TV reality shows such as Hoarding: Buried Alive, Clean House or A&E’s Hoarders have drawn attention to the phenomenon of compulsive hoarding. But while many people admit being cluttered, only a small percentage qualify as compulsive hoarders – based on the number of people I’ve helped over the last 4 years as a professional organiser, I’d say around 5%. Whatever the severity of your clutter is, my view is that you should get professional help. Here’s why.
Clutter doesn’t necessarily make you a hoarder.
Do you buy excessively? Do you struggle to let go and easily come up with a good excuse for holding onto items you don’t use, need or love? Do you waste time finding what you need when you need it? Even if you were to answer yes to all these questions, it still wouldn’t make you a hoarder, otherwise about 80% of the population would be hoarders to some degree!
Now if you were to tell me that the piles of stuff in your home make it difficult or impossible to use most of your living space, to move from one room to another, or to perform daily tasks, such as cooking, bathing or even sleeping in your own bed, then I’d reconsider.
While a lot of emphasis is put on the misery hoarders and their loved ones experience, you don’t need to be a compulsive hoarder to suffer from your clutter.
A survey conducted on behalf of Extra Space Self Storage in 2014 revealed that 88% of Singaporeans are bothered by their clutter and 85% know clutter at home affects immediate family members. Clutter impacts relationships, it impacts our self-esteem because we feel ashamed of the state of our homes or of the role model we serve for our children, it makes us feel frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed.
Compulsive hoarders will often end up living in isolation and over time experience anxiety disorder or even depression. Yet in my experience, most don’t take the initiative to do something about their issue. It’s often the family or friends who have to intervene because the hoarder’s living conditions are unsafe – high risk of tripping or setting the home on fire, or unhealthy – resulting in allergies or even respiratory problems for example.
Compulsive hoarder or not – Don’t let your clutter take a toll on your happiness, well-being and health!
Maybe you tried to declutter and get organised on your own in the past, but the clutter quickly came back. Or maybe you got help from a friend or a family member, but you felt judged and stopped all together in your tracks. That’s where you’ll benefit from getting professional help.
A professional organiser like myself will coach you and guide you in the decluttering and organising process. We’ll encourage you or challenge you to make decisions, help you revisit your relationship with your belongings and help you learn to progressively let go. We’ll also teach you organising concepts so you can continue the process on your own and stay organised in the long run. In the case of compulsive hoarding, involving a psychologist will help you address the underlying issues behind your hoarding tendencies.
Now there are going to be some challenges to overcome to bring help
Yes, I know it can be embarrassing to let a stranger in your home and show them your most intimate space. I think it’s quite natural to feel that way, but rest assured a professional organiser won’t judge you. Shola, a client of mine, summed it up best: “I was really quite nervous about allowing a stranger to witness the full extent of the mayhem. But there was absolutely no need to be anxious. Nathalie is a lovely person: calm, generous, absolutely non-judgmental and incredibly empathetic.” As far as I’m concerned, I see beyond the physical clutter, I see the opportunity to make a home more efficient and a life more peaceful.
I also realise that decluttering and getting organised is an investment, but as Amanda, another client of mine, put it, there’s a lot to gain from it: “Professional organisation is an investment – you invest in the time (and maybe even discomfort) of figuring out what’s not working, so you can cleanse, declutter and put a system in place. But once that system’s in place? You’ll have more time and head space to focus on what matters. A bloody great return on investment, if you’re willing to take the plunge.”
So what do you say? Are you ready to tame your clutter and experience a real lifestyle shift? If so, I’d really love to play a part in this transformation and help you get your home and life under control.