If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we accumulate more ‘stuff’ in our day-to-day lives than we realize — whether it’s candles or new blankets for the winter. And dare we mention the toilet paper?
Filmmaker and Top 40 Under 40 alumna Brandy Yanchyk went through one such revelation recently. She was helping her parents move to a smaller home, when she was caught off-guard by her attachment to her childhood things. She says that while she grew emotional during the packing up, her sister stayed calm and moved through everything quickly.
“You never kind of realize what kind of connections you have with anything you own until you have to give it up,” Yanchyk says. “It’s possible that there is a little bit of a hoarding disorder in the family. So, I just decided to pitch a documentary about people’s connection to their belongings.”
The film, Attachments of Life, follows a senior with a hoarding disorder, a Leduc man who has Canada’s largest collection of Rolls Royce/Bentleys, a woman who has lost her possessions multiple times and a minimalist living in a house on wheels.
Retired interior designer Peggy Zubyk asked for help with her hoarding disorder.
“It’s not just people who are collecting plastic containers that are over the top and that they don’t need,” Yanchyk says. “It’s also just because people are so busy and they don’t take the time to declutter.”
For Zubyk, who suffers from Kyphosis and Sjogren’s syndrome, limited mobility meant she couldn’t lift or move things. She says she would bring things into her home, put them down, and that’s where they would stay.
“Nothing ever piled high, because I couldn’t reach high. So, my stuff was stretched out on the floor,” Zubyk says.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed when decluttering, especially if you identify with the objects. Zubyk found a way around that. She worked with Helping Hands Personal Assistants, an organization that helps clients with their everyday struggles. Zubyk’s assistant handled the objects for Zubyk to decide whether to keep them or not.
If you have a hoarding disorder, once you start touching your objects, they can send you down memory lane, says Yanchyk. For Zubyk, this meant she wasn’t diverting her focus away from the task of decluttering.
Since completing the movie, Yanchyk says that she is working on decluttering her home by recycling papers and donating clothes she either has never worn or no longer wears. That said, she doesn’t plan on giving up the hundreds of journals she has.
Yanchyk believes that people’s attachments to their belongings is in the zeitgeist — some people are downsizing, moving away or simply getting rid of their things. Her advice is to go through everything slowly, bit by bit.
Attachments of Life premieres on CBC Alberta and B.C. on Oct. 31 and will be available for streaming on CBC Gem on Oct. 30.