From an outside perspective, hoarding behavior seems very irrational and inexplicable. If you know someone who struggles with hoarding, you may be confused as to how they let themselves get to that spot in their life. It’s important to remember that hoarding disorders are very real, and they have a lot to do with serious anxiety and fear present in the hoarder’s mind. If you’d like to help, we’ll give you some tips on how to support someone with hoarding tendencies, so you have a better idea of where to start.
Don’t Push Too Hard
Your first instinct might be to just start removing things from the hoarder’s house in an effort to help them. However, this is exactly what you shouldn’t do. Forcibly removing things from the hoarder’s possession doesn’t solve the underlying problem that they struggle with and only succeeds in causing them emotional distress.
Learn About the Disorder
If someone you love has trouble with hoarding, it’s important that you are able to empathize with what they go through on a daily basis. Learning about the causes and effects of hoarding disorders will help you better connect with your loved one about how they feel. Make sure you understand how some clutter can feel sentimental to them, or how getting rid of things can feel painful. The more you understand about what they’re going through, the more useful assistance you can provide.
Celebrate Small Victories
If you want to support someone with hoarding tendencies, you can help out a lot by celebrating when they take steps to correct the problem. Someone with a hoarding disorder goes through a lot of turmoil when they begin to declutter and change. Even the smallest step is a big deal when dealing with a problem that takes over one’s life like this. Make sure they know that you’re proud of them for even the smallest victories.
Don’t Do the Job for Them
As with many mental illnesses, the person suffering from them needs to want to change themselves. You can’t force them into being better if they don’t want to change. If they do decide they want to better themselves, show your support, but don’t do the job for them. They need to work through the feelings associated with their hoarding internally before any real change can begin.
Assist Them in Seeking Professional Help
As much as you may want to help, there’s only so much you can do for them. You probably aren’t a trained professional when it comes to mental illnesses or hoarding. One of the best things you can do to help them is finding a qualified professional who can support them if they decide they want to get better. Finding the right therapist can be difficult, so be sure your friend or family member knows that you’ll have their back throughout the whole process.