Can hoarders be cured? We’re talking compulsive hoarding. Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru offers tips and strategies to end the OCD. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.)
#Hoarders wonder “Can hoarders be cured? Is there help for creative, messy, cluttered, artistic, disorganized people?”
You can hire a housekeeper to get rid of your stuff and show you how to clean. But until you address the mental health behind the hoarding disorder, you’ll have a vicious cycle of purging and collecting.
Listen: Can Hoarders Be Cured?
Watch: Can Hoarders Be Cured?
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
Can Hoarders Be Cured?
Well, that’s a very interesting question. That’s like asking can a food addict be cured? Well, no, not really. At every meal you eat new food, right? So, it’s possible that if you are a food addict and you’re 300 or 400 pounds, you can lose a couple of hundred pounds. That doesn’t mean you’re cured, does it? Just having lost the weight does not cure you.
Cleaning It Up Doesn’t Cure It
All the same reasons for overeating or, with hoarders, over storing of things are still there. So yeah, somebody could come in and clean your house. You could hire a professional organizer or house cleaners to come in and take out everything. They would tidy everything up, and find a place for everything and boom, your house is lovely.
The behaviors that put you in a hoarding situation are still there. They have not been addressed. Just like the person that eats at every meal forever, you will always be counting calories. If I eat this, what does this do to my weight? Will this make me feel great if I eat this or, do I need to not eat this so I can feel great? So, there are questions that you have to ask yourself.
You Have to See the Problem to Fix It
Can hoarders be cured? Not if they don’t see hoarding as a problem. And if they don’t see hoarding as a problem, they don’t seek help for it. It’s not like we’re going to go to a therapist and say, “Hey, I’m a hoarder. Can you help me?”
Most people go to the therapist for other reasons. They have depression, anxiety, disappointment, or they feel like failures. All those things can be the result of hoarding. But the hoarding is the problem itself.
There’s psychotherapy, which is what we call talk therapy. It doesn’t involve any medication or anything. You just go and you sit down and there is someone else that is objective to your point of view. They can help you decode why you do what you do.
Then, you find out, “Hey, wait a second, I have this emotional gap that I’ve been filling with trinkets. Maybe I need to address that and I can get rid of the trinkets and not recollect.”
People Need to Fill Voids
Hers’s what happens. Even after you have your house up to an amazing standard, the behaviors that got you there are still there. So, you end up replacing things to fill the void of the empty space with a bunch of new stuff.
So, people go to places like garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment stores. They buy things off clearance racks to fill up their life again to the point where it’s cluttered and messy. That is their norm, right? That is the normal environment that they’re used to living in.
You Can’t Just Change Your Behaviors
If you want to change, and cure yourself, you have to make up your mind to change your behaviors. For example, if you grew up in a hoarding environment. It’s no offense to anyone, there were just lots of kids and lots of stuff. You take all those behaviors with you.
So, if you grew up in the country and you went to the store and something was on sale, you would buy it and take it home. Because you don’t know when you’re going to get to town again, right?
Then, when you move to a metropolitan area, you need to realize you can get anything you need any time. So, maybe there are five Walmarts within a ten-mile radius. You have to make the decision that you don’t need to go there every day for things you don’t need.
Let Walmart Be Your Storehouse
You’re never going to run out of anything with five Walmarts within driving distance. So, make a choice to stop going all the time. You can think of it like this, “This Walmart is my storehouse. They’ll keep everything here for me. If I need to come here, I can come in and look around and I don’t need to take any of it home with me. Even if it’s on sale today, it’s going to be on sale again. So, I don’t need it.”
Then, if you need it, you just buy it and take it home. But until then, it can all stay right here. Then, it’s like having a great big storage unit with all your stuff and it’s all neat and organized. It’s all labeled, it’s all on sale and they pay people to sit there and organize it for you.
Whenever you need it, go right down the aisle. You know where everything is, you get what you need and only then do you pay the fee on it as you take it out of the store. Perfect!
Also, Walmart pays all the insurance costs, shipping, handling, storage, and employee costs. It saves you from having to pay all those fees.
Another Option to Avoid Buying too Much
The next thing you can do is not go to Walmart at all. Outsource your shopping. Send a shopping list to a family member or assistant and say, “Hey, these are the things I need.” Then, like magic, they show up and they say, “Here’s your stuff.” Just give them a check and you don’t have to wander down any aisles. You don’t even have to do your own grocery shopping. You can order online or send someone and you never have to shop again.
So, by removing the temptation, you are able to make new choices about the stuff that you hoard. Just ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Is there another item you have that could take its place? Is there another way you could do this task without this thing? And you start getting rid of stuff.
Do You Need It?
Ask yourself if you need it right now. If you don’t need it today, can it wait till tomorrow? Then tomorrow ask, “Do I need it today?” Or, can it wait until the next day? Put it off until you absolutely need it.
Here’s the rule. If you have to go into a store, don’t take a shopping cart. Only get what your two hands can carry. That will help you decide what’s important. When you have four or five things in your arms and trying to keep them from falling, just go to the checkout counter. You’re done.
When you have a bag, you can load stuff in there and get a lot of things. And shopping carts can hold everything. Nobody needs that much stuff. Carry what you can carry in your hands and be done with it.
No Need to Panic
When there are five Walmart’s that close to your house and a lot of other stores, supplies are not scarce. They’re available. So, you can go get them at any time if you need them. But do you need them? And the answer is no, most times.
So, is there a cure for hoarding? Probably not. I think it’s like the person that lost the 200 pounds. You will always be thinking at every meal. What is it that I’m about to eat and why am I going to eat it? And Is it worth it?
And then you realize how hard it has been to get to this point. What did you have to jump through to get your house this clean? How much did you have to pay a professional organizer to come in and help you find a place for everything? How much stuff did you have to give up that meant something to you?
Now You Have the Tools to Handle the Hoarding
Once you go through all those questions, you have a different series of choices. It is still a good idea that you speak with a psychotherapist or a cognitive behavioral specialist. They can help you decode it and understand why you’ve been hoarding.
Because nobody deserves to live in a home with too much stuff. What happens is you can’t find anything. Then, you go buy more stuff because you can’t find what you’re looking for. It gets lost, and you spend hours looking for something that’s right in front of you. You can’t see it because there’s so much clutter.
Don’t live that way. Decide that you’re going to change the behaviors that got you in that situation in the first place. And yes, that is possible. All right, if this helps, please pass it on to a friend. Until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.
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