Hoarding can be a difficult situation to handle alone, but whether or not you are the one hoarding or if a friend or family member has hoarding tendencies, it can be embarrassing to reveal the situation. In America, 2-5% of the population has a hoarding condition, and due to the increased awareness, additional helpful resources are becoming available. Specialty cleaning companies, hoarding task forces, therapists/psychiatrists, social workers, and other sources are available to aid individuals struggling with a hoarding situation. One solution that connects people in similar situations and provides an outlet for more information and advice is support groups.
Support groups are not just a group circle, begrudgingly introducing each other and saying what everyone’s “problem” is, as seen on television. They exist for, as stated in its name, support. It is difficult to approach a stranger or even a trusted friend with a situation if they have never gone through anything remotely similar and have no personal understanding of the situation. When someone else is going through a similar situation, there is an automatic bond, a connection based on a commonality. This connection reduces isolation and makes it easier to trust, and in the process, makes it easier to open up about concerns. Embarrassment needn’t be felt because the individuals within the group have also dealt with their fair share of similar circumstances and will not be judgmental about what they hear. Motivation, confidence, and awareness may develop as a result of listening to others share their own stories and struggles.
Group interventions can be more productive than that of one individual confronting the situation. The group setting can reveal the seriousness of the situation but can also be more welcoming than a combative approach from an individual who only views the “mess.”
In-person support groups may be found locally, but with internet sources so easily accessible nowadays, online support groups can be another option. These groups allow for a person to remain anonymous, should they wish to keep their identity secret. This permits a comfortable setting in which the individual may be exempt from judgment and does not have to see anyone they may run into outside. Groups allow for members to tell their stories and discuss their experiences, concerns, emotions, and their methods of coping with the hoarding friend/family member or their own hoarding behavior.
There are people who care and understand that hoarding may be a complicated, mortifying situation. Remaining quiet and dismissive about hoarding will not help the situation but will rather contribute to worsening problems. It is important to be aware and honest about a hoarding situation because hoarding behavior can be dangerous, affecting relationships, professional life, personal life, mental health, and even physical health. There are professional services such as specialty hoarding clean up companies and mental health professionals that can help, and there are also supportive individuals who have gone through, or are currently going through, similar situations and are able to provide insight and encouragement. The struggle against hoarding doesn’t have to be terrifying; with the right support, it is possible to overcome the situation together.