Are You Living an Isolated Life Because You Hoard? You're Not Alone
Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
No matter what moniker you apply to the deceased former First Lady of the United States, the one word you undoubtedly do not associate with her is "hoarding." As will be discussed shortly, hoarding disorder directly impacted her life after President Kennedy's assassination and after she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
The point in mentioning Mrs. Kennedy is to underscore the ultimate point of this article: If you are living an isolated life and laboring under what medically is known as hoarding disorder, you are not alone.
Hoarding is a Mental Health Condition
Before diving into the fact that you are not alone in dealing with hoarding issues, you need to be clear about a very important fact. Hoarding is a bona fide mental health condition. Hoarding doesn't occur because a person is lazy or lacking discipline. Hoarding is a mental health disorder recognized by psychiatric and psychological professionals in the United States and around the world. "Isolated Life Because You Hoard"
As is the case with any other type of physical or mental health condition, professional assistance may be needed to address the ailment. No more would a person be embarrassed about seeking medical assistance for a physical condition like diabetes than a person should be ashamed about seeking professional help for hoarding disorder.
Of course, abandoning a sense of embarrassment or shame associated with a mental health condition oftentimes is far easier said that done. We live in a society at a point in time when there remains a great deal of misinformation about a whole host of mental health issues -- from depression to anxiety to hoarding disorder to a myriad of other conditions.
As alluded to previously, if you are like the vast majority of people laboring with hoarding disorder, you feel alone against the world. You feel that people would not understand what you are dealing with. You feel embarrassed or ashamed about your situation.
One hurdle that we hope to help you overcome with this article is the idea that you are an individual alone in the world when it comes to hoarding. In fact, over 250,000 people in the country are believed to be battling hoarding disorder at any given juncture in time. In fact, many mental heath professionals believe this number estimate is low. Hoarding remains a condition that oftentimes resides in the shadows. More often than not, people who hoard do not readily admit what is going on in their lives. "Isolated Life Because You Hoard"
Jackie Kennedy and a Place Called Grey Gardens
Another of the misconceptions about hoarding is that it is the stuff individuals who are otherwise on the economic margins of society. The reality is that hoarding crosses all economic and societal boundaries. The case of the aunt and cousin of Jackie underscore this reality. The tale of these two relatives of the country's stylish former First Lady underscore that people from all walks of life can be afflicted with hoarding disorder -- and that you indeed are not alone if this is a condition you battle.
Jackie Kennedy's father was a man named John Bouvier. He was a Wall Street stockbroker and a flamboyant fellow. He was bestowed the nickname Black Jack because of his flashy existence and perpetual tan. "Isolated Life Because You Hoard"
John Bouvier had a sister named Edith, who married a well-to-do man named Phelan Beale. The couple had an amazing summer home in New York at Southampton called Grey Gardens. Edith Ewing Beale, Jackie Kennedy's aunt, had three children, two boys and a girl named Edith Bouvier Beale. As both the Beale women had the same first name, the mother became known as Big Edie and the daughter as Little Edie.
Ultimately, the Big Edie and her husband would divorce. The two Beale sons would move away from home and begin their own lives. Big Edie and Little Edie become permanently ensconced at Grey Gardens.
Over time, Jackie Kennedy's aunt and cousin became chronic hoarders. This included the hoarding of cats and raccoons inside the expansive mansion. The once magnificent manse became a ramshackle and malodorous mess. Neighbors down wind complained and the county health department took action. The Beales were ordered to clean up and repair the property or they would be evicted from Grey Gardens.
By the time the Beales faced eviction from Grey Gardens, Jackie Kennedy had already witnessed the assassination of her first husband and was married to her second. She learned of the plight of her aunt and cousin when a reporter called her.
Jackie Kennedy Onassis went to Grey Gardens herself to see her aunt and cousin. Mrs. Onassis had spent a great deal of her time in the summer at Grey Gardens and was horrified by the condition of the property and the state of the lives of her aunt and cousin.
Mrs. Onassis, and by extension her husband, together with her sister Lee intervened and paid to have Grey Gardens cleaned up and to bring at least some order to the lives of her kin. They were successfully in restoring Grey Gardens to a livable condition once again.
There is no evidence that either of the Beales received mental health assistance. In the 1970s, when this situation played out, hoarding was not recognized as a mental health disorder. "Isolated Life Because You Hoard"
Big Edie would pass away several years after the hoarding intervention by the former First Lady. Little Edie would move away from Grey Gardens and give a go at being a cabaret singer in New York.
Considering the story of Jackie Kennedy's relations is not meant to titillate. Rather, and as has been mentioned more than once, this recap of hoarding in the lives of a famous American family is designed to stress the fact that no category of people is immune from mental health issues, including hoarding disorder.
In the final analysis, the only solid way that the shame sometimes associated with mental health issues can be eliminated is through the presentation of stories of people, including famous individuals, that have had these conditions and disorders touch their lives.