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Hope's story

I am a little scared to even post. Just found your website as I have been trying/searching for reason as to why I live in a cluttered dirty apartment. I am a professional women, mid forties, show daily, wear nice clothing, am "pleasant" and appear "normal" to friends and family, only they know that they will never be invited over to my apartment. My nieces, now in their late teens stopped asking to see where I lived after age 12 as I wouldn't have them over—ever. Was very uncomfortable each time they asked/begged to see my apartment. BIGGEST FEAR now is that I will have a sudden leak in the apartment and the Super of the building will need immediate access, or there will be a fire in a neighbor's apartment and the fire department will want entry into my apartment to make sure all is okay, etc. I actually once avoided going home when I saw firetrucks outside the apartment building as I feared I might be asked to open my door for them. So, tonight I searched for an explanation as to why I live in "squalor" and in fear as I am exhausted and drained in not having hardly any sleep in 3 days as I did in fact have a big leak in the apartment 3 nights ago and frantically tried to manage the leak myself as I knew it would take days of cleaning to let the Super in. Buckets of water in my apt. had to be emptied every hour or they would overflow. I couldn't sleep anyway as even when I did drift off for a few minutes I was dreaming about the leak and the Super coming in. I think I spend most of my time/life/energy in the actual hiding of my secret. Anyway, back to the leak—after a frantic shoving of garbage into bags (probably half my missing jewelry went out with the garbage) I still had piles and piles of clutter remaining visible. As usual, whenever I HAVE TO let the Super in... I get great big giant white sheets and throw them over the big pile of mess in the living room, kitchen and foyer (I won't let Super into the bedroom). He must think I'm a real nut case. I NEVER request repairs to the apartment or painting or new windows because I can't let anyone in, so the apt. just gets worse and worse. I even turned off the water valve that brings water to the kitchen as I once had a leak there and don't want it to happen again—so I can't use the kitchen sink now. I observe that I overly tip the Super whenever he does come in for an emergency repair (RARE) —I guess I am hoping (IN MY MIND) that he will keep my "secret"——even though all he sees are giant white sheets tossed over clutter—probably covering 80% of the floor space. I shudder to think of what he tells his wife about my place—I shudder whenever I see her and have "small talk"—she sees me as a well-dressed woman etc., but I know she knows that behind my apt. door is a real mystery/mess.

Whenever I want to enter or exit the apartment I must first make sure that no one else is in the hall as even a quick glance into my foyer would reveal an unreal scene. I have had 3 new neighbors in the last 6 years—right next to my apt. door—nice young families, and I always want to "act normal" and say hello to them—only each and every family has never smiled at me or said hello back —even when we see each other in the Lobby or at the mail area—perhaps they know more about me than I think they do?

I buy and buy and buy new toothpaste, toiletries, socks etc. as once I bring in a purchase to the house I cannot find it when I need it. I buy good jewelery but I break it when I step on it (I have a jewelry stand that I purchased still in it's box—like many other purchases that are still boxed and never opened—who remembers what was purchased as out of sight—out of mind).

I have so many clothes—never wear them because I don't know where they are (they are buried). My Aunt died 5 years ago and I remember the way my family reacted to her squalor—with shock! It was piled with junk and filth—no path at all to walk through in the apt. I wonder if this "condition" is hereditary—she and I are identical in how we kept/keep our apartments.

I avoid making friends as I don't want to get "chummy" and have them invite me over to dinner or I will have to reciprocate. This includes some great handsome guys that I "put off" as it could lead to no where as they would of course ask why I don't invite them over at some point (you may already have this on your site—the self-described "chaos syndrome"....that is the "Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome").

I just disinvited a very good friend from staying at my apt. during her summer stay in my City. She asked me in January if she could stay for 3 nights—as I thought I could surely "fix the place" with seven months notice—I said yes (even though I panicked as I said yes). I convinced myself that this is it—now I HAVE TO throw away everything and clean the filthy bathroom, etc. Well as summer is fast approaching I have been losing sleep over her impending visit. I just called her to disinvite her as I know in my heart I will not have the place in shape—even with 3 more months to get ready ! I told her that I was suddenly overrun with bugs and have suffered recent leaks and that it is not a fit place for her to stay. It was a very difficult phone call to make—but not as difficult as it would have been to put the place in order......and now (!!!!!!) I can "hide" again—another "crisis" diverted (so says my "relieved" mind).

Anyway I am fed up—sick and tired of all of this. I feel overwhelmed—unable to cope with the mess. It takes me half an hour just to fill up one garbage bag as I move as if I'm frozen. I have more things than can be stored in the apt. anyway—so no room to "put things in their place". I fear bugs/mice and stop dead in my tracks whenever I come across mice droppings. I actually pay high rent for this place—only use a tiny fraction of it. Re: bugs—last year when I was threatened with eviction if I didn't let the Management in to install new windows (I put them off for 2 years) I HAD TO CLEAN as best I could (still used the giant sheet method to cover everything), I found a half eaten ???? stuffed animal of a bird (maybe a Halloween crow stuffed animal that I bought a dozen years ago), or of a now petrified actual bird that flew into the apt. It must have been eaten my mice—I SCREAMED when I saw it—it was stuck to the floor—stuff nightmares are made of.....

I also fear that I will be in a car accident or other sudden injury and my family will have to go to my apt. to collect mail etc. I think I would rather die, than be injured and have to face my family. I wouldn't be able to explain it to them anyway. Dust, dirt, old fruit peels, mounds of clothes, tons of boxes of stuff that was bought ....

So to end this entry—the leak in the bathroom was fixed tonight—now I can crawl into bed and get some sleep. The bed and the approach to the bed (floor) is covered with clothes and boxes of junk that I hurled in there (on top of the existing junk) in my panic last night (anticipating having the Super come in this morning). I have been through this cycle so many times—of utter sheer panic and fright as something goes drastically wrong in the apt. and it will need the Super's attention. If bad leak occurs during the week, then I call work and request 2 days "emergency personnal time off"....lots of worry about that too. Anyway, after it's all over (Super does his work and leaves) I then spiral back down to a more "relaxed" state....until the next time. Any headway that I made at all (cleaning bathroom sink, toilet, clearing clutter in foyer) is almost immediately undone!!!!!! This to me is the biggest mystery—I must LIKE having the space in an unlivable state as I continually re-junk the place after one of my emergency clean-ups (that is, the frantic throwing of the sheets over the junk method). Why do I do this? Do I loathe myself? I don't think that I do, but there must be an answer!