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Mark Frauenfelder at 10:51 am Tue, Sep 23, 2008
Houston-Imports says: "We had a resident who had an outstanding balance for over a month and no one could get ahold of her. The bookkeeper went inside after so many tries to leave a note and this is what we found."
Link (via Weekly Teinou Woman)
@47: Right. Other people’s problems are “simple.” Sounds almost Bushian.
Spot on; this is not really for making fun of. Actually, I hope this person recovers and gets well enough to sue the persons who posted these photos on the net for some hundred thousands – like I said, a hideous invasion of privacy (entering may be legal, as some have explained – taking photos to document the damage as well. Posting on the Internet, not).
Kudos to them for keeping on top of the ironing.
Jeremyfirth @ #46 is correct.
This is a specific form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). His explanation is excellent.
In particular, being unable to dispose of used toilet paper is characteristic of this form of OCD, and is a great source of anxiety and distress for all concerned (especially if people have to live with them). Possibly, this woman is in hospital somewhere which could explain why they can’t find her.
I have a medical degree and used to treat people who were affected like this. They don’t deserve to be publicly humiliated.
this one is worse, sadly.
@43 The Collyer Brothers link was very interesting. Thanks!
I used to have a horrible job cleaning and repainting apartments. All college kids in this complex, too. One apartment we had to clean looked about like these pictures.
The story I eventually heard about the place was that the kids had been told by management not to leave bagged garbage on their balcony. So to get back at the evil apartment managers they filled it with garbage for the last month they were there. Lots of maggots and dried vomet. It seemed as though they had really gotten into their task!
Message #23 looks just as bad as the apartment. Stupid txt kiddies.
Best part is the Ironing board – this woman actually irons her clothes no way! And to top that look on the side next to the iron Febreeze! Ha Ha
I think TrashCat eated its owner. TrashCat is watching you take pictures of its lair.
#53 – I pulled this from the Compulsive Hoarding article on wikipedia:
“While there is no definition of compulsive hoarding in accepted diagnostic criteria (such as the current DSM), Frost and Hartl (1996) provide the following defining features:
* the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value.
* living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed
* significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding
* Reluctance or inability to return borrowed items. As boundaries blur, impulsive acquisitiveness could sometimes lead to kleptomania or stealing.
The hoarder may mistakingly believe that the hoarded items are very valuable, or the hoarder may know that they are useless. A hoarder of the first kind may show off a cutlery set claiming it to be made of silver and mother-of-pearl, disregarding the fact that the packaging clearly states the cutlery is made of steel and plastic. A hoarder of the second type may have a fridge filled with food items that expired months ago without ever eating them, but would vehemently resist any attempts from relatives to dispose of the unusable food items.”
I’m sorry to pull the judgement rug out from under you, but this has nothing to do with laziness. Yeah, not all hoarders collect stuff like books. Some collect trash. They keep stuff that isn’t “useful” or is just plain disgusting. Hoarders know this. That contributes to the guilt, which then leads to distracting themselves from the problem. They get “tunnel vision” so to speak and the feeling of overwhelm overpowers any desire to clean up. Then they get depressed, eat, and watch tv or take a nap.
Exercise doesn’t require a gym membership. It’s called “go for a walk”. Eating healthy doesn’t require organic food. Adding some vegetables and drinking water instead of soda makes a HUGE difference for most people. And you don’t need a therapist for CBT. A book called “Buried in Treasures” by David Tolin, Robert Frost and Gail Steketee helped me immeasurable. $11.53 on ebay.
Once I found out this is a mental glitch, and that it’s self-treatable, and that it doesn’t require drugs, and that I’m really not “lazy”, I was able to get the gumption to do something about it. It runs in families and is possible to control. I started exercising, read a couple of books, and took junk food out of my diet. I’ve lost thirty pounds and, while not perfect yet, my problem is a lot easier to deal with now.
If you have “messy” or “lazy” tendencies, you may do well to do a little googling and see if the symptoms ring true. I watched this fabulous documentary and that’s where I learned that I’m not the only one with this problem, and that I can do something about it.
So go for a walk, do a little googling, and put down the 96 oz. Coke. You’ll feel a little stronger, and tomorrow maybe you can brush your teeth.
@56: LOL, I was thinking the same thing.
The “bathroom” which doesn’t seem to have be used for the bath portion for quite a while, is what gets me the most. The moldy floor towels, the bucket which seems to replace the toilet function, the grimy foot path, somewhat mysterious dark fluids… eeeech…
And the cigarette mound; Putting out a butt on a 4 inch deep pile of other butts is wow…
Most of the space is occupied by the cups. One easy way to reduce volume is to stack up the cups.
#53 – Hoarding isn’t always about things that are actually useful. Witness the people walled into their homes by obsessive hoarding of old newspapers.
There can be many things leading up to this kind of disaster, none of which are healthy.
“Batshit lazyness”, as you call it, is usually a sign of major depression – a majorly depressed person may not even see what conditions they’re living in. You get brief moments, tiny sparks of lucidity, when you try to put something down and realize you have to move four things to do it… but depression shuts down your brain, so after you deal with the immediate problem and move four things for a place to put your drink, your brain basically shorts out and refuses to alert you to the situation again until you need a place for something else.
“Violitional paralysis” in the face of OCD is another possible cause – “augh, I’ll never get it clean enough, I can’t think about this at all, I give up”. #44 dealt with this at length, so I don’t really need to go over it here.
I disagree with #44, OCD isn’t the only possible reason. And I also disagree with making OCD some other different categorization from major depression… there’s relatively normal “blahs” so to speak, but major depression is another beast entirely.
A third possible cause can be an anxiety disorder; if just trying to plan out how to tackle it gives the victim a crippling panic attack, nothing gets done. It leads down the same path as the OCD does (depression, social isolation, general miserableness), but from a different route cause, and needing a different approach to treatment (although the same basic foundations – cognitive therapy, exercise, improved diet, go!!! – the details of the therapy will be different because it’s a different problem).
And of course a sustained anxiety disorder can lead to major depression, or either could be co-morbid with OCD, or other problems. People with mental illness aren’t immune to arthritis or other mobility impairing illnesses that would make the physical activity of cleaning up more challenging than normal.
I am an avid WoW player, and not a good housekeeper, but my place is nowhere close to any of these. Quit hatin on the WoW
i sometimes catch a glimpse of my next door neighbor’s apartment whenever they leave the door open and i walk past, and it looks like they’re suffering from the same condition. not so much smell, but the pigeons they keep on the balcony are driving me to want to commit birdicide.
thank god they got that fire extinguisher there! you know, in case of emergencies…
I’m embarrassed to admit I can relate to this.
I’ve suffered from extreme mental illnesses since I was six years old. I’ve been in and out of hospitals; mostly in my twenties though and now I’m 52. Despite that I managed to get two college degrees and have a successful career.
Back in March of this year I had a horrible relapse. I actually don’t remember it first hand. Only what people told me about it. I hadn’t left my condo in months, had all my meals delivered, never took out the trash, and eventually got so confused I overdosed on one of my meds, apparently stumbled around the condo breaking fingers, toes, ribs and eventually lapsed into a coma shortly after managing to call someone who got help for me. I was in the coma for three days. Then a month of recuperation from my injuries in a regular hospital room.
When I got back I saw photos my father and my maid had taken of my condo. I’m a total neat-freak, but my place looked so much worse than the photo in this entry. It was disgusting and so unlike me.
It really pisses me off when people make fun of this kind of thing. It’s not like I wanted my place to look like it did. My brain was broken and I had no idea what I was doing.
I’m fortunate that I can afford to pay a home health aide to be with me 24/7 so this kind of thing never happens to me again. I mean, yeah, I’ll probably have another mental breakdown, but at least someone will be here to see it and intervene.
It’s too bad there are other people who suffer from mental illnesses that can cause things like this to happen. And yet they can’t afford to have someone live with them all the time just to be sure their lives don’t get too far out of whack.
Shame on all of you who poked fun at the person who created this mess. Seriously, shame on you!
1) Okay, there is someone more depressed than me.
2) At least they kept the fire extinguisher accessible.
3) “Every place I go eventually gets boring. Well, time to pack up the cats and leave this town.”
I recommend Teresa’s recommendation of Squalor Survivors for more information on the subject.
A few years ago, a friend’s** bachelor uncle died suddenly, while out of his house. The uncle had been well-beloved, and always showed up at family gatherings, well-dressed and well-groomed.
But when they went to his apartment, which no one had ever been in — I understand it was worse than the one referenced here, as in you had to crawl over stacks of garbage to get to the few usable portions of the apartment.
The moral of the story: it’s mental illness made visible, and doesn’t just happen to bad people.
(** as related directly to me by said friend — this isn’t a FOAF tale)
I’m with #18 here.
These photos may be fun to look at, but posting them online is also a gross violation of that person’s privacy and Boing Boing of all places should know better than to endorse it.
For all those who are asking about if it was legal for the landlord to enter: in my state, if a renter is behind on their rent, are not occupying the premises, and can not be contacted by any means, it can be considered abandoned after 30 days. My parents have been landlords for many years, and have had to use the abandonment provisions several times. It would also be legal for them to photograph the premises to document damage. We might be getting into a legal gray area when it comes posting the photos on a blog, but from the state of the computer, the renter probably doesn’t use the internet.
Mark Frauenfelder @ #69:
I think what I was trying to say is that remarkable as these photos may be, they exhibit a home that is very messy because of someone’s mental illness (major depression or OCD, either of two, probably) and should not be posted on the Internet without that person’s consent.
I believe posting pictures of people’s private circumstances is a privacy violation even though we don’t know who these people are.
If someone broke into my house, decided it looked very special and posted photos of it in the Internet, accompanied by many comments with derogatory remarks, I would certainly consider it a violation of my privacy even though my name wasn’t posted along with the pictures. I suspect most people would.
Anyone here ever watch “How Clean is Your House” on BBC America (or on an actual Beeb channel)?
Reminds me just of that…
They should sell to advertisers. Great product placement in these pics.
My parents continued renting out their place in Houston after they moved out. One tenant ended up leaving this kind of mess behind. Toilets and sinks had been allowed to overflow without ever cleaning them up, ruining cabinets and floors. All kinds of shit was piled up everywhere. The tenant skipped out, of course, leaving all kinds of possessions behind as well, like in the pics, which points to shear laziness and gluttony, I have to concur. They had to spend over 10k to redo the interior of the townhouse, and are pretty scarred from the experience and the smell, which never quite went away. They did finally manage to sell it though, about a year later. Maybe those air fresheners finally took.
I have also known friends who lived somewhat like this, whom I would not visit, and their cleanliness issues were not from extreme perfectionism. They could not see their problem even when it was all piled up in front of their face. Luckily they did not spawn.
What I found interesting was that she apparently never used the Q, comma, period, or number keys on her keyboard.
Apparently her clothes were kept wrinkle-free, judging from the uncluttered ironing board.
jeremyfirth @ #46 “I just started cleaning it today, and I have to set a timer for 10 minutes and do nothing but clean for 10 minutes. I then have to do something else ‘fun’ for a little while, then come back to it.”
Thank you for sharing that idea. I have moved twice in the last year, and I still have boxes that I never unpacked from the first move. My (small) apartment is still full of boxes and bags I haven’t unpacked even though I’ve been living there since June. I think your short-concentrated-bursts-of-focus method might be just what I need to finally get the place into a condition that I feel ok about showing to other people.
Agger@63: “These photos may be fun to look at.”
Maybe they’re “fun” for you to look at, but not for me.
“posting them online is also a gross violation of that person’s privacy”
No, it’s not, because we don’t know who the person who made the mess is.
Mmmmm, that looks like GRIFF’S.
Love me some Griff’s horseburgers. Yeeee-haw!
I don’t see the problem. She’s probably a blogger.
Hurrk—I just gagged. Oh hell that is nasty. LOOK AT THAT KEYBOARD! Thank you, I need to go scrub my body and my eyeballs with bleach because I feel dirty all over just looking at those pics.
That’s the house of someone that is decompensating and needs help.
Is it too late to call for a Unicorn Chaser?
I believe this photo is staged.
Years ago, when I lived in a Victorian-era duplex, my next door neighbor disappeared one day. After a few weeks and some horrible smells, the landlord and I broke into the place. All three floors (basement to second floor) looked worse than this, if you can imagine… except…
Her daughter’s room. Which was neat as a pin. She had left her diary behind, pleading for someone to end the horror of her life with her mom. We tried to reach CPS, but to this date (years later) I have no idea if they ever found her.
These pictures do to fast food and apartment life what Requiem for a Dream does to recreational drug use.
This person is clearly seriously mentally ill – I don’t think that this is any more appropriate fodder for public ridicule than, say, a picture of someone with hideous burns all over their body.
So the U.S. government is bailing out investment brokers who now have to suffer by being millionaires instead of billionaires.
Yet funding public health so mental cases like this don’t get taken care of is like pulling teeth for them.
I swear this country is upside down and backwards.
Urgh, I just realized that I read JeremyFirth’s comment ALL wrong. I shall take my devowelling like a woman. Apologies, Jeremy.
I tidied up for you.
There goes the security deposit.
There’s kitty poo, but where’s the kitty? I demand to see pictures of trashcat in it’s native habitat!
#5: what, points out possible extremes in what can normally be done safely and responsibly?
how could you live with yourself in a place such as that
Did they find a World of Warcraft box anywhere in there?
When you skip out and leave this kind of mess behind for someone else to deal with, someone who owns the property, it is perfectly within their rights to post photos of it online, especially when the names or identifying effects are not revealed.
The friends I mentioned, who were unnaturally sloppy, would at least finally scrub the place down before they vacated a residence, and never got to the point where the facilities were damaged or unusable. I’m not excusing them, but I bring this up to mention there are degrees of nastiness. As the broad spectrum of folks posting on this shows, there are also varying reasons for these conditions to be allowed to prevail. All we have is speculation at this point, unless the culprit posts and “enlightens” us.
One time I answered a classified ad for a room-mate and found the place to be in this kind of shape. I tried to be polite, but I could not get out of there fast enough. I really thought I was going to contribute with a little regurgitation. To make things worse, I did not have a car at the time, so he had given me a ride over. I walked home.
Thanks. I saw the wikipedia article. I was hoping for something a bit more informative. It seems like people are just throwing out a not-very-meaningful bit of jargon that *might* describe the situation here without knowing the whole story.
I want to know the real origin of these photos. Clearly “houston-imports” didn’t take these photos, as they don’t really strike me as a real estate company.
So far there are 31 sites with some of the text on them. None seem original, as the text was probably tacked on by somebody along the way, and probably has nothing to do with the photos.
For those who look at this and are reminded of their own hoarding tendencies, I just wanted to say that medication plus a little therapy has been very helpful to me. For years, stuff gradually accumulated. Now it’s gradually going away. In my case, Buspar was what worked, but I know it varies.
If you are scared your house will someday end up being featured on the Internet like this, go talk to a professional. And crikey, ignore all these armchair diagnoses. Especially the confident ones.
Personally, I love cold, carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. But, ice tea is a good alternative. At any rate, I couldn’t begin to clean this mess without a shot of caffeine especially in HAF houston.
I too enjoyed the one “clean” area on the ironing board. For eating? For actual ironing?
And I snicker at all of you cutting-and-pasting and making up all kinds of psychiatric diagnoses.
What is decompensating?
#68: A unicorn with a healthy serotonin balance. We don’t want to see one with dark circles under its eyes, dull unkempt fur, and fifty centuries worth of discarded horns cluttering up its lair.
“Do you think I’m attractive?”
“I think you’re fine right where you are.”
#6: Burn patients don’t pose a public health hazard, or a fire hazard.
That ain’t nothing. Look at this video from Oprah’s “Extreme Hoarders”. 75 tons of trash!
Gee, mithter, thankth fer notithing I’m jutht a kid!
It is impossible to diagnose a person simply by looking at their squalor. Any reputable psychologist would tell you that. Take two squalid homes like this and their residents. One may have very serious clinical depression, the other may be suffering from alcohol-induced dementia.
Whatever that particular woman’s problem is, I hope she at least found the help she needs. It’s always a shame when a person commits suicide, or even worse, when they just linger for years and years as their health fails.
I totally see the humor in this…
but its also a bit sad. The person probably is a compulsive hoarder. The more I learn about hoarders (probably a mental illness) the sadder it seems. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/when-people-hoard
1) This is a person of habit – note the uniform branding and placement of the detritus.
2) Ever heard the story of Phil Katz?
3a) I wouldn’t leave this one to Schneider (http://www.vincekeenan.com/uploaded_images/harrington-725920.jpg).
3b) Maybe this crew is more appropriate: http://science.howstuffworks.com/crime-scene-clean-up.htm
GLOSSOLIA@69: That’s going to have to be one mighty big unicorn…
Ok, try these on for size:
Uhh… Unless you have already evicted her this picture is an invasion of privacy, and probably illegal.
@7: From my understanding of this story (which was posted on another site and the book keeper posted other information in regard to the story) there was evidence of there being cats present at one time, but they weren’t viewable when the people went through the apartment. It was their thought that the cats had long died (apparently the smell of death was all through the apartment) and were buried amongst the trash.
I must admit, my office has looked like the third pic down on a few occasions, aside from the cigarettes… 4-5 pizza type boxes, 3 or 4 soda cups, plus a dozen or two empty cans of caffeinated happiness that this photo doesn’t have. And from working, not from WoW. :)
@61 – thank you for linking that video. It’s a very emotional experience watching it, recognizing my father in it and the apartment I grew up in (especially the first guy, with the books.)
My parents’ place is so overwhelmingly crammed with books that it’s impossible to clean, and my mom has chronic asthma from the dust that chokes every surface.
I’m going to send the link to them and hope they both watch it, especially my father.
Years ago, I looked at a house in Maine that was similar, but most of the stuff piled up was actually pretty valuable. A footpath through the center of each room was maintained, otherwise the place was neatly stacked with 4-5 feet of stuff. Some of the obvious gems (on the top) were antique tin toys, 1940′s girlie magazines, china, books, religious carvings from some church. A detatched two car garage had a decent looking 1938 pickup truck in one bay and a crummy model A in the other bay. It was quite a site. Anywhere that stuff could be crammed, was packed full. Strangely, it was almost orderly.
We made a low ball offer on the house with the contents, it was rejected, the family came in from different corners of the world and chucked most of the stuff in a dumpster which ended up getting dumped at the local transfer station. The dump regulars still talk about the money they made off that load.
Urrg. That’s a dark mirror, if slightly faint. I’m, sofar, indecipherably non-neurotypical. Strong leanings to Asperger’s, ADD, and I’ve always known I’m perfectionistic. And now I can add a touch of “hoarder” to the stew. All unofficial, as everything is *just* below the clinical threshold.
My father was much the same, though I’ve never known him from an adult perspective. My mom lived in NYC for a time, and may have known of the Collyer Bro’s. I can only imagine from what she described of the state of my father’s living space when his remains were found, that it reminded her of the Collyers. There were indeed stacks of newspapers, and other things. And my similar barely-in-control predilections must surely give her nightmares.
I am not my father, but in some ways only by the grace of FSM do I not follow him.
@ JeremyFirth, you’ve described my inner turmoil adroitly, and provided some frankly awesome tactics (ie: the timed periods dedicated to Teh Clean) that I’ll be employing immediately after this post. Thank you.
That gallery has inspired me as well. Fear is still a great motivator. :}
Kotzwinkle’s The Fan Man? Withnail and I?
When I bought my last house, I never saw the inside. The trash was piled almost to the ceiling and all that I could do was stick my head in the front door. The late previous owner’s wife had been killed by communist space Nazis a decade earlier (he had a blog that outlived him) and he went off the deep end. There was a ten year-old, still-decorated Christmas tree near the bottom of the debris. He had been using the fireplace to burn trash and the ashes went twenty feet in every direction. There were dead insect husks a foot deep through the whole house, and every time that I switched out a plug or light switch, the j-box was full of dead bugs. The house was infested with scorpions and foot-long lizards. The front yard featured multiple upside-down cars and a downed twenty-foot radio tower. The back yard was so overgrown that I didn’t even know that there was a half-finished swimming pool. None of that kept old Fred from running for City Council in every election until he died.
As long as I’ve been reading BB, I think this is the post that has been most personally affecting for me. I’m uncomfortable looking at these pics, even more uncomfortable with the joking and condemnation. Until recently I was living almost like this. I say almost, because my apartment was messy, but not dirty. My kitchen and bathroom were spotless, because under normal circumstances I am a clean freak. I drove my mum mad with my dishwashing habits and a short-lived house share with a slobbish boyfriend was traumatic for all involved.
When I moved into my own apartment I was scrupulous, everything was perfectly clean and tidy, and I could not sit down to sew, write or do any of the crafts I enjoyed unless all the dishes had been washed. I loved my space and loved having friends and neighbours to visit.
I lost my job. My friends married away or emigrated. I began to feel disheartened. The job loss had been a severe knock to my confidence and I never interviewed that well anyway. Then I hurt my back badly. After a couple of months I could stand or sit upright for a few hours, so I was able to keep the kitchen and bathroom as sparkling as always, and I kept the cat litter tray clean, but my possessions were outgrowing the one cupboard in the place.
Despite fitful attempts to re-impose order , including new shelving units, I ended up in a situation exactly like Jeremy Firth has described. I got a new job but had so little energy that when I wasn’t at work, I was asleep. I never kept rubbish in my apartment, but there were some magazines, a lot of books, clothes, CDs and vinyl LPs, and craft supplies. Though I never did any hobbies or listened to music because I was asleep all the time.
Some posters here have expressed surprise at this tenant’s ironing board, but I can promise you, nobody would have guessed from looking at me what was going on in my apartment. I would rather die than leave the house without showering or putting on clean clothes. I changed the bedclothes once a week. I never went near junk food either.
My father is a hoarder too, so are all his family. They grew up poor. Their spouses keep them from ending up “buried in treasure” but I was alone, and too proud to admit the state I’d gotten into. The thought of even family seeing my flat and judging me by it gave me nausea. I feel sorry for this lady, and ashamed at how even the normally enlightened BB readers are not above perpetuating damaging misconceptions about mental ill-health.
But for purely selfish reasons I’m also glad this item was posted, because I never really confronted this problem properly before, and I never really understood what was going on. I moved last month, not because of the overwhelming amount of stuff, but because my lease was up and the landlady is selling up. I left the apartment cleaner than when I had first moved in and got my full deposit back.I figured that when I got another apartment, I would be able to start afresh and not get to that state again, but now that i know more about this i realise I probably would have repeated the cycle eventually. Jeremy, Gary in Miami, Jenjen and others, thankyou for your posts, they’ve been really helpful.
Most probably someone with clinical depression (I’ve seen it before). That, coupled with the fact that the place is abandoned and the tenant can’t be reached points to a sad conclusion.
Is this what the Grey Gardens ladies had?
As disgusting as that place is, I think it’s hilarious that there is an iron/board setup in the kitchen. As if this lady cares about her appearance. The state of mind she has in the home MUST be reflected in some fashion, at least minutely, outside.
And good JAH! she loves cancer sticks and fast food made to order!!!
I wonder what it would have been like to witness her make the decision to stop cleaning up after herself.
Maybe she prowls the streets to find a man who will be able to handle the task. She will continue to walk the mean streets through to death.
I don’t even want to know what’s all over the bathroom floor.
There’s no possible way it can’t smell throughout that place. Blehck!
It’s always fun to look at gross pictures, but isn’t anyone else alarmed by a (purported) landlord posting pictures of their tenant’s apartment without permission? What a privacy violation! I’m surprised to see Boingboing post such a thing.
I’ve been looking for that shirt for WEEKS!!!!
Oh, man! I thought our living room sometimes looks scary, but this puts things in perspective…
I agree with #6 that this looks like mental illness at work. I wonder if the tenant just split. She’ll sure be in trouble if she returns, if not just from the sheer embarrassment. I truly hope that the cats aren’t really buried in the trash o_O
#10: Houston-Import is a message board on import cars and apparently, from reading the comments, the guy who posted works at the appartement building where that happened… That’s his shoe on the 13th picture.
I thought it was funny until the bathroom shots came up… I gagged at one point.
“As disgusting as that place is, I think it’s hilarious that there is an iron/board setup in the kitchen. As if this lady cares about her appearance.”
It’s embarrassing for me to admit this, but this reminds me of me about 6 months ago. I was horribly depressed, but did the bare minimum to appear normal to the outside world. This means that I showered daily, cleaned the litter box, and wore clean clothes. Everything else fell apart. My house was filthy (not this bad, but it doesn’t matter). I wanted to fix it, but every time I looked around me I was so overwhelmed that I did not know where to start. I know that this same sentiment has been repeated many times. I still feel it is necessary to convey that this person is not necessarily lazy, stupid, or even sane. Sure, it seems hilarious to you, but it most definitely wasn’t to the person who was living there.
That. Is. Nuthin’.
After being a widow living alone for 20 years my aunt had to go to the hospital for major surgery. I wanted to make sure her house was picked up for here return.
What I found at her house dwarfs this by at least one even foot in trash depth, across 1,500 s.f. of house. She had refused visitors for years.
Laugh if it make you feel more comfortable, but there is a house / apartment like this on your street too. Do you laugh at a gout on someones leg? an open wound on their forehead?
Remember people, Depression is a disease. We’re the cure. Give a shit, eh?
Tk lk t l Gr’s ffc: http://rbtll.fls.wrdprss.cm/2007/05/gr-ffc.jpg
t’s nt hg strtch t tk smn wth ntrl prdlctn fr clttr nd gnrl slppnss thn dd sm dgr f mtnl dstrbnc t rrv t th mss pstd bv. n fct, t s srprsngly cmmn.
#12 Unless they are still burning.
Ok guys.. do we have nothing better to do than sit here in judgement of another? What does that say about you. And why am i on here,,lol..because i was looking for a site to help me deal with my cluttered house. (grin) And stumbled on here. Seriouly if you guys have nothing better to do than lets see what is it called? What is it they say about voyism? And those that practice it? Also could these ppl. have serious illnesses like cancer? And they are on chemo..serious health problems? There is something ‘wrong’ with everyone of us. What are those ‘hidden sins ‘ you enjoy? I guess to read some of your comments really kinda ticked me off. Especially when you can not see your own blindness. grrrrrr
@12 – “Burn patients don’t pose a public health hazard, or a fire hazard.”
When burn patients sit alone crying for help, are you too clever by half with them too? Open your eyes, this IS one of your neighbors.
Oh, now. Five minutes and a hefty bag would go along way. Those beverage containers might be all that stands between a person and complete dehydration in the Houston heat. If they can make so many trips out to Whataburger they aren’t that depressed.
There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.
Oh my God! Al Gore has frogs living on his walls!
Seriously: Gore’s desk is cluttered with Things to Do. Not stuff he’s done with. Nothing on the floor, emptied trash can, no actual trash.
@21: Note the floor
I smoke all my friends down to the filter…
Pfft. That’s nothin. I’ve stayed in worse.
The condition of that apartment isn’t caused by laziness or drugs. It’s a classic garbage house: a distinct variety of mental illness that’s probably related to animal hoarding. If you fear you’re going the same way, I recommend starting your recovery by going to Squalor Survivors for words of encouragement and a quick diagnostic reality check.
Glossolalia Black, it’s never too late to call for a Unicorn Chaser.
Last night, as I got into bed, I thought to myself “While the graham cracker crumbs do have mildly exfoliating properties, I wonder if my health would benefit from fresh sheets.”
Obviously, I’m doin’ just fine.
On behalf of dual-income parents of young children everywhere, I thank you for making me feel less dysfunctional.
Aye, had my experience with neo-nazis in the next door apartment (third floor). We finally got them busted on weapons charges, and the post-eviction inspection started with my manager saying “if you have work boots better get them on”. Once we got up there I could see why; the floor resembled these pics, with the lovely addition of a forest of used hypo needles (thank god for thick soles!). Clouds of fruit flies, nazi slogans written on the walls with blood and feces (in reaaaly big letters, too), and I had to retreat to my place and curl up with a bottle of brandy.
It doesn’t always have to be mental illness. Sometimes it’s just plain meanness.
WOW! This is sad.
Especially considering all the mess is just trash, rather than possessions or things that someone might want to hold on to for some crazy reason.
All this person would need to do to dramatically improve the state of their home is to invest in a big box of big trash bags and throw it all away. That’s so much easier than cleaning things that need to be put away somewhere.
But as others have commented, this person is obviously suffering from mental illness.
Holy CRAP. O_o; I…feel an overwhelming desire to clean my room now.
“…isn’t anyone else alarmed by a (purported) landlord posting pictures of their tenant’s apartment without permission?”
Nope. There was nothing in the photos to reveal who the person was. There were no personal pictures on the wall or anything that showed a name. It’s the landlord’s property and this particular tenant failed to pay rent, so I’m not sure if they had the same rights as a paying tenant.
I can’t believe the place didn’t burn down. It looks like the couch’s armrest was used to snuff cigarettes. That also probably explains why a fire extinguisher was kept on the coffee table.
While I also wonder at what type of person would live (by choice or not) in such mess…I humbly suggest it is unwise to diagnose their metal condition based on a few pictures. (Horrific as they may be.)
It seems to me that this could be evidence of metal disease just as easily as drug use, malice or just plain douchebaggery.
What is that on the bathroom floor
WHAT IS THAT ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR
I was a cleaning person for a while, and I’ve cleaned out a garbage house or six in my life. Whenever I see a picture of one, it elicits both sadness and anger. Sadness because I’ve known and cared about the people who live like this; they’re just like you and me, except for this huge, horrible secret just waiting to be found. Anger, because someone I knew and cared about a lot didn’t have a problem raising two infants in such surroundings. (One of the babies died as a result of criminal neglect, believe it or not not having to do with the garbage house in which they resided.) I still don’t talk to him because of it.
I know it’s good to not be judgmental and to lend a hand when you can, but people content to live like this sadden, anger, and confuse me.
‘I want my baby-back baby-back baby-back baby-back ribs’
Sorry to make fun. It is a disease that not many people get help for or get help from others. And it seems it just compounds on itself the longer it goes untreated. I just couldn’t resist the Chilis bag.
Filth is definitely a slippery slope and you do stop seeing it. I am quite a slob by nature anyway, but more with the Al-Gore-desk style clutter and not actual filth or garbage. But a couple years ago I got pneumonia and I was laid up with pretty much no energy for a few weeks and my place slid dangerously close to CSI territory. You know the type of place where they walk in and ask how anyone could live like that. It was a miracle I didn’t end up with vermin. Once I got my energy back I cleaned it all up, but I can see how someone with a chronic illness can end up like this if they don’t have anyone checking in on them. And I don’t consider myself mentally ill – it’s just that it gets oddly easy to stop caring.
Such filth. How could anyone live that way unless they were utterly batshit insane?
Well, I suppose this person was out of their goddamn mind.
#31 I haven’t looked at the pix yet but your comment made me Laugh.Out.Loud.
I humbly suggest it is unwise to diagnose their metal condition based on a few pictures.
Why? We’re not going to actually prescribe medication. ^_^
yes, insane. Now what would you do to help?
#31: You probably don’t want to know.
Just wondering, if you don’t pay your rent, does that allow someone to come into your residence (if you are a renter–probably)take a picture of your mess(do any of us know what is really happening here—(mental illness, injury, depression, major loss) and take a picture to be posted, commented and judged on? Somewhere along this process there is a real life person who is effected by this…..
I couldn’t even imagine trying to clean something like that up. If it were a rental home abandoned by tenants, I think I’d toss one last lit cigarette in there, let it burn and start over.
I work for a cable company have been called to do installs at places that are pretty bad. One in particular was almost as bad as this. Not quite, but close. Piles of junk and garbage from floor to ceiling and pathways through it all. The husband was handicapped and the wife was working all day to support them. Made me terribly sad for them. The shame in the guys face was what really gutted me. Felt like I needed a shower afterward.
Luckily enough nobody found a (human) corpse inside… I’ve seen things like that only when arresting junkies (I don’t do that, I just go to do the computer forensics whenever it’s the case).
My first impression is that the householder is deep on drugs.
@25 & @26: “It’s not a huge stretch to take someone with a natural predilection for clutter and general sloppiness then add some degree of emotional disturbance to arrive at the mess posted above. In fact, it is surprisingly common.”
Possibly my favorite poem follows. It is so apropos to this post.
Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceilings:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas, rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the window and blocked the door
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans and tangerines,
Crusts of black burned buttered toast,
Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .
The garbage rolled on down the hall,
It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . .
Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Globs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from green baloney,
Rubbery blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk and crusts of pie,
Moldy melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold french fried and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That it finally touched the sky.
And all the neighbors moved away,
And none of her friends would come to play.
And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said,
“OK, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course, it was too late. . .
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate.
And there, in the garbage she did hate,
Poor Sarah met an awful fate,
That I cannot now relate
Because the hour is much too late.
But children, remember Sarah Stout
And always take the garbage out!
Shel Silverstein, 1974
<>Tk lk t l Gr’s ffc: http://rbtll.fls.wrdprss.cm/2007/05/gr-ffc.jpg
Hehe… It actually looks a lot like my own office (except no cool screens on the wall-and no frog…dammit).
Funny thing is, I like keeping my living spaces fairly neat; it’s my working space that gets super cluttered (but I work from home, so no co-workers suffer). Every time I clean and organize my work stuff, I can’t find anything and it drives me bonkers. So I call it my ‘chronological’ organization system. Hey, it works.
And I do agree with you #20. I don’t think the person who made that mess is necessarily a bad person; just probably quite lonely and distressed. If anything, the people who do know her probably have no idea what she’s dealing with. I do hope she’ll find compassion and help.
Re: Al Gore’s office ;
Is that a CHRIS WARE book in the pile closest to the camera!??!??
Martha my dear though I spend my days in conversation
Remember me Martha my love
Don’t forget me Martha my dear
Hold your head up you silly girl look what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Take a good look around you
Take a good look you’re bound to see
That you and me were meant to be for each other
Hold your hand out you silly girl see what you’ve done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Martha my dear you have always been my inspiration
Be good to me Martha my love
Don’t forget me Martha my dear.
Whataburger! That takes me back!
LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Messiness isn’t “mental illness”. Believe it or not, some of us have better things to do than chase around our homes picking things up day in and day out. I get that the place is messy, but I don’t get what business it is of anyone else, and I certainly don’t think it is anything to be ashamed of. My house looks a lot like that, and I am a successful, well-adjusted professional with advanced degrees and a job that pays well.
Do a search on the term “Collyer brothers” for the [in]famous, classic, tragic example from a turn-of-century Manhatten brownstone brimming with 100 tons of rubbish, booby traps, and a dead body.
OK, kids. This isn’t the result of depression or sloppiness or emotional problems. This is a specific form of OCD. Most people think of OCD has compulsive hand-washing, but it takes many forms. This is one of the forms. Several people in my family as well as myself have varying degrees of this mental glitch.
It comes from perfectionism. I know that doesn’t make sense, but people with irrational perfectionism are afraid of making decisions. And dealing with clutter is a hell of a lot of decisions. The fear is that one “needs” something, or that it might be “important” so fear of making the wrong decision about throwing it away overrides the need for cleanliness. The problem grows slowly, then a feeling of overwhelm sets in, which causes one to go on ebay and buy something, or order fast food (comfort food) or to play WoW.
So then you look around your house and it’s a complete fucking disaster and your friend says, “Dude! Halo 17 just came out! I’m bringing it over!” and you make some excuse about being sick or some lame ass thing, and you feel guilty for lying and you feel ashamed about your house. So you hop on Etsy and buy some cool thing. Or you play WoW. Or you read reddit.com again.
This is frustrating and doesn’t respond well to medication. Cognitive Behavior Therapy works, as well as exercise, healthy diet, and sleep. Exercise gave me the clarity of mind needed to slowly pull myself out of it, but I still have periods of relapse. I recently went through about a month of depression and stress, which are two huge triggers for the OCD, and my office is a fucking disaster. I just started cleaning it today, and I have to set a timer for 10 minutes and do nothing but clean for 10 minutes. I then have to do something else “fun” for a little while, then come back to it. It will take all day for me to clean my office this way, but if I just say, “Well, I’m cleaning my office now and I’m not stopping till I’m finished,” I get really overwhelmed and depressed and just say “Aw, fuck it” and check reddit again.
Exercise, diet, Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In that order. That shit works.
Someone’s not getting their security deposit back!
This is the stuff that gives property managers bad dreams (and it’s what makes them do yearly inspections!)
i’ve seen worse, lived in slightly better.
Compulsive hoarding aside, another issue hasn’t really been addressed yet here. It’s possible that she had either dementia or a physical disability that prevented her from being able to cook, clean, or (god help us) toilet herself.
I had an elderly relative who was found unconscious on the floor of her NYC studio apartment by a neighbor. She was 90. When some family members went to move her into a home, her place looked a lot like the one in the photo–she would order in fast food because she couldn’t cook anymore and was too proud to ask for anyone’s help. I’m sure her bathroom was also a horror, because she’d lost control of that.
She’d lived in that apartment her entire adult life. It was knee deep in garbage. But once most of it was bagged up and cleared out, they discovered something amazing: under the trash, there was a deeper archaeological level where everything was still in neat and perfect order. All the garbage dated from the 1990′s. Everything from the 80′s and earlier was neat and tidy. Checkboooks balanced, letters kept in files. Clothes folded in the drawers. On top of it, ten years of garbage, matching her mental and physical decline.
Under all those pizza boxes and drink cups might be the evidence of a once healthy person.
Word for the day: Decomponsation.
I doubt it’s depression, although possible. It’s just laziness. Note the spot on the couch that is clean, the spot on the ironing board to prepare clothes and the place to sleep. Wherever they sit are cigarettes, each smoked to the normal amount, not long or short. It’s simple gluttony. The are going to be fat, lazy, and have terrible hygiene. My concern is that I don’t believe the toilet is easily accessible, which means they most likely weren’t using IT for their potty breaks. Makes you think, ehh?
Hoarding is an OCD thing and it is pretty sad and it goes way beyond what you could pile on top of a couch or coffee table. I personally think it arises from a sense of deprivation and poverty. But not always. Anyway, free SSRI’s for the people should be on the presidential platform. And maybe reusable beverage cups should be the norm. Biodegradable styrofoam?
You’ve come a long way, baby!
Jeremy at #44 – right on.
@48 – I could not disagree more with your solution.
In other news: Accountants are now allowed to break into people’s houses, take pictures, and post them to the internet.
I am one of those souls who has also suffered from this problem. I am ashamed to say I left an apartment, with basically everything inside, because I was too embarrassed to ask for help and couldn’t face the issue alone. I mean who needs to ask for help to clean up their house, right? Who lets it get to that point?
@JeremyFirth: I recently took up an idea similar to yours. Not that my house is *so* messy but it was reaching a point. Every day I pick something and clean it, and make every effort not to dirty it up again once it’s clean.
I have 2 modes: compulsively clean and paralyzed. Compulsively clean is what I prefer. It’s a lot more work but I know that once things begin to slip I start to feel ashamed and unless the problem is very easy to handle it will grow before I can get a grip on it. I don’t take meds, because I can’t take meds and write at the same time, and writing makes me feel better than (those) pills do. It’s not out of being lazy. I am well known for cleaning anyone’s house but my own. I used to go to work decked out, and you might think I had a perfect place but really it would be terribly messy. I would just sort of block it out and I WOULD eat fast food and I WOULD just go online and I DID have random clean spots. Looking at these photos made me very sad, and somewhat ashamed. Even though I have not reached that level, I have had it pretty bad in the past and it’s very tough to deal with. One thing I found helpful was the FlyLady website. I have not subscribed to her newsletter (because I am so not going to put shoes on every day if I’m not about to go outside and who wants to get dressed if you work at home?) but reading the site and following her advice has helped me so much. Who knew that just brushing your teeth and shining your sink could be the beginning of the road to shedding shame and regaining a little bit of control over one’s life?
I still suck at time management so any anal-retentive time-management people please let me know if you want to throw your techniques at someone.
ANTINOUS@103: So what made you say: “Ahhh, this is the place for me…”
Not as many of us here have been poking fun at the one who lived in this mess, as much as expressing our shock and awe.
I had a girlfriend once who went to stay with a friend and had me come pick her up in less than a day of the two weeks she’d planned to be there. The family she was to stay with lived with thousands of cockroaches breeding and scurrying everywhere. Even in the fridge. Wigging out is a natural reaction to experiencing people living like this in otherwise modern conditions.
BOOKYLOO: That’s an interesting tale.
I got my $700B ready, is this one of the ones I’m bailing out?
@30: They have the same rights as a paying tenant until the landlord gets a judgment against the tenant for breach of contract. That’s why evicting somebody is such a pain in the ass. But if the landlord gave proper notice to enter (“safety inspections”) then they’re probably in the clear as long as there’s nothing defamatory about the pics.
But I don’t think it was the landlord who entered the place, and laws were probably broken here. Bill collectors aren’t allowed to enter your home without permission.
Also, I’m a little bit sad about how symptoms of some medical conditions are deemed ok to be made fun of by some people. . .
What possible future use could there be for cat shit and cigarette butts other than as ingredients in a toxic stew? I doubt this is OCD hoarding so much as batshit laziness. There’s a difference, though not always immediately recognizable.
Fine. Who is going to pay for the gym membership, organic food and 6 months CBT therapy? Universal health care coverage better come quick and it better cover mental health. Not everyone needs SSRI medication to function in today’s world, but many people do.