A few weeks ago, I wrote a post asking for your questions about hoarding. One brave soul added a question in the comments, and I’ve collected a few other questions that I’ve been asked on Facebook. Here are the answers:
Question: How do I let go of display/ornamental items? The rule that says “if you haven’t used it in ____ months get rid of it” doesn’t really apply to these.
Answer: You’re right. We all keep things just because they look nice, not because they serve any other function. And that’s OK. It’s nice to have some beautiful things to look at in our homes. But there are some ways to pare them down so you can see, enjoy, and manage the items you truly love.
The first thing is to take a first pass through these items and remove everything you don’t truly love. You can ask yourself what the first emotion you feel is when you look at it. If it’s guilt, or even sadness, then it’s not giving you joy. Choosing to let these things go means choosing to feel better. Many clutterers feel compelled to keep things they were given as gifts for a variety of reasons. This is a rule you give yourself. It’s also a rule you can change. You are NOT obligated to fill your house with the things other people have gathered.
Another strategy comes from über organizer Peter Walsh. In his book Let It Go he gives strategies for those who are downsizing. With collectibles, he says to use the dining room table that fits in your home as a guide. Keep whatever fits on the table. Anything more will be too much to enjoy and manage. You could even have one full table for everyday collectibles, and one for all the seasonal decorations that you store for most of the year. Ideas like this are great because they give a physical boundary that’s clear.
Question: Is there a medication for hoarding?
Answer: No… and sort of. While there are currently no medications for those diagnosed with hoarding disorder, there are medicines that help treat some of the conditions that are often diagnosed alongside hoarding disorder. Things like OCD, anxiety, and depression are frequently seen with hoarders, and medication that treats these conditions can have a beneficial result when it comes to decluttering.
If you feel like this may apply to you, start with a visit to your general physician/gp/doctor. Tell them honestly what you are struggling with and ask for help. Some doctors really understand hoarding disorder and will partner with you in your journey. Others won’t. If this is the case, get a second opinion, or a third, or a fourth. Your challenges are legitimate and serious. You deserve to have the best help. Note: for a hoarding diagnosis you need to see a mental health professional. If a general physician, counsellor, or therapist diagnoses you (and they may be right in the actual diagnosis) it can be a sign that they don’t accurately understand hoarding disorder. Check with a psychologist/psychiatrist.
Question: Where can I go to learn NOT to hoard?
Answer: The good news is that there are a variety of programs and groups you can connect with. And there will continue to be more as awareness of hoarding disorder continues. The estimates suggest that 2-5% of the population exhibit serious hoarding behaviors. That means there are a lot more people than most would think! The following may be options for you, but I am not endorsing them. Check them out, and feel free to try a few before you find the right fit for your needs.
The Clutter Movement – offers coaching and weekly live support meetings for individuals and their families
Buried in Treasures workshops – this is an intense, 16 week course written by some really great professionals who work with hoarding behaviors. If you see one in your area, and you really want to learn why you hoard and be kept accountable in a group setting, this may be a good fit.
Feel free to ask more questions – from me, from your doctor, from your therapist, or your professional organizer. Be open to gaining information and strategies that will help you make a safe, peaceful home that you love to live in. You CAN do it!