Hoarders TV Show is missing the issue.
Its a wonderful show. I lived in a 2 bedroom house and have slight hoarding tendencies. I know the depth of the issue, and I know the reason behind each of my actions. When having to move and toss a lot of the things that I was keeping because I “might need them someday” having Hoarders on in the background was immensely helpful. Suddenly I didn’t need ANY of the junk I’d been saving for years and hadn’t touched.
I’m going to start off discussing why I have my minor hoarding tendencies. First, I’m scared of people. I have a deep fear of people and even taking the garbage out causes a panic attack. A neighbor might see me. . . I might run into my landlord unexpectedly and be asked a question I haven’t had time to research. I know its crazy. Its something I’ve combated for years. If I live with other people, I generally make them take the trash out, and as soon as Londyns old enough, that will be her job (although writing this, I realize that perhaps some improv classes will help me with that fear – which I know is entirely irrational).
I am often given things and feel “guilty” about getting rid of it. In an earlier blog I wrote a letter about not buying my daughter anything for her birthday. This is not because I’m mean, we just only have room for so much stuff. We have too much. We don’t need even have of the stuff we’ve kept, which is less than half of what we had. My daughter has 20 blankets. From baby blankets, to sleeping bags, to comforters. . . each one has something different and came from a different person. How does one decide which blanket to keep? My favorite was the one the library gave to us while we were in the hospital – its high quality, very pretty, and handmade. Several of the others are the cheap felt $5 WalMart Special type blankets that she can’t bear to let go of because its “TinkerBell”. Those will have to disappear when she’s not looking.
Dishes. I hate them. I’d rather eat out for every meal than do dishes. . . while I love a homecooked meal, I really hate slaving infront of the sink after everymeal. In part because when I cook – I cook ALL OUT. I can easily ignore a kitchen sink full of dishes for weeks. And the worse it gets, the larger the black hole the kitchen sink becomes in my mind. I’ve been much better lately — but still.
I will never clean with anybody else in the house. I hate cleaning so much that it makes me entirely too angry. If you want me to clean, you HAVE to leave. Otherwise, I’m likely to bark your head off just out of my pure frustration of the task. Actually, if I’m able to crank up “Evita” [my cleaning the floors on my hands and knees movie] I can do the entire thing happily as I disappear into my own world. But when I have somebody pulling me out of my world and making me conscious about what I’m doing, I’m not happy.
Mail. Piles and Piles of mail. You never know what you need, what you don’t need… how many times have you thrown away a piece of mail only to discover that it was something you needed? More times than I can count.
The trouble really starts when you reach a point where the work is just too much to handle. As a mini-hoarder I’m really good at not noticing the issue. For awhile keeping my house too gross to have people over was in part for that exact reason – so I could never invite people over. It became an excuse. I loved it.
The real point of my blog today isn’t to admit how awful I can be (I’m actually quite happy after my move two months ago, and even though I have a lot in storage, theres not much of it I want to keep and will be getting rid of it soon — and I know there’s a bunch here I can get rid of, too), but really to think about how the people on the television show “Hoarders” aren’t really helping get to the root of the issue.
They spend what, just one weekend trying to get rid of stuff in some of those homes? My home wasn’t even a tiny bit as bad as some of those homes I’ve seen and working nearly non-stop it STILL took me a month to do. And perhaps that month is what I needed to change my habits – then again… thats what I really wanted to do.
Some of the items really ARE personal treasures. People are just diving through things that are trash, and are throwing away everything. You are CAUSING the Hoarder to disassociate from what you’re doing. This will not fix the root of the problem.
There needs to be a week of therapy first. Through face to face contact, articles for the hoarder to read, and books explaining the psychology of a hoarder. The hoarder needs to understand that what they have is something of an illness, and doesn’t always mean what everybody tries to tell them it means (they’re disgusting, lazy, etc).
THEN, when they sort through stuff it needs to be done more in a “Clean House” style. Help the hoarder decide what can be kept, and what can be sold or at least donated. Seeing ALL of that stuff go to the dump after they’ve kept it thinking it was valuable… traumatic. Nothing could possibly say you care less about what they value than just dumping everything in the trash.
In the extreme situations when things need to be done to avoid jail time, then yes – do a fast clean… but they should still put things that could be gone through another day in a storage unit, set the house and yard up to compliance… and then once thats done – go through the unit.
Another method before the hoard could be simply to move the hoarder into a clean house for a week. Set up a home where there are “cleanliness rules” and allow them to live there. Its amazing how freeing it can be to have the opportunity to discover for themselves that they LIKE living a normal stuff-free life again, and that it gives them the time and money to be able to enjoy life.
I can’t stop watching the show, but I think its mostly because of the shock value of what people have along with my need to “fix” everything… including these so-called therapists methods.