Understanding Hoarding – Part 1 (Instrumental Health – A Mental Health Documentary Series)


[Music] Initially, HoardingUK was just started as the helpline, so I was volunteering Fridays, I put up the one-page website in September, by October I had my first call. I can never say this without welling up. The first thing she said to me was “Where have you been?” The clinical statistics are 2 to 5 percent. Why is it that I can go nowhere, and say that I do this, and not have the response – I’m a hoarder, my mother was a hoarder, my neighbor, my this, my that – so I believe that it is a bigger problem than that. Hoarding now falls under obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, and the anxiety mechanism that runs anxiety disorders is the same – the worrying thought, the avoidant behavior, I’m going to do something, think something, say something to make myself feel better, you feel better for a minute and then because you haven’t dealt with actually that worrying thought, it gets worse. That’s the same, but the outcome is completely different – so eating disorders, body dysmorphia, compulsive skin picking, OCD. When I say to a person here’s an audiocassette and an empty DVD case from the Daily Mail that you got for free of a film you don’t care about – donate, discard, recycle, sell, or give away – what I get is the story of trauma, childhood sexual abuse, family issues, jobs – all of those things come up. And so, to me, we’re disregarding the fact that the stuff is the trauma and the anxiety. We’ll talk about a case – we have a helpline and we work in a very similar way on our helpline as we would in home, where I said to the woman “Between this session and next session – the the countertop hits the fridge, you’ve said you want to clear that, let’s look at that, between this session and next session, which is next week, I would like you to spend 15 minutes looking at that space. Just one set of 15 minutes, and then we’re going to decide how to go forward.” And she dissociated on the phone. She was just gone. And I just said “Okay. Are you okay?” and she said “Yes” I said “Let’s not do that. Let’s think about what just happened.” That’s dissociating psychologically, and we’re ignoring it. We’re asking a person who can’t organize, because of that overwhelm, to organize. The awareness about it is limited, except for the television shows, which are hugely helpful. Our aim is not to have a perfect house at the end of this, but to have a person who’s had a process of therapeutic and practical support and is better managing their issue.

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