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Messy habits may mean more

Dear Annie: I am a licensed professional counselor writing in response to “Cleaning the Chaos,” the woman who was sick of cleaning up after her boyfriend.

The boyfriend, “Denny,” the apparent slob, has the classic signs of attention deficit disorder. Does he lose things? Does the wife spend time helping him find things?

A counselor who specializes in ADD would be able to discern whether there is a physical reason behind the mess. A diagnosis would not be an excuse but an explanation. If a diagnosis is made, there are proven ways to help Denny and his wife work together to put some order in their lives if they both are willing to work on the problem. — Seen It Before

Dear Seen It Before: Thank you for your valuable perspective. I have heard from readers who say that taking medication has been like night and day in terms of making a difference in their ability to focus. I’m sure your letter struck a chord with readers who may also be experiencing frustration with “messy” partners. Seeking professional advice is always a good idea.

Dear Annie: Here is a tip for “Stuff Addict,” who has been struggling with hoarding for years and wants to take the steps forward to change her life. A friend of our family had the same issue, and this was really effective for her.

She got my sister, who is also a friend of hers, to help her go through everything in the house and get rid of things. They did not do it all at once because that would have been too difficult, but my sister went once a month for three hours and then helped her cart everything away.

Stuff Addict needs to find one friend she trusts to help her and set a regular schedule, just like a doctor’s appointment. Without the support, our friend would never have taken any steps. — Two Is Better Than One

Dear Two: Thank you for your letter. I absolutely agree. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and overburdened when we face obstacles like this alone. Whether it’s a family member, friend or neighbor, if “Stuff Addict” is willing to let someone in, they’ll surely feel the load’s a little lighter with the support and encouragement of another.

Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from “Stuff Addict.” Another option would be to contact the local Agency on Aging. They should have resources for companies that specialize in working with folks with hoarding tendencies by disposing, donating, etc. Agency on Aging may even have information on classes and/or support groups that could also assist Stuff Addict.

Lastly, the book “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding” is an excellent read to begin the process of decluttering (better word to use than “hoarding,” in my opinion). You can’t start disposing of items unless you also work on your own tendencies. — Remember Your Resources

Dear Remember: Another very helpful letter and a good reminder for all. Support doesn’t just have to come from those in our inner circle.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now. Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Go to http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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