With the growing popularity of reality television, one major TV success story is the show “Hoarders”. We get to have a behind-the-door look at the lives of real people who are struggling to cope in homes filled to the brim with, well everything.

Although it is positive that public awareness of the importance of personal organization is increasing, the connection with extreme hoarding has also negatively impacted those suffering from more minor levels of disorganization. The majority of disorganized people are not hoarders, but are worried about being labelled as such and therefore sometimes avoid getting the help they need.  Here are five signs that, if you can answer no to, you should not allow yourself to be labelled a “hoarder”:

Are you able to let go of or throw some things away? Hoarding disorder by definition is when a person is unable to part with any possessions, regardless of its condition or whether they need it or have space for it, because they perceive a compelling emotional need to “save” every item.

Do you reserve your strong emotional associations for items of sentimental value? People suffering from hoarding disorder have very strong emotion connections with every item they save, regardless of actual value or sentimental worth, and experience huge emotional distress at even the thought of discarding any of their possessions.

Are you able to throw away things that are dirty or broken? Many hoarders keep unsanitary, unusable or unsafe items. The huge accumulations of possessions in these people’s homes can also lead to issues with personal cleanliness, deteriorating health, rodent infestation, home safety and maintenance issues just to mention a few.

Do you recognise that you might have a problem with too much stuff? Most true extreme hoarders are unaware or in denial that their choice of full to the brim living conditions are causing a problem and can be very resistant to treatment from mental health professionals and assistance from professional organizers. If you are aware that things piling up are causing a problem for you and the other people you share your life with, then extreme hoarding is unlikely to be the cause of your issues.

Do you use “escape strategies” to avoid feeling guilty about your organizational problems? People with organizational issues often find temporary escape in activities such as excessive shopping, watching too much TV, overeating and overworking; anything to avoid having to address the underlying issues causing them pain and hurt. Extreme hoarders, on the other hand often tend to live their outside life in “business as normal” mode until things reach a crisis point.

We all get disorganized at times. Life transitions such as moving house, having a baby, getting divorced, illness, bereavement, even just going on vacation can all cause clutter and chaos in our homes. This is known as “situational disorganization” and is a completely normal and temporary reaction to events in our lives; which are overcome and sorted out once we adjust back to our normal routine. However, sometimes a person is unable to bounce back to their normal state of organization after a significant life event and their disorganized state becomes their “new normal”; they are suffering from chronic disorganization.

A chronically disorganized person can feel overwhelmed, stressed out and often is completely paralysed from dealing with their clutter effectively. As time passes, the level of disorganization can start to impact their quality of life; bills may go unpaid, needed possessions are lost, much time is wasted with futile attempts at tidying up. The person may begin to accept that being disorganized at this level is normal for them, even though their family may express concern at this situation being considered permanent. Many chronically disorganized people are well-educated, often with good jobs, and respected by work colleagues and friends. This makes admitting that they need help even harder, as they experience shame and guilt at getting into a situation that they believe they should be able to get themselves out of on their own, but find they can’t.

For chronically disorganized people who pluck up the courage to ask for professional help, the news is good; with assistance and perseverance they can often successfully take back control and find the true path to their organized life.

If the current state of your home or office is making you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or embarrassed give Live Life Organized a call at 780-267-2969 to arrange a free no-obligation assessment, at a time convenient to you.