TEDX Boulder!

TEDX Boulder!

For 9 years I have been helping those with Hoarding Disorder by compassionately improving their living conditions.  I have uncovered a need, a problem that  removing the clutter does not address.  I know shame and judgment perpetuate this illness. Those who suffer from this mental illness do not and can not speak up. I have made it a mission of mine to speak up for them.

I have worked locally to spread awareness and education to the public, because whether you know it or not hoarding is a community problem. The more we understand this illness, the more resources, treatment, research, and improvement for those lives will follow.

Last month I was accepted to present at TEDXBoulder! All 12 presenters are challenged to come up with ONE idea and present for 9 minutes. Every word counts. A concise and clear message is the goal.

I have hands on experience in the trenches.  I am not a therapist with licenses or a researcher who studies mental illness. I am a entrepreneur who started a business and uncovered a need that has more to do with human nature than profits and running a business.  My message was the consequences of shame and the power of compassion as it relates to hoarding disorder.

The fascination with hoarding is a result of a few popular reality tv shows. Prior to the shows no one knew much about the secret and shameful lives of hoarding disorder. Myths and misconceptions are the norm and I know my clients for who they truly are.  I want others to know that too.

Until we create and environment, a community where it is okay to discuss this illness and the problems it creates, a solution, treatment and progress is very unlikely.  Each one of us can help create an environment of non-judgment and compassion. It is a choice.

Everyone deserves the right to live with dignity, regardless of their surroundings.

I stood in front of 2200 people in Boulder and shared my experience, in a hope that people will leave feeling inspired.  That they would understand this illness better and be a part of the solution.

To my surprise, the message was well received. I saw tears, heard applause, received hugs and acknowledgement that this world, this community really does have heart. We do care about others in need. It was another small step in the right direction. As we share the video and the stories,  I hope others in need will be brave and speak up for love and change.

 

Compassion

Compassion

Compassion is taking action alongside someone in an effort to fill them up and make them whole, even if only temporarily.

Life, circumstance and situations may be extremely difficult for some. Not everyone has the same opportunities, childhood or past experiences.  Compassion understand differences.

Our minds are wonderful, and beautiful and powerful. Our minds if left alone for too long can also spiral into unknown,  terrifying places. Compassion embraces uncomfortable scenes. The ugly side of life, the struggle and discomfort is not enough to scare away compassion. It stays. It is strong and can stand up when needed.

An energy of connectedness and deep understanding when someone is hurting and in pain. It is looking into the eyes of the person, seeing the hurt with a gut feeling they need help.

Compassion is nourishment for all souls.

Compassion is a young military man on a Greyhound bus in the middle of the night. He see’s an abused  teenage mom alone with two crying infants. She is scared, upset, and embarrassed. He gently sits next to her and asks if he can rock one of the babies to sleep. He does. Then rocks the other one to sleep.  While the rest of the bus is angry and annoyed.

Is it noble? Maybe, but who receives the benefit, the reward? The giver or the one suffering? The answer is both.

Compassion is a muscle, the more your experience it inside the more it grows.  The more fulfilled you are,  the more everyone who comes in your path is touched.

Imagine what kind of place we would live in if each and every one of us was purposeful in being compassionate. More kindness. More understanding. Less Suffering.

Compassion is shoveling the snow of your neighbor’s house because they are suffering depression and can’t get out of bed.   While others on the block get angry, gossip or call the authorities.

Compassion is soft, sensitive, and patient. It is a gentle whisper and a light touch that says I am here for you in this moment, ready to take action.

Suffering. Everyone suffers at some time. Look through a different lense and understand what you see is not all there is to a story. It may be one page in one chapter of a very intense book of their life.

Compassion is more than feeling sorry for a specific situation. It is reaching deep down, ignoring all of your own preconceived ideas, all of your past experiences and truths. It is looking at a situation from another point of view and trying to adapt, relate, understand and ultimately help.

Humor and Hoarding

Humor and Hoarding

Not every client interaction is full of anxiety, pain, tears and stress. Some of our days are spent laughing, listening to music and making fun, even in the tough situations. 

It was a love-hate thing with Sally, who was one of my favorite clients. She has a love of shoes, clothes, and purses.  In contrast she hates to throw away mail, newspapers and magazines.  This deadly combination of behavior landed her in a tough position.

She was facing eviction from her two bedroom apartment. At 93 she still had her wits about her but needed a lot of help. She was aware of the consequences of her actions and was ready to stay in her home!  

She would have been  great on reality tv! I can only remember a few of her one-liners’.  

Clutter Trucker Crew:  Sallylook at all these shoes, do you really wear all these shoes? 

Sally:  Well NOOOO, not all at one time. 

Clutter Trucker Crew:  Here are some shorts that can probably be donated they look too small for you now.  

Sally:  You mean “booty shorts” like on that show Two and a Half Men where Charlie gets a booty call! 

Clutter Trucker Team:  How about this shirt, do you still wear it or can it go? 

Sally:  No way that one stays.. I saw a picture of it Glamour magazine and I’m keeping it!  

She was full of personality and fun. It certainly was not easy for her to clean up her place but with the right mix of humor, gentle reminders and patience  we finished the project. Not only did she avoid eviction, she started with a clean place and was ready to keep it up! 

 

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

I approach the door and wondered what was on the other side. I was there to complete an estimate for the cost of service to help clean up the home.  I already prepared myself because the case notes said Child Protective Service was involved. Anytime children are involved it increases my level of curiosity and desire to help. I know I must keep my emotions in check. 

I am a little early and so the father is a startled and can't find the words to say.  He awkwardly opens the door and looks nervous. It helps when I am early. His level of anxiety is heightened and to catch him off guard usually helps.

He lets me in and isn't sure what to say. He is not suffering from hoarding disorder. His house looks like a case of giving up.  Piles and piles of trash, boxes and toys stuck together with cat fur.  Life took a turn for the worse. Things got so difficult  he just gave up.

I told him not to worry. It wasn’t as dirty as most houses I see.   I understand how things can get piled up. I see his 10 year old daughter coming from the kitchen.  She looks a little scared, concerned, embarrassed and slightly happy.  She starts to crack a smile while making small talk.

As I take the home tour I glance at the hole in the wall and he tells me that is 17 year old son suffers from schizophrenia and is now in a treatment center. As we continue on,  he points out some things that his wife left behind, when she decided to runaway.

I take a few big breaths.  This is not a lazy man who just doesn’t like to clean up his home.  He is dealing with BIG challenges and is doing the very best he can. Life is not easy.  Judging this man for the way he lives will not help.

In 20 minutes I gave him a small glimpse of hope. An acknowledgment that he is doing a great job, even if his home doesn’t look like it.

As I leave he says I inspired him to work on his house and start to clean up. That is all it takes. One small action at a time.

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

One of the complexities with hoarding disorder is the effect it can have on your neighbors.  Rodents travel next door. The wind sets sail and odors travel inside another’s home. The thought of a fire is terrifying. 

It is hard to disguise hoarding. It is visible in the car, in the yard and in the house. We often get calls from neighbors asking us what they can do.   

How can I  help someone who is suffering from hoarding and living in less than desirable conditions?

It starts with an understanding and a knowing that the person living inside the dirty, smelly contaminated house does not want to live like they do. However, sometimes they are too embarrassed, ashamed and sick to admit it. This comes across as being combative or stubborn or confrontational, but the underlying emotion is coming from a very different place.

The very best thing you can do if you suspect our neighbor is struggling with hoarding or any other housekeeping issue it to love them. Come from a place of trust, concern and kindness.  The accumulation of stuff or the neglect to the house did not happen overnight and will not get cleaned up overnight.

Patience, love, understanding and trust will go a long way in helping someone. Authority, threats and negative behavior will further hurt someone and stall any progress.  It is not about the “stuff” it is about the person suffering inside. Help them and you can help their surrounding.

Some of the greatest success stories of people overcoming the battle with hoarding are a result of great neighbors who are understanding and compassionate.

We are all here together and we all have to interact with one and another. We are placed on this earth to be separate or run solo.  When you help your neighbor you are helping yourself. You are helping the greater good.

Love and Messiness

Love and Messiness

It is estimated 2%-5% of the population is suffering from hoarding disorder. That is 1 in 20 of us. There are more people suffering from hoarding than alzheimer's disease, but you won’t know it. They are living silently behind closed doors with the blinds pulled down afraid to come out.

We have a whole community of people spread across the nation who are hurting and that is not okay.

Are we all hurting so much on our own that we can’t stop and pause for a minute to understand or help someone else?

People wonder what can they do to help a nation who seems to be hurting more and more everyday.  Shootings, poverty, illness,  murder and evil do exist and what can you do about it?   

Love.

Love people.

Love yourself.

Love your neighbor.

Love your family.

Focus on the good and not the bad. Understand that it exists and then turn your energy, your heart and your thoughts to the goodness.

I see people who are hurting everyday. It is time to change. It starts with one person.

You.

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

Daily we get calls from clients who are in dire need. They are crying and scared and stressed. They are being forced to clean up their apartments from landlords who own the property. 

Neighbors complain about what is going on behind the closed doors. They are not allowed inside but sometimes the smells and the rodents expand beyond the boundaries of the walls.  When this happens, it becomes problematic. One the easiest ways to get the homeowner's attention is with force, threats and punishment.

A notice is given: You must clean this up in 30 days or you will be evicted. Or you will go to jail. Or you will be fined $1000 dollars. 

Most landlords will go ahead and continue the process of eviction if the homeowner does not make efforts to clean up. I have heard time and time again, a judge will say clean up your home or you will face jail time.

Where is the compassion?   Where is the mental health assistance?   Why are we treating this mental illness as a crime?

We must come up with a better way to help those who are already suffering.  Threats, fines, and jail time as punishment do not fit the crime of being mentally ill.

Our community leaders, landlords, judges, and officials need to understand that putting someone in jail or in the streets for having Hoarding Disorder in the not the answer.

 

Shame on You

Shame on You

One of the lowest and most destructive human emotion is shame. Shame is the feeling, I am bad, not I did something bad.   Many of my clients who are suffering from hoarding disorder are distraught with shame.  

Family members, neighbors, authorities and the media all play a part in this without knowing.  It is the subtle comments, the grimaces in their faces, the joking and sarcasm all further drive someone suffering into a hole that is too deep to get out of.

I met a client in need the other day. He was distraught, upset and nearing tears. He asks me “why does the city need to post the big red sign on my door for everyone to see, can’t they just give me the notice with everyone else knowing?”

 The sign says this  

DANGER

This Building Is Unsafe for Human Occupancy.

It is A Crime to Occupy This Building

This is public shaming. It is not helpful or effective.  The city officials do not recognize the impact of this on the human being living behind these closed doors.

The person living in this property needs mental health, a compassionate approach to dealing with the problem of hoarding. Not a threat, a fine or a notice on the door.

It is not a crime to be mentally ill. It is not a crime to have excessive accumulation. How can we as a society think it is okay to treat people this way?

It is time to become educated and learn about Hoarding Disorder.




 

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

The very talented Shel Silverstein may have been suffering from Hoarding Disorder. 

I have no real evidence to suggest this is true. I also admired and respected him as one of my favorite poets. However,  in his book Where the Sidewalk ends he a paints a picture of what I see on a regular basis!  I loved the his book as a child and the fact that I grew up to own a junk removal business and clean out hoarder home is a sign that I was born to do this! 

This brings back childhood memories and was one of my favorites! 

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout 

Would not take the garbage out. 
She'd wash the dishes and scrub the pans 
Cook the yams and spice the hams, 
And though her parents would scream and shout, 
She simply would not take the garbage out. 
And so it piled up to the ceiling: 
Coffee grounds, potato peelings, 
Brown bananas and rotten peas, 
Chunks of sour cottage cheese. 
It filled the can, it covered the floor, 
It cracked the windows and blocked the door, 
With bacon rinds and chicken bones, 
Drippy ends of ice cream cones, 
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peels, 
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, 
Pizza crusts and withered greens, 
Soggy beans, and tangerines, 
Crusts of black-burned buttered toast, 
Grisly bits of beefy roast. 
The garbage rolled on down the halls, 
It raised the roof, it broke the walls, 
I mean, greasy napkins, cookie crumbs, 
Blobs of gooey bubble gum, 
Cellophane from old bologna, 
Rubbery, blubbery macaroni, 
Peanut butter, caked and dry, 
Curdled milk, and crusts of pie, 
Rotting melons, dried-up mustard, 
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard, 
Cold French fries and rancid meat, 
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat. 
At last the garbage reached so high 
That finally it touched the sky, 
And none of her friends would come to play, 
And all of her neighbors moved away; 
And finally, Sarah Cynthia Stout 
Said, "Okay, I'll take the garbage out!" 
But then, of course it was too late, 
The garbage reached across the state, 
From New York to the Golden Gate; 
And there in the garbage she did hate 
Poor Sarah met an awful fate 
That I cannot right now relate 
Because the hour is much too late 
But children, remember Sarah Stout, 
And always take the garbage out. 

From Breakdown  to Breakthrough

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

There are moments in life that force you to listen, to change your ways, to grow and learn.  They can be small events or big ones. The key is to be able to recognize these events for what they truly are and not ignore them.   

I had one of these moments when a 2000 lb hot tub fell on my back. As the owner of a junk removal business I have accumulated a few war stories and this one I’ll never forget. It was July 17th, a 100 degree day and we were called to get rid of a hot tub. I figure we’ve done it before we can do it again, no problem.  

Me, my MOM and her husband and one huge hot tub.  The look on the guys face said it all as he saw 2 women and 1 man come to get rid of his enormous hot tub.   We begin to roll the tub end over end across the yard and I see his eyes change from confusion to shear amazement.  We impressed him I know! 

We got the tub to the street and thankfully he paid us, went inside, shut the door and did not witness what was about to unfold! As we attempted   to heave the sucker up on the truck, we lost it and I was under it.  As it was falling on my back, I rolled out from underneath it, making it just in time. A lady driving in a car saw what happened slammed on the brakes and offered assistance. I jumped up quickly, scraped, bruised and pissed and said, I’m ok!  It hurt my body and my ego,  but didn’t crush me entirely.     

In the hours that past I realized how stupid I was to put myself in that position:  literally and figuratively.  If you can picture the Atlas Shrugged statue of the man holding the earth on his back, that is what I felt and how it looked.  I was a business owner, trying to do everything! Trying to run the business, build the business and be the business. The weight of the world was on my shoulders.   I couldn’t sustain that anymore than I could hold the weight of a hot tub on my back.  So I had a breakdown, cried and cried and thought why the heck did I start this business ?  I began to question everything.   

With the help of a good friend I figured out this breakdown would be my breakthrough.  I needed to take the business to the next level.  I needed to hire employees.  

I used to think that irrational confidence would allow anyone to do anything they wanted.  As a CrossFitter, I always try to push myself further, but even trying to carry hot tubs was a bit extreme even for a CrossFitter!   

While I still think that it is extremely important to have this kind of unexplained confidence and push yourself.  I think that life can break you down if you let it. Be confident  in yourself and allow your break down to become your breakthrough!  

 

 

 

 

 

Statisc.. helpful harmful. 

I remember sitting in church listening to Coach Joe McCarthy, head of the promise keepers and coach for CU. As an athlete I was excited about his presentation.  He was talking about fathers and the role they have in their children’s lives. As I sat and listened to him ramble off statistic after statistic about how disadvantaged children who are raised by single parents and how they would be likely to use drugs, go to jail or have babies.  It really bothered me to the point I left.  In all fairness I learned later the end of his presentation was encouraging, but I didn’t wait to hear it. . I was that parent who was not married.  I made choices at the age of 18 that resulted in my having twins at the age of 19.  My kids were good, motivated, caring, responsible, and fun kids.  I couldn’t listen to the depressing statistic any longer.  

 

 

Boo Radley

Boo Radley

Last week Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird died.  At some point in time many of us have read the book or watched the movie.  It is a touching story of human nature and the pain and triumph that can occur when we let judgment take over.

Boo Radley always reminds me of my hoarders.  Boo Radley was considered to be a monster. The town had already labeled him. The kids were afraid, yet they didn’t even know him.  They made him out to be a crazy man capable of harming others.

As the story unfolds the kids realize that Boo had been gifting  them toys and trinkets.  He was trying to connect. His father was trying to prevent this all along.  No one had ever looked beyond the surface and actually been curious enough to get to know Boo for who he was.

When trouble came along,  Boo saved  the kid's life. His true character was revealed. And what a wonderful man he turned out to be.

Boo is just like my clients who are living behind closed doors, suffering from an illness, many of us don’t understand. Quick judgements and assumptions take over.

Harper Lee will be known for her contribution to making this culture a better place.  She inspired people to stop judging and get to know the real person.  In a culture that is lacking compassion, we can all be reminded of the lessons she brought up many years ago.

I am reminded of a quote by Abraham Lincoln, who put it in very simple terms.

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.”

Abraham Lincoln

Alzheimer's vs Hoarding

Alzheimer's vs Hoarding

5.3 million people suffer from Alzheimer's disease. It is awful and for anyone who has a loved one diagnosed with this, you know how tragic it is.  There are associations, research groups, foundations and quite a bit of good information to help those those in need.

15 million people suffer from hoarding disorder.  Three times as many people than Alzheimer's. There is a lack of research, zero foundations, very little knowledge, resources and support for those suffering from hoarding.

For some reason the public has a fascination with hoarding. And the fascination is not helpful to those who are suffering.

People often think those suffering from hoarding are choosing to live in a home filled with things. “Maybe they are from the depression era and they can’t get rid of anything”. “Maybe they are just dirty and unorganized”. "They are collectors of junk".

The fact is Hoarding Disorder is a serious mental illness. It is so complex, challenging and misunderstood. This makes people fearful. Fearful of the unknown. When people are afraid they try to seek comfort by labeling and stereotypes are born.  

There is a lack of research and treatment for those with hoarding disorder. Those suffering are isolated and ashamed and so are their families. They don’t come out, they don’t seek treatment and research is stalled.  It is not something people like to talk about, unless you are commenting about the tv shows, or jokingly comparing your pile of stuff in your garage to A Hoarder.

It wasn’t even included as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 until 2013. We have work to do. Research, treatment and options are needed.

What is it about our society that has empathy for one horrible diagnosis and ridicule the other?  Compassion, awareness and education will help.

Create an environment of understanding and open the conversation about hoarding.

 

 

 

Loneliness is a Beast

Loneliness is a Beast

After 8 years of providing a service to seniors and hoarders who need to get rid of their clutter, I’ve  realized aging is lonely.   We are social beings and we are meant to spend time with others.  Human touch and interaction are a necessity.  We are not meant to be alone.

Once isolation sets in, it is a tough battle to fight. The beast is ever present and your mind can cause you to say things to yourself that are not healthy, productive or at all truthful.  Just because a person has a messy house does not mean they have nothing to offer!

I know my clients substitute social interaction with eating, drinking, spending, watching tv and porn. Yep, I’ve seen it all! I don’t judge and I understand the battle they face.

Because the problem of hoarding didn’t happen overnight, the clean-up process doesn’t always happen overnight.  We spend time on a regular basis and get to know each other very well! We develop friendships, trust and end up laughing and having fun at times!  As with any relationship, there are moments of frustration and anger as well.

On many occasion my clients get attached to me, develop “crushes” or just crave the interaction.  I understand it’s because I provide the hug, the pat on the shoulder, the interaction, communication and the friendship they have been longing for.

While most hoarders won’t allow others in their homes, it would be beneficial for them to get out and join clubs, groups and attend events; anything to avoid complete isolation.

In a sense this post can be a public service announcement to anyone who has a friend or family member they suspect may be isolating themselves behind closed doors.  Give them a gift of time and friendship. Do something fun, interact and entertain them. Bring out the very best that person has to offer, because it’s there, sometimes it is just hard to find!  (pun intended)

Forced Change

Forced Change

In 2008 I was laid off from my 11-year job in Corporate America. I wish I could say I quit on my own to find my passion and build a business. This is not the case. I was forced to make a change.

After 3 months, a few too many Oprah shows, an open mind and a massive clean out of my hoarding grandparents home,  I started Clutter Trucker. I knew I wanted to help others who were knee deep in the clutter and emotionally exhausted. I was inspired to create my own Extreme Home Makeover business. 

Fast forward 8 years and Clutter Trucker has helped hundreds of people affected by hoarding disorder. I’ll take all of the tears, the hugs and bags filled with trash  AND  loosing my job any day!

My hoarding clients are often forced to change too. A knock on the door. It’s the authorities. Maybe the landlord. Maybe a case worker.  They are here to say you can’t live like this. Things must change.

What do you do? You must make a decision. I know it’s not easy and you may need to channel a  bit of Oprah too.  

Don’t fight what you can’t control. Look beyond the fact that someone is forcing you to change. Accept what you already know deep down in your gut. Change is growth. 

Just like me after losing my job, This may be a new beginning. A better future, whether you asked for it or not!

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst I've Ever Seen

The Worst I've Ever Seen

The number one  question I get asked about my hoarding clients is “ What is the worst thing you have ever seen!?”  

I don’t like the question,  and my answer would go something like this. “Well, if I’ve seen feces, rotting food and dead mice once,  I’ve seen it a million times! If you really want to know,  I HAVE  seen some of the most interesting people I will never forget. I have worked with doctors, politicians, engineers, and teachers suffering from hoarding disorder.  I have met people who have been through more than anyone should have to go through in a lifetime.  Car accidents, rape, death and divorce. They are surviving and battling a serious mental illness. That is the worst I have seen!

I wonder if you want to know the worst hoarder case I’ve seen, so you can feel better about the number of jeans and shoes in your closet? Do you want to feel better about the dust that has accumulated under your couch?  

Hoarding is about the people. Not the junk. Not the clutter.  Not the trash.

Why are people so fascinated with the worst. The horror story.  The shootings, the terrorist, the gloom and doom?

So much negativity in the news every single day. Why are we all still watching the news? When asked, people will tell you they like positive, feel-good stories.  The media knows otherwise. They know we pay more attention to the negative.

I understand negativity bias and the appeal to danger and destruction. I get it.

It takes a lot more effort to be perceptive.  Be optimistic and put more effort into positive, attractive thoughts. Be aware of what your asking. Choose positivity.

Build people up. Don’t tear them down.

 

 

 

Family Feud

Family Feud

It’s  easier to speak you mind, disagree, show emotion and cast your ideas on family members rather than a disinterested third party.  Comfort, security and years of built in family dynamic are the culprit.

Unintentionally you may do more harm than good by attempting to help your loved one with their hoarding challenges. Too much emotion. Unrealistic expectations. Disappointment and fear you just can’t hide even with your best poker face. 

Often, the entire relationship is focused on one area of life. Clutter. Junk. Trash.  Call it what you want, but it overtakes more than the space in the house.   Its tuns into the topic of every discussion.

There is more to your mom or dad  than the living conditions. Focus on the good characteristics,  and let a professional work on the things that need changing.

Take this example; Mary was a client and she had rooms full of unopened toys. Her intention was to give these gifts, she was lacking in implementation. Compliment her on her kindness and generosity and find a better solution.  She had the most giving soul I had ever seen. Focus on that. Support and celebrate when small changes occur.

I learned the hard way. I know how easy it is to take advantage and overstep boundaries with family. Years ago my daughter was running operations of Clutter Trucker and at this time the business felt like a child. It was all we ever talked about. It defined me and my focus was overbearing.

I lost sight of the family dynamic. Until the day she went into labor with her son!

He decided to come 2 weeks early and I wasn’t prepared!  She was dilated to 5, in pain and ready to go to the hospital. I panicked.. I don’t know how to run payroll!! You can not go to the hospital yet.  Hurled over the computer, grabbing her side every five minutes, she completed payroll before leaving!

Looking back that was ridiculous on my part! Unreasonable expectation.



 

Be Brave. Be Fearless. Be Nice.

Be Brave. Be Fearless. Be Nice.

 

This message is for my clients. I not only want to walk alongside you, help you and  represent you,  I want you to  inspire you.

I want you to read this and be brave. I want you to know that not everyone is judging you, making fun and fascinated by your ability to accumulate "stuff".

I am fortunate to see you behind the closed door and pulled back blinds and I have your back. I get to talk to you for hours on the phone and hear the pain and shame in your voice.

It is my hope that you stand up, speak up and be fearless. I hope that your neighbors, your family, your city officials will get educated, become aware and think differently about you.  

I want you to practice self compassion. Stop judging yourself. Stop talking badly about yourself. Get out of isolation and speak your mind. Be brave.

Let everyone else know that all of the helpful decluttering tips like “If you haven't used it in a year then donate it.” “ If you buy one new item, then get rid of one old item in your house”,” a cluttered house is a cluttered mind”. This is another language to someone suffering from hoarding. It is like giving someone a tylenol instead of penicillin and telling them to feel better. It’s the wrong prescription.

If you know or suspect you know a person who suffers from hoarding disorder look beyond the clutter. Get to know the person.  Get them out of the house. Give them fresh air and a good conversation. Give them a healthy fresh cooked meal. Be nice.

 

 

To Go or Not to Go....

To Go or Not to Go....

One of the most stressful situations for those who have accumulated an excess amount of stuff is eviction.  We have helped counsel and clean out a tremendous amount of clients who were faced with either getting rid of their stuff or getting rid of their home.

To someone unfamiliar with the illness of hoarding this may seem like a fairly easy and straightforward choice. Let me tell me you, for my clients it is not easy or straightforward.  As I hear the situation these clients are facing I can see and feel the pain. I hear their shaky voice, as they the pause in speaking. I watch as they cover the face with their hands in shame, embarrassment and fear.  

Tears running down,  in the midst of them trying to be strong and find a solution. Only on a few occasions has anger been the dominating emotion and usually after realizing the options ahead, the anger subsides.

Over and over I work with clients whose homes pose a fire hazard or an extreme pest control problem.  While the clients feel like they have a right to keep their belongings in the apartments, condo or homes, officials and landlords have a different agenda.

As an expert with several years of experience, I can sit down and explain the process of clean up and why it is necessary.  With all the papers, trash and boxes of stuff, if one flame of fire caught, the entire place would be engulfed in a matter of seconds. It would be extremely dangerous for the tenant, the firefighters and the entire building to escape unharmed. Just google hoarder home fire and you’ll find how often these stories make the news.  No one thinks it will happen to their home, but it does.

When bedbugs, roaches and mice take over, pest control cannot spray due to the large amounts of clutter. These little bugs will hide and multiply amidst all of the “stuff”!  Ultimately, the entire community in the building has to suffer. More often than not, my clients are forced to remove their belonging so the little pests can be killed.

It’s a hard choice, but one that has to be made for the safety and well-being of those involved.  Cleaning up your place may just add years to your life, AND make your neighbors a little bit more appreciative!

Humanizing Hoarders

Humanizing Hoarders

I stand beside my hoarders and speak for them. My mission is to educate and bring awareness to the public on this VERY common issue, that impacts those suffering with the disorder, friends and  family members, landlords, neighbors, city officials and more.

The problems manifested from hoarding are as unique as each individuals we meet. Yet the lessons we learn are universal and can be advantageous to all of us.

The truth is that someone you know is distressed by hoarding, whether you are aware or not, and the things I do and see are dirty and sometimes down right disgusting.  I won’t hide that.

I share what cleaning up another person’s poo has taught me about mind control.  I will answer questions I get asked on a regular basis, Have you ever seen dead animals? What is craziest thing I have found? How can I do what I do?

The people we help are genuine, intelligent, funny, and have a magnitude of experience that will help others. I change names to maintain privacy.  I will humanize my hoarders!