My ‘Memory Hoarding’ is driving me crazy

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have this problem, and it has taken over my life and has control over me. I worry about it constantly, 24/7. I call it ‘memory hoarding’ after reading an obscure article on it on the internet, but have never heard of anyone who actually does this. I don’t relate to people with OCD because my obsessions/compulsions are SO different to the majority of OCD sufferers. I have other problems too and these seem to be due to the main issue. I don’t want to forget ANYTHING. I want to know exactly what I did, where I went and who with on each day. I want to know exactly what I wore each day. Everything I do revolves around this. The thing is, a few months ago, I ‘got behind’ with the recording of the info and have been ‘spiraling out of control’. I HAVE to get caught up, but it’s impossible. It feels like the end of the world. With OCD, people carry out compulsions to relieve the anxiety – I haven’t been doing the compulsions so I have an intense build up of anxiety that won’t go away. It has a very big effect on my daily life. I’m trying to keep this concise else it would be pages long but just as an example – I have piles of stuff scattered all over the house but these HAVE to stay as they are. when my mum ‘tidies’ and moves things, it drives me insane and it feels like the end of the world. I want to know where everything is. I can’t wear certain clothes coz they have to stay where they are. I often avoid things coz of this, like I kept asking for a new exam timetable instead of moving it from where it was in my room, because I couldn’t move it. So that’s a very brief description of my main problem, but the following are the other problems, which I believe are only present because of the main problem. I feel like I have some other problem, which is opposing the ‘memory hoarding’ and preventing me from relieving the anxiety by recording the info I need to. it’s like, I can’t get started after leaving it so long (now almost half a year). I can’t focus on anything, have very poor concentration unless it’s something I enjoy doing/reading, and am constantly distracted. I don’t listen when others talk to me, and have no empathy for others. I have constant racing thoughts, which drive me crazy. I’m desperate to get organized (which is what I need to keep the memory hoarding at bay) but I just can’t. I don’t know where to start. and then, the third area of issues is the personality/relationships with others – I cannot bear being alone (this has been for a few months – I used to enjoy my own company)and go spiraling down and feel empty and hopeless. I desire fun. I feel the grass is always greener – I feel everyone’s out there having fun and I want to be with them having fun too. I am horribly unorganized, leave everything to the last minute, I have people telling me off for being so unorganized and late with important deadlines. I’m going to leave that here, this is just off the top of my head, how I’d describe my problem to someone from scratch. I really hope my question will be answered. Thanks.

A: What an overwhelming burden this sounds like! It is hard for me to know for sure, and it would certainly be beyond the scope of my response to offer an opinion as to a diagnosis. But I think you have described enough details to warrant an evaluation. I am casting my vote with a neurologist or neuropsychological testing. The difference is that a neurologist is a physician who will understand your symptoms as the result of brain functioning. The testing is done by a psychologist specializing in the use of tests that help determine relative strengths and weaknesses. In fact, both of these approaches are often used in conjunction with each other and you may want to consider both.

This information will pinpoint (usually) what is going on and it will help lead you to a treatment that should bring some relief.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). My ‘Memory Hoarding’ is driving me crazy. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/08/my-memory-hoarding-is-driving-me-crazy/