* Update #10 - September 23, 2014 *
I have just posted a YouTube update on my mother's case and her progress. Please take a few minutes to watch if you can, and continue to share. The new deadline is December 31st to have front, back, side yards, garage and front porch cleared. Tremendous progress has been made. I thank you again for your support, friendship, kindness, and simply just spreading the word. Wishing you all the best.
* Update #9 - September 18, 2014 *
Hi, everyone. Tomorrow is September 19th, my mother's court date appearance in Dade City. I thank you all again for your support of this GoFundMe project. Money so far has gone towards brush clearing and removal, tree trimming, the purchase of a new weedwacker and various day helpers she has found via CraigsList. These photos show the West Side of the property and the progress that has been made. There's still a long journey ahead, but hopefully this will help appease the city and her neighbors for the violations. Again, if you know any mental health provider in Central FL that specializes in on-site CBT therapy for OCD Hoarding, please send them my way. Wishing each of you all the best, and thanks again for your continued support.
* Update #8B (the one that got away) *
Thank you Jennifer Stacy Beasley for stopping by with apples and oranges, as well as taking some great new videos. A more lengthy clip which shows what the tree cutters did last week with $750 of the fund will follow.
With the advent of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, charity campaigns such as this can begin to feel overbearing-- especially if you end up comparing one illness to another.
Of course OCD Hoarding is in no way anywhere near as physically debilitating, or tragic as ALS.
But what it does have in similarity is its sufferers end up trapped by their illness, and families and communities suffer.
Maybe hoarders are not literally physically trapped, but they are cut off emotionally from the outside world.
Please continue to share to get the word out that Hoarding is much more common than you think, and not a reality tv series which resolves itself in 60 minutes.
It can strike people of any background, socio economic, culturally, geographically, race, creed or gender.
Wishing everyone the best and thanks again for your support!
* UPDATE #8 *
OCD Hoarding may get you down, but as a family we have learned to laugh through the worst of times. Though my mother suffers from a fairly severe case of OCD Hoarding, she has never forgotten how to laugh. It's one of the things that keeps us going. I hope to keep everyone aware that those we term as "hoarders" (to her, "collectors"), are also quite clever, smart and dare I say, pretty darn funny. Thank you again for your continued support of helping us raise funds for her property cleanup, maintenance and treatment, and if I can make us all smile through it, it's the best thing I can share.
* UPDATE #7 *
15 Results Found-- Yes, in the ENTIRE United States.
What you are looking at is a screenshot of a search on The International OCD Foundation's database of therapists and providers for mental health counseling that:
1. Provide for Adults
2. Accept Medicaid
3. Perform At Home Visits
4. Specialize in Hoarding.
Yes, that's right -- 15 -- in the entire nation.
Again, I don't care if you donate a $1, or even a cent.
If you can simply share, and help in awareness, that's all I'm asking.
What I want is for people to become educated, and continue to help educate others virally, that this is what is available nationally for individuals like my mother.
Unless you can pay out-of-pocket for "professional organizers," or have private insurance, you're truly out of luck if you are amongst the thousands of sufferers who cannot afford professional quality treatment.
* UPDATE #6 *
People are not defined only by their illness. Though mom and I don't always see eye to eye, she is a person of worth. Thanks again for your support.
Life is about more than your illness
* UPDATE #5
Hope your week is going well.
I wanted to reshare GoFundMe now that mom and I have worked out a structure for how to continue the fundraising, as well as address offers of volunteer help.
Please note here is what we spoke of this morning:
1. She wants all potential volunteers to contact her at [phone redacted], as well as you can DM me info via FB, Twitter, or my gmail at [email redacted].
Please include what days and times you are available all the way from today, Tuesday, August 12 - September 18th.
It is important to note she does NOT want a one-day cleanup with multiple volunteers on her property.
She prefers to work one-on-one with small groups on individual projects each day through the 18th.
She also would like to know what duties you prefer to work on-- 1. brush cutting. 2. vine pulling. 3. raking and bagging leaves. 4. recycling - bagging jugs, bottles, cans, etc., that are located in the brush undergrowth, and 5. hauling away old wood, metal scraps, old and broken down appliances (refrigerators, etc.).
Mom wants to make sure each person who is helping is performing one task, in order to work at a pace where she is comfortable so as not to overwhelm.
OCD hoarding sufferers become easily overloaded/overstimulated and will completely shut down if too much takes place all at once.
Ideally this will mean using language such as "Kathy, tell me what area you will feel comfortable with me working on right now, and show me the location you want me to start on first."
It's important to note over the years I have done this myself, with some degrees of success.
I show my mom the bag I am putting together, and all the objects I'm putting in. At first it can be slow-going and frustrating, but then you gradually will notice you will start to move faster, as well as her.
Giving words of encouragement throughout "That's great," etc., "Keep going," and even timing her with a stopwatch can also be huge plus factors.
In the past I've found that to be one of the most effective ways to keep on task, and get the most done.
In a way, you will have to think in a similar fashion to her - via classification systems. (Coffee cups with coffee cups, old newspapers with newspapers, cat food cans with cat food cans, leaves with leaves.)
As long as you have a constant stream of two-way communication, you will find there can be a lot accomplished.
It may not be up to the level you and I would be able to do ourselves, but it will be a huge step in the right direction for progress.
Please note for the can/bottles/recyclables, Dade City has a weekly Wednesday AM pickup.
Mom prefers to have every Tuesday until Sept. 18th dedicated for recycling cleanup in order to tackle and "say goodbye" to so much of what is holding her back, and is the key reason she is in trouble with the city.
There's a large amount of cans, bottles, old garbage, etc., in the underbrush, and will be a very important task to undertake.
2. In the meantime, mom is calling tree cutters, etc., to start in on the more heavy work that needs to be done by hired professionals. I have vastly underestimated the amount needed for them. She has been quoted $500 for cutting and trimming just TWO trees, so obviously there will be a huge chunk of funds needed just for this.
3. I have continued to contact Tampa and Orlando nationally OCF-endorsed at-home visit CBT therapists, but still have received no response. This is even with after mentioning GoFundMe $$$ to be able to pay for them out-of-pocket. It is imperative I find someone soon. Mom just told me this AM to contact the UF Gainesville team, so this will be my duty over the next few days as well as continue my publicity via FB, Twitter and OCD institutions and experts online.
AGAIN - If you know of ANYONE who is a mental health expert with a history of treating OCD hoarders who can offer on-site help, (still the ONLY method of treating hoarders that works) please send them my way.
Thank you again for all of your help, and as always, wishing everyone the best.
I am truly touched by everyone reaching out, if not financially, but even dropping an encouraging word.
Continue to check in as the weeks progress, and hopefully I can share some positive updates, as well as continue to educate more on how common OCD Hoarding is, and how increasingly it is a problem that is getting worse via our society's lack of proper access to affordable and effective mental health care.
ALL my best,
* UPDATE #4 *
Today's update is this page is live again after I have made adjustments to reflect my mom's wishes. She says most importantly she wants to know "I'm not asking my friends for money, just to know that OCD is more common that they'd like to think."
* UPDATE #3 *
Thank you all for your continued support of this GoFundMe account.
Just want to clarify a few things, and unfortunately some of my images are reflecting the home too much over the exterior.
My mom's "yard tour" videos posted below are much more reflective of what first needs to take place.
I have spoken with the city, as well as my mom, and the immediate issue at hand connected with the court case violation is the condition of the yard - this means the massive overgrowth - vines, weeds, brush, tree trimming (some removal if they are found dangerous), and likely a huge amount of leaves, as well as garbage/scrap metal/cans, etc..
This is the first hurdle to be tackled, and mom is very receptive to anyone with pickup trucks who can help assist with the collecting and taking away to dump, recycling center, etc..
Obviously anyone with chain saws or experience in tree cutting trimming, etc., would be hugely appreciated, and compensated accordingly.
So first step yard, then garage, then the house itself.
For those who are green thumbs, we will likely have a ton of free ferns if anyone wants them for landscaping.
**** Original Campaign Post *****
Thank you for visiting my GoFundMe page.
As a writer and journalism major, I usually find words come fast and easy, but now that I've created this page I'm almost at a loss for what to say and how to say it.
Previously I've successfully funded a Kickstarter to help with an art show held in a refuse-strewn abandoned silk factory in NJ.
Now it's time I do the same for my mother who has finally reached bottom, and is faced with impending imprisonment in one month for the condition of her property.
All I can say is I desperately need help. The burden is too hard to carry any longer. I've tried for over 20 years to get my mother professional help, yet every avenue I've pursued I have had nothing but doors shut in my face.
Upon taking her to our nation's top-ranked McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA's OCD research center, I was told upon her evaluation-- "She is the worst case we have ever seen," but she didn't qualify for help because she wasn't a Massachusetts resident.
My mother is a worst-case scenario - lives alone in the tiny Central FL town of Dade City, has no transportation but walking to a bus, lives off of only $721 SSI disability and $90 in food stamps, has no savings, personal valuables or investments, and only has a FL Medicaid HMO that almost no professional mental health care provider accepts.
She also has a daughter who is financially burdened with over $55K++ in debt, no investments, and only $500 in savings which I am trying to desperately attempt to build a life of independence for myself.
I receive no help from anywhere (no father ever in picture) but my monthly work check, which I only break even on working in our nation's most expensive city.
I will gladly provide all financial records which show my debt to income ratio to show I do not have the means to help beyond very basic $ amounts.
At this point I'm left with only being able to pay for proper therapy as an out-of-pocket cost, as well as hiring a cleanup crew that can assist my mother with extensive yard work (including massive brush/vine/overgrowth removal and garbage), as well as abandoned furniture/metal scrap and refuse throughout the property (in garage, home, and yard).
I know most of you have seen the multitude of Hoarding shows on A&E, Oprah, Today Show, or documentaries, but when it is your own situation, you feel extra helpless.
Heck, I've even contacted Oprah, A&E's "Hoarders" and believe it or not "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" in the hopes of them spotlighting her case, but never got a reply.
I'm tired of feeling helpless, and this might be the first step to my regaining not only a home, but helping a loved one who is worth saving.
My mother is a highly intelligent, college-educated, extremely creative, funny, religious (very Catholic) and huge-hearted person ravaged by mental illness that's one of the most difficult to treat as well as find proper care for.
Unless you live in our nation's urban areas with advanced places of study, or have the financial means with familial support, cases like my mother's are left to fester, and for small town governments like Dade City-- they often can find no solution except fines and endless red tape that goes nowhere, with the final option of jailing said offender.
On-site cognitive behavioral therapy is the only recognized and effective treatment for hoarders. Medication and office visits have no effect. If my mother does not receive proper therapy, the situation will not get better.
I do not want my mother to become one of the "House of Horrors" casualties you see so often on the news (victims of fire, becoming trapped, falling and not being found until weeks later).
I also want her neighbors to be able to be happy with their living environment, without the property devaluations and stress that come with living next to a hoarder.
As a fellow member of "Children of Hoarders," you begin to understand the grey area that is life. There are no good, and no bad people. There simply just IS.
Sometimes people have experiences and personal grief and anguish that causes pain so profound they lose all touch with reality, and grasp onto the only things they have - a leftover Kleenex of a deceased loved one; a dog collar from a beloved pet.
My goal through this fundraiser is to help my mother regain pride in herself not based on objects, and to reopen the door to the light I remember so far back in my early childhood.
I have seen far too much darkness in my 40 years, and if this can begin to help her as well as myself in dealing with this situation, I will be forever grateful and indebted for any help you can give.
I will be posting regular video, photo, and Facebook updates throughout this process, including video shot by my mother yesterday on her property giving a tour of the yard.
My mother's Contempt of Court case takes place September 19th. I am hoping to have funds and cleanup in place before that target date.
Thanks again, and wishing everyone the best.
1992 Pasco Comprehensive High School Graduate
Born August 1, 1974, Jackson Memorial Hospital
Lifelong Dade Citian by way of NYC and Boston
Dreamer, Doer, Believer
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