Most of us can admit to having a junk drawer or even a junk closet. For some people, though, it becomes more extreme than a random drawer in your kitchen. Hoarding can be a debilitating disorder and, if not addressed, it can destroy a person’s family, relationships, home, and livelihood.
My time served in a packrat household
Hoarding is not something I’m unfamiliar with. I grew up in a packrat house where items seemed to multiply. My parents had every nook and cranny in our home packed tight. There was also a detached four-car garage that was filled with everything but cars. Two sheds that housed a plethora of random belongings, including mine and my sibling’s entire childhood wardrobe. Oh, and two storage units, which had monthly payments because who doesn’t want to pay good money to store junk, right? These learned hoarding behaviors began to follow me into my adult life until the day we had to help move all of our parents’ belongings to a new house. I began purging my belongings regularly after that.
First, there are varying degrees of hoarding. You could easily walk through my childhood home and living conditions were fair. However, the television show, Hoarders, depicts hoarding to the extreme. Each episode contains some sort of emotional climax where the hoarder can’t seem to part ways with their beloved belongings. Before we pass judgment on their extreme attachment, let us consider HOW they got there in the first place. People don’t just wake up and decided to fill up their homes with stuff.
Hoarding is a disorder. It can present itself alone or it may be a symptom of another disorder. It is often associated with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. Hoarding may also stem from life experiences. Those who lived through the depression are often used as an example. No matter the cause, hoarding is difficult to overcome. Especially when you’re struggling with an additional disorder as well.
A telltale sign of hoarding is the inability to get rid of anything. It causes them anxiety. There is a multitude of other reasons as to why hoarders do not want to part with their belongings. Perhaps they believe it may be valuable one day, or they worry they may regret letting it go. Many people hold on to items with the intent of leaving them as an inheritance to their children. Another sign of hoarding is feeling anxious about people coming over or embarrassed by possessions.
Hoarding does more than trash a person’s home, though. It can cause isolation, put stress on marriages and family life, and potentially cause financial troubles. In some cases, hoarding can cause unhealthy living conditions which could result in losing children or chronic health problems.
Break the stigma
According to Harvard University, “First, it’s important to find a good physician, mental health professional, or neurologist who can determine whether the hoarder has any underlying or contributing conditions and treat those as well as the hoarding itself.” Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor in any way and nothing in this article is intended to treat medical conditions both mental and physical. If you or someone you know begins to show signs of becoming a hoarder, consider seeking professional help. Since hoarding is commonly associated with mental health disorders, it’s best to be aware of your health. Never hesitate to talk to your doctor. Break the stigma of mental health.