Hoarding takes over South Bend man's life - Part 2

On Tuesday, we showed you the home of Jim Curlee, which was chosen for a de-cluttering intervention on the national cable TV show "Hoarders." Now, in Part 2, we show you how Jim is doing now that he's gotten help for his hoarding.

Jim's story may just motivate you to get rid of the clutter in your own life. Or maybe you're a hoarder and didn't even realize you had a problem. We'll show you the warning signs and let you know how to tell when it's time to get help.

To see Part 1 of this story, click here.


When Jim's cluttered life was exposed on the TV show "Hoarders, "America saw his emotional attachment to some rather useless things.

"It's possible in some subconscious way I viewed it as a little fort," says Jim. "If I just stay here and hunker down and don't move, maybe everything will work out alright."

Local therapist Geri Bryan says hoarding is worse than being messy: it's a mental condition.

"When it takes over your life, that's when it becomes a problem," Bryan says. "Most of the hoarders are perfectionists or obsessive compulsive. They can't get rid of the things."

While cases like Jim are extreme, Bryan says many of us are guilty of holding on to too much stuff. It may be emails, or stuff in your purse, junk in your spare bedroom or garage. There comes a point when it's a problem.

"You have a two-car garage, but the cars are outside," says Bryan. "It's when it affects your quality of life. You can't have people over because there's no place to sit. The kids don't come over for Christmas or Thanksgiving anymore because the dining room table is covered."

For Jim, it was when his daughter refused to let his granddaughter come over to play.

"My daughter said 'y'know dad, your house is maybe unsafe or dangerous to her. She just can't come in the house,'" Jim says.

That's when Jim agreed to get help. His daughter sent in pictures of his mess. Soon after his home was selected, the TV team got right to work.

Wendy Taddeucci is a professional organizer who was part of the team. She continues to help Jim get his life clutter-free.

"I don't see messes, I see 'how can I fix this?'" says Taddeucci. "Your home should be your haven, your place to get away from it all. To walk in the door and [say] 'ahhhh.'"

She says the best advice to avoid hoarding, is to "stop it before it starts. When you are shopping and you bring home a sweater, for example, you put that sweater in the wardrobe, you take one out. It's the one in, one out rule."

As for paperwork, try to remember OHIO: "Only Handle It Once. And make a decision and follow through," says Taddeucci.

It's the follow-through that Jim will always have to work on. But the clean results have been a powerful incentive.

"I've been able to have people over," says Jim "I had ten people in here for dinner. And my guys have been over to play bridge, and it's just wonderful to do that."

A wonderul way to live -- without the clutter.

Since hoarding is a mental condition, people often get help with therapy, medication, and a strong support system.

If you need to tackle a big cleaning project, here's another tip from Wendy: start with one room or space and clean it completely. If you only work on it a little, it's easy to get overwhelmed or distracted.

For more tips, click on the Big Red Bar.


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