Your Local Guardian:

Although it can be extremely frustrating sometimes, you have to learn to live and adapt to living with a hoarder.

Sometimes it's like living in a walk in wardrobe. The relentless piles of clothes are triggering to say the least but when you've tried and compromised the amount of times I do, you learn to live and accept it.

My mum claims everything is essential - yes,  even thoese unread hairdressing magazines that "may have a voucher in" - and gets temperamental and even angry if I dare try to move anything. 

Even an empty coffee jar can cause a stir if try to throw it out, like "it can be used as a pen jar for work", for example. Even clothes outdated and from many years ago pulled out and left there can't be thrown: "Why can't I throw it or at least put it away, it's been sitting there for weeks". "I'll sort it when I'm ready." my mum replies. 

On my mum's side of the family, hoarding can be seen as genetic or heriditary, my mother's mum and her's as well are examples of hoarders. My great nan is the worst though, it's an obstacle course to get through to the living room and she's in her seventies! One whole room is full of clutter in her house, not even nearly as bad as my mum or my other nan. 

But I myself do not hoard but the opposite, I throw away anything I can for the fear of being enveloped by rubbish as my mum is. If you were to enter mine and brother's room, you wouldn't believe that a few years ago (when we had a bunk bed) that the whole top bunk was completely full of clutter and the room filled with mountains of toys. But ever since I was old enough to accept responsibility and control of my own room, I gutted it when I had a chance. My room is the escape from the junk in recent years. 

The chore of tidying up is overwhelming for everyone involved in my household. We're all assigned rooms and begin from there. But, if we're clearing out and putting things into black bags, my mum's anxiety hits the roof! She has to check each bin bag and every item to deem if its either valuable, sentimental or needed for the future. Her reply is usually "I spent a lot of money on that! I'm not just going to throw it away" or "We may need this later". At this point all tidying up is halted and we're back to square one.

However, not is all doom and gloom. With encouragement, baby steps and a little nudging from myself, my brother and my mum's partner, we have slowly started to clear the unnecessary junk. Ultimately, hoarding will always affect her however little or big. Some thing she just can't bear to part with. But not all hoarders are a lost cause and hoarding shouldn't be seen as a taboo. Looking at my mum, she definitely doesn't fit the hoarding stereotype, which just goes to show that hoarding isn't related to hygiene. 

It's strange though, my mum can acknowledge the effects of her hoarding and can see that "oh the house does look a bit of a tip" but can't seem to get to the root cause. She's explained to me before that trying to throw things away causes "extreme anxiety". So whenever we go through the massive chore of tidying up and when I get frustrated, I try to relate it to something I can comprehend i.e someone coming in and getting rid of my PlayStation. 

So next time you either enter a hoarders home or hear of a hoarder, don't automatically think of the stereotype of "what a tramp" but think of the overwhelming stress and anxiety they tend to face when throwing away ONE item. Now multiply that by how many things they have and try to understand how they may feel, no matter how frustrating it is for you (trust me I know!).