We are in lock down during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s April 2020 and we have just cancelled the three hoarding support groups that were due to run this month in Berkshire. We are essentially in quarantine and being asked to stay at home. The media has been crammed with news of supermarket shelves being stripped of toilet rolls, eggs, pasta and paracetamol amongst other essential goods. Reports of hoarding mentality fill our newspapers and social feeds. Is it hoarding or stockpiling? It’s not the right time to argue this point. All I do know is that our behaviour right now is as a result of the unknown, of uncertainty and fear.
“Historically we have hoarded as a natural response to being unable to gain easy access to certain foods and essentials, of being ‘stuck inside’ during bad weather. There are generations of ‘just in case’ hoarders hateful of waste and fearful or running out” – Extract from Jo Cooke’s book Understanding Hoarding
We are anxious, feeling confined, worried about finances, isolated and with social distancing, physical contact has been restricted and we feel disconnected from our friends and family. There’s a void, there’s a panic, and a fear. We have lost our sense of control. We want to feel safe. Control and lack of control play a huge part in our behaviours and our habits. Tins in our cupboards, bread in our freezers, hand gels and tissues provide comfort and control in a world that feels uncomfortable and out of control. We feel safer with stuff.
The current crisis has made us recognise that there is a propensity for all of us to hoard. Hoarding is a recognised mental health disorder and between 2-6% of the population are affected by this disorder. Hoarding can be triggered by many factors including trauma and bereavement, depression and grief.
I would hope that as we gain some insight into our own behaviours during these challenging times, that we will appreciate and recognise how difficult it can be for someone who exhibits hoarding tendencies. As we come through this crisis together let’s also come together to conquer hoarding with kindness and compassion.