I have learned a lot about compulsive hoarding while working to set up junk removal for the hit reality show, Hoarders, on A&E. But nothing prepared me for the experience of participating in the real thing – cleaning out a hoarder’s home!
I approached my task with one goal in mind: to support the clean-up effort that would hopefully bring some space and peace back into a hoarder’s life.
Two days and nearly 17,000 pounds of junk later, through the efforts of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? truck team, a professional organizer, and the Screaming Flea productions crew, we felt we’d achieved a miracle.
It wasn’t just that the hoarder’s home was clean for the first time in years, her entire attitude had changed. She smiled and joked as more and more bags left through the front door. She could see her home becoming more spacious by the minute.
My experience working for a junk removal company has taught me what an amazing difference de-cluttering a messy home can make. Seeing the profound impact the seemingly simple action of removing clutter from a home had on this woman’s life created a new level of understanding for me. What we did was not a simple task. The root causes of hoarding are vast and deep, making it almost impossible to deal with on your own. Indeed, our work was life-changing.
One of the biggest revelations for me was that the things people hoard really do mean something to them, no matter how trivial or worthless the items appear to others. Experiencing this teaches us compassion, and with compassion we are eager to help.
The more we empathize with people suffering from this affliction the easier (I hope) it will be for hoarders to get the help they need.
I, for one, will never look at another cluttered home in the same way.
N.B. I am going to read E.L. Doctorow’s book “Homer & Langley” now. I will tell you about it when I am done.