Don’t Let the Alarmists Scare You
Enjoying an occasional glass of wine does not make you an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a medical condition that affects a small percentage of the population and is best diagnosed by a physician. In a similar vein, if you sometimes worry that people are gossiping behind your back at work, that does not mean you suffer from paranoia, a treatable but serious psychological disorder.
Unfortunately, in everyday conversation, we often hear people say things like, “Oh, stop being so paranoid.” The word, like “alcoholic,” has crept into modern language, causing folks to forget about the clinical, official definitions. The same is true for “hoarding.” Psychologists speak of a particular condition called “hoarding disorder” (HD) that affects a tiny percentage of the population.
Yes, hoarding disorder is serious and calls for treatment by a licensed professional. But, no, it is not common, and you don’t necessarily have it just because you like to collect baseball cards, old furniture, or garage sale bargains.
How to Know If You Really Need Help
So, for people going about their lives, and who might have a garage or attic or basement full of unlabeled, unorganized, and mostly unwanted “stuff,” what’s the answer? In other words, what is the line between having the official, psychological condition known as hoarding disorder and just being guilty of amassing more boxes of things than you actually need?
Medical experts give us a clear answer. The difference between being an unorganized collector of various things and being a hoarder is pretty clear cut. Here are some points about HD to keep in mind if you are wondering about your own situation:
- It usually begins in the late teens or early adult years
- HD involves emotional distress and “life impairments”
- Clutter begins to interfere with your life or lifestyle
- You agonize about throwing anything away
- Buildup of items, junk, and collected stuff approaches being unsanitary and interferes with your ability to keep your living space clean
- You become distressed at the very thought of getting rid of the hoarded items
On the other side of the coin, here are some examples of common situations that usually ARE NOT signs of hoarding disorder:
- You store 20 boxes of coins, dolls, baseball cards, or old bottles in your attic in the hope that you’ll be able to sell them to a collector someday
- Your husband or wife often reminds you that you need to clean the junk and clutter out of your home office space
- You own more than 1,000 old vinyl records and meticulously categorize them and list them for sale on Internet auction sites
- There are a few dozen crates of stored items in your basement and you have no idea what is in them
- You have a shed in your backyard that is filled to the brim with plants, garden tools, auto parts, and broken appliances
What If You Still Have Questions?
If you read through the above items and still wonder whether you’re a hoarder rather than a collector, remember two things.
One, avoid falling into the trap of telling yourself, “Well, I must have the disorder because I am worried that I might have it.” This is just confused thinking. Suspecting you suffer from a medical condition, like hoarding disorder, cancer, liver disease, or hepatitis does NOT mean you have it. This is especially true if you are not a licensed medical professional.
Two, if you’re losing sleep about your fear of having a hoarding disorder, speak with a psychologist and find out for sure. An experienced pro will be able to distinguish between excessive worry and a textbook disorder. The bonus of taking this step: IF you do have hoarding disorder, you’ll be in the perfect place to get help. The condition is treatable with a very high success rate.
Guest Blog by Jennifer Hanzlick. She is an Entrepreneur, Speaker and Hoarding Expert. She was inspired to create a business to help people remove the junk and clutter from their homes. She found out many people are overwhelmed with the amount of clutter or junk in their homes. They want to get rid of it but don’t know where to start and need extra help. And this is how Clutter Trucker was born!
Photos Courtesy of Jump Story (https://jumpstory.com)