Last week I had the honor to be one of a panel of presenters at the Seattle OCD Support Group.The timing for this workshop was perfect, as May marks some important changes in how OCD and hoarding are diagnosed by mental health professionals. I’ll go into that a bit more below.
One of the participants in my break out session about organizing stressed that the reward for dealing with his clutter was having SPACE. Instead of focusing on the STUFF and all it means, or the stress of making decisions and the trauma of letting go, he realized that having open areas actually felt good. Many of the objects that had been in his path represented un-made decisions. In fact, most of the clutter that I encounter is exactly that.
Clutter is emotional and mental avoidance in physical form. When it goes away the experience is a mental and emotional opening to possibility.
For some that empty space is scary…and I think that is because it’s the place you face yourself. If you are craving change, healing, or order, the best way is to make SPACE for it.
It’s actually kind of exciting to realize that you can do this by moving STUFF around. Can you face those unmade decisions that look like a stack of magazines or clothes that don’t fit….and choose instead to see an empty table top or drawer that lets you find yourself?
Clutter clearing is not for sissies!!!
Carol Kane plays a mild mannered hoarder whose family is forced to face the situation. I have only seen the trailer, but I already feel quite excited that this dilemma is being presented in way that may touch more people than watch reality TV.
The handbook that therapists use to diagnose conditions, the DSM-5, now includes significant changes in the definition and diagnosis of hoarding. It has gradually come to be recognized as separate from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and while there may be an overlap, it is a statistically small one. It is currently estimated that about 2.5 – 5% of the population suffers from some aspect of hoarding, and of that group only 18% also have OCD.
See “When is it Hoarding” for more information.
One of the conclusions of the workshop was that there are a lot more people out there needing help than there are therapists trained to provide it. And of that population of hoarders, very few can afford the help, were it available. One approach that has shown positive results is the formation of community groups, run on a model of regular weekly sessions with a facilitator, including homework and mutual support. If you’re interested or know some one who might feel safe in such a setting, please let me know or contact Pam at the OCD Information line: 206-781-5614. www.ocdseattle.org
It’s a rainy week here at the end of May, and I wish all of you a warmer and brighter June, with plenty of SPACE to explore!!