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How one Marie Kondo book helped me fight hoarding disorder

Marie Kondo's book sits pretty on a blanket

NOTE: This is an older post from a past blog theme before the 2023 rebrand.

June 2020: 20-year-old me had just started a new job through a local thrift store.

It was an unwise career choice for a hoarder, especially one lost in grief over the death of beloved cat Winston. Marie Kondo was only a meme I’d seen in passing by this time. Within my first six months working at this thrift store, I spent nearly $2000 on stuff that caught my eye as I worked. I didn’t even stop to think if I needed any of this stuff!

A copy of Marie Kondo's book sits pretty on a blanket.
The book that started it all

By September, I had nearly 120 new books on my bookshelves that I had arranged in an organized gradient of colors. I had picked these books solely on their appealing covers. They had spent months on my shelf, and their only purpose? Decoration. 

I had so many new articles of clothing that I had to purchase another drawer set to store them. 

None of my surface space was visible; it was all covered in secondhand Funko pops, pretty rocks, technology that I no longer used, paper junk, fake plants, and other knickknacks that had no other place or purpose. 

Movie posters, thrifted art prints, old vinyl records, and stickers covered my walls.

I had stuffed away allowance money in my savings account through childhood, only to throw it away on junk. No matter how anxious I felt walking over piles of it in my bedroom, I still craved more. So I bought more. Having so much made me anxious. Yet somehow, buying more made it better… for the day.

It started with a book!

During one particular shift during a slow day, I was in charge of pulling old books and stocking new ones on the shelves of the store. A pretty cover of an unusually-sized book caught my eye: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I had heard that name before but had never interacted with any of the author’s work. I had no certain plans to read it, but I wanted it to sit pretty on my shelf. So I happily pulled out my debit card during my break and bought it before heading straight back to our break room. 

As I ate my snack, I flipped through the book to look at its formatting. The neat serif font and strategically-placed titles got my attention. The depressed hoarder in me rejoiced to know that I had such a pretty book in my collection!

The first title in chapter one, “You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how”, made me tell myself, “I know how to tidy!” But one look at my room when I got home told me I don’t. It didn’t matter how many times I had cleaned up my room on orders from my parents; I truly didn’t know how to properly tidy.

This was what I saw that day post-shift in September of 2020.

A photo of my room with junk covering the floors, surfaces, and my bed.
A maze of junk that I somehow could hide when guests came over.

I stopped at my door and took this photo. I paused to stare. The reality hit me head-on. I had a dog living with me in this mess. In this filth. What kind of pet parent am I when I can’t give my dog room to walk without having to dodge piles of junk? Piles of garbage?

I made myself some ramen with chicken and herbs, sat down, took my first bite, and dove into the book. I somehow managed to finish the entire book before I went to bed that night.

The next morning…

I awoke with a new outlook. Does this item truly ‘spark joy,’ as Marie Kondo said? No? I had it taken away from my room immediately in a big box. Over the next few months, I donated boxes and boxes of things while I discovered new inspirations.

Watching Shelbizleee‘s sustainability vlogs on YouTube as I tidied made me anxiously aware of my footprint on this earth.

Watching Aurikatariina’s cleaning vlogs on Instagram and YouTube gave me hope that I can conquer my depression-induced hoarding disorder and dirty living spaces. 

A photo of my room, still cluttered, but with actual floor space.
While the hoarding was much less evident here, I still had a ways to go before I could even be considered a follower of eco-minimalism!

It took well into spring to finally get my room properly habitable. But the urge to buy was still there. I had purged, purged, purged, but I brought home more books. More empty journals. More fake plants. While I had conquered other categories, I still struggled with compulsive purchases of things that I felt truly made me happy. 

I ran out of shelf space for my books and journals, and surface space for my fake plants. 

I still was unhappy with how I was living and didn’t know what else I needed to keep my new lifestyle.

Phase Two

June 2021 hit and I hopped on my first ever plane to complete a requirement for my degree in Sevilla, Spain. While the complete story will be given another day, my life was revolutionized by the work-to-live mentality and sustainable, laid-back lifestyle of the people of Southern Spain.

Upon my return, I made myself some promises.

  • For every article of clothing brought home, I will donate two.
  • I will not let myself be one of Corporate America’s work drones until the day I can afford to retire.
  • My money will go towards things that better me and make me truly happy.
  • The way I eat will change by me making more homemade meals and reducing my meat intake.
  • My living spaces will be treated as if I’m expecting Keanu Reeves to stop by for dinner.
  • I will work less by increasing my passive income through what makes me happy.

Heading on back to YouTube, I searched for more people to influence my way of living. In doing so, I found minimalism.

Gabe Bult, Heal Your Living, Matt D’Avella, and Marissa Zen kick-started my journey into buying and owning less. Combining these with sustainability gave me eco-minimalism, a term coined by Shelbizleee. I compared my book collection with titles I could get from the library. I kept my Marie Kondo book for another read. Then, I organized my existing fake plants into appealing sections and gave away the ones I felt didn’t fit my space. I gave away all of my empty journals, as I already had note-taking software on my tablet that could let me write instead of type. By the end of this purging phase, which was in fall of 2021, a friend of mine told me my shelves looked like I had ‘sucked the life out of them,’ but I was okay with that.

I was starting to truly be happy with where my life was taking me. It astounded me to realize that the less I owned, the less depression I suffered. My anxiety started to noticeably disappear. I was able to start getting good sleep every night, stop taking CBD oil, put back so much more of my income into savings, and start a retirement investments account that I’m able to regularly contribute to. My dog can finally roll around on my floor and play tag with my new cat.

My fight against hoarding disorder had truly begun with Marie Kondo!

Final remarks

I am so happy to be able to document my story with you. I hope it helps you! If you are struggling in the place that I was over a year ago, please stick around and subscribe to this blog. I plan to make posts about sustainability, decluttering and minimalism, overcoming my hoarding disorder, and living more simply and happily. Update July 2023: I no longer post about eco-minimalism as my primary blog theme.

Send me a message if you’d like to get in touch with me!

Thank you for reading!

Bek

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