I’ve posted a number of times about “Anna,” a friend who is a compulsive hoarder. Her back patio is like a junkyard, she cannot enter her bedroom and sleeps in her parents’ bedroom instead (they’ve passed away), her vanity is loaded with little empty bottles she can’t part with, and she hangs her clothes on cupboard knobs because she can’t reach the closets, which are full anyway.
The spare room is loaded with crap, the living room cannot be walked in, and there are stacks of newspapers in the den. The kitchen has stuff everywhere because she hoard rubber bands, corks, napkins, plastic bags, twist ties, and more. The fridge is overflowing with condiment packets.
There are several serious electrical and plumbing issues in the house, but she won’t attend to them. She has a big pile of money but hoards that as well. For a while, she’d claim she was going to get the place cleaned up, see a therapist, call a document shredder, etc. but never does these things. In the meantime, she finds ways to be out of the house for recreation or just stays late at work or goes to the office on weekends to avoid being at home.
A lot of the stuff she hoards is basically a physical reminder of everyone and everything or every place she’s ever been: photos, coin buckets from casinos, concert ticket stubs, hotel toiletries, and much much more. She receives many freebies from work which are collectibles–mostly clothes, but she won’t sell them off. She’ll leave them in their packages and they will sit around for years.
Nobody can ever go to her house and hang out for obvious reasons. Her master room has flooded several times because she won’t get a structural problem fixed. The microwave comes on by itself. The pipe under the kitchen sink leaks and she has to carry buckets of water to dump outside. Anna complains about the house but won’t fix anything and wouldn’t consider moving.
Anna is an otherwise educated, intelligent person with many friends, a great job and benefits, and a lot of money to spare. Her colleagues would never in a million years believe that she is a hoarder who lives in squalor.
Our friend “Ilsa” thinks we should gather up the circle of friends who know about the problem firsthand and confront her, intervention-style. We have told her one-on-one that this is no way to live and she agrees: “Yes, you’re right, I know, etc.” but does nothing.
It’s tempting, but I doubt that anything would come of it. Knowing how emotional Anna is, she’d probably burst into tears and never speak to us again.
My belief is that nothing will change until an emergency occurs–i.e., if the house catches fire and the fire dept. finds out how bad it is inside, Anna will be forced to change. Logic and reason have not worked. She has asked for the phone numbers for plumbers, electricians, etc. but never calls them even when we give her the info.
I understand Ilsa’s desire to help the friend she has known since infancy, but I can’t imagine it working at all.
Should we risk it?
Any other suggestions?