Arriving at McLean Hospital and the OCD Institute — site of so much hope, and so much sadness when Nathaniel’s stay there in 2010 did not last long — brings tears, but only briefly. I am headed to a meeting with the director, Diane Davey, of this intensive treatment program for people with serious OCD and BDD, but as I approach the building, I am aware that I am being warmly received by all of the current residents undergoing treatment. They are assembled in the courtyard outside the North Belknap Building holding homemade signs that wish me well, thank me for my efforts, and urge me on to the finish line. I am overwhelmed. When an attentive silence follows their cheers, I realize I am meant to say something. I manage to communicate the message of hope that my whole pilgrimage has been about.
I then meet with 15 social workers and other staff members of the Institute, including Medical Director Scott Rauch, and they are eager to listen to my plea to involve families more closely in treatment, and to honor the integrity of each person’s struggle. I am impressed by their dedication.
A joyous reunion for lunch in the McLean cafeteria includes Judy, Carrie, Louise, Gary, Conor, and Jennifer (who knew Nathaniel during his stay at OCDI). We begin the walk to the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall, where Nathaniel walked that bleak February day when he realized he could no longer tolerate intensive treatment. He must have felt completely defeated, but he then rallied at home to exert even more effort to curb his obsessions and compulsions, got several jobs, intensified his treatment, and made so many strides in the months following his time at McLean.
During the walk, we get intercepted by a reporter from WBZ News Radio and share our thoughts which get quickly editing right into the 5:00 news hour.
The day ends with dinner from around a makeshift card table in Carrie’s tiny new apartment in Boston which she is sharing with dear friend Nora. Her brother Justin joins us, and we enjoy take out from Whole Foods while notes from a lone horn player in the apartment next door waft through the open window (we are a stone’s throw from the Berklee School of Music…) and we all smile.
By the time Judy and I reach the Marriott in Cambridge, we are more than ready for rest, but the view from the 26th floor and the basket of snacks from room service – compliments of the house – revive us.
Much for which to be grateful. Much still to do. Many people to thank for their support. Tomorrow will be wonderful.