Having to help a hoarder was not what Bec Schuer was expecting when she started dating her husband Lee.
Before they sought help the lived together with some room mates. At the time, she thought all of the stuff crammed into Lee’s house belonged to him and his roommates.
When they later moved into a studio apartment together in Massachusetts, she realised all of that stuff was Lee’s. Overflowing boxes, stacks of albums and games — the seemingly endless inventory filled not only their home but a storage unit and shed, as well.
Bec’s frustration mounted when, months into their marriage, she found herself climbing over piles of objects to access a kitchen gadget or get dressed for work.
“I was losing myself,” she said. “I couldn’t access my hobbies, my love of cooking. My home was a misery for me.”
The Shuers attended the International OCD Foundation’s annual conference in Chicago last year to talk about hoarding.
A disorder characterised by excessive accumulation and an almost paralysing inability to get rid of possessions.
Experts say people hoard for a variety of reasons. Items might carry emotional significance — a reminder of a happy time, for example. Or they may be thought of as being necessary at some point in the future. Holding onto these objects confers a sense of safety. Driven by an unrelenting urge to save things, people who hoard can feel extreme distress at the mere thought of throwing something away.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says the disorder — ranging from mild to severe — can appear on its own or be a symptom of another problem, like obsessive-compulsive disorder. An estimated 5 millions Americans have a hoarding disorder, says Fugen Neziroglu, a hoarding expert and clinical director of the Bio Behavioural Institute in Great Neck, N.Y.
Read on to find out more about:
- Lee’s earliest memories of hoarding
- The items he collected as a child
- How he began to realise that he had a problem
- Tips on how to help hoarders
Remember, if you or someone you know is suffering from hoarding, you can contact us at www.facebook.com/CloudsEndCIC for help.