When we hear the word ‘addiction’ we automatically think about alcohol, drugs, gambling or maybe even sex or shopping. But how many of us think of accumulation of stuff (hoarding) as a serious – and potentially dangerous addiction? An epidemiology study conducted back in 2010 showed that as many as 1 in 20 people live with this condition and there are countless more that suffer privately in a cocoon of shame and embarrassment, not realising that there are treatments available. Even more perplexing is that there are many who do not see it as an issue and find great comfort in their burden of possessions.
But how does hoarding pose a danger? Aside from the risk of illness from bacteria, rodents, dust mites, and other nasties, being a chronic hoarder can actually kill you. Take the story in 2010 of an elderly couple who were found buried alive under piles of rubbish in their Chicago home. They had been there for weeks and were admitted to hospital suffering from injuries and malnutrition. Then there is the more recent story of the Illinois woman whose partially decomposed body was found under piles of trash in her home. She had not been seen by neighbours for weeks.
Image courtesy of watoday.com.au
So how do we know if we have crossed the line from simple clutter to hoarding?
Here is an excerpt from clutterless.org:
“While hoarding is a serious psychological condition that can only be diagnosed by a psychiatrist…the psychology of cluttering and hoarding are very different.
A hoarder cannot make rational decisions about what is useful and what is not. Thus, the hoarder often saves garbage or soiled items. If you don't - you probably aren't. You are probably just a clutterer, like the rest of us.
A hoarder obsesses about her stuff and is compelled to collect it. A clutterer just lets it pile up. We don't give it much thought. It seems to flow into our lives without any effort on our part.
A hoarder is usually unaware of anything being wrong. If you are concerned about your clutter, you are in good shape.”
If you or someone you know is a hoarder or showing signs of hoarding tendencies, talk to them in a sensitive and non-judgemental way and encourage them to seek help.
Image courtesy of plus.google.com
On a lighter note, here is a cool little rhyme I found at: http://www.nobodyhere.com/justme/me.here
‘Where on earth would i be
without the stuff that belongs to me?
Stuff for my feet, stuff for my head,
Stuff in the attic, stuff in the shed,
Stuff that's fresh, stuff that's expired,
Stuff I needed, stuff I desired,
Stuff for night time, stuff for the day,
Stuff for work, stuff for play,
Stuff that's lost, stuff that's found,
Stuff with smells, stuff with sound,
Stuff that's outdated, stuff that's hot,
Stuff that's insured, stuff that's not,
Stuff that's plastic, stuff that's chique,
Stuff that's common, stuff that's unique,
Stuff that's fake, stuff that's real,
Stuff you'd buy, stuff you'd steal,
Stuff for comfort, stuff for panic,
Stuff that's toxic, stuff that's organic,
Stuff created, stuff destroyed,
Stuff neglected, stuff enjoyed,
Without my precious property
Where on earth would I be?’