POSTED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 11:30pm
UPDATED: Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 11:30am
(KETK) - Tyler Tx — You might have seen the TV shows "Hoarders" or "Hoarding: Buried Alive" and thought, "that would never happen to me." What was once played off lightly and used for entertainment, is now a disorder that affects everyone involved, especially the family members.
What was once just keeping stuff, is now being labeled an illness. Psychologist Dr. Wade French says, "Hoarding has always been seen as a feature of obsessive compulsive, type of behavior." The difference between hoarding and collecting, is a collection is an organized activity. There are five levels to categorize hoarding.
Level one all doorways are clear and you don't have any excessive clutter, level two you start blocking your exit ways and things are starting to smell a little funny, level three you're starting to find pets you didn't know you had and you're definitely not taking care of, and appliances that don't even work anymore, level four it's highly suggested to wear a face mask due to health hazards, and level five it's safe to say, you're buried alive.
Certified Professional Organizer, Lorrie Gazette, says, "Everything begins to have emotional attachment to you, emotional value, even a sack of used newspapers or old magazines." Gazette's day-to-day consists of helping people get their lives in order before they, cross the line. She says, "For someone who is resistant to change, who's pushing back constantly, giving you 5, 6, reasons why they need to keep every single thing, it's emotionally draining."
An East Texan who preferred to remain anonymous said they found out their uncle was a hoarder after he died from pneumonia. They said, "You couldn't move anywhere, there was one pathway to go through his whole house pretty much and it started with the hallway and where you entered the house, and even in the hallway there was stuff on the walls, there was stuff going up the walls, everywhere."
Experts say there's almost always a reason for the hoarding to begin.
"Someone very close to him died, it had to have been ten years before he actually died, so he just had a lot of stuff in there and all of it was really sentimental value to him, so he felt like he had to keep it." Gazette says, "If we can help them identify that point of being stuck, then when they put the connection the emotional connection, with this physical stuff connection, then it's like oh i didn't realize there was a reason for it."
But there's a different type of hoarding that is taking place right here in Cherokee County. Cherokee County Captain, John Raffield, says "In his case it was just the sheer volume of stolen property that was being brought to him that he couldn't get rid of." Captain John Raffield says there have been a handful of cases where criminals store everything they've stolen. He says, "There was a lot of stolen property out there, we don't know exactly what all they got rid of, but they got rid of very little at the time and they were holding onto a lot of stuff."
Whether they are keeping trophies or are afraid of being traced, the mental factor is only one issue, most professionals fear the health hazard. Dr. French says, "I've had situations where families have had to move out of the house, one of the parents had to take the kids and leave, so that they could live."
This devastating "mess" buries people from the life they could be living. "He was a great guy around the family, but when we went to his house we were like wow, he must have some secrets."