Filled with mountains of trash, piles of laundry and infestations of insects, Jennifer and Ron's house was anything but a home. To find his toy cars, their youngest son waded through piles of clothes, toys and old food. In order to eat dinner, the couple and their three children sat on a bed with plates in their laps. "We have a small table in the kitchen, but normally it is so cluttered with stuff, you couldn't even begin to sit down," Jennifer says.
Watch as A&E's Hoarders goes inside their home.
Between her admitted shopping addiction and his fear of letting things go, the couple felt helpless as the clutter climbed out of control. Things were so bad that Jennifer says local authorities were notified. "The city health code inspector came and said that there had been a complaint and that he needed to inspect the house," she says. "I'm afraid that child protective services may step in and say that we're unfit parents."
It was the wake-up call Jennifer and Ron needed to admit the truth—they are hoarders.
Compulsive hoarding is a mental illness that may affect as many as 2 million people in the United States alone. "It's not simply an issue of bad housekeeping, and the answer is not as simple as simply picking up your stuff," says Dr. David Tolin. "The person has a lot of psychological issues that are preventing them from doing that. And they need to overcome those issues before they can really make sustained progress."