Chaos and clutter take over the lives of hoarders - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Chaos and clutter take over the lives of hoarders

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By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - For professional organizer Sandy Wright, keeping an orderly home is second nature, but her clients' cases range from simple to severe.

"Very severe chronic disorganization, where the lifestyle is impaired and even health and safety issues are a concern," she said.

Wright has seen an increase in what we've come to know as 'hoarders.'

"We like to say people who hoard, rather than giving a label to the name of that condition, because it's a neurological disorder," she said.

Wright's latest challenge is "Faye," a Midtown woman whose stuff has made her home almost unlivable!  Faye hired Wright to help clear the mountains of clutter.

"She recognizes that she does not have room for everything," Wright said.

Faye comes from a long line of collectors.

"My mother was interested in antiques of various sorts," she said.

Her impressive collection of china is stacked, shelved, or sitting on the floor in just about every room.

"I've got plenty in case I have to whoop out a wedding present," she said.

Other passions have also piled up in Faye's home.  She has collections of table linens and napkins, games, and almost every Star Trek episode.  She also has models of almost all of the series' starships hanging from her bedroom ceiling.

But Faye didn't purchase all of her home's clutter.

"There's a lot of crap in here," she said. "Some of it's my sister's."

And some of it belonged to her husband, who passed away two years ago.  She's also inherited keepsakes from her mother and mother-in-law,  and her father, who passed away five years ago.  

"He termed himself a pack rat," she said. "Now, there's a difference between that and some of the more over the hill people that we see on A&E, Hoarders."

Faye's father hung on to everything from typewriters, to thousands of clippings from the funny pages.  For Faye, the many memories are hard to let go.

"I don't think I'm a hoarder," she said. "I'm a collector, or an accumulator."

Collector or hoarder? It really doesn't matter. What matters is Faye is getting help.

"I would like to have it so that I could have people in here, and it would be much easier to clean and more spacious," she said.

Organizers say admitting there's a problem is the first step to parting with your possessions.

"The fact that they've called us indicates they're ready to make a change," Wright said.

It was a big step for Faye, who will have to decide what she can live without before she can truly start living again.

"I'd like it to be where you can come in and you don't have to apologize for anything that's there," Faye said.

Most people assume hoarding involves possessions, but there are also people who hoard pets, or even food. To find out if you or someone you know needs help you can take a test on the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization website. Click here to get started.

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