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About this site

The Squalor Survivors site was first created to display the photos that can currently be found in the Photos section. These photos were taken by Kimmy before and after the clean-up of her house.

When she began this massive project, in May 2001, Kimmy was overwhelmed by the amount of work ahead of her, and didn't know where to start. She posted a message asking for advice and support on the What's Holding You Back? forum at http://www.juliemorgenstern.com. Her post was titled Living in third degree squalor...where do I start? The first response was from Celeste, who gave three simple instructions:

  1. Quit hitting yourself over the head
  2. Pat yourself on the back for the courage it takes to confront this problem
  3. Grab some rubbish bags and start throwing out the trash.

Other posters, including myself, also chimed in to offer support and encouragement. The thread grew and grew, until it eventually reached 17 pages and had to be locked because its length was creating technical problems for the webmaster.

(A copy of the Living in Third Degree Squalor thread can be downloaded from the Resources section.)

On July 13, 2001, I set up Squalor Survivors in order to display the photos Kimmy had taken. At first it was just a message board and single page, then the photos were added, then finally some real content. And it's been quietly ticking away ever since.

The purpose of the site now, besides displaying Kimmy's original photos, is to offer encouragement, support and advice to people who are living in squalor, and who have decided that they want to change their behavior, beliefs and attitudes, and clean up their houses. I believe that seeing the photos and reading the experiences of others who have lived like this, and especially those who have managed to change their living conditions, can be motivating and empowering for people who would like to follow that same path.

By "offering encouragement, support and advice" I do not mean enabling. I do not think living in squalor is okay, because I think you deserve better than that. I also know that the combination of circumstances that can lead to someone living in squalor can be complicated, and that by the time someone arrives at this site with a severe housekeeping problem, they are probably carrying years of negative self talk ("I'm lazy, I'm a slob, why can't I just get my act together?") and self-defeating behavior that's not going to be changed overnight.

Celeste's first instruction to Kimmy, "Quit hitting yourself over the head", is still the first thing we would like to say to new people arriving here. No matter what mistakes you have made in the past, you can't change your past, so there's no point in wasting energy berating yourself for those mistakes. Believe me, you're going to need that energy for more productive purposes!

Contributing to the site

There are two ways you can contribute, if you want to. All contributions are very much appreciated.

Stories and photos

One is to add content to the site by sharing your personal experience of living in squalor, or overcoming it. You can post about your experiences on the forum, but as more and more messages are posted to the forum, your story becomes harder to access. Another way to contribute is to email me your story and/or photos. As you can see from the stories we have up already, you don't need to include any information that will personally identify you. All contributors retain copyright of their material, including posts on the forum.

If the information on this site helps you and you'd like to leave a donation for squalorsurvivors.com, please use one of the options below. The amount you donate is entirely up to you.

If you want to support Pigpen in her mission to help people escape squalor and live up to their true potential, please make a contribution. Any amount is appreciated.

To leave a donation via PayPal, MasterCard, or VISA, please click the button below:

To send a donation via check or international money order, please use the following mailing address:

Jo Yellowlees
12 Herbert Street
Richmond
Nelson 7020
NEW ZEALAND
Telephone: +64 03 544 5726

Email: pigpen@squalorsurvivors.com
Skype: jyellowlees