National Hoarding Awareness Week, now in its ninth year, runs from 16 to 20 May 2022 www.hoardingawarenessweek.org.uk so it seems an appropriate time to talk about Hoarding Disorder.
Due to increased media coverage most of us are aware that Hoarding Disorder, (now a recognised mental health condition) actually exists which has meant that more people are feeling able to step forward, admit to having a problem and ask for help. Unfortunately it remains a difficult and distressing subject not properly understood by many.
It is bad enough when you own your own home; with the shame and guilt that goes with keeping friends and relatives away, and household repairs being put on hold for fear that tradesmen may judge you as dirty or slovenly. It interferes with relationships and the general functioning of family life; often causing stress and arguments, and the kids spending too much time in their bedrooms, feeling unable to invite friends over. Sadly it can often influence how they will behave when they grow up and have homes of their own; Some will pattern their parents and others may rebel, becoming completely obsessed with tidiness and cleanliness that this can also become problematic. I have witnessed both opposing behaviours displayed in siblings.
Even more worrying is the fate of people living in rented or social housing, where property inspections uncover hoarding problems; something which the recent 2 years of lockdowns has exacerbated as people were isolated, left alone without support and feeding their anxiety with on line shopping therapy. This has resulted in an increase in threats of eviction as housing associations and landlords fear the repercussions of deterioration to their properties and fire risk to other tenants.
Hoarding issues are often accompanied with other mental health issues including depression, and can be aggravated by physical debilitation such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, stroke, fatigue conditions and cancer. Any of these conditions make clearing a home and maintaining function and order extremely challenging.
Hoarding Awareness Week aims to bring the challenges of those suffering with Hoarding Disorder to the attention of organisations, social housing landlords and the wider public so that supportive intervention can be initiated, avoiding legal proceedings and eviction.
If you or a loved one would like to find out what help is available in your area take a look at The Association of Declutterers and Organisers (APDO).