While sorting, sifting and moving a client’s boxes today, I had occasion to notice the amount of time we were spending moving – sorting – moving – sorting and moving again. This particular client has been suffering from hoarding behavior, a mental disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM V).
What is Hoarding Behaviour?
Hoarding behaviour is characterized by:
- An urge to accumulate possessions;
- Feelings of anxiety when possessions get thrown away;
- Accumulations of items that may or may not have real-world value, (others may consider them garbage or junk):
- Enough accumulation of clutter that use of space is limited or prevented;
- Disruption if significant and important aspects of one’s life such as work, family life, social interaction and a direct result of the hoarding behaviors.
How to Time and Hoarding Behaviour Connect?
Having a lot of possessions means taking alot of time to look after those possessions. The more stuff one has, the more time, energy and money one will spend looking after that stuff. In the case of a hoarding situation, some items are constantly being moved from one place to another and back again as they impede the use of everyday required space. Frequently, every task in the home of an individual with hoarding behavior takes a long time while the tools are located, items are moved to clear space or even just moved out of the way.
In the care of today’s client, she realized that the stuff was preventing her from doing the things that she loved like tending the garden and playing music. We have slowly but surely sorted and sorted out of the house items that are no longer current, useful or have a role in her current life. She works hard to resist the urge to bring items back into her home to fill the space. She is learning to enjoy having clear space to sit and enjoy her home. it has been a struggle to overcome those urges but she is gradually making progress. She can now walk freely from one end of her home to the other in a fraction of the time it used to take. She can find certain things commonplace in an office and use the garden door to access the garden. With the additional time, she can now tend to the garden.
We have much more sorting to do. Eventually however, the client will have in her home those items that she needs, that contribute in a significant and meaningful way to her life. It will take her less and less time to manage her belongings as we whittle down to the essential and beloved. That leaves more time for the garden, the flute, the dogs and the knitting. The flute has a home and is easy to find. The dogs have space to run around the house. The knitting has a home and the wool is being whittled down to just the very favorite skeins.
This client will never have the magazine perfect home. She will however, experience less and less anxiety as she tries to manage the urge to accumulate items. She is gradually getting used to the open spaces; as are the dogs. Not only the spaces feel like they need to be filled, but without as much stuff, her habits using time also will change. She is learning to take time to enjoy activities that don’t include moving alot of stuff around or moving around alot of stuff.
Slowly but surely.