Life As a Container: Controlling Your Space
IN THE NEWS:
Steri-Clean Sacramento franchise owner, Trent Mason, and his technicians really came through for a local Chico, CA resident. “It’s been a life-changing, positive experience, ” Leslie said. “I’m really jazzed at the job they did. They cleaned the walls and windows and the master bedroom and bathroom. They did stuff I didn’t even know they were going to do. It looks great.”
By JENNIE BLEVINS | Chico Enterprise-Record
March 10, 2022
CHICO — Edie Leslie sat in her backyard Monday sorting a box of items as workers cleaned out the storage shed in her backyard, separating her belongings into keep, donate and trash piles.
“I wonder if I can salvage this, maybe keep these crystals,” Leslie said as she held up a necklace.
Leslie has lived in her house since 2005, accumulating belongings which don’t serve her.
“I am not a level five hoarder, as are pretty much all of those who are seen on the ‘Hoarders’ show,” Leslie said in an email. “I’ve been classified as a level three hoarder. Therefore, my home is not in the terrible state that you see with those poor people’s homes on the show. I do not have wall-to-wall garbage in each room.”
“How my ‘hoard’ looks is basically this: Lots of boxes of things in almost every room in the house and my porch and yard on the entry side of my double-wide mobile home are loaded and very junky looking,” she said.
Inspired by the TV show “Hoarders,” Leslie paid Sacramento company Steri-Clean $3,000 to clean and organize her home. The company does clean-up of the hoarders’ homes on the show.
Leslie has suffered from mental illness since childhood. The goal of Monday’s cleaning was to clean out three major rooms in her home and empty out her storage shed.
Paying Steri-Clean $3,000 for a full day’s work was significant for Leslie as she has a “quite meager income.”
She has a sentimental attachment to belongings. Financially, it has kept her in debt a couple of times.
“It is my addiction,” she said. “The devastation from the hoarding disables me from functioning well in my life.”
Leslie hired an adviser from a company called Life with Dignity she found online while conducting a search for counselors who specialize in hoarding disorders. Leslie said Life with Dignity founder Fran Piekarski talks with her about her thinking and motivations and reasoning for the hoarding.
“She helps me think about ways of looking at hoarding which enable me to understand it better. She says to think of my life as a container and it has only so much space and volume in it,” she said.
“That’s what hoarding does, it fills my life up with things, and I don’t have time for relationships,” Leslie said.
Leslie said she recently bought $300 worth of jewelry at a thrift store. She plans to sell the jewelry at yard sales.
Steri-Clean employee Brandon Miller said the goal Monday was to create a viable living area for Leslie.
“It feels good to make up my mind to let go of stuff,” Leslie said.
Leslie’s neighbors were never invited into Leslie’s home because of the hoarding. She finally invited a couple over a week ago, and said she had a nice time with them.
“I don’t want to hide anymore,” Leslie said. “I want to heal and grow and let people into my life and stop isolating. I want to be honest with myself and find a better way of living.”
Leslie said the hoarding masks resentment toward those who have hurt her.
Leslie said rodents had caused some damage to her property, which means that there could be the rodent-borne, or rodent-caused Hantavirus, present in her home.
“I don’t normally use hazmat protection, but I will be when they tear out some of my carpeting,” she said.
“The things I own, my stuff, my hoard, are very important to me, but my own health is being compromised,” she said.
At the end of the day Monday, Leslie was extremely pleased with the work Steri-Clean did.
“It’s been a life-changing, positive experience, ” Leslie said. “I’m really jazzed at the job they did. They cleaned the walls and windows and the master bedroom and bathroom. They did stuff I didn’t even know they were going to do. It looks great.”