Before you judge someone who hoards, I have a question to ask…
How much toilet paper do you have stashed away at home right now?
If you have lots, how does it make you feel? Safe? Secure?
If you have none, or very little, how does that make you feel? Scared? Panicked? Anxious?
Do you look for toilet paper whenever you are at the supermarket, even if you have adequate supply? Do you grab some whenever you get the chance?
Anxiety about “having enough”, whether it’s toilet paper, money, cans of tuna or rice and pasta, is hitting a lot of people hard right now. Add to that the fear of getting sick, fear of inadvertently making someone else sick, fear of losing a job, fear of not being able to see an elderly parent or treasured friend for a long time. It seems like everything right now is conspiring to make us anxious.
It does not feel great. It feels like your life is out of control. So when you are able to gain some small scrap of control, like having enough toilet paper, life feels a little better, more predictable. There is relief in knowing that you were able to do something to make it safer.
Please remember these feelings when you next think about hoarding. Someone who hoards feels anxiety much of the time. Their anxieties may not make sense, but anxiety is about feelings, not about logic. Those anxieties drive behaviours that defy logic.
When someone collects things to excess it is most often done in a response to fear and anxiety. When they will not let go of those things, it is a response to fear and anxiety.
If you ever want to know what drives a person to hoard, remember the Great 2020 Run on Toilet Paper. Anxiety and fear drove that.
Want to know more about hoarding and how to help someone who hoards? Take a look at our online courses to see which one is right for you. There’s even a quiz to help you.