So. I am crazy. I have an official, psychiatric diagnosis of clinical depression. Not too bad, not a huge terrible thing, manageable maybe. But I have a lot of other un-official issues. I know I am co-dependant as hell. I know I have phobias. I know I have body issues and esteem issues. I have enormous parental baggage. I have sexual hang-ups. I have trouble with long-term relationships of any kind. These are things I know and have researched and generally understand how to live with. But I suspect I have another problem. I need to do some research and decide if I need to see a doctor about it.
When I was a kid, we moved a LOT. No, really. Like an Army brat without the Army part. Nearly every time we moved, a ton of our stuff was given away or thrown away or donated to charity and we would mostly start over. I never had a beloved toy from childhood that I had for years and years. I never had anything for years and years except books. I remember starting to collect things when I was 11 or 12. I may have collected before then and just not noticed.
When we lived in Rugby Valley Apts (Feb 1982- Aug 1982) I know I had a collection of keychains. They didn’t last. I left them behind or we dumped them in a donation box or something. The next thing I remember was begging my Aunt to give me a collection of business cards she had. We lived with her and her family and my Grandmother. That would have been between Aug 1982 and June 1983 in Fairburn. She had a cigar box with a lot of cards in it. She let me have it and for many years I added business cards to that box. I actually had it well into my teens. I don’t know what happened to it once I left my Mother’s home, but until then, I filled the box until cards wouldn’t really fit anymore.
When we lived in Douglasville, June 1983 til April 1986, I collected TV Guide magazines. I had well over 100 of them. My mother threw them away when we left there. We lived nearly next door to my father for a bit and one of my uncles gave me a key. It was a hotel key from back when hotels used actual metal keys instead of the new fangled keycard things. His family had gone on vacation and he had forgotten to return this key. So I collected old keys. Left over keys that didn’t go to anything anymore or that had forgotten their purpose. I don’t remember what I collected immediately after that. I know when I was about 16 or so I collected empty perfume bottles for a while. I have always collected books.
As an adult, living on my own, I have changed the collecting a little. Not usually tiny things anymore. I collected Star Wars toys for a few years. I still have those. They are boxed up in the basement. I collected baskets for a while. Left most of those behind when we left MA. I collected Barbie dolls for a time. I have about 200 of them in storage. I collected tea pots. I collected tea cups. I collected decorative boxes. I collected movies. I collected stuff with antique maps on it.My book collecting became oddly specific.
I collected Pulitzer winning fiction. I collected Newbery Honor and Medal winners. I collected post-apocalyptic novels. I collected Hugo winning novels. I collected X-Men comics. I collected a variety of cozy mysteries. I collected Holmesian Pistache. I collected Star Wars novels. I collected books of Arthurian Legend. Actually, my oldest book collection is the Arthurian Legend. I still own the first copy of Arthurian Legend that I ever owned. I guess I read that first book when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.
I get really focused on collecting stuff. I find something I like or something strikes my fancy and I become obsessed with having more. Having all. I don’t know. Sometimes it is expensive. Sometimes it is cheap. Sometimes it takes up a lot of time and energy. Sometimes it is easy peasy. Sometimes it is little things. Sometimes it is bigger things. But I think I nearly always have some kind of obsessive collecting going on.
Maybe it is because my life was transient as a child and I feel the need to have control over my space and my belongings. Maybe there is some little gene that makes people do this. Maybe a therapist could talk me out of it. Or teach me how to train myself out of it. Maybe a pill could switch off the impulse. I tried to talk to my last psychiatrist about it a little. I wasn’t having any talk-therapy with him, he was just writing prescripts for my depression. I said to him, “I think I may have some kind of OCD or something. I have this urge to collect stuff. Stupid stuff that I don’t need.” He said, “Does it interfere with your life?” I said, “No, I don’t guess so. Not really.” He said, “As long as it isn’t making your life too difficult and isn’t spiralling you into debt, don’t worry about it.”
Naturally, I have done nothing but worry about it ever since.