Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hoarding can inhibit life, experts say

By Katie McCall

It's a psychological disorder that affects millions of Americans -- hoarding. But even if you have a hoarder living next door, most people would probably never know it. People who keep piles and piles of what some might consider junk hide this behavior out of shame.

Leah Lester is a school teacher who is currently taking on the toughest assignment of her life -- to clear out the clutter that's made her home almost unlivable.

"I am embarrassed by it," she said. "So, doing this interview is kind of hard."

Lester is a recovering hoarder. Her home in Spring is filled with items she does not use.

"My laundry is in my dining area," she said. "That's where it ends up. It's been piled there, and it's going to be there until I get rid of more of my clothes."

But if you ask Lester if she can throw any of the stuff away and the answer is almost always, "No."

The single mom is in therapy, and is working with certified professional organizer Ellen Delap. Lester said she is embarrassed by her condition, but she chose to reveal it, hoping to help other hoarders.

"We have a few people who have come over and know the situation," Lester said, "but probably it's been 6-7 years."

Experts estimate hoarders make up anywhere from 2-3 percent of the population, and most of them do so in total secrecy, hiding their habit even from their closest friends..." More & video