Thursday, February 18, 2010

Understanding hoarding: local woman shares story

by: Jeffrey Wolf

Erin Shelby remembers the days when she was a successful software engineer who owned three homes, one of which was a pristine 3,000-square-foot house in the mountains. Her living situation now is a lot different. She lives in a one-bedroom condo filled with things she has collected over the years.

"If I was outside walking the dogs and I ran across something that someone threw away, like a vase or a winter coat, I'd pick them up and bring them home," she said.

Shelby collected so many things that the clutter began to take over her life.

She says it began in 2003 when she became disabled and lost her job. With her then-husband already unemployed, the couple could no longer keep up with the mortgage and lost their home.

"That's when the hoarding started," she said. "I really became afraid and I was scared that we would end up on the streets."

Shelby blames her ex-husband for a large amount of the clutter, but admits she played a role too, like the time when she developed a habit of collecting "thousands" of rocks..." More