I recently watched a few episodes of the show “Hoarders”. I have seen this show many times before but this time was different. It was different because I have a better understanding of my own mental health issues now than I did before. I don’t know what it is like to be a hoarder but I do know what it is like living with mental health problems. Battling daily with my depression and anxiety, here are a few lessons you can learn from the show.
If someone is diagnosed with cancer, we don’t look at them and say “Well it could be worse, you could have _____ cancer”. Yet if we are diagnosed with, for example, depression, people tend to say to us “Well be happy that you don’t have _____” Why is that?!?! Mental illness is just as serious as cancer. Cancer can be cured / removed in most cases. Mental illness, on the other hand, can only be improved or managed over time. It is also possible to lose your life to either one of these.
On the show, many people are terrified to get rid of all the items they have hoarded. This is because they have put a lot of emotions, value, and even purpose into all those items. Sometimes this is because of some sort of traumatic event that happened in their life. You can see the pain in their eyes when they need to make a decision on what items to throw away. The pain is very real to them. The moment that they decide to stand up to their fears, they become empowered. This goes for us also. The exact moment that we let go of our biggest fears is when we become the master and not the slave. My biggest fear is letting go of the past. I feel myself become stronger as I have slowly let go of it.
This is the hardest thing to do for everyone. We are afraid to show our weaknesses to others because of the possibility of being judged. A lot of the people on the show have hidden their problems for years and the families know nothing about it. Then after years of hiding it all, they make the important decision to seek help. This is not easy for them because it allows others to peer into the darkness of their life. We may not be dealing with the same mental health issues as them but we all have our own issues we battle with. The only way we can truly overcome them is to raise our hands in the air and say ‘I can’t do this alone’. This is not a showing of weakness!!!! This is a sign of great strength and determination. I encourage everyone to take that first step.
This is the hardest thing for others to give that have no idea what it is like to live with a mental illness or any other kind of disability. Yet, this is the one thing that they desire the most. Don’t feel sorry or feel bad for them, instead show them some compassion towards them. You will be amazed by how much this will encourage them to improve themselves. I am the same way with not wanting attention, just compassion and understanding. I tend to ‘shut down’ if you feel sorry for me and the opposite will happen if I know you are ‘on my side’. Imagine for a moment, how differently your life would be if just one person started showing a little compassion toward your struggles. What is stopping you today from showing some compassion to others?
In order for us to improve our lives, we have to have some sort of support system in place. The easiest and most efficient is our family. On the show, the families start out with a lot of emotions like anger, sadness, confusion, etc… By the end of the show, the family has rallied together in support for their affected family member. They continue this long after the show with the professional help that has been offered.
I would not be where I am today if it was not for my family. It was definitely rough in the beginning but I am thankful that I opened up to them. I am lucky because there are others that don’t have a ‘positive’ family atmosphere. If this is you, I hope that you are able to find others that will encourage you to be your best and be part of your support system. Don’t ever give up!!!
These are the things that stood out to me as I watched the show. I hope people continue to watch the show so that more light can be shed on mental illness. Besides the ones I mentioned, there are a lot of other things that can be learned from watching the show. I am interested to know, what lessons have you learned from watching “Hoarders”? Until my next post…Share. Inspire. Conquer.