Why the Coronavirus Triggered Hoarding Disorder

 Coronavirus triggered

Hoarding Disorder

Anxiety is known to trigger hoarding.  You can see the Coronavirus is triggering a lot of people to stockpile a lot of supplies, like toilet paper and food.

I was speaking to a friend today about how angry he was watching people fill their carts at Costco yesterday. What is it that is making all these people suddenly feel the need to “hoard” food?

As a senior move manager, I see this “hoarding” behavior all the time. In the talk I give “Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you” to audiences interested in downsizing, I share my experience working with clients and varying degrees of hoarding disorder.

Many of our clients are moving into communities who provide things like toilet paper but our clients insist on stocking a closet with more rolls than they could possibly use in their lifetime…even before the Coronavirus brought on the mass hysteria of a toilet paper shortage. Another favorite is toothbrushes, tooth paste and tissues.

We once gathered every box of stationary in our clients home and determined if she wrote another letter for the rest of her life she wouldn’t use all that stationery.

Now, the rest of us are getting in on the action. Why?

Because stuff grounds us. If we are filling space in our lives, it’s because something in our life isn’t working and we aren’t feeling “right”. Buying gives us an adrenaline rush and having stuff feels like we have some sense of control.

The world is stockpiling supplies and filling carts at Costco because we are living in uncertainty.

In the talk, I show a slide with three photos we affectionately describe as “hoarder”, “border hoarder” and “craft hoarder”.

A “craft hoarder” is one who has intentions of doing projects and organizes their belongings and supplies into nice, neat bins, with proper labels. They hold onto old necklaces with beads and other objects thinking it will be a wonderful object to use for repurposing. (I may or may not be the subject in this scenario ;).)

A “border hoarder” is one where you can see the hoarding disorder tendencies but either another person is living in the home and keeping the person safe or they are still able to physically care for themselves and keep up with activities of daily living. An illness or a depressive episode may be the thing that pushes them into a full blown case of hoarding disorder.

When we work with someone with hoarding disorder, there is never a case where the person hasn’t had some triggering life event that brings out the disorder. For seniors who’ve also got physical challenges making it difficult to keep up with their homes, even people without true “hoarding disorder” might be mistaken for “hoarders”. (The use of “hoarder” is not a proper term rather the term is “hoarding disorder”.)

Many of us hold onto things with good intentions. Prior to my divorce, I had five sizes in my closet ranging from 4–12. (No exaggeration). My ex-husband asked why I felt the need to hold onto so many sizes and I explained that my intention was to one day be able to fit into my smaller sizes. He teased me and said if I ever did fit back into that size, he’d buy me new clothes. (P.S. — the divorce diet worked wonders and I did eventually get back down to my smaller size… but I digress.)

We also hold onto things due to aspiration. Now that we are stuck home, it’s a good time to get real about your own stuff and why you might be holding onto it.

Here are a few general tips you can use when beginning the process.

First and foremost, determine how you want to feel in the space and whether or not having a lot of clutter is going to support this vision. Then you need to get real as you go through your belongings.

When was the last time you used it?

Would you buy it again today?

Does it add value to your life?

How would you feel if the item was lost in a fire or flood?

How many does it make sense to own? (Double it and release the rest)

Could you replace it for less than $20?

Will you remember you have it?

Obey the law of physics. Two objects can not occupy the same space at the same time.

Many people hold onto belongings because they perceive the value. Look the item on eBay and note what the items actually sell for. If value is the only reason you are holding onto it, let it go.

This time of uncertainty is tough for all of us. Remember we are all coping the best we can. One person’s drinking is another person’s shopping. If we understand why this is happening, perhaps we can be less judgmental and find a way to care for one another.

If you would like more downsizing tips visit www.SilverLiningsTransitions.com