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August 4, 2005, 12:17 am CDT

Gratitude

Quote From: willowrain

I tried to post and it didnt go through. I spent like two hours writing what I wanted to say. It seems like a lot of that happens. I used to be a really positive person even though bad things kept happening like every single car I have ever owned breaking down and one even breaking down on an anniversary trip. I am not sure that I believe in curses and am not sure that it is negative energy either.

 

Here is my dilemna. I have to interact with my family in order to maintain a relationship with my father who is ill. My Dad is a great Dad and my best friend. He has trouble with his memory now after a stroke and was diagnosed with dementia. His eyesight is also failing so he has trouble sometimes. He worked his whole life and cares only for his family's well-being and this happened just when he was going to retire and enjoy himself. He is young still, only 65. I worry about him and my mother dying constantly. I also worry about my family putting my Dad in a rest home. My Mom threatens that especially when she is angry. I take care of my Dad just fine and would never put him in one of those places. I moved down the street from my birthhome and my parents house with my husband last year. I have tried to get along with other members of my family in different ways but nothing works, it only comes back to negativity. It has always been drama and I am very sick of it, yet it still affects me. My marriage has always been rocky (my husband abandoned and lied to me and forced me to leave my house for 8 months and go to a different coast almost two years ago), but my husband has a point when he says he feels used. My Mom makes comments like "I don't need you guys anymore, I have your sister".  If we make her mad by trying to have boundaries.

 

Whenever I try to relax, bad things happen, really. Today my husband came in and told me that a kitten we were feeding was dead in the parking lot of our apartment. I am devastated because I was going to call a rescue group and try to find a home for him/her and his/her siblings and mother. The kitten appeared fine and was playing with his/her sibling in the sunshine and now is no more. I feel so badly because I am all about helping animals and I feel like I could have saved the little guy/girl. There was no sign of injury. I have five indoor cats of my own and live in a studio. I rescued them all from different places.

 

A week ago we tried to rescue a baby bird that was on a bush being stalked by a cat while its parents called out in distress from the powerlines above. The baby flew into the busy street and then we manages to herd it up to a nearby tree and felt a little relief when a cat swooped in and grabbed it, breaking its neck and eating it. I felt like maybe we shouldn't have interferred, that we tired it out. 

 

I wonder why all of this happens and how I can feel less sad and hopeless. My husband complains constantly about everything but doesn't have any solutions except move away. That is not an option because I cannot leave my Dad and I will not abandon him. I am thankful that he is here and for every single day we spend together. I am really sad about choices I make because they seem like the right ones at the time and then things turn out very wrong like with the bird and the kitten. I have a university degree but not a decent job. I have a high IQ but apparently bad judgement. I try to help others my whole life and really love and care about animals. I don't know what to do to get out of this funky cycle we are in or what this is all supposed to teach us. I look at others and feel fortunate for some things, but my husband insists that we must have been like Hitler in a past life we have such bad luck, and I can't say I disagree. Thanks for listening............

Hi!

 

I can relate to your concerns. I don't think you're "hexed," since reasonable people have cars break down, and some have spouses that aren't always supportive, too.

 

My Mom is in your position, but unlike you, she has Parkinson's Disease. My Dad has a mild case of Altzheimer's, or "dementia," which I think are related. I live far away from my parents; I live on the West Coast, and my folks live on the East Coast, but I visit, usually two to three weeks, when I'm available, once a year. I can cook, read to them, and clean the house during my visits. My siblings are all married, with growing children, and spare some time to visit my parents, too. I'm a single, retired, man, but I'm busy with volunteer activities in my community, and have other committments throughout the year.

 

There's worry that's unreasonable--based on shame or fears that aren't real or even reasonable, and worry that's reasonable--concerns based on real events in one's life. A parent suffering from a disease that's incurable is a real event. So you're OK with any worry concerning your father's health. Don't allow your Father's illness and the fears concerning this to circle or cycle into unreasonable places, like feeling hopeless over the "little problems" day-to-day. 

 

I trust you take care of you, too. A caretaker isn't a caretaker unless his or her needs are met--make sure you take time to service and troubleshoot the car, to go to the theatre or a ball game with your spouse, get the hairdo you like, go out with the girls, and have a relaxing massage once in a while. Be good to yourself, and gentle with yourself and those around you. Staying focused on another person's illness without time out for yourself leaves much to be desired. Balance your time--you are worth every minute away from your Dad. Your Dad will appreciate a daughter who's refreshed, clear minded, and focused. Your attitude towards you matters immeasurably here. Stay positive, move away from invalid past (and present) worries, and remain calm, relaxed, and firm.

 

Easy sounding--but it may take work on your part. I'm here to support, as I have felt intense concerns about my own parents, who are struggling to live in their home of nearly 30 years. They have been husband and wife for nearly 60 years.

 

Mohabee

 
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August 4, 2005, 12:46 am CDT

One With Parkinsons; The Other with Altzheimer's

My Mom, bless her, has been diagnosed with Parkinsons. My Dad is afflicted with altzheimers. Mom and Dad are 79 and 80, respectively. They have lived in the same house for nearly 30 years, and have had a marriage for nearly 60 years. Up to this point, they struggled with the common things couples struggle with, but remained committed to one another. My Mom, the stronger of the two now, has a number of tasks to shoulder, many of which she has no experience with, or is physically unable to complete. They have a woman clean the house twice a week, and a neighbor man comes around to mow the lawn and do handyman tasks.

 

I just came home, to where I live in California, from where Mom and Dad live, in Pennsylvania, after the annual trip I make to visit them Things have changed in the house this time, though. I found myself getting sad that my Dad was unable to drive, let alone ride a lawn tractor, which was once his favorite outdoor activity. He is mostly lucid, and can read a newspaper and talk intelligently about the articles he read. My Mom is unable to fold linens or to cook, though she's able to drive a short distance to see the doctor, or to take herself and my Dad to a neighborhood buffet restaurant, to eat one meal a day.

 

I guess my love for my parents and my compassion are real, but I'm concerned that they will both need a helper, in order to continue living in their house, and maintain health themselves. My Mom is worried and cried many times on my shoulder. She's scared. I found myself sobbing with her, but I kept my composure despite my sadness.

 

I hope that someone on this list can help me understand what Parkinsons is, and what Altzheimer's is--these are two diseases that I'm aware of (my Dad's mother and sister died with Altzheimer's), but need some education about how to deal with two parents and these illnesses.

 
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November 18, 2005, 12:12 am CST

Feedback about male-identified athletic pursuits

Hi Dr. Phil, and Everybody! 

  

I noticed that the "feedback" button for this show isn't working, at least if one isn't signed in before selecting it--just a suggestion to the webmaster: place a link to "feedback" on the member sign-in page. 

  

Now to my comment about the show about "I'm Gay..." 

  

The third couple has a young male child, and the parents are fearful that the boy will be gay, simply on the observation that he seems to like dolls, and looks a certain way in the mirror, etc. Dr. Phil made some good observations. One of these was, that in time, the boy might be encoraged to find activites moreso related to being male, and presumably (my presumption), "heterosexual." 

  

 My question is: which activities? There are a number of athletic pursuits that seem "heterosexual," in which known homosexuals participate, and there are some athletic pursuits that seem "gay," in which many known  "straight" men participate. 

  

I'm really tired of hearing about stereotypes. Let the boy take ballet class, or join a soccer team. Let him become a cheerleader, or join a football team.  Let him take up basketball, or join the marching band. Give the kid a choice, based upon his interests, not on what he might be perceived as. 

  

I'm a retired professional dancer. As one who wants to encourage more young men to take up ballet or other forms of dance, i participate in many dance and ballet discussion boards. The one stigma many boys who want to dance, at least in the U.S.A., is the fear that someone (more often than not, fathers) in their family, or their friends will think they are gay. What I tell such a young person, to help resolve this dillemma, is to be focused on the dance. Dance class helped me become aware of myself, and strengthened my body, offered a means of creative expression, and helped me attain self-esteem, so that I could overcome the bullies. It became the tool and later, career path I chose. Dance is neither heterosexual or homosexual. There are male dancers who are "straight," there are male dancers who are "gay." 

  

This can be enlarged to a bigger picture--the best athletes are focused, passionate individuals. The best artists are focused, passionate individuals. One's expression is based on passion and the desire to excel. Those who make rude remarks about the pursuits of others are simply rude--and can be gracefully ignored or avoided. 

  

  

  

 
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June 17, 2006, 9:03 pm CDT

Suggestions On Getting Started

Hi Everybody! 

  

I'm moving--not across town,not across the state line, not even down the block. The owners of the property I watch have been looking at my clutter in the room I live in, and decided that they wanted me out of the house. So although I'm thankful I've not been fired, I've been busted.  

  

So I'm reluctantly moving to a cabin that's 1/2 the space of my present room, and will also use a storage cabin that's about the same size of the cabin I'll be sleeping in. If that's not frustrating enough, I have to clean up this mess, and prepare for the day that the cabin will be finished. 

  

So here's my plan to clean up: 

  

I've already gone through the old magazines, newspapers, and even some high school and college papers that I thought had some personal value. Those are the keepers. I'll also holding onto family picture albums, and the art that I have created over the years. 

  

Everything that is over five years old, or has not been read, touched, or is in any way not useful, or is still in it's original container, will be given to charity thrift stores, will go to the recycle place in town, will be given to friends who can use it, or will be sold on Ebay. I think green--the garbage and waste landfills are too full of junk, for me to consider throwing anything in the trash (unless it's a broken item). 

  

After eight years of subscribing to magazines, I've decided to cut my in-flow of magazines, and will save money doing this. I will choose amongst the 22 subscriptions I now have, and plan to pare down to half or greater, once the current subscriptions have expired.  Most magazines are available on the web, anyhow, so I can refer to the ones that I no longer subscribe to via the WWW. 

  

Note that this is my mode of thinking when I have moved in the past. The last move, from San Francisco to the S. California desert region, was nearly nine years ago. Five years seems to be the time lapse between something "collecting dust" and something that is still useful.  

  

I'm offering this drastic measure to anyone who needs a little push. Start simple, then get to the back of shelves, the top of the floor, or start destacking the piles from the ceiling. I just did this, and I took time to decide to "toss" or "save." My car is now full of "toss." Most of it is good items that the charity thrift stores can sell. There is a recycle pile in the car too. Newspapers, uncoated magazines, and other papers can be recylced, and sold at the current scrap rate ($1.00 per ton). I won't get rich doing this, but at least I know the landfill isn't getting fuller by me. Some of my things I'll sell on Ebay, such as an old HO train set I played with as a boy. I also have friends who like to read, so I give them magazines I know they will want and enjoy. 

  

I hope that anyone who goes through their things will consider recycling first, then donating, instead of unceremonious "dumping" in the garbage. 

  

I'll keep you posted on my progress.  

  

Best wishes! 

  

Mohabee 

 
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June 19, 2006, 4:56 pm CDT

Getting Started!

Quote From: karen8363

Dear Dr Phil, I don't know why but when have cludder in my apartment I feel safer some how.  I feel protected.  Can't invite people over not that i would put i would like the option.  I have a phyical disability that limits how long i can clean.  I have to do a few mins and then have to stop because of the pain.  And once i stop it hard to start again.   Please HELP!!! 

I empahize with you. Thanks for this message.   

  

Yes, having a cluttered life is a somewhat reassuring thing. We ("clutterbugs") don't really see what others see, however. If there isn't space for others to visit, then you need to make space, and your work is cut out for you. 

  

Since it's difficult for you to move things, I suggest contacting someone (a friend or relative) who has the time and physical ability, to help you get started. If you are able, hire someone who cleans houses.  

  

Before the helpers come over, get the items ready--mark the piles you know something about, and take colored tape, one color "toss," and the other "save." The heavier, neglected stuff, you might wait until "company" arrives, to help you lift piles and sort.  

  

Since you're not too specific about the amount of clutter, nor am I familiar with you personally, I won't make further suggestions, other than begin by stopping the collecting. The less you bring (or allow others to bring) into the apartment, the less likely you are to be messy.  Bring in only things that are useful (such as a telephone, TV, or sofa), necessary for life (such as food, clothing, etc.), or brings you true joy and comfort (such as family photo albums). 

  

My guess is that you might want to confide further about your "hiding" behind the clutter, with a therapist or a clergy person. Some rhetorical questions (just think about these questions): What are you hiding from? What are you afraid your visitors will find? Is your disability obvious, and are you self-conscious about the obvious attributes?  

  

As a pack rat who is going through his old things right now, I can say stripping away the clutter helps me be clear about me. My things aren't "me". I can live pretty much without things other than  just the simple things, like clothes, this computer, and my TV.  

  

My first question, when I look at the items on a heap: what items will I use in the next five years? Will I miss not having this item? What value do I have for this item? Can I seriously live without having several copies of the same magazine or newspaper, or more than five identical pens?  

  

The positive thing about your note is that you're taking the first step--acknowledgement of the problem and seeing what you have, is quite helpful in getting started. Your next step is to stop the inflow, and decrease what you can, that's keeping visitors away.   

  

One other thing that I empathize with--I had two back surgeries, and I'm recovering from a broken ankle. I take my time, I lift only what I can, or I break down the stacks into smaller,  lighter piles, so that I can move things on my own. I use wheels--dollies and other carts that roll freely. I also take time out when the pain levels are too high. But I keep working at making my space neater, moreso organized, and inviting to friends and others who I want to see the space. I have friends who understand what I'm doing, who can help me move heavy things.   

  

Keep us appraised of your progress.  

 
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June 19, 2006, 5:11 pm CDT

One Dumpster

Quote From: richs54

Last fall I rented a dumpster to clean out my garage. I filled it full, and could hardly believe it. But, even then my house is still cluttered up, as I "may need it one day".,  Help!

Wow--I hope the next dumpster is one construction crews use, when tearing out walls and roofs from buildings!  

   

What is guiding your need to keep things? Think about this. I have a clutter problem, that might be rooted many years ago, when my grandparents saved nearly every scrap of paper!  

   

The question I ask when I look at an item on my "collection pile:" Will I really use this item in the next 5 years?" Has this item occupied my home for the last 5 years without ues? The only things that I can hold onto are items that I need, or that truly bring me joy. Items I've ignored for many years don't bring me joy, nor are they obviously useful.  

   

I hope this is helpful.   

 
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June 19, 2006, 5:32 pm CDT

Too Much Space

Quote From: lisas08


HELP I am going crazy,
no you don't understand I am really going crazy.
I am going nuts so bad that I put my self in a depressing state. every time I look at my House.
MY Husband is the biggest packrat. Not as bad as the man that had to move out of his house but I think that next.
We live in a 26000 house and it is packed we have 2 storage units one with a loft that is packed to the top.
He is Turing my kids in to packrats too.
I try to throw a way school work and my kids say Mom that is going to be worth money one day we need to save all of our school work. every thing is going to be worth money
My kids are 9 and 7  What do I do????
I always close the blinds in the house so no one can see in. I think we have a garage but I cant find it.
is driving me nuts.
I am no angel but I don't keep my 501 Levi's from 1986 NO Joke!!! or the wheels and tiers from my first car from the 80's if you wish I will try to find 1 of our 10 video creamers to show you. yep that right he keeps buying things because he cant find things that we all ready have.
some times we get in to big fights for 2 to 3 days over this.
 just yesterday My Kids wanted to ride there bikes so I spent 1 hr 1/2 digging them out of the garage I think its a garage and all this stuff fell down on me I don't know where it came from. My Husband tooled me that I better clean it up. or has going to be pissed at me. I said be pissed and me then, I don't care I am not going to clean it! No Now No how. so I guess he mad at me.
Hmm I guess it going to be quite a round here. My Kids cant go get there toys out of the garage because they will get hurt or get killed. all of there friends stay 2 feet a way from the garage just in case something falls.
Help me before I go to a padded room!!!! Please please.
Lisa

I don't know anything about you or your husband, Lisa. I think the piles of things are indicative of deeper-rooted problems that you might consider confiding to a therapist or a clergy person.  

   

There are several issues your husband and you might need to think about: Is homeowner's insurance difficult to procure, or high in price, in your neighborhood? Do you live in a known earthquake, tornado, or other natural disaster zone? Are the things in storage and in your house difficult for a firefighter to do his duty, if you need emergency services? If all of the answers are "Yes," then you will need to go to work on reducing the clutter.  

   

Although you might think the clutter is something that will "stay in the family," it probably is noticed by others, such as neighbors, and people like postal delivery persons and others who come uninvited, but on duty. If a disaster hits your house, it could be costly to your neighbors, in terms of increased home owner's insurance, or having the wind lift the roof off, and everything in your house or storage is scattered on a neighbor's lawn.  

   

I realize the disaster possiblity is low on your priority list, but it really needs to be moved up several notches.  

   

I empathise with you. Keep us appraised of your progress.  

   

   

 
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June 20, 2006, 7:36 pm CDT

Terminology 101: Hoarders, packrats, and clutterbugs

Hi Everybody!  

  

I've been looking through the many messages about being one who collects useless items, or about one who does so to prevent others from having something, or someone who is simply messy. I call them, respectively, "clutter bugs," "hoarders," and "packrats."  

  

"Hoarder" seems to describe someone who collects and keeps many things, but is doing this to prevent others from collecting the same things. In other words, a "hoarder" is one with selfish intentions. An instance I can think of is on Ebay--some collectors rally for an obsolete  item, and then proceed to outbid others, to claim the "prize." Unfortunately, the hoarder already has several identical items! Most hoarders boast about their collections, which are sometimes simply a waste of time to begin with, and really shows no joy or enthusiasm about the collection.  

  

"Packrat" seems to describe someone who is plain messy--no observable order. Dirty pots and pans remain on the stove, and in the sink for days, for instance. A real packrat lives out here in the Mojave Desert. It is a rodent that makes a nest out of sticks, discarded trash from it's human counterparts, and sometimes other animal nest parts! Ironically, the real pack rat is orderly, and like all non-human animals, driven by instinct and limited intelligence.  

  

"Clutter bug" seems to indicate someone who is obsessed with clutter to the point of being blind to both the possibility of disaster, and the possibility of danger to him or herself and their families. We see many news accounts of someone's home being destroyed by fire, but the firefighters can't get inside, because of the piles and piles of stacked newspapers, or other things. Sadly, this really makes life difficult, not only for the clutter bug, but also for the neighborhood, since homeowner insurance rates get higher, or it is unobtainable, due to one or two households in the same neighborhood, that are truly "junky."  

  

Now, I think that one can have the qualities of one, or any of the above attributes. One can manage to have all three potentially destructive attributes, too.  

  

I want to acknowledge true collectors. A true collector has a passion for what he or she is collecting. There is joy when a collector shows a friend or trusted visitor, the collection. A true collection is fully documented, and responsibility for obligations, such as licensure, or insurance for rare items, is paid by the true collector.  

  

I know several antique automobile "nuts." One has a vast warehouse, where his old cars are parked neatly, bumper to bumper. He hires a mechanic, who has a shop near the warehouse, and "new" cars that are added to the collection can be inspected and repaired as needed. I think "Rudy" is a passionate antique car collector.  All of the cars are registered to the state they are stored in, and he has insurance coverage on each vehicle. Rudy showed me his database, which not only lists the make, model, and date of manufacture of each car, but he hired a photographer to take pictures of the cars, too.  

  

In contrast to this orderly collection, "Ed" is a hoarder, and borderline clutter bug. His old cars are in disrepair, and stand, sadly, in the wind and heat of the desert, outside. His inability to repair or manage time to work on these old cars, makes for a potentially dangerous situation, since oil leaks into the soil, and one is not certain if the leak comes from the oil pan, at the engine, or is gasoline, from the gas tank. He buys dilapidated cars, despite the fact that he really can't afford to repair them, or register the license plates, or even bring them up to near the level that Rudy brings his cars. Ed not only hoards cars, that Rudy or his counterparts, could buy, but the space the cars occupy, and the sorry state of the soil under the cars, could serve a better purpose. Ed shows no joy in collecting cars, but claims that someday, the value of these vehicles will increase, despite the bumps, dents, and leaks.  

  

I'd like to hear feedback about my definitions of the common terms that people call themselves, under the "throw it out" banner.  

  

Best wishes!  

  

Mohabee  

 
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June 20, 2006, 8:13 pm CDT

Empathy for Biggrlovr

Quote From: vlb9773

Hi Biggrlovr!  

   

I empathize with you, about moving things from one place to the next, to the next, and having boxes that were stored, but not unpacked. over the many years of moving about. I have several boxes, too that occupy my overhead storage in the house. The things inside I'm passionalte about, however, so I think of this as a true collection--the boxes contain momentos from my Mom's family, and her ancestors. The labels clearly indicate what is inside, and what each item has to do with the other items.  

   

So don't despair if the boxes contain things that bring you joy. If on the other hand, the unpacked boxes hold things of no value to you, such as clothing you no longer wear, take it to the locat charity thrift store.   

   

I have ADD, which adds to my messy-ness. I sometimes find myself starting projects that I don't finish, so my work on uncluttering is "clutter " to the eyes of those around me. I don't think I can make anyone understand me, and I've taken ritalin, adderall, and the other stimulants, to no avail. So yes, things will look out of line, since my brain chemistry misfires from time to time. The struggle I sometimes go through is often uglier than the sight of my clutter, believe me!  

   

Getting beyond the deaths of loved ones, and also one's own disabilities, can lead to depression. Almost every person I know who might be considers a clutter bug, has typically gone through a period of depression. I have been depressed, sometimes severely, but somehow I am now hopeful and even joyful.  

   

My siggestion to you: keep it simple. Live with only things that are useful, things that you must have, and things that bring you joy. Keep it balanced, so that you can live with your own living space. I actually like not having things in neat, predictable order, but I'm observed by others, like a fish in a goldfish bowl, so I must go against my own preferamces from time to time, to get along with those who share this living space.  

   

Blessings to you!  

   

Mohabee  

   

   

 

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