Reader Elizabeth sent us the following e-mail and corresponding photographs. Her message was heartbreaking and honest, and she has agreed to let us share it with you:
My parents have a compulsive hoarding problem. I don’t mean that they’re “a little disorganized” or “let the housekeeping get the best of them.” They’ve had this problem since I can remember–and it’s affected me for much the worse.
In high school, there was no free horizontal space in the house–no tables, no desks, no countertops–clear of junk. I had to do my homework on my bed or go to the library. (And, yes, I had the same problem as them, too!)
The photos [which appear below] were taken almost a year ago. In the ensuing time, the house has gotten much, much worse. This is pretty organized for them.
For those of you with children, keep in mind that you aren’t just getting rid of clutter for yourself–your organization has a direct effect on your child, whether or not they can articulate it. If you or your spouse has a problem with hoarding, take care of it sooner rather than later. My mom was the one with the clutter problem and it drove my dad crazy–but he didn’t do anything about it. If he had, even if she hadn’t liked it in the short term, we all might have had a happier life.
If you or someone you love has a problem with hoarding, please seek help. As Elizabeth has so accurately explained, hoarding affects more than just the person with the problem.