to other COH who might not be ready to post a message to the group, but could be silently nodding in agreement, "me too!" We understand, without all the background information.
    • We also know for many, this is the first time this is being discussed, outside of the family. With new members joining all the time, feel free to bring up topics previously discussed for those who didn't participate in the discussion before.
  • Don't try to absorb everything at once!
    • Bookmark it, there is no rush to read it all. We don’t want you to get overwhelmed as old feelings might resurface.
    • We would however, like you to be sure to read the Confidentiality Agreement and Group Guidelines please.
  • Confidentiality Agreement
    • No personal posts or materials posted are to be printed, forwarded, copied or in any way removed from this board or website forums without the expressed consent of the author.
    • Continued membership in the Yahoo Group/website forums implies you agree to this policy.
    • The copyright to COH stories and experiences submitted to our board(s) are retained by their authors (i.e. individual posters); all rights are reserved. The authors maintain proprietary right to all stories and experiences unless and until it is waived. If you intend to use or distribute any of the COH stories or experiences for a commercial purpose, you must contact the individual authors for written permission to do so.
  • Group Posting Guidelines
    • The focus of our group is on children of hoarders and the challenges they face as a result of that status. Off-topic or abusive posts are discouraged, and members who persistently post disruptive, abusive, off-topic posts will be asked to leave the group at the discretion of the moderators.
    • Certain topics are viewed as particularly problematic, including politics and some types of religious discussion. Individuals wishing to share ideas on such topics are asked to do so off-board privately. Recognizing that religious perspectives sometimes play an important role in the COH experience, please see the next slide about “Religious Posts,” for guidelines to help to decide whether specific religious content will be considered "on-topic" for our boards, and therefore acceptable for general posting.
    • In general, however, we ask that members assume that good intentions motivate the postings of other members, and that they are civil to each other when controversy or misunderstanding arises . When a member feels that someone is ignoring the posting guidelines or is being inappropriate or disruptive, they are encouraged to attempt to resolve the issue privately and directly with the other member or to seek the private assistance of a moderator BEFORE submitting complaints to the entire group.
  • RELIGIOUS POSTS
    • The Children of Hoarders Website Forums & Main Yahoo Group are tolerant of all religious perspectives- both in terms of belief and non-belief. We are a diverse and large group, and as such, we remind everyone to keep in mind the many different perspectives that exist here. The nature of recovery from difficult experiences (like ours) often leads people to a faith in something more powerful. We respect that choice. Sometimes, it has the opposite effect-and we respect that too. We appreciate anything and everything that brings comfort and inspiration to a COH, but in the context of our support boards, we ask that everyone respect the beliefs (or non-beliefs) of others and keep religious commentary to a minimum. It is generally acceptable to post as follows:
    • -Describing the role religion played in your relationship with your hoarding parent; -Describing the role religion played in hoarding behavior; -Telling someone "you will pray for them" and requesting others to pray for you; -Saying "God Bless you," "Thanks be to God/Higher Power," or "Blessings;" -Describing how your ‘Higher Power,’ faith, prayer, or other spiritual practice(s) gave/gives you strength to get through a difficult situation. Out of consideration for the feelings of others and in keeping with the focus of our particular discussion board, we ask that posters refrain from posting: passages/quotes from any particular religious/spiritual text (e.g., the Bible, Koran, Buddhist texts, and others) or anything else that represents a particular belief system with which others may not identify. Any debates about religion or belief systems, we ask, respectfully, to be done off our discussion board.
  • Other Considerations for the group in general
    • In the COH Group, we understand that we all have things that we feel very strongly about, as well as our own "hot buttons." Please avoid flaming (personal abusive attacks intended to incite, degrade, make fun of another person or their ideas with no positive outcome). Please respect other people's right to have to their own opinion just as you have your opinion. The group moderators should be contacted if you cannot resolve the issue privately with another member. We respectfully repeat, disagreements between members should *not* be posted for board discussion. -Because emotions, inflections, humorous intents and lightheartedness are difficult to convey through posts, we suggest the following when reading and posting: "Assume Good Faith" & "Remain Civil". *DISCLAIMER* The moderators of these discussion groups are not doctors, therapists or counselors. Children of Hoarders the non-profit organization cannot be held liable for any breach of confidence by its Yahoo Group. The information here is not intended, and should not be used to replace the care or diagnosis of a medical professional or therapist. While we try to make this group as safe as possible for members to share amongst other COH & their spouses only, we cannot guarantee that some members are not who this group was intended for, and gave false information to join.
  • Get Started!
    • Make a new post to the group
    • View the most recent posts
    • Posting messages help topics
  • Getting too many group messages?
    • If you get the posts individually to your inbox (default setting when you join), you can switch to getting them grouped in one email, called a "Daily Digest," or not even get them at all.
    • Individual Emails Messages are delivered one at a time to your email inbox. This is the best option if you want to keep up on the latest posts immediately. Email attachments, if included in a message and allowed by your moderator, will be sent directly to you.
    • Daily Digest Messages are delivered in batches of 25 or daily, whichever comes sooner. This is the best option if you want to receive fewer mail messages and don't need up-to-the minute posts in your inbox. Email attachments are not available in digests.
    • No Email This option puts email message delivery on hold, for example while you’re on vacation. If message archives are available, this option also permits you to read messages at the Yahoo! Groups web site. Note that message archive options are determined by each moderator, and that some groups have no web message archives.
    • Special Notices This option is similar to No Email because you won’t receive normal group messages. You’ll, however, be able to receive Special Notices sent by the group's moderator.
    • To change any of these options, click My Groups in the upper-right corner of any groups page, then, above the list of groups, click the Edit My Groups tab. Under Message Delivery, you’ll see pull-down menus where you can specify how you’d like to hear from that group. Make sure to click Save Changes if you change anything. You can also access this area from links in every emailed post you receive in your inbox.
  • What’s Trimming Messages all about?
    • When a post is “replied” to, either from the group site or via an email account, Yahoo automatically attaches the original message to the bottom of the new reply.
    • If you receive all posts individually, this won’t bother you at all. However, those members who get the Daily Digest of messages will likely be bothered by it because they’ll have to scroll through lots of repetitive text. (It also stays in the message archives like that.)
    • Therefore, we ask members to kindly “trim” their messages. This means, only include the part of the original message pertaining to what you are replying to, attached to your response, since most of us will have read original message already.
    • More info. on how to do that can be found at this helpful site.
    • The most important thing is YOU POST-if you are having a hard time “trimming", we won't be upset, just please keep it in mind.
  • The “Subject” line doesn’t match what the message is about.
    • Please, change the subject line to reflect topic if it changes.
    • Why is this important? Because Daily Digest recipients may only scroll the summary at the top of their Digest to see if anything is of interest to them. I.e.; If the conversation has changed to “Denying a bequest in a will,” and the subject line says “Dumpster Diving Sucks,” then they may miss important information they wanted/needed to learn about. Also, it helps with future message searches on a topic.
    • General list etiquette info., FAQ's about email groups .
    • "fully featured" vs "traditional" format?
  • Searching Message Archives by topic, member name & post #
    • On the home page to the group , above where the messages start to be listed, you will find a SEARCH BOX on the upper-right. Enter your search term in that box and click "search."
    • You can also enter a member name or email address in that box to locate posts written by a specific member. (You can also click on the "Advanced Search" option link to narrow down your searches by date period, etc.)
    • To search by a MESSAGE #, while at the group home page , above the messages at the upper-left, you will find a link for "View All." Click on that and a page will appear that will provide you with two search boxes. One to enter in a message # to search for, or a search term. Enter the message # you are looking for in the box on the left and click "GO."
    • Note: While viewing the messages from the group site, you will find there are various options to view messages-"Expand" (where you will see all of the message), "Simplified" (where you will only see a part), group by topic (where only one message about that subject/in that thread will be showing, and "list individually.“
    • Direct link to search archives
  • The COH Group Photo Albums
    • From the group home page you will find a menu on the left-side of the page with a link to our Photo Album section where members have uploaded their photos. You can create your own album too if you'd like. Here's how...
    • Go to the group home page
    • In the menu on the left, click PHOTOS
    • In the upper right-hand corner of that page you will see "Create Photo Album".
    • You will be asked to name your album & for a description.
    • Click "Personal Album" so only you can add photos to your album.
    • Then...upload the photos one by one from where you have them saved on your computer. Add a description too if you'd like.
    • Note: A recently added feature of the group is the ability to comment on the photos posted in the albums. Try it out!
    • There is also an album for "COH Having Fun" and we hope you'll have something to add to that group album too sometime!
    • *Absolutely, positively, no photos are to be copied and/or removed from the group without the permission of the photo owner!!**
  • Poll Section in Group
    • From the group home page you will find a menu on the left-side of the page with a link to our poll section. Once in a great while there will be the need for a poll to be conducted. Most of these polls, however, are from the very beginning of the group's existence, when we were just discovering other COH for the first time.
    • Feel free to continue to vote in any you want. Members can also create their own poll for the group by clicking "create poll." Feel free to! Direct link to polls .
  • New to groups? Here’s a little abbreviation guide…
    • They can be lowercase, too. A few are:
    • AAMOF -as a matter of fact, AFAIK - as far as I know B4N - bye for now BTW - by the way CMIIW - correct me if I'm wrong DD : Dear Daughter, DH : Dear Husband DS : Dear Son FIL : Father in Law FOH : one of our group terms, means " Friends of Hoarders " support group FWIW - for what it's worth HTH : Hope this helps IAC - in any case IKWUM - I know what you mean IMHO - in my humble opinion IOW - in other words KWIM - know what I mean LOL - laughing out loud MIL -Mother in Law NBIF - no basis in fact OTOH - on the other hand ROTFL - rolling on the floor laughing (+MAO=my a** off) TIA - thanks in advance WTF -what the ****?
  • Emoticons
    • Also referred to as smileys, these symbols help convey tone or emotion in a message. Some examples: :-) happy :) smile :-( sad ;-) wink :-o shock :->devilish :/ hmmm. . .
  • From the Yahoo Groups Help Site
    • How do I verify my email address?
    • How do I add a new email address to my Yahoo! Groups account?
    • How do I remove an email address from my Yahoo! Groups account?
    • Can I post messages from the web site?
    • Can I post from more than one email address?
    • Why can't I subscribe to Yahoo! Groups with certain email addresses?
    • I'm receiving email from a group, but when I try to visit the group's webpages , it says that I "need to enable web access".
    • I get Group email, but I’m not in the Member list and I don’t see the Group when I sign into groups.yahoo.com
    • How could I join a group without getting access to its web features? How do I prevent this from occurring in the future?
    • I received a notification to "complete my account?" What does this mean?
    • How much Yahoo! Groups activity can I do via email, and how?
  • Privacy, Members, and Identity From the Yahoo Groups Help Site
    • What information is publicized when I participate in Yahoo! Groups?
    • What information can I see about other members?
    • What’s "simple" vs. "expanded" view for the Members area?
    • What’s the Switch User feature? How do I access it?
  • Unsubscribing
    • Click on the link to "Unsubscribe" at the bottom of any emailed message post or go to "edit membership" from the group home page . Don't forget to confirm your request to unsubscribe that will be emailed to you by Yahoo to complete this. Don’t worry, we send no parting surveys to complete.
    • When you send the email to unsubscribe, it goes to Yahoo, not to the group or the moderators . We only find out after you’ve left the group. So, if you write anything with your unsubscribe request, we will never see it, unless you email a copy to the moderators separately.
    • Set-by-Step Directions can be found here .
  • Contact Group Moderators
    • Write them an email…
    • via the group site
    • via the COH website
  • COH Bookstore
    • Where the books listed have most all been recommended by group members.
    • Categories include: Understanding Hoarding For Children of Hoarders ADD Books Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Cleaning (How To) Conquering Clutter Depression OCD Organizing Books Perfectionism Videos/DVD/Audio
  • Things (just a few) We've Found Many COH Have In Common
    • Alternate Realities in childhood
    • Anxiety at sound of doorbell, not comfortable having people in our homes as adults-feel "judged/not perfect enough"
    • Christmas trees sticking around forever, some until next season or in tree graveyard in backyard
    • Having fleas and fruitflies in childhood home
    • Being made fun of at school
    • Have OCD in other forms
    • Have ADD
    • Resentment and worry about being responsible for cleaning it up-financially and EMOTIONALLY.
    • Scared of turning into parent: periodically throw things out (purge) or are minimilists, super organized to prove "not like parent"
    • Socially isolate selves or getting there
    • We don’t use the “good stuff” when we should
  • Things (just a few)We've Found Many Of Our Parents Have In Common
    • Have ADD
    • Are nurses or caregivers of some kind
    • Hoard angels and dolls
    • History of depression
    • Don't have many close friends
    • Dug through our trash when we were children and picked things out
    • Have high education levels, many went to Ivy-league schools
    • Will get around to things SOMEday. Have "fantasy thinking"
    • Repetitive speech-no short stories. Conversations often turned and focused on them.
    • Hypochondria or one-upping illnesses so they are "sicker one"
    • Are artistic or creatively inclined
    • Perfectionists
    • Don't like to take medicines choose "natural remedies"
    • Love Readers Digest
    • Television very important to them-talk about like "real people/family" (QVC hosts too)
    • Recording television.
    • Cranking up volume on TV so they won't miss a word
    • Did NOT want the wrapping paper ripped, had to save bows
    • Hoard in their cars, trunks
    • They got worse when we left home or their spouse died
    • Get angry when you bring it up. Blame others for situation.
  • Vocabulary/Terms regarding Compulsive Hoarding & Related
    • A.P.S. Adult Protective Services
    • CBT: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Churn/Churning: The act of moving things around and not getting rid
    • D.H.S. Department of Health (DHHS=Dept. Health & Human Services)
    • E.R.P. Exposure & Response/Ritual Prevention: A type of ...
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is designed to break two types of associations that occur in OCD: The association between objects and situations that cause distress, the association between carrying out ritualistic behavior to decrease distress. A method of therapy for treating Hoarding. The goal is to demonstrate we can have thoughts and experience distress without participating in rituals (rituals are "banned" for full immersion in anxiety without losing control or "having to shut anxiety down." This is to show rituals are short term anxiety relievers that in fact increase obsessions, and that rituals are not the only way to decrease anxiety.
    • Exposure A procedure/therapy technique in which you are purposely confronted with objects or situations that promote distress and stay in those situations without performing rituals ("banned") long enough for anxiety to decrease by itself.
    • Habituation The process of learning to tolerate an anxiety-producing situation through exposure.
    • P.O.A. Power of Attorney
    • SUDS Levels Subjective Units of Distress. "Anxiety temperature." A way of measuring the anxiety levels from 1-10 (re: hoarding; while discarding or at place of acquisition.) More info .
  • Some vocabulary made up in the COH Yahoo Group, you might see a few used :
    • Crapalanche: When the mounds move all on their own (Thanks Elizabeth!)
    • crapabonanza: What arrives with the hoarder in the car when they come visit you. Can also occur on holidays or at the mention of something you or your kids *might* need.
    • Crapacity: As in, "my mom's house doesn't have the crapacity to hold anymore crap.
    • crapaganda: the junk mail that never gets thrown away
    • crapalapadingdong: What you call a box of those little cupcake things called Ding-Dongs from 1974 when you finally find them 30 years later all petrified under a heap.
    • crapalicious: how those Ding-Dongs would taste when you found them.
    • crapalier: Someone who walks down each of the aisles at a Thrift Store scanning each item with a fine tooth eyeball
    • Crapalyst: A garage sale or any item on the side of the road free for the taking
    • crapamongers: they can be found loading the items off the side of the road into their vehicle
    • crapanese: What you are eating if you are eating it from washed-out to-go food containers.
    • crapapple: Any food item you may find in the bottom of a hoard pile but aren't quite able to place what it used to be.
    • craparoni: When there are more than 9 colanders in a kitchen, 8 of them are for this purpose, making craparoni.
    • crapassination: If you haven't slept in your bed or have only used part of it, for over 7 years because of the stuff on it, you have this malady.
    • Crapateria: When you can't eat on your kitchen table because it's covered with a mound of stuff, this is what it is.
    • crapatory: Any hoarders basement or attic *shudder*
    • Foodnami: Tidal wave of frozen items released when the freezer door pops open.
    • Craplitter: When the cat box filling is gone and the cats are using crap to cover their crap.
  • Vocabulary Group Members Made Up and Use more commonly
    • COH: "Children of Hoarders“
    • "Clean Hoard" is a term we came up with in our COH Group for Hoarding situations that don't have the animal/human waste...or where our parents don't necessarily let the dirty dishes pile up, let the litter boxes overflow, keep their bathrooms as clean as they can, etc. They just have a TON of STUFF. “
    • “ Dirty Hoard" is what we call the opposite of clean hoard-which sometimes may include their personal hygiene practices as well, unfortunately.
    • C.O.H.U.G.E.T. COH Unhealthy Guilt Erradication Team, created by member
    • P.I.S.S. Post Intervention Stress Sydrome Refers to the emotions felt, similar to PTSD, after an intervention or clean-out, whether successful or not.
  • W.U.E.D.
    • "Walls up, Expectations Down" , term created by members norse & nash about being careful not to get hopes up.
  • Don’t J.A.D.E. (Tool used so you don’t get sucked into drama)
    • JADE = You do not need to Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain
    • (shared with our group by a wise member. Read more about JADE at Alanon Forums .)
  • What’s COHUGET?
    • Post from a member (son/norse), 8/2006:
    • Initially I was concerned about some of the guilt that various people in the group were experiencing. It seemed like it wasn't really guilt that they had done anything to deserve, so this post was the result:
    • Guilt is not necessarily a bad thing. Guilt can be like pain. Pain is nature's way of telling people that whatever they just did is not something that they should repeat. Healthy guilt is a good thing, especially if I am listening to my inner voice. The majority of people have a problem with not feeling guilty often enough, especially in this day and age of "You don't have any right to judge me."
    • COH on the other hand have a tendency to have the opposite problem. Because our hoarders frequently blame us for their problems (see above paragraph), we often accept that blame because.... Well, let's face it, we didn't have the tools emotionally to reply back that the problem wasn't that we weren't doing enough around the house. We were dependant on our parents for survival and we didn't really have any other option other than accepting the guilt.
    • Well, I am writing today on behalf of the COH Unhealthy Guilt Erradication team. I have very good news for everyone here at COH. Today and tomorrow are officially "No Unhealthy Guilt for All COH members" weekend. Now since many of us struggle with knowing whether a specific guilty feeling is healthy or not, I will provide a list of healthy versus unhealthy guilt.
    • Continued on next slide…
  • COHUGET, Cont.
    • HEALTHY GUILT -Murder -Hurting animals intentionally (except for recognized pests) -Child abuse -Setting off nuclear weapons
    • UNHEALTHY GUILT -Not knowing what to do in regard to our hoarder -Finding humor in the situation our hoarders have put us in -Telling our hoarder how they have affected us -Not telling our hoarder how they have affected us -Calling the state to report our hoarders -Not calling the state to report our hoarders -Cleaning out the hoard without their knowledge or permission -Not cleaning out the hoard
  • On Guilt
    • Guilt, member post (from daughter). "I collected some of the observations I've made about guilt over the years and condensed them...and at the end is what I called a printable, wallet-sized list.
    • First, if your parent is a typical emotion-based hoarder (not just an ADHD mess maven), and you are a typical COH, you will ALWAYS carry the potential for feeling guilty. That's because just as the hoarder never has enough stuff, there's never enough anybody can do for him or her.
    • S/he feels entitled to an infinite amount of your attention, time, energy, labor, and resources. There's some kind of advanced calculus formula for this sort of thing in exploding matter, but the point for us is that if you give them X, they will always expect X + 1, with that turning into the new X.
    • Consequently, if you are not a socio/psychopath without a conscience and no regard for others, you will always feel deficient. But you may be looking at the wrong side of the equation.
    • It's the hoarder's expectations that are infinite, and nobody on earth can ever meet them. Since it's a normal human thing to feel bad if we do not fulfill our parent's expectations, it's almost inevitable to get trapped between the 'normal' child reaction and the definitely abnormal parental expectation.
    • Plus, if you're still listening to outsiders' opinions, based on more normal family reactions and not at all on the hoarder family dynamics, your guilt tends to grow and grow. Try to forget these opinions unless they come from a professional counselor or psychiatrist who is treating you. All they do is complicate things and make it even harder to determine what's reasonable to do for the hoarder and what's unreasonable.
    • (This applies to both positive and negative opinions, by the way...somebody saying, "you're doing too much" is just as much clutter as somebody saying "you're not doing enough". If you can't tell and need an honest, objective opinion, get one from your own counselor or psychiatrist.)
    • Remember, in most COH situations, the very fact that you feel guilt pretty much means you don't have anything to feel guilty about. Feeling guilt means you have a functioning feeling system...that you are not a narcissist focused on your needs alone...that you are not a socio/psychopath or borderline.
    • This is not to say that it's ok to delude yourself or to provide an excuse for our own unreasonable actions. The point is that there is a line somewhere between the hoarder's abusing you and you abusing the hoarder, and it's up to you to determine what it is, because in the hoarder's mind that line is drawn all the way towards him or her.
    • (As you try to determine this line, bump it a little towards the hoarder, just to compensate for the fact that humans are never objective about themselves...this will help you know that your line really is reasonable, and even a little more than reasonable.)
    • It might help to apply the golden rule or mentally reverse the situation or think of an analogy in a totally different situation. As I explained to my youngest sister during one discussion about what was reasonable for our mom to expect, and what wasn't...it's like being a bridesmaid. You don't mind paying for the dress, or taking several paid vacation days. You don't really mind paying for a present. You mind a little more paying for the hotel room. and a little more than that the extra two days you have to take off because of the strange schedule. But when the bride expects you to take another two unpaid days off, just so you can fly on the airline in which she owns stock, that is too much."
  • Summary for the wallet card:
    • If the hoarder never feels s/he has enough stuff, s/he will never feel you have done enough.
    • Don't go by what s/he thinks is reasonable, because it never is.
    • Don't go by outside opinions, unless offered by a professional who is treating YOU.
    • There is a line somewhere; requests or expectations below that line are acceptable, and above that line, unacceptable.
    • That line may change and shift somewhat with time, but it's still there.
    • (from a member post)
  • P.I.S.S. Post Intervention Stress Syndrome
    • Refers to the emotions felt, similar to PTSD, after an intervention or clean-out, whether successful or not. Created by norse: Wed Aug 30, 2006
    • "It seems like the majority of COH have a significant let down after an intervention. It seems like it doesn't matter a whole lot whether the intervention was a complete success, a partial success, or extremely disappointing.
    • My guess is that the pre-intervention period creates huge amounts of hope, and anticipation, the intervention itself involves incredible amounts of stress trying to keep all the balls in the air and deal with the raw nerves, frayed tempers, etc. No matter the outcome there is a huge let down when it is all over.
    • It can take weeks, and sometimes longer to get through. I think it could be a very good resource to have some of the people coming off of interventions sort of keep a diary of sorts here. We could offer our own experiences and see if there is any consistency. It might be helpful for COH that are preparing for their first intervention to know that this is a normal reaction.
    • PS: The acronym was an accident, but I love it!!!!!Post-Intervention Stress Syndrome a.k.a. PISS.HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"
  • What’s COHWHAMMIE?
    • Created by a member…
    • “ COH Whose Hopes (of) A Miraculous Mess Intervention… Expired”
    • In other words, “Have hit the wall in efforts to help.”
    • (a post from another son of a hoarder, "Norse'): COHWHAMMIE First there was C.O.H. then there was C.O.H.U.G.E. T. and now we have the unveiling of C.O.H.W.H.A. M.M.I.E. - Children Of Hoarders Whose Hopes About Miraculous Mess Improvement Expired It's pronounced Co-WHAMMY! ...Have you hit the wall with your hoarder? Have you given it everything you have and you are done, finished, through, exhausted, over? You aren't alone. Some of us are there already, and we're waiting to let you know that it's okay. Sometimes it's tough to admit that it is time to join C.O.H.W.H.A. M.M.I.E. and I am NOT encouraging anyone to sign up before the time is right. -If you're asking yourself if it's time, then it probably isn't yet. You'll know when it's time. This isn't about encouraging people to give up. - This also isn't about bringing everyone else down either . It's about offering as gentle a way as possible for COH to communicate to the rest of the group that they have reached that place, because as Jess recently said, it's the beginning of a process of mourning. It doesn't feel good at all. But it is reality for some of us. -I've been in C.O.H.W.M.A. M.M.I.E. for a while, and there are at least a few others that I suspect are there too. We're still here to cheer on and encourage those who haven't hit the wall too.- norse
  • COH-Jitsu
    • COH-Jitsu is a discipline which helps to move a hoarder (and the COH) to a healthier situation by co-opting the hoarder's habits, rather than combating them with force.
    • For more detailed info on this, search for message #15624 .
  • Wonderful Strangers
    • Quotes from member posts
    • Quote: My definition, Wonderful Stranger: A non family member of a Hoarder whose opinions, advice and suggestions are valued above the family. WS's can have very limited contact with the Hoarder, but they way they are described by Hoarder they sound like close, personal, loving friends. WS's are not allowed to see the ugly side of the Hoarding life, only what the Hoarder chooses to present to them and have them believe. WS's can =bank tellers, grocery store clerks, lunch ladies who are never invited in and couldn't tell you Hoarder's favorite color or where Hoarder grew up, school chums from 60 years ago that have never even sent a Cmas card, etc -.
    • Quote: My definition of a wonderful stranger: A person, usually of the opposite sex, often works in sales, who flatters or otherwise gives attention in a way that makes the hoarder think the wonderful stranger is the nicest, most decent person in the world. They are considered to have the best advice (that trumps anything that family would say), and they are the only person who really gets the hoarder, according to the hoarder. This is typically all in the hoarders head, and based purely on surface conversation. They frequently have been known less than a year (if not less than a week). Once they are known better, they cease to be wonderful strangers and frequently there is a rift. Example: My mother decided one year that my brother and I should have the exact same plaid shirt from the Gap, because a nice young man from a house-painting company that made a sales call had the same shirt and he was cute. I did not like the shirt and neither did my brother. Personal banker is another one I can think of that my mother tells all about her personal life. Does not seem to get that this person (and other wonderful strangers) are trying to make money off of her, which is why they listen and smile. In fact, she may be on to this fact, but does not want to admit it to herself.
  • Wonderful Strangers, cont.
    • Quote: The Wonderful Strangers are the ones who know nothing about the hoarder's behavior in his/her own home, know nothing about the physical environment the hoarder has forced on family members, and know nothing about the hoarder's problems in close family relationships. In short, the Wonderful Stranger knows nothing at all, but the hoarder recognizes that this lack of knowledge gives the WS a very special perspective, unbiased and unprejudiced. The WS is like a plane hovering high in the sky, not close enough to see any details, so every house and car on the ground look about the same. The WS is a big comfort to hoarders, who sometimes wish that everyone was so far away and distant that they couldn't see the mess, couldn't see how troubled the hoarder really is. The thoughts and opinions of close family members can never compete with those of a WS... the WS can be trusted much more than the close family members (who are too obsessed with and distracted by the hoarding problem to have any valid ideas)
    • Quote: xxxx wrote: "WS's are not allowed to see the ugly side of the Hoarding life, only what the Hoarder chooses to present to them and have them believe. "
    • I'd change "ugly side of the Hoarding life" to something like 'a balanced view of, or real story behind, the hoarder's life, living conditions or family relationships' because the problem isn't just seeing the hoard itself, it's that the hoarder turns these wonderful strangers into enablers who support the hoarder in his/her misinterpretation of reality. Otherwise, great job! I'd also put in that the problem may be worst with the ones who get paid--accountants, lawyers, insurance agents--which can create amazingly difficult situations, both because of the confidential nature of that kind of transaction, and the real-world implications of the hoarder getting advice that is either inept or based solely on the distorted reality the hoarder presents.
  • Wonderful Strangers, Cont.
    • Quote: I agree. "Wonderful Strangers" can be benign, but they can also be predatory. I am tired of the salesperson at the flower shop who obviously has endeared themselves to my MIL so she is spending hundreds on fresh flowers each month because she wants them around. Never mind that she cannot even come close to affording them. I am tired of the insurance agent who has called us twice in the last 24 hours feigning a service mentality when in reality he hasn't been in touch for eons and only now sees an opportunity to get some more of her business. I'm sure she "loves" him. She was crushed when she learned her auto insurance agency had been purchased by another company and the agents were all let go. She couldn't believe the agent never contacted her because "she loves me." Riiiiiiight. And I'm REALLY tired of predatory telemarketers who continue to get my MIL to buy hundreds of bucks of stuff she doesn't need (who the heck needs thirty 7-year lightbulbs for $200-plus in a two room apartment?). I'm sure the telemarketers put on their best friendly chatty tone with her. What kills me is she won't answer the phone when we call, by and large, but she is obviously taking these telemarketing calls. WSs either don't know and interact with the hoarder, or know and have to hide it in order to make money off of the hoarder. If a WS ever becomes more than just a business relationship, they may get to know what is really going on, confront the hoarder, and get the boot from the hoarder's life. That has happened to my MIL on several occasions.
  • Wonderful Strangers, Cont.
    • Quote: My mom's Wonderful Strangers are mostly bus drivers, a few baristas, Safeway clerks and book and record store owners--a mostly male captive audience with whom she gets to chat in short installments. Of the ones I've met, they do seem like good, kind, decent people. People who are patient with her monologues and her obsessions with cats and music and too polite to put her off. (One of these people is a friend of my brother's and he said to her "Well, Mom may be crazy, but she hides it pretty well." Response: silence and a shake of the head. "Maybe a little?" "Nope." "Can she hide it at all?" "Nope, she's definitely crazy.") I would not call any of these people "friends". Yet she gushes about them in way I've never heard her do with her own family. Some of them really are lonely and appreciate the attention Mom gives them. If you have a "theme", such as "cats" or "trains" or "The Beatles", she will buy you things relating to that theme. Yet she cannot fathom what members of her own family might like as gifts (because we are assertive enough to say when we don't like something, which makes us ungrateful). She is prepared to sell her house to one of these people, without checking in with her family, and I suspect he may be taking advantage of her. She has given my phone number to one of these people, whom she had just met, because he said he was looking for a girlfriend. (This is the same mother who was convinced we would be axe-murdered at summer camp or snatched by a stranger with candy off the street.) So, to sum up: Nice, polite people who haven't yet crossed her mental, emotional or physical boundaries, and who may know she's a little "off" but don't know just how squalid her living conditions are. People who may believe all the negative things she says about her family, and whose advice she trusts without question. Helpful if handsome and male, though there is no romantic fantasy involved. Her family should be prepared to hear the entire life story of various WS's, tales about their children and pets, career highlights, etc. while at the same time the hoarder will not be able to remember the family member's favorite color, names of best friends, college major, etc.
  • Wonderful Strangers, Cont.
    • Quote: A Wonderful Stranger is a person who needs help. The hoarder can help him/her and seem like a martyr, spending all her free time on the w.s., not on herself. Little does the w.s. know that he/she is being used as an excuse for the squalor to increase due to neglect. The w.s. will never see the home and and is often disabled or house-bound. It helps if the w.s. has an emotional problem and feels bad about themselves and would never guess that the hoarder has bigger problems.
    • Quote: For my mom, a wonderful stranger is someone who knows her only superficially, but they validate her self-worth. I don't know how many times I heard of the people at the nursing care facility, "They JUST LOVE me here." The opinions of wonderful strangers are more highly valued than those of real authorities, if it is something my mom would prefer to hear. i.e. "The nurse said I don't have to use my walker all the time, as long as I'm careful," when the physical therapist has said *always* use the walker.
    • Quote: This is what drove me nuts about my mother. God forbid if some stranger who doesn't even know you says something nice. But nevermind your family all stressed out about the way you live because we love you and want better for you. We are just STRESSING YOU OUT. I felt like saying to my Mom several times GET A GRIP WOMAN, normal people don't live this way and if these people knew how you lived they would lose respect for you. ARG!
  • A few non-affiliated websites/blogs/other…
    • HOardersOn (blog by son of Hoarder)
    • Maintenance Free (blog by daughter)
    • Adult Children of Alcoholics Forums
    • Friends of Hoarders
    • Mates of Messies
    • Messiness & Hoarding (for Hoarders)
    • Stepping Out of Squalor Forums
    • A & E Hoarders Show Forums
    • Television Without Pity Hoarders Show Forum
  • What kind of gifts to give a Hoarder?
    • Gift certificates get lost. They probably have one already somewhere. You don't want to add to the accumulation. It's a dilemma.
    • Some ideas for gift giving collected from our group & various sources: here .
  • Crisis Cleaning Advice
    • Advice/Tips/etc. from those that have cleaned out in a crisis, gathered from the COH Yahoo support group and COH Website Forums (which are now “read-only).
    • Animals, Insects & Rodents
    • Bags and plastic containers
    • Cleaning Companies: Advice about them & on choosing one
    • Currency/Coin Cleaning
    • Donations, Places to donate when cleaning out and those that will pick up goods
    • Dumpsters
    • Fleas & Fruitflies
    • Floors/Carpeting
    • Hazardous waste disposal - prescription drugs
    • Haul Junk Away companies
    • Lost important documents
    • Masks, Goggles and gloves
    • Miscellaneous cleaning tips
    • Mold/Mildew
    • Self care tips and Things to consider bringing with you
    • Odors, including pet urine
    • Photographs (on taking them during a clean-out)
    • Stopping Junk Mail
    • Storage Units
    • Supplies/tools/equipment to have on hand
    • Crisis Cleaning Fun & Games
  • Characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics  
    • Many members of the COH Yahoo support group have said they can identify with many of the characteristics of Adult Children of Alcoholics: 1.  Isolation, fear of people, and fear of authority figures. 2.  Difficulty with identity issues related to seeking constantly the approval of others. 3.  Frightened by angry people and personal criticism. 4.  Have become an alcoholic yourself, married one, or both. A variation would be the attraction to another   compulsive personality such as a workaholic. The similarity is that neither is emotionally available to deal with overwhelming and unhealthy dependency needs. 5.  Perpetually being the victim and seeing the world from the perspective of a victim. 6.  An overdeveloped sense of responsibility. Concerned about the needs of others to the degree of neglecting your own wants and needs. This is a protective behavior for avoiding a good look at yourself and taking responsibility to identify and resolve your own personal difficulties. 7.  Feelings of guilt associated with standing up for your rights. It is easier to give into the demands of others. 8.  An addiction to excitement. Feeling a need to be on the edge, and risk-taking behaviors. 9.  A tendency to confuse feelings of love and pity. Attracted to people that you can rescue and take care of.
    • Continued, next slide
  • ACOA Traits, Cont.
      • 10.   Avoidance of feelings related to traumatic childhood experiences. Unable to feel or express feelings because it is frightening and/or painful and overwhelming. Denial of  feelings. 11.   Low self-esteem. A tendency to judge yourself harshly and be perfectionistic and self-critical. 12.  Strong dependency needs and terrified of abandonment. Will do almost anything to hold onto a relationship in order to avoid the fear and pain of abandonment. 13.  Alcoholism is a family disease which often results in a family member taking on the characteristics of the disease even if they are not alcoholics (para-alcoholics). Dysfunctional relationships, denial, fearful, avoidance of feelings, poor coping, poor problem solving, afraid that others will find out what you are really like, etc. 14.  Tendency to react to things that happen versus taking control and not being victim to the behavior of others or situations created by others. 15.  A chameleon. A tendency to be what others want you to be instead of being yourself. A lack of honesty with yourself and others.
    • Traits of ACOA came from  this source.  
  • Your Personal Bill of Rights
    • 1. I have numerous choices in my life beyond mere survival. 2. I have a right to discover and know my Child Within. 3. I have a right to grieve over what I didn't get that I needed or what I got that I didn't need or want. 4. I have a right to follow my own values and standards. 5. I have a right to recognize and accept my own value system as appropriate. 6. I have a right to say NO to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or violates my values. 7. I have a right to dignity and respect. 8. I have a right to make decisions. 9. I have a right to determine and honor my own priorities. 10. I have a right to have my needs and wants respected by others. 11. I have the right to terminate conversations with people who make me feel put down and humiliated. 12. I have the right NOT to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems. 13. I have a right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
    • Continued on next 2 slides
  • Your Personal Bill of Rights, Cont.
    • 14. I have a right to expect honesty from others. 15. I have a right to all of my feelings. 16. I have a right to be angry at someone I love. 17. I have a right to be uniquely me, without feeling I'm not good enough. 18. I have a right to feel scared and to say "I"m afraid." 19. I have the right to experience and then let go of fear, guilt and shame. 20. I have a right to make decisions based on MY feelings, my judgment or any reason I chose.
    • 21. I have a right to change my mind at any time. 22. I have the right to be happy. 23. I have a right to stability--i.e. "roots" and stable healthy relationships of my choice. 24. I have the right to my own personal space and time needs. 25. There is no need to smile when I cry. 26. It is OK to be relaxed, playful and frivolous
  • Your Personal Bill of Rights, Cont.
    • 27. I have the right to be flexible and be comfortable with doing so. 28. I have the right to change and grow. 29. I have the right to be open to improve communications skills so that I may be understood. 30. I have a right to make friends and be comfortable around people. 31. I have a right to be in a non-abusive environment. 32. I can be healthier than those around me. 33. I can take care of myself, no matter what. 34. I have the right to grieve over actual or threatened losses. 35. I have the right to trust others who earn my trust. 36. I have the right to forgive others and forgive myself. 37. I have the right to give and receive unconditional love.
  • Humor, About use of it in our group
    • When you can't cry anymore, many of us choose to laugh, as our coping mechanism. However, some of the humor used in this group might not be funny to everyone, especially those with hoarding tendencies. We understand that this group is not going to be a good fit for everyone, and we leave that up to each member to decide on their own. While we hope it won't offend, the use of humor will always be welcome, in whatever form, in this particular group.
      • Post from a member: "Honestly, I think this might be the most important dynamic of the COH group, in reassuring us that YES! Your view is NOT crazy, this IS unhealthy and the hoarder's avoidance/blame is just a coping mechanism or aspect of the illness because it is NOT just the hoarder's reaction to YOU and all the other family members who 'don't understand.'
      • Truly, I have been able to let go of so much anger and frustration knowing that this IS a disorder and that others experience it in the same way.What has been healthy for me in the short time I have been here is to finally laugh about some of things my mom does. Some of it is sooooo crazy and I never had anyone to share it with. Let alone anyone who identified with what I talking about.
      • Now I can look at some of this and say yes it is crazy & even find some humor in the craziness! For example, shortly after I joined I asked about if anyone else had a parent who used a little notebook to keep track of who knows what. I received several humorous replies from others who knew exactly what I was talking about. It is good to finally laugh about some of this. So much of what we deal with is serious & can be just down right depressing, but the interjections of humor help to keep things in perspective, at least for me! "-xxxx
  • Some past examples of our group humor from the early days…
    • From Norse, March 2006: “I don't know why but this just popped into my head. Along the lines of Jeff Foxworthy's &quot;You might be a redneck&quot; … norsefoxworthy (moderator note: Norse <and his wife, nashbabe> is a very special member who is a son with a hoarding mother. You will see his name often-He was very active in the beginning days of the group as we shared his journey cleaning out his mother’s “dirty hoard” and as he discovered other COH for the first time who understood- norse and nashbabe will always be a part of our group in spirit, and we thank them for their incredible support to so many COH and their “no-nonsense” advice, You might be a hoarder. ...
    • If your son comes to dig out your house and you make sure to give him his &quot;Golf tip a day&quot; calendar Christmas gift, but the calendar is from 2003..... you may be a hoarder.
    • If your family has to buy industrial strength air masks to safely enter your house..... you may be a hoarder.
    • If having smokers light up inside the house actually improves the smell.... you may be a hoarder.
    • If the carpet gets pulled up and there is a damp stain all around where your chair was, and you blame it on the dog that has been dead for almost 30 years.... you might be a hoarder.
    • If your son asks his brother if he's checked the fridge, and as he reaches for the door his brother screams NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!..... you might be a hoarder.
    • [From Nash, norse’s wife, DIL to hoarder] If you just bought 6 new cookbooks, and have 5 bundt pans all in the original packaging, but neither your stove nor your oven have been used since 1993..... you might be a hoarder.
    • If your son gets a full collection of Harry Potter books off the floor to give to a neighbor kid, and you still have another complete set on the floor..... you might be a hoarder.
    • If you think the empty Cottenelle wipes boxes make great jewelry boxes, and that the 200 plastic medication cups you brought home from the hospital are wonderful measuring tools that you hand out to all your friends..... you may be a hoarder.
    • If you have a complete set of home recorded VHS tapes of Remington Steele, and a complete commercially available set of the same episodes....you may be a hoarder.
    • If you have 5, gallon size, ziploc bags of 30 complete sets each of &quot;high quality&quot; plastic ware from your favorite chinese restaurant, and you are working on bag number 6, and you eat chinese food with your own ivory chopsticks.... you may be a hoarder.
    • If you wear Depends because you are pretty sure that you can't safely get to the bathroom in 5 minutes.... you may be a hoarder.
  • COH Designed Hoarders Convention
    • A Crap-load of fun for everyone! Filthadelphia, PA (member post)
    • Our registration desk could be a Christmas craft fair booth covered in needlepoint wall hangings to buy with the saying 'Find the good in everything and then stuff it in your house'. The name tags could be made out of letters cut ransom-style from old Readers Digests from 1965.
    • They could get escorted in to the convention room by junk-males. As they enter, there could be a big sign for them to see &quot;Senior Citizen Discount 10%, Buy One Get One Free, Today Only, Exclusive one-Time Offering, Must Act Now. Proceeds go to the church&quot;. There is crap for sale everywhere. They are all energized, filling bags, dancing-cartwheels even, woo-hoo!
    • A group of mess-icians could be on the stage with Messica Simpson singing. Awards are given out for &quot;Junk-In-Her-Trunk&quot;, &quot;Junk-in-The- Top-Bunk&quot;. When they are totally mess-merized... BOOM! A curtain comes down, everything turns minimilistic and you could walk out with a white lab coat and be on the bullhorn saying &quot;Put. The. Booty. Down. I repeat, Put. It. Down.&quot;
    • Then you could welcome them to the Psychological Crap-atory and open it by reading all your posts here. Suddenly eyes will start darting around in ADD-fashion, some will fall asleep from the sudden depression and about half will go the manic side of bi-polar and flail their arms running around and the other half will start bawling from the depressive side.
    • Then the C.I.A. (Children Intervention Army) marches out single file and we each read our respective posts until they can't take the torture and confess to what REALLY causes them to hoard and we all write a book with the answers and live happily ever after.
  • It’s ok to laugh, when you can no longer cry-
    • We’ve had Hoardopoly games
    • We’ve had song lyrics re-worked to fit our hoarding situations
    • We’ve gotten in virtual spaceships
    • We’ve had parents found deceased in the hoarded home. And, medics come who can’t fit the gurney in.
    • We’ve had parents sue their children for cleaning up and getting rid of ‘things” while they were in a coma-because storage fees couldn’t be afforded.
    • We’ve had parents disown their children for interfering with their “stuff.”
    • We’ve had siblings cut each other off due to disagreements on how to handle the hoarding situation-
    • We’ve had parents die without any relationship or peace with their children, because the stuff got_in_the_way .
    • Yes, sometimes humor is a very needed thing.
  • Do you have a suggestion on information to include here?
    • Please let us know what would be helpful to include here for new and existing members.
    • This is your group. Your help in making it the best it can be to support COH is always appreciated.
    • Thank you, and welcome!
    • The End.