I’m like you – I love watching those hoarding shows. The hoarder often looks like someone you’d pass in the shops and not give second thought to, but behind the closed doors of their private space, they are hiding a dirty secret.
Hoarding is a serious disorder that carries with it mental health issues and physical endangerment. There are recovery groups for hoarders (which follow the AA 12 step recovery process) because it’s not just about having too much stuff and no motivation to declutter. Compulsive hoarding and acquiring involves the acquisition of, and inability to discard, a vast number of possessions.
When I think of hoarders, I think of desperation, loneliness and isolation, but mostly I think of shame. Clinical hoarding is one mental illness that is difficult to hide from those you love. And so hoarders will often keep family at arm’s length because of the shame they feel about the state of their home. Perhaps refusing to allow people to see behind closed doors allows a sense of control and delusion that the situation isn’t as bad as others might make out.
I’m not an expert on hoarding, but I do have the privilege of working with everyday people who have hoarding tendencies. Sometimes I think the extreme hoarding TV shows have shown us the worst of the worst and so, in comparison, we consider ourselves ‘pretty organised’. We’re not as bad as those shows so we must be ok. I ask the question, “are you the hoarder next door?” because in Australia it’s estimated that 1 in every 20 Australians struggle with hoarding. That’s someone on your street. Someone in your family. Someone in your workplace. A mum at school. A dad at footy. So I ask again, “are you the hoarder next door?” You are likely thinking something like, “No, not me. I mean we could probably live with less, declutter the garage or sort through the spare room, but I’m no hoarder”. And maybe you’re not. Or maybe it’s time to look at your home, possessions and space in a new light and release the tight grip ‘stuff’ has on you.
Enjoy the Freedom,