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Hoarder: 'I carried heavy bags of newspapers to the office and back every day '

23 January 2021 8:55 AM
Tags:
psychological disorders
Hoarding
hoarding disorder
hoarder

Emma Goode shares her experience of compulsive hoarding which escalated from carrying bags to hoarding uncontrollably at home.

In 2009 the TV series Hoarders hit our screens and offered a painful look inside a disease that can quite literally bury its sufferer, says CapeTalk presenter Sara-Jayne King.

In each episode, cameras went inside the homes of people whose addiction to acquisition overwhelms not just their homes but also their lives. The series proved hugely popular, but what was the audience's entertainment was another person's serious mental illness, says Sara-Jayne.

So just what is compulsive hoarding, what causes it, and perhaps most importantly, can it be treated?

Sara-Jayne talks to psychologist Dr. David Rosenstein, and to Emma Goode, who has personal experience of the disorder and shares her experience.

I knew I had always been messy as a child but I think the hoarding really kicked in when I suffered some PTSD after childbirth. I had had quite a severe labour and I had got post-natal depression quite severely.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

She describes how, once she returned to work, she had a compulsion to carry two heavy bags of newspapers into the office and bring them home again - which she did every day on the London Tube.

I did that for months, if not years.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

I think I had a sense that this is not normal, but I am not quite sure what to do about it...and while I had a sense it was not rational it made me feel more secure to do it. And I did not talk to anyone about it.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

No one around her seemed to notice, and no one questioned or tease her which she says did enable her.

Carrying those bags into work was kind of like a security blanket...and later on, the hoarding took on a different level at home as well.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

It escalated from carrying bags around to physically collecting and hoarding a great deal of 'stuff' at home, she explains.

She still struggles but says her compulsive hoarding behaviour has improved.

I feel I have made big inroads. It is certainly manageable now. It will get better.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

How can family members and friends help?

Like with any disorder it really helps when someone listens rather than judges.

Emma Goode, Compulsive hoarder

Emma did work with a de-clutterer who she says worked with her in a very compassionate manner.

Psychologist Dr David Rosenstein explains the disorder.

It is very much a spectrum and many of the descriptions she provided fit with hoarding disorder.

Dr David Rosenstein, psychologist

He says people with the disorder often feel the things they are hoarding might be useful to them at some point.

Also, trying to discard and declutter can feel like a loss to them. it can resonate in some ways with the traumas and losses they have had in their lives prior to the hoarding.

Dr David Rosenstein, psychologist

He says there is certainly a control aspect to the behviour. They think it gives them control but deep down they really feel out of control in their lives, he explains.

It runs in families but we don't fully understand it but there is a genetic underlying predisposition and occurs in families along with other compulsive OCD repetitive behaviours that are not quite hoarding.

Dr David Rosenstein, psychologist

He says it does not appear to result from one particular type of trauma but can result from a number of types of traumas.

I would go with an evidence-based treatment - cognitive behaviour therapy is probably the go-to. Being compassionate is very important.

Dr David Rosenstein, psychologist

Listen to the interviews below:




23 January 2021 8:55 AM
Tags:
psychological disorders
Hoarding
hoarding disorder
hoarder

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