We go through situations, in part, so we can help other people who have to go through the same trials.
Although people who are diagnosed with hoarding are not my primary clientele, many people who call a professional organizer are feeling overwhelmed at some level. I had the experience in living what might look to you like a hoarder’s house, and I’m willing to share.
I was feeling beyond overwhelmed during a recent home improvement project. We had our hardwood floors refinished- and we were crazy enough to live in the house while we were having them done. It turned out to be a great experience, and the contractor could not have done a better job, but still, there is no other word for what happened in our house besides upheaval!
We moved absolutely everything out of 2 rooms, and gave one of the bathrooms over to the contractor for storage. We emptied closets, pulled up carpet, and piled up furniture in the corner of the family room for a scheduled donation pickup. There were beds and clothes in the living room.
Being an analytical kind of gal, I was thinking that we were blessed to still be safe, warm, dry, and well-fed. We could get through a week of craziness for a greater good! But other people in my house were feeling like a hoarder had taken over. Our house had many of the same characteristics as a hoarder home.
- Beds were haphazard, half covered, and not completely available for sleeping.
- I completely lost track of where I stashed items, like my necklaces and some shoes.
- We devised alternate coping schemes, like living out of the clean laundry basket and getting dressed downstairs.
- We had a bed set up in the middle of the living room. Weird but necessary. Whatever.
- I was downright ashamed to have my assistant over that week. She knew we were having work done, but she could see the craziness as soon as she stepped in the front door. Eek!
- Cleaning was nearly impossible for a few days. I just gave up. The kids got a free pass from chores. The carpet was too cluttered to vacuum.
- Things got worse. It was impossible to ask the kids to clean up after themselves because, let’s face it, there just was no place to put anything else.
- The holiday got pushed back. Furniture was stashed where the tree normally goes, and I was just tired, so we waited until the very last minute to decorate this year.
- We ate out more, because I just didn’t have the energy to cook and clean up when the house was torn up.
- I was just plain exhausted by the end of the week. True enough, I was moving furniture and painting in preparation for the next part of the project, but it did take a lot of energy to get through the week.
We’re just about returned to normal now, with shiny new floors to enjoy.Now we can start the process of designing the rooms again, from the floors up.
But living through this reminded me that there are people who struggle every day in a place that should be a haven for them, but instead feels more like an insane asylum.
It’s important to remember, though, that although our house was completely turned upside down and cluttered for a few weeks, we did not suddenly turn into bad people. We were all still as creative, hard-working, studious, compassionate, and interesting as we always have been. The same is true of anybody living with a disorder like hoarding.
You just never know what goes on behind closed doors. I am lucky. I often get to help people heal, and reclaim their house and home. I consider it a blessing to be in their service.
If you know someone who struggles with a home too full of memories, blessings, bounty, and clutter, do what you can to give them a break where you meet them, at work or in the world.
If you feel like you live like this all the time and don’t want to any longer, please find a NAPO professional where you live. There also wonderful resources at the site for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. You might think that no one can understand or help. But the truth is, we’ve all had challenges of one sort or another in our lives. Professional Organizers love to help you live the life you aspire to in your home.