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Ice-Breaker: Noun

a ship designed for breaking a channel through ice; a thing that serves to relieve inhibitions or tension between people

Click on the relevant button below for the language you would like to view

The Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form empowers people whose health, wellbeing or safety has been adversely affected by clutter, disorganisation, hoarding behaviours, impulsive/compulsive shopping/acquiring to start a conversation with their GP (or other medical professional).

Because many individuals living with lots of possessions or a disorganised home or with a tendency to buy or acquire lots of possessions feel too embarrassed or stigmatised to talk about how it’s affecting them, or don’t know anyone they feel they can trust to discuss it with.

It can become such a problem that their homes become dysfunctional (eg. without heating or hot water, or limited/no access to a toilet) or unsafe, and result in them having an accident, being affected by infestations (eg. mice, bed bugs, etc) or even being unable to live in their homes because of the risk to themselves or others.

To use the Ice-Breaker Form, all you have to do is:

  • Click on the language version you want to use
  • Print it out
  • Fill it in
  • Give it to whoever you want to start a conversation with – for example, your GP or other medical professional; a family member or friend; a social worker or support worker; your landlord; Members of your faith group; your teacher or a Professional Organiser

Be prepared to answer questions

To save time, it’s a good idea to be ready to answer questions they may ask you about the things you’ve ticked/circled on the form. Write down in advance what you’re going to say, so you don’t forget on the day if you become flustered.

Here are a few examples of what GPs or other medical professionals might ask, and a few answers that some people have given. Your experiences may be completely different – be honest.

  • What symptoms do you have that are making you feel unwell, what triggers them and how is it affecting you?
    • Your response might be something like:
      • “Sometimes I feel shaky and sick because I feel so anxious about opening post, which is why there are unopened envelopes in my hallway”.
      • Or…. “I’m not sleeping very well because my brain can’t switch off, and I feel so overwhelmed by the chaos in my home”
      • Or…..“My neck and shoulders often feel achy and tense because it’s so cold in my home.  In the Winter I wear lots of layers, gloves and a scarf because there’s no heating.  I feel too embarrassed to let an engineer in to repair it because they can’t get to the boiler to service it because of all the items in front of it”
      • Or…..”I feel upset and angry because I find it difficult to concentrate on doing homework and studying for exams as I don’t have a desk in my bedroom and we can’t get to the dining table any more because of all the stuff in front of it. It’s affecting my grades and I’m worried I won’t get into University.”
  • How long has this been a problem?
    • Your responses might be something like (for example):
      • “Making decisions is difficult for me – especially about what to keep, what to get rid of and where to put things, so I put it off as long as possible.  It’s been a problem ever since I was a child.”
      • Or….“My mother had hoarding behaviours – she died five years ago and I inherited loads of things from her which are now cluttering my home and making me feel very emotional and overwhelmed!”

Take someone with you

Many people find it helps to have someone with them that they trust when they’re going to use the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form to start a conversation – they can support you by (for example) taking notes (to remind you what’s been said), and help you understand what the professional is telling you if it becomes a bit confusing.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are extremely grateful to the following people who very kindly volunteered to translate the Hoarding Ice-Breaker Form from English into other languages:

*Member of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization

We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to volunteer to translate the Ice-Breaker Form into another language.

We’d especially love to have it available in Braille!

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