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.