Settle accounts in collection first, and right away. Address these first as they negatively affect your credit record. Most collection companies will take whatever you can give them, and since they're willing to talk this out, you might as well call them and see how far you can plan your debt payment to them, before actually starting payment.
Bring your maxed out credit cards below its limit. It could take maybe two whole years for your credit status to get better when you have maxed out cards. Some companies out there actually do try to lend you a hand with this, at no cost at all. But you have to find those legitimate no charge companies yourself, else you be scammed into payment.
Ask relative to add your name to the list of users they allow to use their credit card/s. If your name appears in someone else's credit card users' list, that's taken as a sign of your trustworthiness. That means you credit provided is assumed to have found out you're financially stable.
No one said it would be easy to regain a good credit status, especially with the economy this down in the dumps. You can do your own credit repair cleanly, legitimately, but it would take some time, and some continuous, focused effort.
But the good thing is that you can do it yourself and it can be at no cost to you.