Most people today are familiar with the term “hoarding”. Whether it’s from television or every day conversation, the word gets thrown around often. It seems especially common in the online plant community, including hashtags and usernames. #Houseplanthoarder is honestly something I tag in my own Instagram posts.
So why am I bringing this up? Because I’m a, we’ll say recovering, actual hoarder. And I don’t think that my collection of over 50 houseplants is completely removed from that.
If you’ve watched the TV show Hoarders, you can envision what one of their houses look like. I grew up in a similar environment. My dad is a hoarder and my mom is overworked and without the energy to deal with it. I certainly contributed to the situation myself, as some kind of mix of nature and nurture.
Moving out of that environment when I was 19 didn’t stop my habits or the way my brain is wired. Luckily my first roommate was a heavy cleaner and made up for a lot of my messiness. However my next roommate was in a rough depression during the two years we lived together, and not unlike my mother, didn’t have the energy to clean or deal with my tendencies. When he moved back with his parents after college, I stayed in that house and let it get worse.
As some sort of deep karma would have it, my partner of almost 9 years grew up in the same situation. His mom is a hoarder, their house that he lived in until we got married looks like the Hoarders TV show, and that same nature/nurture concoction has given him hoarding tendencies. He’s especially adamant, however, that we will not end up like our parents. We purchased our first home in November, and we’re trying our hardest to overcome our bad habits.
I mentioned earlier that I consider myself a recovering hoarder. A combination of deep personal work, friends who can lead by example, a partner holding me accountable, anxiety medication, and a desperate need to live a healthier life than my parents have allowed for a lot of healing. But it’s still a part of me. When I go plant shopping at the nursery or online, I’m flooded with endorphins that sometimes turn to shame.
I’ve written previously about how caring for plants can help your mental health, and I truly do believe that. Being around my plants improves my mood and relieves stress and anxiety without a doubt. And I would love to turn this into my career, eventually having my own nursery. However, there’s a fine line to walk and make sure I’m not over doing it. Having mental health disorders can blur those lines in a way that abled people don’t have to worry about.
When people casually throw out the term “hoarding” it makes me cringe. It’s such a huge part of my life and something that holds a lot of shame and stigma. But for some reason when I’m using the hashtag #houseplanthoarder I’m not cringing. Maybe because it feels accurate, like a cute way to place a shameful label on myself.
Is hoarding something you’d like to read more about? Feel free to let me know in the comments. I could (and probably should) write about it forever.