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I can't help hoarding

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 13 August 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I need to do something about my problem. Since my mother died when I was 23, I seem to be unable to throw anything away. I had always been a very organised, sensible person, but after her unexpected sudden death, I initially found I could not bear to part with any of her possessions. It then became that I could not even dispose of anything she might have sat on, or touched, or even just been near. I started buying things I knew she would have liked, because it made me feel closer to her. I kept magazines with articles in which would have interested her. And this has seeped into the rest of my life so that now I discard nothing. My house if full of clothes I never wear, books and newspapers I have never read, packaging, ornaments, worn out bed linen and towels, household appliances that no longer work. The list is endless. Now, at the age of 47, I have very little space in my small house to move around comfortably, and obviously never invite visitors round as they would be horrified at the mess I live in.

I do realise that I need to address my problem, but the enormity of my situation scares me, and I just do not know where to start. Occasionally I make a decision to have a clear out, but then panic sets in, and I leave it yet again. I could not bear it either if my neighbours were ever to know about this. What do I do?

Patricia Marie says...

Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A sufferer may encounter severe distress at the thought of getting rid of their items. Hoarding can seriously affect their functioning on a daily basis, may cause shame or embarrassment, and can lead to limited or no social interaction. As well as being associated with anxiety and depression, hoarders often experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

It saddens me that you have been struggling alone with this illness for such a long time. You say you don't know where to start, yet, by opening up and writing to me, you have bravely begun the process of change.

A stressful life event, such as the death of someone close, which relates to your experience, can also trigger or worsen symptoms of hoarding. The items have important emotional significance, serving as a reminder of happier times or representing loved ones. At the time, I doubt you grieved properly for the loss of your mum, and keeping items linked to her offered you great comfort. But the reality is your hoarding has created nothing but misery for you.

With the right help and support, you can learn to embrace precious memories of your beloved mum in a more positive way.

You don't have to deal with this on your own anymore. Open your heart to a trusted friend, and remember that very true saying; a problem shared, is a problem halved. No one will judge you for losing your way - it can happen to us all.

Please contact your GP. Recognition, diagnosis and treatment are crucial to recovery. There are two main types of treatment that will help with this disorder: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT is extremely effective and can help you to change the thoughts and feelings that drive you to hoard.

For many people anti-depressants may be helpful and may produce more rapid improvement. Intensive treatment can help people with hoarding disorder understand their compulsions and live safer, more enjoyable lives.

I also recommend you contact Mind. This welcoming organisation would be able to allocate you a personal care worker to support you in your recovery, and can also organise practical help to remove the clutter that is causing you so much distress.

Mind: 0300 123 3393. www.mind.org.uk

I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Sally died six months ago and I am just bereft.  She was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went,  and as I live on my own she was my companion and I would talk to her all the time.  When I walked her, people would come up and talk to me sometimes - somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without her, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't think any dog could replace her.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, the reality is you are not alone, as there are many dog owners who have to face the loss of there most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow.  Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and in time hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Sally' - it will help you to feel connected when she is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to temporary foster, or help to look after the dogs at the centre - therefore, benefit from having them in your life, but without full responsibility, although I cannot promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Attending a place of work will also enable you to make friends and not feel so isolated.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, of course, no two dogs could ever be the same, but having a different dog could prove preferable to having no dog. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who will benefit from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Trying to cope with SIDS

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 25 April 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My niece's closest friend lost her baby of 10 months to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) last year.

My niece who was also a godmother to the baby, is now expecting her first child and although she is delighted, she is filled with anxiety about SIDS. I am extremely close to my niece as her parents both died when she was a teenager and she lived with me until she married two years ago.

This should be a happy time for her, but her fear around something happening to the baby is taking all the joy away.

What can I do to help her?

Patricia Marie says...

I am very sorry to her your niece is so anxious, but given the circumstances, this is fully understandable. SIDS is devastating, and as your niece was closely connected to her friend and baby, she too experienced a loss. At the time, she was possibly so focused on supporting her friend, that it may not have seemed appropriate to let herself acknowledge that loss, but now she is pregnant, its normal that some of her grief is showing up as anxiety about her own baby, which can also reinforce the tragic loss of her parents.

The key to surviving grief while your pregnant is to surround yourself with people who love, comfort and care for you, and this includes professional care, so do encourage your niece to speak with her midwife, who is there to help with any fears.

Am thinking if your niece has not had any counselling regarding the loss of her parents, bereavement counselling would be of great help to her. Cruse Bereavement is an excellent organisation dedicated to helping those struggling with loss. 0844 477 9400; helpline@cruse.org.uk. The Lullaby Trust can also help, 0808 802 6868; lullaby trust.org.uk. This charity does incredible work to support those who have been affected by the sudden death of a baby or toddler.

I strongly recommend your niece reads 'SIDS & Infant Death Survival Guide: Information & Comfort for the Grieving Family and the Friends Who Seek to Help Them', an outstanding book, beneficial to all affected by SIDS.




Got a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk 
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I'm so scared & I can't concentrate

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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User is currently offline
on Friday, 24 January 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

I haven't had the best start to 2014, my grandad is very unwell with Parkinson's disease and my father was rushed into hospital after Christmas with a suspected stroke due to stress. The following week my partner lost a very dear friend to cancer who was just 19 years old. I am scared at the thought of losing somebody and I am in the middle of my exams at university which I just can't concentrate on.

Thank you for your help.

Patricia Marie says...

Am not surprised you are unable to concentrate on your exams and urge you to make an appointment with The Student Services at your university, who can offer you help and support during this very difficult time. I would also recommend a visit to your GP who could refer you for some counselling which would be of great benefit to you.

Having close family who are ill can put a strain on your health and well being, and make one fearful of the future. The tragic loss of your partner's friend being so young is particularly cruel and highlighting your fear of loss. It is understandable that you are feeling so scared given the emotional circumstances.

Whilst we are unable to predict the future, we can learn to cope better with the here and now. In addition to professional help, having a good friend who can support you at this time would make a huge difference to how you feel. Sometimes just being able to talk when you want to about difficult things, can make you feel better and make things easier to cope with.

During this stressful time, whether you go for a walk, to the gym or simply enjoy a long soak in the bath, taking time out is a healthy and very important coping mechanism.

Cruse offer face to face, telephone, e.mail and web bereavement support and counselling, which may be of benefit to your partner. Cruse bereavement 0844 477 9400, helpline@cruse.org.uk

Got a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows





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