The ol’ brain hasn’t been working particularly well recently. To be honest, it hasn’t really worked all that well this past decade. I know I’ve mentioned it often enough recently, but I haven’t ever mentioned that the dominant struggle has been with panic & agoraphobia. The main anxiety triggers greatly resemble “existential OCD,” which is succinctly described by Google below.

So basically, I haven’t been able to leave the city for about 10 years. Going “too far” from home (which is currently about a 10km radius by car – one thing my brain is good at is geography, and it knows when I’m getting close to that) results in massive panics attacks that revolve around existence ending suddenly, the foibles of perception and reality, the immensity / tinyness of it all, and all kinds of other things on the laundry list of wild & crazy stuff you can contemplate. These days I can hardly sit down, let alone go anywhere or do anything “fun” without getting these extremely sharp, intense intrusive thoughts that activate the fight/flight reflex and make me want to bolt, but of course you can’t outrun your own thoughts and these grand, unanswerable questions.

I’ve tried a lot of medications and none have done much. I’m on my 11th different one now, and it’s not looking like this one will do much either. I don’t expect any medication to miraculously cure me, just hopefully take the edge off to make existing a little less overwhelming.

The only positives are that I’m still able to leave the house (some agoraphobes become “housebound”), and that I can still drive far enough to access a wide variety of trash days. But after a decade of doing this I’m starting to get a bit squirrely. It doesn’t help that a lot of good friends have moved away in recent years, and that being so anxious and limited basically makes one undateable. As such, I’m also as lonely as I’ve ever been by a longshot, lonelier than I ever could have imagined. But maybe it’s good that the status quo is becoming intolerable, because sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you realize you have to make some big changes in order to move forward.

I’ve been thinking about trading vehicles, switching to a van, maybe something like a Dodge Grand Caravan, that I could camp in (even if it’s lame camping, like in a Walmart parking lot), which could possibly help change the definition of what my “comfort zone” is to something less restrictive. I can always try a new medication and hope it’s the first one that works. But I still won’t get very far without lifestyle changes, including finding new ways to approach these thoughts. That would probably involve more therapy – I recently heard about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which sounds up my alley (CBT and talk therapy hasn’t done much either). Getting away from the computer/tv screen more often could help, but then again, the reason I spend so much time looking at them in the first place is because they provide an escape from all the thoughts.

Needless to say work has been a bit of an afterthought these days. I still get out picking, it’s one of the few things I truly enjoy doing these days, but my appetite to hustle all this junk I collect is at a low. For example, I have a flatscreen TV in my garage right now that probably works fine, but I need to test some features before I can feel comfortable saying that it’s working, and then I’d have to list it on Facebook Marketplace and deal with all the flaky people and the dumb questions there… and that all seems like a lot of hassle for something I’ll get maybe 50$ for. My garage is filled with stuff like that, and I’m a little sick of dealing with the constant influx of these mid-range finds that need lots of effort to sell. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes sit back and wonder “what’s the point?” to all of it.

All that is a bit embarrassing to admit but that’s where I’m at these days. Generally, I think the world would be a better place if people were more open about their feelings and their struggles, so there you have it. At this point, I can’t really pretend I’m “normal” anyways, and even if I could I’m sick of pretending. If you have any ideas, advice or similar experiences to share, please leave a comment!

As for the finds, I’ve had a pretty good few months, but all my good spots have run dry in the past few weeks. The lead photo was a great one-hit wonder. It took me about two hours to sort through all the bags, but I never saw anything there again.

I saved loads of quality yard sale junk. The most notable finds here were a set of new, never worn Olympics hats (which were sold on Instagram), a busted – literally taped together – antique Chinese vase (late 1800s if I remember right), and another nice vase that I’m told is probably Korean. The maker’s mark is below, if it’s anything special please let me know.

I found a good number of 1980s-1990s sports collectibles here;

… a bunch of Atari games (unfortunately, none seem to be super valuable on their own – I also found the console, which sold for around 40-some dollars);

… as well as several vintage McDonald’s giveaways, lots of toy cars, and some other fun stuff. Zoom in for a closer look!

My most valuable finds were a very cool Targetti desk lamp, which sold for a bit over 200$ (mine was yellow – I didn’t take a picture, so I had to borrow one from the internet)…

… and a 10k gold class ring from 1989. Gold wasn’t quite so expensive back then, so jewelry from this time tends to be bulkier than it might be today. Weighing around 9 grams, this is worth about 270$ in scrap. Unfortunately, the price of gold is down a bit lately. Here’s hoping it goes back to something closer to 2000$ US/oz soon, in which case it’ll be worth something closer to 315$.

In other news, I sold that Quistgaard Pepper Mill for a very nice price. I’d like to thank the folks that helped me price it here. I figured I had found one of the rarer varieties, but I might have priced it lower still if not for the tips given here. For that kind of money, this definitely deserves to be recognized as my first “omg” find of the year!


1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow me on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

50 thoughts on “Existence”

  1. The point is you are earning a living, keeping things out of the landfill, educating many of us about vintage items as well as some history here and there. So it is important and many of us look forward to your posts.
    As for health issues. Keep searching for answers that fit you. Sometimes it’s okay to vary a routine and catch one’s breath. The only thing I can suggest is to keep a journal. It will help recognize patterns and influences. Wish you the best.

  2. Alas, clearly everything isn’t coming up roses for my favourite blogger. Thank you for the illuminating post. It was a brave move to open up in such a way. I hope you experience a turnaround of sorts, in all areas of your life … perhaps with a little help from your friends here. We are all rooting for you.

  3. I don’t have any advice for you, but I think I understand a bit how you feel, because I am not very «normal» myself. I don’t have anxiety at the same level as you but I am not very «functional». I think there are now many people who have that kind of problem. I hope you find something that can help you.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Martin. I know you have mentioned difficulties in the past but it seems a really big step to lay it out like that. Sounds like you are ready for a change. I appreciate so much of your work and love to see your treasures and your sales. You take such great photos and you are a very engaging writer. Hang in there, good buddy. Things will get better.

    1. It is a lot. This is definitely my most “raw” post – I’m finally letting my guard down. Maybe now that it’s out there, I won’t feel like I’m dancing around the elephant in the room, and I’ll feel more authentic just talking garbage. And hopefully sharing some positive mental health updates!

  5. Anxiety and obsessive/compulsive thoughts can be so debilitating. Just after I graduated from university in the 70s and was living alone for the first time, I began having distressing thoughts I could not get rid of. I was lucky and met my future husband around that time and he helped me get out of that loop, but I can well remember the panic and anxiety I had. You may find one or more of Sharon Begley’s books helpful along with the ACT; the basic premise is similar (sitting with the thoughts – basically, mindfulness – and recognizing them as faulty brain-wiring, not facts, and then moving on. “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain” is the title of one of her books that describes this). I wish you the best of luck; your self-awareness and intelligence will also serve you well. Please let us know how you get on. Internet friends are friends too.

  6. I just left a comment but do not see it. In case it’s in moderation or spam I’ll wait a day and see if it has shown up. If not, I’ll comment again.

  7. I’ve been reading for blog for years but never left a comment. I really enjoy your blog because I think it is really admirable, finding new homes for these treasures, and keeping them out of the landfill. I also think you are really brave to continue to try to find a medication and coping strategies that work best for you. As for feeling like you don’t want to deal with all the hassle of listing yet feeling overwhelmed with inventory, I get that. I often get overwhelmed by big projects, and procrastinate and makes things worse. Maybe just try to list one item a day, or set small goals for yourself to help make progress. Hope that you have a really wonderful day, and thanks again for your blog. I enjoy it very much! Take care!

  8. Thank you for being you, this is what I needed to read. It makes me hope when I read this, that there is still humanity. Thank you! 😘😘😘

  9. Martin;
    Sorry to hear of your troubles. I too have been following you for years and enjoy your posts and you openess.
    I have no advice but would like to offer a bit of encouragement.
    Hang in there.
    Looking forward to future posts – and treasures.
    Best regards
    Marty Gregory

  10. Finally busted thru anxiety, found a therapist who said let’s let the episodes happen instead of trying to prevent them or mask them. She worked with teaching me tools and methods on how to comfort and calm myself, especially before they got into full swing. Some very unpleasant times but I am now mostly anxiety free, just a suggestion, I hope you find relief!

  11. Thank you for being vulnerable and letting us into your life. I have generalized anxiety disorder and my brain constantly spins and worries abut all of the worst possible case scenarios. Things that have helped me are: making a plan for what I would do if something bad happens, trying to embrace chaos, and repeating the phrase, “right now, at this moment, I am ok.”

  12. I, too, having been dealing with mental health issues for years. One thing that I have is HOPE. It seems to keep me going. It sounds like you still have a glimmer of hope. Keep it and work toward finding the best combination of medication and therapy. Keep trying until you find something that works. HOPE.

  13. Aspergers…I’ve fought with agoraphobia on and off for years. The more I stay in, the worse it gets, the more I force myself out the easier it “eventually” gets. I don’t think the the last two years have been conductive to anyone’s mental health that struggles with this. I was doing good before this, now it’s like starting all over once again. Been wanting a van myself…I want to get out, I would like to eventually do some traveling, I think I’d do better with a shell to hide in to collect myself when it becomes too much and I’m miles away from home. Baby steps, normal is a myth anyways. I’ve never met anyone that was completely normal. LOL I’ve been picking for years too. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, but sometimes it gets overwhelming. I list, sell what I want to, there are some things that even though they might be great finds, or bring in some decent money…they are just become a source of anxiety…sometimes I just set them out for someone else to deal with and the relief is real once it’s gone.

    1. I think garbage picking might have helped me in a way, because it kept me going outside and pushing boundaries. As limited as I am it could be a lot worse. I like the idea of having a “shell”, and a Dodge Caravan would be a pretty big shell. If that helps me travel sooner than I would otherwise, it’s worth the money. Agreed that sometimes it’s better to catch and release than to stress yourself out trying to monetize some of the junk.

  14. That was a brave, brutally honest blog. The thing that affected me most was your admission of loneliness. It sounds a bit like you feel you have been abandoned. You have no support. Nothing is working. You’re right, you have to break the cycle. The notion of getting out in a camper or whatever is a good one. You could be a local grey nomad.
    Cold wet weather makes a huge difference. I go mental if it rains for more than a day. Light deprivation syndrome, We have had rain rain rain and flooding and really cold temperatures here in sunny Sydney, Australia. Ridiculous.

    Anyhow, it’s always good to hear from you. You don’t have to just talk garbage 🙂 You can just talk about you. As someone earlier commented – Internet friends are friends too,. Keep picking. I like to see what you find. And, lastly, the idea of not being too hard on yourself is okay. Be kind to yourself, If you can’t do it, don’t. If you have a burst of energy,do. Babysteps are useful. One step at a time. But always forward and in the same direction. I’m going away now.

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I have a decent amount of support thankfully, the main problem is that a lot of these people live hundreds or thousands of kilometers away now. So what was one a good-sized friend community (or 2) is now a couple people here, a couple people there, and a bunch far far away. So it’s not the same as it used to be, and being in my mid-30s it’s also a lot harder to make new friends and meet people (even if I were “normal”). But what can you do, except keep on keeping on, and continuing the fight?

  15. Best wishes to you. Just keep doing your best. It’s better than many.

  16. I could very much have written parts of this post myself. I’ve not travelled more than 100kms from home since January this year. The more I stay at home the easier it is to just stay at home and I work from home as well so that makes it very easy to remain in my safe space and not go out into the world. I have always had some form of OCD in general but the agoraphobia is newer and certainly highly affected by Covid times.

    We have had three Chrysler Voyagers now which I think is either exactly the same as or very similar to a dodge caravan. The most recent voyager had a stow and go system so you could just put all the seats in the rear away in three easy steps.

    Would it be possible to try a couple of less permanent options first perhaps? We have a thing here where you can hire someone elses campervan, and also you can always rent caravans in local caravan parks here. I found rvezy which seems to hire that kind of thing in Montreal?

    1. Sorry to hear about your struggles. Working from home can’t help, at least for me the garbage gives me a reason to keep going outside.

      I think I’ll just get the Grand Caravan or something equivalent. I feel the need to make a change, if only for the sake of trying. And if nothing else, I can make a case for a van being a good business expense. I don’t find I need much more than a compact car for most of my trips, but once in a while I pass up on something bigger because I don’t have the space. And with a van I could potentially offer other services, like delivery or junk removal.

  17. Thanks for sharing. It seems most of us have “something” we have to deal with. I try to remember that in my day to day life, it helps my compassion and patience. I have found, for myself, that time in nature and a daily meditation time helps. It was a long road to discover that much. I wish you the best on your journey.

  18. Thanks for trusting us. I’m sorry you struggle with those things. I have Complex PTSD and know panic attacks well. They suck. I can certainly get trapped in some negative thought loops too and have some OCD tendencies. Most everyone is dealing with something so never feel alone. I feel less alone when I listen to The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. People tell their individual stories and it helps. Take care. Always love your blog posts.

  19. It’s hard to put into words how much I appreciate your words, your work, and this blog.

    These last few years — coinciding with a pandemic, fun! — it’s become more difficult to leave my house because of a progressive physical disability. Now many people are returning to in-person events while I struggle with that for both covid and non-covid reasons. It’s tough.

    Someone above said it best: Most of us have things to deal with. Yours sounds difficult and tricky! It takes a lot of persistance to try as many treatments as you have and that’s really admirable.

  20. I hope you feel better, Martin. One thing that has helped me (and is free) is a grouop called Recovery International. It is similar to cognitive therapy but not really. It was started in the 1940’s by Dr. Abraham Low. Their website is RecoveryInternational.org (NOT dot com, that is a completely different group, unrelated). I have wanted to mention it before but didn’t have the guts so I hope you will take it in the spirit intended. It has helped me enormously.

  21. Thank you for your real-life honesty. I hope you’re right that talking about it can make the world a better place for all of us. I love what you do and wish you continued success toward the next “omg” find.

  22. Hi Martin, I echo what everyone else said above. There’s a ton of evidence out there that anti-depressants (1) often don’t work as advertised, and (2) give rise to even worse effects when trying to wean oneself off them. Doctors are way too quick to prescribe. Anxiety is rampant in this day and age. When I’m feeling anxious I try breathing exercises. When thoughts start running through my head, I let them float, and tell myself “hmm, that’s interesting, I wonder what my NEXT thought will be.” And on and on. So that you become more of an observer of your thoughts, rather than the author. But hey, with some trial and error you will find things that work for you. (For me, it’s exercising/running/biking/walking.) All the best. Whatever you post, we all love reading about it.

    1. And I meant to ask – did you get the plug unstuck in the pear pepper mill? If yes, how did you do it?

      1. I have a few friends that swear by their antidepressants (“saved my life”) from a few, so I definitely think they work for some people but for others, not as much unfortunately. I do think breathing exercising/meditation/exercise and trying to have a healthy lifestyle in general is good. As for the plug, leaving it in the window did work. It was partial sun, for a couple days so no harm done. I think putting it near a lamp might have done the same thing, just a little bit of gentle heat to loosen things up

  23. I’m a fairly new follower & love seeing what you find. Honestly I think the feelings you describe are pretty normal for a lot of people…it’s just that some of us get stuck there or have difficult pasts that hold us back. I agree with the comment that said just feel what you’re feeling…sometimes we just have to live through it. In the meantime, make healthy choices….eat well, guard your sleep, stretch every day, learn to breath (seriously, do some deep breathing exercises) , choose gratitude….there are so many things you do have a choice about.

    This isn’t a popular suggestion in today’s world but I also think the definition of ‘existential OCD’ sounds like someone searching for God rather than someone who is ill or weak. I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. My faith has really helped me through some similar struggles & find answers to some of these questions that really troubled me for awhile. I think we all cycle through these kinds of experiences…some of us for years. But if we choose to make healthy choices…one day we wake up to realize we feel ok…then soon we feel good & eventually even feel joy. It does happen. I’m an old lady who has been through this cycle a few times in my life. I hope you’ll hang in there & take care of yourself.

  24. Hi – Marty, TY Happy to see a new post, Love your finds and I was excited by the Quistgaard piece. Did not know there were variations that are more valuable. Have sold a few of his very early pieces, the surfboard tray and Viking ship bowl. He was the first teak wood kitchen designer. Been through the wringer watching my daughter struggle with your same problems. I think the change in meds is problematic in itself, you are constantly tweeking your brain chemistry. Topamax is an anti psychotic that has been found to alleviate OCD in some people and unfortunately, makes it worse in others. We found it a godsend. Also magnesium plays a role in anxiety, so my daughter takes a magnesium glycinate supplement a couple times a week. Ask your pharmacist.

  25. Know that you matter to us! We look forward to your posts which are unique, educational, entertaining and selfless. Thanks for also sharing your raw emotions. I truly hope it will help on your journey to feeling better.

  26. Hey Martin,

    Just wanted to take a moment to let you know I appreciate your blog so much and that reading it has eased some of my anxiety. I live in the states about 6 hours from the border but I have often contemplated getting in a car and showing up at one of your yard sales. Keep on being awesome man.

  27. If you haven’t tried it yet, check out cbd. It really helps with that type of stuff.

  28. I really like this blog which is basically ahead of its time in preventing useable items to go to landfill and introducing to a wide audience the concept of the Circular Economy. Its the stuff colleagues of mine are introducing national legislation for in another country. I cannot fathom the mindset of the people who throw out all these items its always drawn me back to your blog just to marvel at the incredible waste of people who obviously have more money than sense. You should be working for your Governement in training a wide ranging number of people on how to ensure no waste goes to landfill and how to monetise the items they already won. Sorry for the rambling text but you are providing a valuable public service which will become the everyday in decades to come. Keep up the good work.

  29. Wishing you well, Martin.
    I so enjoy all your posts. So sorry that you feeling sad.
    Be careful when camping in Walmart parking lots and otherwise.
    Took some notes from other respondents suggestions.

  30. Martin, just seeing this now. Complex PTSD, GAD and undiagnosed ADD here, with a dash of panic attacks. For me, CBT was expensive & not super helpful, except somewhat with the panic attacks through exposure. EMDR helped with the complex PTSD. Not well known, but fed gov’t provides free therapy to Canadians through this site: https://www.wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA/worry I value your posts, knowledge and your honesty. Please don’t doubt yourself. You are young and will get out of this. It’s NORMAL and APPROPRIATE to feel anxiety (even existential dread) during a pandemic. There’s a reason anxiety continues to exist as humans evolve. We’re the canaries in the coal mine, here to tell humanity to pay attention. Maybe look for beauty as well as for great finds (do you photograph street stories and beautiful things as well on our outings?) and as others said, don’t lose hope. You’re smart & thoughtful, and Montreal is too cold in winter to live there your whole life (solidarity from YOW). 🙂 You got this!

  31. Reading your blog for awhile. I think the stuff you find is amazing. Sorry to hear you’re struggling with feeling sad. Sounds like you’ve gone thru quite a few meds only to be let down again. Have the docs ever mentioned putting new behaviour for you to practice when things get rough? That may work better than meds. What about opening a little shop to sell some of the items piling up in your garage. Then you would be out of the house, close to home, and meeting people. It’s sounds a simple enough solution, but life doesn’t work that way. It’s easier said than done, but just a suggestion. I have anxiety issues too that wax and wane. I hope you start to feel better soon. Here’s a virtual hug and positive thoughts coming to you from across the pond. Take care of yourself

  32. I love your blog and am sorry that you are going through a hard time.It happens to many of us—-stop overanalysing.All I can say is you do great work and you should be happy so many people read your blog and encourage you.I personally am tired of blogs that push minimalism mindlessly and am shocked by how many so carelessly toss valuable stuff in the garbage.I like your blog because you rescue the things I like to collect.I worked in the travel business before the pandemic but got tired after nonstop travel for 15 years around the world.I do not consume much but love collecting knick-knacks and certain items.Minimalists are too boring with their message.Is there a group for people who are tired of minimalism?Is there a group for people who were minimalists but do not want to be minimalists any more?

  33. hey bro good luck out there! been following your blog for years and always love to see what you find but also you are an excellent writer. you have a strong voice and a sly sense of humor i really vibe with. sorry to hear you are struggling right now but as others have pointed out it was big of you to share that. sending you love and support from the US and hope you have some nice days ahead. cheers.

    also IDK if you remember that orange bedside clock with the rotating numbers but i’ve always regretted not buying it haha oh well lesson learned

  34. Hello Marty 🙂

    I started to read your blog 10 years ago when I was pregnant and what really hit me back then was the fresh look on things you have, just like a different kind of glasses one would use to look at the world. Your authenticity is precious and we need more people like you. You’re very courageous, thank you for sharing and hang on there, you might just as well be going through a rougher patch now. Best of luck 🍀

  35. I hope you write at least two short blog posts every month.(The posts could only be two paragraphs long and less than 300 words).You are like an entertainer who makes us wait too long between shows.Stay well and I hope your life gets even better.

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