A top writer here wrote a personal story about her struggle with hoarding and how she got help. Is your home messy or hoarding?
At my former job as a social worker, I visited many homes and interacted with parents, grandparents, young children, teenagers, and foster parents. All parents did what they could with what they had to make their home livable for their family. I’ve visited hundreds of homes and never observed hoarding.
But my side job, as an organizer, exposes me to hoarding. I always visit homes for a consultation but only accept one-third of the job. Why? Often, the home is not disorganized, but the hoarding doesn’t allow for any bare floor space for standing or walking.
I usually referred the homeowner to a licensed psychologist with a specialty in hoarding. Why the referral? Because hoarding is a disorder and homeowners need many sessions of cognitive psychotherapy and/or medication before cleaning and organizing can be effective.
My experience shows most of the hoarders have the means for treatment, dress properly, and often live in a large home.
What is a messy home?
The above photo is a messy room because the owner still uses the room, and a guest can walk into the room. A messy space is not always bad because research shows that creative individuals thrive in a disorganized space.
A messy home often has a few things on the floor, an unkempt kitchen, and a half cleaned bathroom. A messy house has a less negative impact on humans, and rarely if ever, do rats share beds with homeowners.
What is a hoarding home?
The below photo speaks for itself. I guess this is a living/dining room.
In layperson’s terms, hoarding is out of control disorganization, and the homeowner lacks awareness of the clutter.
Everything in the house is mixed up with trash and leftover food. For example, you have two years of leftover food in the bedroom and a bathtub filled with trash.
The key here is the homeowner rarely notices the trash or spoiled food lying on the floor for months or years.
You’re not alone. According to American Psychological Association, “about 2.5% of the population meets the diagnostic criteria for hoarding disorder, a complex and difficult-to-treat condition.”
A licensed psychologist or psychiatrist with a specialty in hoarding can treat hoarding disorder.
10 Things to help you decide if you need help or not:
Many of these things may not apply to you. Hoarding is a problem that needs solutions. We all have issues, and we try our best to solve them as they come. Seek help for your problem and live better.
- Reflect on the above photo. Does it look familiar to any room in your house?
- Do you have difficulty letting go of material possessions, including food wrappers and leftover food?
- Do you require excessive or compulsive action when acquiring new items? Are you financially stable and somewhat a genius?
- Do you have a high level of disorganization and inability to prevent clutter? Just observe your home. Seek a second opinion from a true friend or a relative who chooses not to judge you.
- Do you have piles of paper in the bathroom and boxes of unused things in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, basement, driveway, or rented storage?
- Do you live alone or with young children? Do you rarely invite people to your home? Note: If you have young children and live in the US, seek help before a concerned citizen call your state children services.
- You cannot use your bathroom or cook in your kitchen because of clutter.
- You live with clinical depression and anxiety, ADHD, or you’re on any spectrum of Autism or had serious childhood trauma.
- You live in a large house, and all rooms are used as storage.
- You rarely feel embarrassed with the dirtiness in your home.
You are not alone, and there’s no shame in asking for help. People with cancer or heart disease seek treatment. You can do it.
Read this personal story—she’s one of the top writers here. Hear from the horses’ mouth.
If you think you have a hoarding disorder, hire a licensed psychologist with a specialty in hoarding. She or he will guide you to hire other professionals.
After treatment and cleaning, hire an organizer for weekly or bi-weekly visits to help you organize your home.
No judgment — you are not wasting money for hiring an organizer but caring for yourself. An organizer is like a dry cleaner or a nail technician. In our area, an organizer's hourly fees range from $45-$275.
Help yourself grow.