Hoarding is an extremely serious problem and can eventually make the Hoarder reclusive, lonely and often very sick.
If you have ever seen the home of a Hoarder, you soon realize that all the clutter did not appear over a few weeks or months, but more than likely over a period of many years.
If you are going to be able to help a Hoarder get their home ‘back’, then you will have to have plenty of compassion and patience.
I am going to tell you the True story of a Hoarder that got me really interested in this subject after watching a TV program. I will call him ‘Peter’ for this article and he is around 50 years old which is the average age for a Hoarder.
The program was taking place in a really pretty rural village in England. The village residents were mainly a wealthy group and took pride in their homes and gardens. They were entering a competition for the prettiest village in England. But, they had a major problem.
There was one home that did not come up to their standards. Unfortunately, these residents were not a very compassionate group and the house that Peter owned was an embarrassment for them and would also mean that they could not win the competition.
Meet Peter, Compulsive Hoarder
Peter was a Hoarder and not just inside his home, but also in his very large garden. There were huge piles of rubbish all over the garden and I mean huge, almost spilling into the road. So, did these residents try to help Peter? No, their agreed committee answer was to put into a kitty and buy some cheap high fencing to screen off Peter’s garden to the competition judges. This was duly done and Peter became even more of a prisoner in his own home as he just did not realize what he had created.
Now we come to ‘Steve’. He also lived in this pretty village but was not the normal village type. He had moved there from East London and was a very down to earth type guy. He was a builder and Peter’s way of life concerned him for all the right reasons! He started to visit Peter and tried to get Peter to talk to him. Of course, Peter had been ignored by the villagers for many years and didn’t know how to cope with Steve at first, but slowly he started to trust him.
Steve couldn’t even see into the house at the front door as it was literally blocked with rubbish. Piles of newspapers as far as the eye could see! Peter actually had to clamber over a 4 foot wall of paper to make his ways into his home. Inside, it got worse. He had a tunnel through his home to get into a tiny clearing in the middle where he had a chair, a tiny table and unbelievably a small gas camper stove. Here, he slept and ate. He was living on boiled eggs and bread every day.
The villagers had called the fire department to ask them to visit Peter as they were realistically concerned about the house catching fire, which was true. Three firemen arrived and had to follow Peter on his crawl to his living space. They were totally shocked and tried to explain to Peter what a huge fire hazard he had with all the rubbish, but they were finding it extremely hard to comprehend what they had seen. Steve was around on this day and knew he had to do something to help Peter.
He knew it was going to take a huge amount of patience but he felt that Peter wanted to change but didn’t know how. He learned from Peter that his Father had been very domineering and his mother very doting. His father died first and then when his mother died, he was left in the family home on his own. He was obviously very depressed after the death of his parents and his home became cluttered.
Then he started thinking of our society as a ‘throw away’ society and he couldn’t bear it. Every time he left his home, he would come back with all sorts of things he had found on his trip. An empty bag, a piece of wood, an article of clothing, in fact, anything that was laying around. As his house filled up with all this rubbish, it over flowed into the garden.
How Steve Helped Peter To Stop Hoarding
Steve spent hours just talking to Peter and realized he was a very intelligent, educated and interesting man. Although, looking at him, he looked more like a tramp in old clothes and unwashed. He started to suggest to Peter that maybe he could help him clear some of the rubbish. They agreed that the garden was a good place to start. Steve found a few more locals that were willing to help, needless to say, not the committee members.
He had to initially bargain with Peter that if he cleared some of the rubbish, Peter could choose something to keep. For example, Peter wanted to keep the frame of an old umbrella as he was convinced it could be used some day. Tons of rubbish were moved from the huge garden and unbelievably 6 vintage cars were found underneath.
The people helping Steve also realized that Peter was an interesting guy, not the idiot they had been told about and enjoyed sitting in his newly cleared garden for tea and a chat.
Over the next few months, Steve helped Peter to reclaim his home and make it habitable once again. Peter started to eat properly and take a pride in his appearance now he had new friends.
This story had a happy ending due to the compassion and patience of Steve, a remarkable man.
Hoarding is hard for most of us to comprehend, even though we are all guilty of a little cluttering once in a while. But you would be surprised how many Hoarders are out there and need help. If you know anyone with this problem, then be kind, gentle and take things slowly. I promise they will eventually be so grateful for your friendship and your patience.