Someone who is a compulsive hoarder admits they need help. That is great news. The only problem is it is only the first step in an extremely long journey. As a loved-one, it is important that you are braced to see the worst side of the person and still be patient. You will be challenged with what this disorder has done to them, both mentally and emotionally. They may lash out, yell, scream, and ask you to leave. But if you can endure it all, you will be able to see the person you’ve missed on the other side of a long struggle.
Understanding compulsive hoarding is a fairly new undertaking and through study, researchers have been able to learn there is a difference in a hoarder’s brain function. The activity levels in a hoarder’s brain are different in a non-hoarder in areas like self-control, visual processing, selection, and attention. These areas are important because they produce traits commonly seen in hoarders that are difficult for their loved ones to understand.
Some of these traits are:
Because of your connection to the person displaying these behaviors, it may be hard for you handle. You may feel the need to bite back, or explain why things don’t make sense. Please remember, you are not dealing with someone whose stream of logic works the same way yours do. Furthermore, if you realize you truly lack the ability to work with your loved one through this issue it is best to remove yourself from the process or be a part of the counseling aspect with the hoarder.
Educating yourself more on the disorder is another way to get through the difficult patches. There are numerous books and websites available to get you well-informed about hoarding. Also, you can find support groups on-line for hoarders and the loved-ones of hoarders. In addition, the therapist involved with the treatment may have support groups locally that you can attend. Being able to talk about the experience with others who understand is a great tool to have in your arsenal.
It is also important to check your pride at the door. Before interacting with the hoarder, or trying to declutter the home, it is best to keep in mind you are there to help. Always be compassionate and understanding, remembering you are dealing with someone who is ill and needs your assistance. This problem didn’t develop quickly and it won’t disappear that way either. And when there are relapses, communicate your frustrations with the therapist who is helping. Do not place your baggage about the situation on the hoarder.
Whether you are directly involved in the cleaning up process, cheer your loved-one on! Rejoice with them in the small victories and patiently support as they complete the minor tasks the therapist may assign. Even though hoarding is taking up a lot of the relationship at present, remember there is a whole lot more to the individual. In time, maybe you can explore social things you used to enjoy together in the past.
In many cases loved ones harbor a lot of resentment against the hoarder because of time and opportunity lost, as well as hurt caused by the illness. It is easy to want to feel vindicated. While this may be the case, life does not always allow us perfect justice. What it does give us is the opportunity to change things today so that our tomorrows can be brighter.