Have you ever wondered whether you are a hoarder?
Does keeping 20 years of past Christmas cards constitute hoarding? Is there an acceptable expiration date by which you can still use food and not be considered a hoarder? How much trash has to pile up before you're labeled a hoarder? Does having extra sets of things mean you're a hoarder?
If you watched any of the Hoarding specials these past couple of years, you probably have some strong opinions about what you witnessed. It can be heart wrenching to watch. I have clients who live in the pain and shame of hoarding and excessive clutter; it takes control of their lives and slowly destroys any sense of a safe and comfortable home.
One segment I watched involved a sweet elderly lady who was living in a Level 5 Hoarding situation (see explanation below)and she clearly had a distorted sense of her surroundings. She was so overwhelmed with the need to save that she lost touch with reality. She couldn't see that she was actually spending more time and moneybecause so many of her purchases were wasted, literally. It was clear after the show that she needed medical help, including counseling, in order to get her life back.
Another segment had a husband and wife with small kids at home. Clearly it was more of an issue with the husband, emotionally, but both were responsible for the mess in their home. They were under the threat of losing their kids if they couldn't get on top of the clutter and deal with their hoarding. This segment used a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), who did a wonderful job of showing compassion and yet pushing through the difficult decisions. In just two days the team of organizers and junk haulers cleared out the entire house of the years of hoarded trash, broken toys and useless items like the un-attached, rotting deck in the back yard. It will take months of counseling and continued sessions with the professional organizer before this family will be able to successfully deal with their clutter issues.
So, what do you do if you or a family member are hoarding? The first step, of course, is to acknowledge a skewed sense of reality. It takes humility to admit you can't handle it anymore. It takes a special level of sensitivity to helpa family member who wants to stop their hoarding and excessive clutter. It takes a team of professionals to truly bring long term solutions. If you or a family member need and want life changing help, you can contact NAPO for recommendations of CPO's (Certified Professional Organizer) in your area. You can also contact ICD for additional info.
If I can encourage you in any way, please contact me! I will do what I can to connect you with a professional in your area.