Sandra Stark started collecting things when she was a little girl: pretty rocks, bird's nests, interesting sticks and twigs.
Over the decades her collections ballooned to include glassware and utensils, floral frogs and paperweights. Her kitchen filled with stuff to the point she could no longer cook in it. To get to her bed, she had to carve pathways through the clutter. The only spot to sit in the living room was a tiny square of couch.
"I used to entertain a lot. And then the collections started taking over and I didn't have anyone in my home anymore," said Stark, 67. "I didn't know that I actually had a disorder."
Her problem was hoarding, and it took more than three decades for Stark to realize it and another 20 years for her to seek help for it.
She's still digging her way out of the disorder, but her collections no longer rule her life, she said, and she's part of a new San Francisco project - called the peer hoarding and cluttering response team - to help others like her get the help they need..." More
Hoarding conferenceThe 14th annual International Conference on Hoarding and Cluttering takes place Thursday and Friday at the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel.
Who: Open to health care and other service providers as well as patients.
Tickets: Two-day tickets cost $500. One-day tickets and scholarship reductions are available.
For more conference information, go to http://www.mentalhealthsf.org/conference.php