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Hi!


I've been trapped in my mother's house ever since I was a young girl (I'd say around 8 years old, I'm 23 now) and ever since I can remember, she has had a severe hoarding problem. I'm not quite sure how old she is exactly due to how defensive she has been over her age, but I estimate she's over 60+ years old now. I had to grow up quickly to take care of her and deal with her hoarding issues along with what I assume are horrible mental issues, judging on the way I was raised. There's a lot of story I could tell, but the jist of it is, I can't support her and I don't even have the tools to support myself due to how isolated I was growing up and how I wasn't allowed an education.


I have no other family or even friends to help me figure this out and I'm reaching my limit. Something has to change, but I don't know how to move forward, so I'm trying forums and extensive research to try to make a difference. I've tried talking to her about ways to help with her hoarding issues, but she's in denial, refuses help and doesn't want me or anyone else touching her mess because there's 'good stuff here'. She's also very emotionally abusive, so trying to reason with her is difficult in its own right.


There's mold on the walls, a mice infestation, no working plumbing, barely any lighting, all sorts of garbage and useless cluttered piled up, sewage in the bath tub -- plenty of health hazards and the common 'goat trail' where things are too stuffy to navigate other than a designated, suffocating pathway that threatens to trip you up every time you attempt to navigate it. Rotten food, animal feces, the list goes on.


I have no idea what to do. Should I turn her in to Social Services? The Health Department? Something? I feel lost and I'm barely coping. If someone has some guidance, I'd appreciate it.

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I’m very glad you’re reaching out for help. You write very well for someone who feels their education was lacking. My brother is a hoarder. I can tell you from years of experience with him, there’s no fixing it, it’s a mental disorder, and hoarders can’t be reasoned with about their stuff. They are truly more attached to it than to their family or anything else in life. We’ve done the clean out several times with brother, only to watch it all reappear and get even worse. We finally learned to stop doing it. As for your situation, absolutely report to anyone who will listen. While it’s true you can’t change mom, you very much deserve and need a different life. You need to live somewhere clean, and reporting the mess is your first step toward moving out and getting a better life. My brothers children are adults now, both live away from him, and both are very strict about living in clean homes. They crave what they didn’t grow up with, clean homes, and they finally have it. They have friends who can come over without fear of humiliation and embarrassment. Don’t let your mom guilt you, she’s mentally ill, it’s time to honor her by reporting the situation, after all what if there was a fire or medical emergency and no one could get to her? Do what’s best for you both and take action. Keep us posted, you’ve found a group that cares
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Shell38314 Mar 25, 2019
My mother is a hoarder although it wasn't as bad as most because of my dad, but nonetheless, I too always craved a clean house.
However, she did get bad after my dad passed away. Now, I am cleaning out the house. Because once again I have a need for a clean house.

She is to young to have to deal with this mess. You give great advice Daughterof1930.
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You're 23, so you are past being what anyone would consider being an "adult". Not sure you need to "emancipate" yourself at this age.

Just make plans to move..and do so. AT 23 you really should be on your own. I know you probably will feel some guilt about leaving your mom with the hoarding issues at hand, but I also bet you have tried to deal with her hoarding forever. You have not had a "normal childhood" and if this included neglect or abuse, I hope you can find good support as you move forward with your own life.

Hoarding, while interesting as a subject of a documentary or TV series--is truly horrible to live with. My mom was a 'clean' hoarder and we grew up in such a big house, it was not noticeable. Now in a small add-on apartment, wow, she is packed in there with every conceivable thing---75% of her junk she does not need and never will. I have had to step WAAAAAY back and not visit her b/c the smell is bad, the dirty surfaces, while under control, is still way too bad to even consider eating at her place. She's still a "tidy" hoarder, things are sort of organized, but she still refuses to let her bathroom trash go out more than once a week (soggy wets depends a week old...you get a whiff of what I'm saying)..and she has cabinets crammed with old, sticky tupperware and such...I'd pay money if she'd let me clean, but a few years ago in a fit of Kondo-cleaning I threw out a rubber frog my nephew gave her. She allowed me to toss it, but late that night she was in the trash, digging it out. I was never allowed to clean again.

You start your own life--free of the chains of clutter and be your own person. You should turn your mother into the dept of health and depending on how you feel about her--either hang around for the aftermath or run as fast as you can.

You can apply for welfare to get yourself on your feet. You might look into sharing an apartment or simply renting a room from someone. Do you have a church you belong to?

People who are hard workers will always rise to the surface. Doesn't sound like you want a hand out--just a hand up.

We had a young man live with us for 2 years, rent free as long as he worked and went to school. I like to think we helped him. There are people like us---I just wanted to see him succeed and he was completely alone in the world.

You write very well for someone who says they have little education. I think you should be able to find help for your situation online as far as personal "movement".

As far as your mom--she sounds pretty far gone. You can stay as involved wiht her life as much as you feel is healthy--but I will add my 2 cents worth to the knowledge that hoarders are nigh unto impossible to help---and impossible to "cure".

Take care of YOURSELF!!
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NYDaughterInLaw Mar 25, 2019
I meant emancipate in the basic definition of the verb i.e. to set herself free from her mother and her mother's restrictions. I did not mean emancipate in the legal definition.

Although chronologically she is an adult, this 23 year old may be a child emotionally, depending on how much emotional abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother.
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How do you support yourself? Are you working? You need to get out of this house and away from your mother’s unhealthy and downright dangerous lifestyle. Mold can be deadly. Your mother is mentally ill and poses a threat to your welfare.

How did your bypass going to school? There are laws requiring all children to attend.

Yes, you need to call Adult Protective Services and report an adult at risk. You also need to call the Health Department. If there is anyone—a friend or relative you can stay with, pack and bag and go. There is no convincing your mother to change her lifestyle. She needs professional help and probably institutionalization. What she has done to you is abuse. Get out. Now.
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First of all what kind of education were you not allowed? High school? College? Do you have a job? Do you drive?

You can't change your mom, nor can you help her with her hoarding or any mental illnesses she may have. But you can make changes in your life.

If the house is bad as you say and you call social services or who ever and they will condemne the house and where would you live?

You need to take care of yourself. You need to get a job if you don't have one and start saving your money. If you can take some classes at your community college would be great. You need to start bulding a life for yourself. I know you want to help your mom, but I am going to tell you something that I wished someone would of told me at your age...you can't help your mom! You can only help yourself!

I am sure others here will have more advice for you.

God bless you.
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You do write very well. You could get your high school diploma online.

I think your mother has brainwashed and beat you down so much that you don't have any self-confidence.

You need to focus on what you have done; you know how to write, spell, you got a job, you made some friends online, and more importantly, you have reach out to get help.

Change is scary for everyone no matter if they are highly educated or not; if they are young, middle age, or old. Sometimes we just have to walk out on faith and believe if we fall that God will catch us.

If you decide to move out of state with an online friend, do you have someone you can trust to give them your information on where you are going and a number to reach you. Just a safety net.

When I was 23yrs old. I bought a bus ticket and I only had 73.00 dollars in my pocket. It took me 3 days to get to NC where I stayed with a friend. Within a few days I had a job, in a few months I had friends and was dating. I am telling you these things because the unknown is always scary, but once you get through it you come to realize that it isn't all that bad.
But you need to be smart about. I believe that you are smarter than you think you are. You just never had anyone to tell you that. You also deserve a life and happiness.

Your not screwed you just think you are! Your scared and that is ok we have all been there! But sooner or later you will have to learn to stand on your own two feet and when you do, you will be amaze how good it will feel.

You are not your mother's prisoner. Please don't waste your life.

Keep us inform please.
God bless you. We are here for you😀
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Where is your birth certificate? All the information you need to emancipate yourself from your mother is on your birth certificate. You will need it to file for all the paperwork an adult needs to start living as an adult. Given how well you write, you can find employment and make a plan to move out.
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LetsMove, thanks for letting us know more. I’m glad you’re making plans and intend to report the current situation. Please don’t discuss any of this with your mom, I’m afraid she’ll only use anything you say to further intimidate and manipulate you. Would hate to see you discouraged out of doing what’s best for you. See if there’s a way to contact any relatives, you might find good people or maybe crazy, but it’d be nice to know what’s there and if there’s possible support for your journey. Be careful with friends you’ve met only online, they may be great, but be aware all online can also not be what it seems. Look up the website for children of hoarders if you haven’t already, you’ll see a lot of common bonds. If you think it’ll be a while before you can put this in motion consider getting another local job to further build your savings, and by the way, good job on saving! You have a bright future ahead of you.
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I appreciate the answers and all the support here. It's honestly more support than I've ever received from my mother and it helps a lot. I was always told: 'if anyone knew about the way we lived, they'd think you were disgusting and want nothing to do with you'. It's like she knows how she lives is wrong, but she doesn't want to take responsibility for it or take steps to fix it.

To answer some questions, I don't have a high school education nor much of anything else. It's a little complicated, but basically, my mother has been very good at dodging the law. I was 'home schooled' because she didn't want me going to public school, but she didn't actually teach me anything. I was fortunate enough to have a computer with internet access, though, which has been my main method of coping. Writing actually became a hobby, so I appreciate the compliments about the way I write.

My mom has been the one 'supporting' me. By that, I mean she'll bring home some food and pay for clothes to be washed once every three weeks or so. For a long time, I did want to help her and I think deep down I still want to, but I've slowly come to terms with the fact that I just need to help myself at this point and that it's not my fault she's the way she is. I know I need to get out, but its been a challenge because I feel like I'm ill-equipped to deal with life, or maybe I feel that way because she constantly tells me that: 'I'm screwed if anything happens to her'.

I can't drive and don't have a license and I don't have a way to contact any saner relatives because my mom specifically kept them out of her life and she always told me that they were the crazy ones, but I'm starting to believe otherwise. I can definitely keep you guys updated, though. I've found some friends online who have offered me places to stay while I get on my feet (though, they live in different states so I need to actually get there first) but I've already started making progress.

I managed to get a job at a nearby business earlier this year, but they're closing down and I'm going to be out of a job. However, I managed to amass a little over $1000 which I think is enough to do something. I think I'm going to use some of it to move out of state and in with a friend, but it's scary and I'm constantly worried there's stuff I'm not accounting for in my plans. I know I need to force change, though, so I'm going to find the courage to do so.

She doesn't actually want me to move out and wants me to live in this house and take care of her when she's finally too old that she's unable to work, so it's definitely going to be difficult, but I can do it.

Thank you for the help. I'm going to report her, it's the best thing I can do for both myself and her. I'll move out, too. It probably won't be an immediate thing, but once I steel myself and get past how scared I am, I'll follow through and make sure you guys know how it goes.

If there's any other questions you'd like answered, let me know and I'll do my best to respond.
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Hi, LetsMove. I have a suggestion for how you might support yourself once you embark on your big adventure and get moved to a new location. With your admirable writing skills, check out some online editing or transcribing possibilities. No specific names come to mind at the moment (I'm in bed, lol!) but I plan to check it out myself in the next day or so. A friend suggested this to me. Since you can work from home, you wouldn't need special work clothes or a car with attendant expenses like gas, insurance, etc.

It's worth looking into anyway and sounds like it might be right up your alley. Wishing you all the best!
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