Mum-of-three, Angela, admits that she has a problem with hoarding.
When her children were growing up she felt attached to their belongings and didn’t want to throw them out. School projects, toys, clothes, and letters all stayed and slowly filled up her apartment.
‘I just hate to let go of things,’ she explains to Fairfax Media.
She also couldn’t resist a bargain while shopping: ‘I would buy things because they were on sale and it would make me feel better.’
But over time it got to the point where moving around her small place - with a husband and three kids - was just impossible.
The solution to Angela’s problem wasn’t just that she needed to ‘clean up’. She needed help.
‘Previously, if you were to come in here and make me throw out my stuff I would bite your head off,’ she explains.
Instead, Angela became involved with Mission Australia who were pioneering a program to help people deal with the underlying causes of hoarding to kick the behaviour for good.
Chief executive for Mission Australia, Catharine Yeomans, explains the programs approach: ‘We know that forced clean ups and evictions are Band-Aid solutions, they don't address the fact that hoarding and living in severe domestic squalor are caused by mental health disorders.’
Angela agrees: ’The program made me think about my choices. I stopped bringing stuff home. Now, when I go shopping, I just buy what I need and I walk out. I used to keep everything - receipts, ATM receipts, school papers, leaflets. Now, I've learned to tear them up’
The best part? Angela now has her dining table back.
‘We have never had this much space before. Never,’ she smiles.
‘The program changed my life.’
via Fairfax Media