Transforming the home and wellbeing of an anxious hoarder

Heather’s story: Following the death of her father, Heather was anxious, lonely and isolated. She was also living amongst a mountain of clutter. Community Bees helped her declutter her home which turned out to be the start of transforming her whole life. 

Michaela of Community Bees started working with Heather 18 months ago. Heather had just lost her father and having always been an anxious person, felt worried, alone and isolated. 

The first step that was crucial to improve Heather’s wellbeing was decluttering her home.

Heather’s kitchen was over flowing with excess items and food. She had a tendency to buy three of everything in case something broke, or she ran out of it. Her illness saw her struggle to get out, so having surplus of everything had become the norm for her. 

But there was not enough space to store everything and the excess items and produce lead to clutter and much waste. 

Heather’s anxiety, and excessive purchasing, had become a hoarding issue. 

She felt totally overwhelmed and had even given up using the different rooms in her home. 

The hoarding had become a risk to Heather’s health, with a high potential for her to trip or fall. She also felt unable to battle through the clutter to get upstairs to the bathroom, so had two commodes that she used downstairs. 

With Michaela helping, they slowly started to clear the kitchen, and Heather got to see the space opening up. She realised how different her home could be. She realised that having one of everything was ok, and that items and produce could be replaced within a day with the support of Community Bees.  

The more they cleared – which enabled Michaela to deep clean too – the happier Heather became. This lead to her being able to accept Community Bees helping her with the rest of the house. 

Over the following year – decluttering in a sensitive way is a long process – Community Bees have gone through nearly all the house, improving Heather’s living conditions and her mental health enormously.

The next stage of working for Heather was to replace old and worn carpet in the living room. Michaela also wanted to encourage Heather to use the bathroom upstairs at least twice a day, instead of having two commodes downstairs. The idea behind this was both to encourage Heather to use the stairs to improve her mobility and wellbeing, and also to get her back into good habits. 

Heather was reluctant at first, as she couldn’t see how this would work, but with the help of a social worker and Michaela’s encouragement, she started to believe in herself and push herself to try a little more. 

The new flooring is now down, is easy to clean and there is now only one commode downstairs, a massive achievement for Heather.

With a newly decluttered home, many of the health and safety risks Heather was experiencing on a daily basis have been removed. 

“I love you coming, I wish you could come every day. Thank you so much for helping me declutter my home over the past two years, getting my front room sorted with new flooring and sorting out my commodes into one.” 

Michaela’s next challenge was to introduce Heather to healthy eating. 

Although Heather had a lovely lady who did the shopping for her, she didn’t know that eating healthy foods was good for her wellbeing and could aid weight loss as well. 

Michaela started to talk to Heather about the benefits of healthy eating and she asked if Michaela could help her and shop for her. 

In January Michaela become Heather’s shopper, going through her shopping list with her, replacing heavy caloried items with healthier options, explaining how a healthy eating works and introducing fresh vegetables and fruit into her diet.  

Over the following 2 months Heather lost weight, gained a little mobility and looked and felt much better. 

They next plan to cook together giving Heather the confidence to get back in the kitchen with her new found knowledge. 

“I’m so looking forward to cooking with you. Thank you for helping me with my food options as well and making me see you can change what you have been used to for years. You won’t stop coming, will you?” 

Community Bees now gardens, shops and works with Heather to keep her home clean and decluttered over 3 sessions a week. 

There is still more to do, but Heather’s confidence is blooming. She’s happier, healthier and has the company and support she needs to maintain her home and garden. 

“Thank you for doing so much for me. You help me do things I haven’t been able to do on my own.”

The next challenge, when lockdown allows, is to get out and about and form an exercise routine and to garden together. 

Heather has achieved so much in the last 18 months, she should be very proud of herself. 

We certainly are. 

Support us, so we can support more people just like Heather

Heather is fortunate to get support, but there are many other people just like here who would also benefit from our services. We rely on personal donations and grants to fund the work we do. 
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