Do you think there is a link between trauma and clutter/chronic disorganization/hoarding? The current research is showing that there is a connection between the two. So, the good news is that you are not alone. There are reasons why this is so challenging for you.
It is helpful to look underneath the clutter issue and think about “why” am I so frustrated and cannot seem to get a handle on my stuff even though I feel like I am constantly working on it. Why Me? Ugh!!
Here are some possible Vulnerability Factors that may have triggered these issues for you:
- Family history of hoarding (mother, father, grandmother, etc.) They likely have suffered from their own trauma
- History of mental illness in the family (depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, bi-polar, etc.)
- Parental values and behaviour (ie: values about waste, obsessively neat, compulsive acquiring/saving, hand me downs, control over decisions (perfectionism), sentimentality
- Physical obstacles (time, space, health, others living in the home)
- Traumatic events (loss of loved one, assaults and violence, moving, deprivation, divorce, birth of a child)
- Other……..Loss of belongings, eviction, poverty, hospitalization, loss of contact with family members
I remember when my second husband left me. Yes, I was married twice. I was surprised when he said he was leaving. I really should not have been as there were signs but I probably didn’t want to see them. I just assumed we would continue to work on our relationship and all would be okay.
After he left I went through the motions at work helping others with their trauma and would come home and just wander around my home in a fog not knowing what I should be doing. It was a hard time and I know that I drank way too much wine, spent a lot of time in bed and didn’t ask for help and support.
We can become emotionally numb, have a lot of emotional flooding or isolate ourselves after a traumatic event. Everyone handles it differently.
“After a traumatic event a person can either try to cope using negative methods or learn to cope successfully and enhance their ability to cope in the future”
If you have suffered a traumatic loss and/or have a number of the vulnerability factors (above) you may be more at risk and more likely to develop hoarding behaviours.
Although the underlying causes as to why someone ends up with difficulties with chronic disorganization are still unclear, after a traumatic event or incident, compulsive shopping, acquiring and difficulty discarding can become a way of coping with those uncomfortable emotions that come from grief and loss.
It is very beneficial to understand why you struggle with these issues and a beginning step to start to make some changes in your life. Here is a link to a previous post with more information about looking at your own Personal Clutter Model.
Next post: What to look for in a Support/Mental Health Worker/Professional Organizer considering a Trauma Informed Approach. Please comment if this post resonates with you or join our closed Facebook Group for more support.