DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Our daughter moved out of our house right after she graduated college nearly three years ago. I had not been to her apartment for a quite a while, since she usually comes to our house to visit or we meet somewhere to eat or shop.
Two weeks ago she was out of town and asked me to pick up her mail. When I got it out of the mailbox and went to put it in the apartment for her, my heart dropped. I was able to open the door, but I couldn’t find the wall switch to turn on the light because there were so many magazines, books, and newspaper coupon flyers piled up by the front door. In the kitchen, the cabinets and drawers can’t close because there is so much stuff crammed into them. Her half-bath and walk-in closet are full of empty delivery boxes. I could go on, but I hate thinking about what I found.
When she returned home, I confronted her with what I saw and told her she is a hoarder. She went off on me, saying I have no business judging her and that she is certainly not a hoarder.
What do I do to convince her she needs to stop this dangerous behavior? --- MOTHER OF A HOARDER
DEAR MOTHER OF A HOARDER: Your daughter needs professional mental health help as soon as possible. People with hoarding tendencies can get worse as they age, and it sounds like she’s already in a bad situation. Since she’s in denial about her problem, it will take more than just her mom telling her this is not normal. Get some back-up from other family members and a friend or two. If she hears it enough, it might begin to click.
It may be a good idea for you to also seek professional guidance in how to help her. Her road to recovery will very likely be difficult, and having you in her corner could be a big help.