A word or two about treatment for OCD.
You name it,I’ve had it. From psychoanalysis to CBT and a lot of talking therapy in between. I think I’ve probably talked about everything possible there is to say about myself.
When I was first ill my mother found a therapist for me- a very highly respected doctor she had heard about locally,so I was plunged into treatment unaware of exactly what I was getting myself into.
He turned out to be a psychoanalyst and the head of a psychiatric hospital. I went along to see him in his consulting room in his house in Kew- I like to think it had echoes of Dr Freud’s rooms- Persian carpets and a couch, shelves of books,including one enormous tome entitled ‘Masturbation’. There was a kind of double-door affair- a cork lined outer door,to ensure privacy during consultations. I refused to lie on the couch,feeling that it would put me at a distinct disadvantage.
Psychoanalysis is a rigid and strict form of therapy- the doctor doesn’t give anything of himself away – he waits until the patient speaks. Sometimes he might ask about dreams, but usually he is silent. This is agonising,as I am acutely aware of my precious 50 minutes ticking away, yet unable to utter a word. Very quickly I am totally dependent on those expensive 50 minutes,twice a week. Dr M has become the most important person in my life – a process of transference has taken place. Mum asks whether I am feeling any better, in fact I feel worse. I take my expensive prescription drugs which make me feel sleepy and my life continues it’s relentless grind of trying to survive each day weighed down by crippling rituals.
We talk and talk but nothing gets any better. The sessions cost a lot of money- God knows how I could afford to pay- but I can’t live without them. Each month,Dr M leaves a neatly folded piece of paper on the leather chair I sit on and I write a cheque.
The only way out is the possibility of a hospital bed in the renowned Cassell Hospital, the one that Dr M is in charge of. There is a massively long waiting list of course and during the wait Dr M informs me that he is leaving to go to live in Australia. Fortunately, his leaving does coincide with a bed becoming available. I naively believe that going into hospital means that all my problems will be taken away from me and that I’ll be looked after and made better. I am very much mistaken – this hospital is a psychiatric community,where the incumbents look after themselves – no lying in bed being nursed – quite the opposite. Dr M hasn’t quite gone to Australia yet and is still head of the hospital, so I see him about the building from time to time and yearn to be back in his consulting room rather than among some really quite disturbed and ill individuals.
Towards the end of my first weeks the time that he has to leave comes and he calls me into his office to exchange the first really informal, friendly words – he wishes me well. I give him a copy of a poetry book I’ve recently illustrated,so show him that there is a good,normal part of me.