How My Authenticity Got me Featured on TLC’s Hit TV Show Hoarding: Buried Alive

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Watch episode [VIDEO]

2009 was a hard year for many between the Great Recession and subsequent financial and personal doubt infiltrating the world. I was nurturing a new business in NYC that I had just created in September 2008. In addition, I was struggling with another situation that I didn’t understand. The thyroid medication I had been stable on for about 15 years suddenly changed its formula at the end of 2008 without telling anyone- doctors and patients were befuddled when patients’ lives suddenly seemed to fall apart for no reason.

I tried to chalk up my extreme depression to the difficulties of a new business, the economy, and the general discomfort of the world, but something did not feel right. Little did I know I was embarking on an eight year struggle with deep depression and summer anxiety, kicked highly into gear by the change in thyroid.

The great thing about going deep into depression, fear and despair is that you (can) lose whatever remnants of fearing how others perceive you, at least for awhile, because you just don’t care. You’re no longer scared of what might happen. (This doesn’t always stick- I’ve been through this process many times over the last eight years).

I’ve always been considered blunt and even sometimes rude, no matter how hard I try to be polite. I was raised in a family where the truth is expected, and I’m pretty sure it’s told almost all the time. I’m a terrible liar and I believe everyone. Being straight with people was already my style, even before 2008.

So when I got an email in 2009 from a producer at TLC’s show, Hoarding: Buried Alive, telling me she loved my website and did I know a family who needed help and could we talk, I wasn’t interested, and I told her so. In fact, I’ve always hated those reality shows where peoples’ weaknesses are exploited to make “good tv.” Unafraid, I told her that too. Turns out, producers are a smart and tough bunch, and they’re not easily dissuaded. Over the next six weeks, the producer and I stayed in touch as she interviewed me about what I don’t like about reality shows- particularly the hoarding shows, what I recommended, and how I thought the subjects could be portrayed more compassionately. I knew where she was going with her excellent interviewing skills, but I deflected, and recommended 2 other professional organizers I was sure would be delighted to be on the show.

She researched the other organizers and got back to me. They seemed really nice and they were all wrong for what she was looking for. The family for the episode she was filming was in a difficult situation, and they needed someone with just the right touch. She was sure that was me. How did she know this? I asked suspiciously. “You’re honest and funny. I think you’d be able to handle them AND really help them. I think it would be a great match.” Not only that, she would give me a chance to speak about my philosophy about hoarding and much more (although they did film this, it was ultimately cut from the final episode).

The truth is, you can’t tell what went on from the episode available on Amazon. That producer was right. I did help that family. We did deal with things honestly (hoarders are notoriously private and often difficult people who have difficult relationships), and we did laugh. We made their kitchen usable [VIDEO] for the first time in years, and mother and daughter agreed to partner rather than fight.

I’ve spent much of my life wanting to be average and regular and just politely fit in.

But the one time I was featured on national tv helping a family I didn’t know in a hard situation, I got there by saying no, thank you, by speaking from the heart, and by disagreeing with the status quo.

You just never know what adventure your truth will get you into. It probably won’t be the one you were planning, but one thing’s for sure- when you’re authentic, your adventure is more you-ish than anyone, including you, could plan. We can’t control much in this life, but we can control how honestly we connect with ourselves and with others. And when we are honest and ourselves, we know the life we’re living is truly ours. Authenticity isn’t just the best choice, it’s the only choice.

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