MSNBC Films presents "My Mother's Garden," the story of 61-year-old Eugenia Lester, whose hoarding disorder pushed her children to leave home when they were quite young. Cynthia Lester was 13 when she left, unable to find a place to sleep in the house amidst all of the garbage. Filmmaking became a way for her to cope with her mother's condition. When "My Mother's Garden" begins, Eugenia's hoarding disorder has taken a life-threatening turn. On a quiet, suburban street in Granada Hills, California, Eugenia lives among piles of debris, rotting garbage, stacks of newspaper, dead rats; a mass of waste that has literally pushed her out of her house and into her garden. Upon learning that Eugenia is in danger of losing her home for violating city health codes, her children step in. This one-hour film is directed by Cynthia Lester, Eugenia's daughter, who documents her mother's compulsive disorder and the way in which one family comes together to cope with a mental illness that affects millions.
"My Mother's Garden" airs Sunday, May 10th at 6 PM ET on MSNBC. Check your local listings for additional airings.
Please see a letter from Cynthia below and leave her your questions or comments. She will be logging in to Newsvine periodically to respond. View a previous Q&A with Cynthia here.
Thank you for your support and I hope you enjoy the MSNBC presentation of my film, "My Mother's Garden." If you have been affected by the subject matter in this film and have questions, I would like to provide you with answers to any issues this film has brought to light.
Please leave me any of your questions and comments here on this Newsvine article and I will do my best to answer them.
"My Mother's Garden" documents how one family comes together to cope with their mother's hoarding disorder and to rebuild a lost sense of family.
In deciding to make this film, I wanted to get to know my mother and what was ailing her from functioning day to day in a healthy way. When I began the documentation process, I was unaware of compulsive hoarding disorder and it was through observing my mom's daily routine that I discovered the manifestation of a disorder shared by millions of Americans and families globally. As I began to research and learn more about this disorder, my focus shifted towards trying to find her treatment and professional help that would hopefully lessen the damages this disorder has had on her ability to sustain a functioning quality of life.
My personal journey through this documentary was necessary to heal the wounds of abandonment, isolation, and dependency that are often present in a child raised by a parent with a persistent mental illness. Though my brothers and I are now adults, we all feel a deep need for a stabilizing center for our family, a permanent place to call home. This longing for stability has caused disorder in our lives both socially and emotionally.
Through this documentary, I am applying my experience in social work, art therapy, and filmmaking to my own family. I hope that the film can be therapeutic as well as a creative work of art that will help bring awareness to the issue of mental illness and also reach others who are sympathetic to this subject matter.
You can read more about my film at mymothersgardenmovie.com.
Please visit these organizations on their websites for additional information and support if you or someone you know may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive hoarding disorder.
Children of Compulsive Hoarders
The Obsessive Compulsive Foundation
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Professional Organizers
Orange County Health Information
UCLA Semel Institute Anxiety Disorders Program
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
"My Mother's Garden"