I am writing this post today to celebrate two things. My doctor’s visit today not only came back with positive post-op results (no cancer cells in the cyst), but it was free. And while I waited at Walmart for my prescription to be filled at the pharmacy, I found the two Equestria Girls that finish my collection. I spent the co-pay (that I didn’t have to pay) on Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy (I made that rhyme without a try!) Yay me!
But I have also come to the sobering realization that my collecting mania may actually be a form of mental illness. After all, my daughter is now 20 and not really interested in My Little Pony any longer. That excuse no longer flies. My wife has lost interest in collecting also (although she still collects clothes and shoes with a gusto that shames Imelda Marcos.)
So why do I do this collecting thing so relentlessly? Is it a serious mental disorder? As always I turned to the internet to diagnose myself with life-threatening conditions based on one, or possibly two symptoms. I may be doomed. What I found was an explanation of Hoarding Disorder.
Yes, I inherited it from Grandma Beyer. She hoarded all sorts of stuff in her little house in Mason City, Iowa. In her basement, when they cleaned out the house, she still had wrapping paper from Christmases in the 1930’s. It was in stacks. neatly folded and ready to be re-used. According to the Psychology Today website article about extreme collecting, one of the first signs of the disorder is the inability to part with personal possessions no matter their actual value. Never in all the years we spent Christmases together did I ever notice Grandma re-using wrapping paper. She actually kept that stuff for the memories they invoked and the sentimental value they held for her. My mother ended up throwing out all that wrapping paper when the house was sold.
Another indicator is the extreme cluttering of the home, to the point of rendering living spaces unlivable. One glance at the upstairs hallway sends shivers down my weak little hoarder’s spine.
There are any number of things that might concern a psychiatrist in this hallway. Of course, the blocked door in the back is where the old non-working air-conditioner is stashed, so there is no room in there for stuffing more stuff. This picture reveals that I have a vast collection of collections… not merely one. I collect stuffed toys, HO model railroad stuff and trains, Pez dispensers, stamps, coins, comic books (in the boxes in the back corner under the stuffed toys), and books… gobs, and gobs, and gobs of books! (“Gobs” is Iowegian for “lots”, not “sailors”.) In fact, the door on the left is actually the door to the library.
A quick scan of Toonerville along the tops of the bookshelves reveals the full extent of my madness. Here you see HO-sized buildings, most of which I painted myself or built from kits. You also see the Pez dispensers that suck money out of my pockets at $1.50 a shot. My trains have been around for many years. I shared that obsession with my father (Grandma Beyer’s eldest son) when I was a boy and most of these trains were either gifts from him, or purchased with allowance. (I haven’t bought anything new in seven years.)
So, the evidence makes it clear. One day soon I will be locked up somewhere in a padded room. I hope, at least, that my children still like me well enough to sneak in Pez dispensers when they come to visit.