Wednesday, April 25, 2012

'It's like living in a storage facility'

Joanne Moorhead

Jasmine Harman loves her mother – but for quite a while, she didn't go to visit her. "It wasn't that I didn't want to see her," she says. "It was that I literally couldn't get into her house. There was so much stuff in the hall that the front door wouldn't open properly and then, if you did manage to squeeze yourself in through the tiny gap, the whole place was piled high with junk. You could barely stand upright and most of the rooms were completely inaccessible."
Vasoulla, Jasmine's mother, is a hoarder of pathological proportions. Her five-bedroomed house in north London is crammed with belongings and furniture; clothes, toys, books, pictures, family memorabilia, bric-a-brac of all kinds cover every surface; some of the rooms are stacked floor to ceiling, like an unkempt corner of a warehouse. "It's like living in a storage facility," says Jasmine, 36. "And that's no life at all."
Vasoulla, 57, was always a hoarder. Jasmine remembers all too clearly the heart-stopping fear when she was growing up that her friends would find out how messy her house was. "I remember a boyfriend taking me home and asking if he could come in and use the loo, and me thinking, oh my God, of course he can't use the loo ... he won't even be able to get into the loo.".."  More

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