As a junk removal company, we’ve seen a lot of junk. We’ve also seen a lot of different kinds of junk. Sometimes, a junk removal service makes sense: getting rid of old construction waste, for example, when doing a renovation. Other times, we see that personal belongings having been piling up as useless rubbish for years. They can be small piles or big piles, inside the house or outside. They can be still usable and valuable, or not. So, the question we are answering today is: are these junk collections extreme, mentally-ill cases? Are you a collector, or a hoarder? And is it time for a professional junk removal clean-out?
We did a bit of research and, while we’re not psychologists, we did discover that the answer is probably not what you think.
Hoarders have symptoms other than just keeping junk in their home
According to an article in the CBC, hoarding goes hand-in-hand with other symptoms, such as an inability to plan and organize. This doesn’t meant that if you’re a disorganized person you are, therefore, a hoarder. The diagnoses are much more complex, and there are more symptoms that professionals use to correlate behaviours. They also are usually extreme cases of what most of us consider ‘normal.’
According to an article on Psychology Today, hoarders have also usually had a trauma in their past. That causes them to cross the divide between being a messy person, to being a true hoarder.
And, Live Science reports that while, traditionally, this disorder has been associated with obsessive compulsive disorder, it probably doesn’t fall under that umbrella. Known hoarders were tested with brain imaging techniques to discover this. The subjects felt more-than-usual anxiety when facing the decision of whether or not to keep ‘true’ rubbish (junk mail, in this case). The lesson there was that hoarders may have a hard time making decisions at all; it’s too “overwhelming” and the response is to just not face the decision at all.
Compulsive hoarding is not the same as being an avid collector, or procrastinating a clean up
So, what about those cases we mentioned above, where junk has been collecting for years? Well, just having junk and being too lazy to get rid of it, is not the same as hoarding. Nor is being an avid collector of items, like baseballs, stamps or even being a sneaker head.
If you organize your collectibles and love showing them off (maybe a bit annoyingly to your beloved, patient friends), that’s probably not a psychological disorder. And, if you actually use the many things you collect, or keep them for sentimental value (reasonably, speaking), then that may also not be hoarding.
For example, perhaps you love to cook. You may have a wack load of kitchen appliances for the times you want to make special recipes. Maybe you don’t use that ice cream maker every day. But you keep it because you know you’ll use it every summer at a BBQ, or something. That’s fine. You might have some nagging family members telling you it’s not worth taking up space in your life. But that’s not to say you’re a true hoarder.
However, the problem begins when your piles of things start to prevent you from using your home the way it was meant to be. If you can’t walk through to your bedroom or kitchen without navigating through a maze of floor-to-ceiling, piles of random, useless stuff, that’s an issue.
If you are keeping things that have no value to most so-called ‘normal’ (i.e. mentally healthy) people, such as old pop cans, empty soap containers, or newspapers, then yes, there is reason to be concerned. This may be happening because of a false fear that you might run out of these things, or need them one day. It can also be for comfort. Regardless of the reason, this display of hoarding may be when intervention is needed, and validated by your family members.
When being disorganized begins to interrupt your social life to a large degree, that’s also when you should be concerned. If you’re afraid to let someone see your home because of how cluttered it is, but you can’t stop collecting at the same time, then that could be a sign you’re becoming a hoarder.
If you’re also afraid of people handling your things, and keep them hidden away, instead displaying them as an organized collection in some way, that can be a symptom of hoarding. And yes, stamp books in a box are fine – you don’t have to have your collectibles in glass china cabinets to avoid being labelled a hoarder. That’s missing the point.
When is it time to hire a junk removal company for a hoarder?
If you think you are a hoarder, or someone you know is a hoarder, we would recommend you first try to get professional mental health help. If getting rid of stuff causes a lot of fear and emotion, then it may not be the best idea to call a junk removal company right away; you may not get much value out of it anyway, since you’ll likely face resistance to what the junk removal helpers are there to do.
However, if you have a counsellor available, along with the right support to address the root cause of the hoarding, then the rubbish removal process will probably go a lot smoother. Plus, you’ll probably be able to help the person who hoards clear out whatever they can on their own first – or at least make decisions about what absolutely must stay, versus what can go.
Professional junk removal can be helpful for that ‘night and day’ difference in the hoarders home, when the time is right. They’ll not only take objects away quickly and efficiently; they’ll also clean up afterwards. They’ll likely have the safety equipment to handle large loads, and different types of materials too.
If you’ve got junk, you might not be a hoarder, but cleaning up is still a good thing
While we can’t diagnose hoarding as a junk removal company, we can assist those who are trying to help a hoarder with the removal of their trash collections.
But, to be honest, that’s not the majority of clients we see on a daily basis. We usually see ‘lazy junk’ – the kind that has been collecting dust and creating an eyesore for too long. Those are not hoarding cases. But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored either.
In our opinion, it’s always good to clear out and clean up. It creates a healthier living environment, and keeps our communities looking beautiful too. So if you’re reading this because you think you’ve come across a hoarding situation, it may be that in fact, you just need typical junk removal services – and that’s ok! Companies like ours are here to help.