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 You Cure a Hoarder
Can hoarders be cured? Well, no, not really. Yes, 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, but you’re not cured, right? Because at every meal you eat new food, right?
Just having lost weight does not cure you. So yeah, you could hire a professional organizer, you could hire professional house cleaners to come in and they remove everything. They tidy everything up, they find a place for everything and boom, your house is lovely. But the behaviors that put you in a hoarding situation are still there. They have not been addressed. You still have to keep a conscious effort to avoid hoarding.
Many People Don’t View Hoarding as a Problem
Now, a lot of people don’t see hoarding as a problem, so they don’t seek help for it.
And so, 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 because they have depression or anxiety. And that is the result of the hoarding. But the hoarding is the problem itself.
So there’s psychotherapy or talk therapy and it doesn’t require any medication. You go in and talk to someone else that is objective to your point of view that can help you decide why you do what you do.
Hoarders Fill an Emotional Gap with Trinkets
And then when you discover something like, “Hey, wait for a second, I have this emotional gap that I’ve been filling with trinkets. Maybe I need to address that.”
Because, here’s what happens, once you have your house up to an amazing standard, the behaviors that got you there are still there. So you end up replacing, filling the void of the empty space with a bunch of new stuff. And so, people will go shopping and buy clearance items so that they can fill up their life. Because unconsciously that is their norm, right? That is the normal environment that they’re used to living in.
If You Want to Cure a Hoarder
And so, if you want to change, if you want to be cured, you can just change your behaviors. But if you want to be cured, then you have to consciously change your behaviors over and over again.
So for example, I know that I grew up in a hoarding environment because we had lots of kids and lots of stuff. And as I grew up, I took all those behaviors with me. Then I moved away to a city, where out in the country stuff was hard to come by. So if 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. But now I was buying things because it was on sale but in reality, there were 5 Walmarts all around me. I could go at any time.
Try Outsourcing Your Shopping to Avoid Hoarding
The next thing that I decided to do is not go to Walmart at all. And so I started outsourcing all my shopping and it’s awesome.
I send a shopping list either to someone in my family, or an assistant, or someone and I say, “Hey, these are the things I need.” And then miraculously they show up and they say, “Here’s your box of stuff that you need.” And I give them a check. I don’t have to wander down any aisles.
Usually, I don’t do my own grocery shopping. My husband bought my last pair of shoes, which was a bold move. But guess what? I didn’t even have to go into the shoe store.
Remove Yourself From the Temptation of Hoarding
So, by retreating from the temptation. Which is like the alcoholic removing himself from the bar, you are able to make new choices about the stuff that you hoard.
Another thing to think about is, do you really need it? Is there another item you have that could take its place? Is there another way you could accomplish this task without this thing? And you start getting rid of stuff.
And I started asking myself, well I need such and such, do I need it today? If I don’t need it today, can it wait till tomorrow and then tomorrow, do I need it today? Or we can wait until the next day, can it wait till the next day can and wait until the next day? And I started putting it off. Now, in the event and there was one time and about nine months where I did go grocery shopping by myself.
Don’t Use a Shopping Cart as a Hoarder
And so, here’s the rule, if you have to go into a store, don’t take a shopping cart, use what your two hands can carry. And then suddenly you will find after you’re carrying four or five things and you’re trying to keep them from falling. Then you go to the checkout counter already and you’re done, right?
When you have a bag you can just get loads of stuff in there and it just can’t get heaping as you want. And there are times in the past I had two shopping carts. Well, I don’t need two shopping carts of stuff. I’m one person, carry what you can carry in your hands and then be done with it.
Don’t Think You’re on an Island
As I said, there are five Walmarts within a 10-mile radius of my house and there are a whole bunch of other stores, right? I’m not on any island or something.
It’s not like items are scarce, they’re available. So, I can go get them at any time if I need them. Ask yourself, do I need them? And the answer is no, most times.
So can you be cured? I don’t think you can be cured. I think it’s like the person that lost 200 pounds. You will always be thinking about every meal. Is it worth it? And then you realize how hard it took you to get to this point. What did you have to do 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?
Curing a Hoarder is a Series of Choices
And so, once you go through all those questions, now you have a different series of choices. Nobody deserves to live in a home with hoarding because what happens is you can’t find anything. Then you go buy more stuff because you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Just like how you have to decide to eat healthier and lose weight, you have to decide to stop hoarding. Nobody deserves to live with tons of stuff all over their home where they can’t find anything.
So, don’t live that way. Make a choice and decide that you’re going to change the behaviors that got you in that situation in the first place. And yes, that is possible.
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