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N a t i o n a l A l l i a n c e o n M e n t a l I l l n e s s M a r i n N A M I M a r i n N A M I M A R I N

call 415-444-0480

Your next newsletter will arrive late August/early September

June 2007

Marin’s Voice on Mental Illness

555 Northgate Drive, # 280,

San Rafael, CA


Office Hours: Monday—Friday, 1—3:00 p.m. 415-444-0480 —— nami@namimarin.org

June 2007 Vol. XXXI No.6

NAMI Marin learns whether it’s hoarding or cluttering?


Dr. Alexandra Matthews spoke to a packed room at the NAMI-Marin General Meeting May 14th. Dr. Matthews is a Cognitive-Behavioral psy- chologist in Mill Valley and a member of the clinical faculty of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry, She outlined the three main components of Com- pulsive Hoarding Syndrome: Acquisition, Saving, and Clutter. Dr. Mat- thews emphasized that beneath hoarding lies intense anxiety and an emo- tional attachment to each object in the hoard. Most hoarders also have problems making decisions, so it’s very difficult for them to sort out their objects.

Hoarding is most commonly associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Dis- order (OCD). It is a genetic brain disorder involving overactivity in the amygdala and frontal lobes. Medications to reduce anxiety have not been successful with compulsive hoarding. The hoarder must recognize that help is needed, slowly let go of objects, and have an objective measure to see how much progress has been made and to guard against back-sliding. Out- side support is extremely helpful in this process.

What is the difference between compulsive hoarding and hyper-avid col- lecting? This question was asked by several participants in various ways. Dr. Matthews answered, “We all probably do a bit of hoarding, but when hoarding becomes an impairment in a hoarder’s life or in the lives of loved ones, treatment is necessary.” She also emphasized that only the hoarder can divest of the hoard. “Taking away someone’s hoard is like taking away one’s children,” said Dr. Matthews. “Imagine the anxiety you would experi- ence if your children were taken away from you. That’s how hoarders feel when their hoard is thrown out.” The result can be devastating anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

Several support resources for hoarders were announced. Gail Mosconi has started the newly-formed Marin Hoarding and Cluttering Task Force. She can be reached at gmosconi@marinhousing.org. The CHADD Clutter Support Group is held the first Tuesday of the month led by Sue Zee Poin- sett, 415 492-8822. And Kim Denn announced she will be starting up a Hoarding 12-Step Group based on a model used in San Francisco. She can be reached at kimdenn@yahoo.com or at 415 785-7107.

Marilyn Geary

June 4 … NAMI Marin Board, 7 p.m. 555 Northgate Drive, S.R. June 6 … NAMI Marin FamFest, 6 p.m. (see back page) June 11 … NAMI Marin General Meeting, 7 p.m. Marin General Hospital June 20-24 NAMI National- Convention, San Diego. July 14 … 9 to 1:30 p.m. 3rd Annual Bipolar Education Day, Stanford University Sept. 8 … 2 to 5 p.m. NAMI

Marin Picnic at San Anselmo’s Memorial Park Barbeque area, Veteran’s Way Sept. 10 NAMI Marin General Meeting, 7 p.m. Marin General Hospital Sept 28-29 From Dream to Reality, NAMI California Confer- ence, Marriott, Irvine, CA.

NAMI Marin’s Volunteer Co-

ordinator Kay Blackwill hon- ored by Mental Heath Board

Our own “hostess with the mostest” Kay Blackwill was hon- ored, along with seven others, at the Mental Health Board’s biennial Celebrating the Uncelebrated din- ner. The award honors those indi- viduals who have made extraordi- nary efforts improving the lives of

FamFests are fun and bring the family together

Our monthly FamFests are a great success. I don't have family on the West Coast, and it is nice to have dinner with a combination of peers and family members. The conversation is interesting and upbeat. We all have so much happening in our lives. Famfest really serves as an activity to increase the quality of my life.

The Famfests started in October 2005 when a client brought together two mothers with their sons, for dinner at a local restaurant. The label and

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people with mental illness. Kay contributes so much of her time to organizing events for NAMI Marin, including this past year the annual NAMI Marin picnic, the Volunteer Recognition Tea, and the monthly FamFest dinners. She also wel- comes attendees at the monthly General Meetings and recruits vol- unteers for NAMI Marin. Congratu- lations, Kay!


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