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Checking In
From the editors
Brock and Diane

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Checking In, a newsletter for the McLean Hospital Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCDI) community. We have long thought that a regular update to this community, including former patients, family members, and other friends would be a fantastic way to keep everyone abreast of changes at the OCDI. As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, it seemed appropriate to begin production on a periodical that we hope you will find informative, interesting and filled with poignant and hopeful stories. More than just news, we hope to provide you with information about how the OCDI is moving the diagnosis and treatment of OCD forward through its innovative approaches and ever expanding research program.

In this issue of Checking In, we are thrilled to bring you a first-hand account from Fletcher Wortmann, author of the book Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, who shares his thoughts on "breaking up with OCD." You will also learn about Jesse Crosby, PhD, our first post-doctoral fellow dedicated to research at the OCDI and about the program's newly expanded Office of Clinical Research.

TriggeredFinally, we are eager to announce the recent expansion of the OCDI's on-campus satellite program, Orchard House. Orchard House opened nearly two years ago as an additional residence for OCDI patients, as well as those with related disorders. In July, we opened three additional beds at Orchard House, reconfiguring some clinical programming to accommodate this change. While it not only allows us to treat more patients and reduce wait times, the initial report from patients is that the change has been extremely positive and Orchard House residents are loving the reinvigorated site.

We hope you will pass this newsletter on to friends, colleagues and former OCDI residents so we can continue to update you on the exciting advancements taking place within the program. Please feel free to send us ideas or suggestions, and we already look forward to the release of our next quarterly edition.


Diane Davey and Brock Maxwell

Breaking up with OCD

I think that, in a strange way, I used to love my OCD.

That probably sounds insane to you. Looking back it seems insane to me. If your symptoms are anything like mine used to be, you know what it was like - the isolation, the terror, wasting hours and days ritualizing. Just the suggestion of harboring affection for this disease is completely absurd.

And yet, even when OCD made me miserable, I was convinced it gave me something back. My OCD made beautiful promises. My OCD told me that, if I followed its rules, we could make my life better: I'd have total protection from hurting myself or others, I'd be absolute master of my destiny, I'd accomplish things no one else even dreamed of. OCD promised me another life, one like this, except perfect. Is it any wonder that I loved it? We could do such great things together, I was sure. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way.

I was admitted to the McLean Hospital's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCDI) in the summer of 2007. The previous winter, I'd ended the worst relationship of my life. The woman I was seeing was smart and funny and beautiful, but she was also very sick; she struggled with OCD, anorexia, depression, self-harm. I was young and naive, and I knew that I loved her. I was convinced I could save her from herself. And once she was better, I knew we would be perfect together.

Unfortunately it didn't work out that way.

I remember, very near the end, the first time I stood back and saw our relationship clearly. I realized I had two options. The first was to leave her, and let her suffer alone. The second was to stay, to try to rescue her, and to fail. There was no third option. The life I’d imagined for us did not exist. And as hard as it was, as selfish and cowardly as it made me feel, I made the practical choice. I left. It took a long time to forgive myself for that, but I wouldn't hesitate to make the same choice again.

What does this have to do with OCD? OCD is the worst girlfriend. OCD lies. OCD takes everything and gives nothing back. OCD leaves towels on the bathroom floor and never pays for dinner. Fighting it means rejecting its false promises of security and happiness, turning away from that perfect life and never looking back. And that means leaving something you love.

I promise you it will be hard, but even without knowing you - I know you can do it. How do I know? You have already lived with this disorder, and because we both know that the pain of rejecting OCD cannot be as bad as the pain of living with it. Think of the hours you've suffered, the opportunities lost. The disorder has already done its worst but you're still here, reading this. When the OCD goes, it will leave a fresh wound, one that will hurt in unfamiliar ways. But the moment you choose to fight it is the last time it can ever hurt you as badly as it has.

So grab a pint of Ben and Jerry's, wrap yourself in blankets, and curl up on the couch with the complete third season of Friends or Doctor Who or whatever your comfort viewing is. Find someone you trust to confide in. Cry if you need to. This is the worst breakup of your life. But I promise, looking back afterwards, you'll wonder how you lasted so long before you kicked that schmuck to the curb.

OCDI Office of Clinical Research
Jason Elias, PhD

Since the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCDI) opened its doors in 1997, research has played an integral role in helping the program develop innovative treatment approaches to OCD. This year, the OCDI's commitment to research was further solidified with the formation the Office of Clinical Research.

"By embedding our research program with our clinical team, we are truly living the notion of 'evidence based practice,' which only enhancesour care and keeps us on the cutting edge of OCD treatment," explained Michael Jenike, MD, medical director and co-founder of the OCDI.

Led by Jason Elias, PhD, a full time behaviortherapist at the OCDI and director of Psychological Services and Clinical Research, Elias formed the new office with Program Director Diane Davey, RN, MBA, to manage the increasing amount of research taking place at the OCDI.

"Over the last 15 years, more opportunities for research have presented themselves at the OCDI and it became clear that we needed to have a comprehensive and coordinated effort to formalize research projects within the program," explained Elias. "We are excited to have a number of staff working with us, including Jesse Crosby, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, Christina Gironda, research coordinator, Christine André, senior research assistant, and Jason Krompinger, PhD, a behavioral therapist who has also taken on additional research responsibilities.

Getting to know the OCDI Research Team:

Elias has been at the OCDI for six years, spending the last two as director of Clinical Research. During that time, he has implemented an electronic data collection system, started daily reporting of patient engagement in exposure therapy to provide feedback to the therapists, coordinated the implementation of the hospital wide Clinical Measurement Initiative at the OCDI, supervised dozens of undergraduate and graduate students in data collection and analysis, and has been involved in numerous poster and symposia presentations at professional conferences. He has also driven an initiative which has seen the number of clinicians actively involved in OCD research grow fourfold. The goal of the new Office of Clinical Research is to build on this progress by providing more staff and administrative support to build a cutting edge program of clinical assessment, program evaluation, and clinical research at the OCDI.

Crosby joins the OCDI after completing doctoral training in clinical psychology at Utah State University and a clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He has research interests in acceptance and commitment therapy, addictive behaviors, perfectionism and trichotillomania.

Gironda has been part the OCDI for five years and has been instrumental in the development and daily functioning of the research program. She holds a degree in psychology from Bridgewater State University and has research interests in stress and behavior.

André joined the OCDI as a practicum student last year and has recently moved to a research position. She is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Suffolk University and has research interests in emotion regulation, parenting, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Behavior Therapy, and anxiety disorders.

Krompinger has been on the OCDI team for the last year as a postdoctoral fellow and recently moved to a position as a behavior therapist. He completed his graduate training in clinical psychology at the University of Delaware and a clinical internship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He has research interests in phenomenological, neuropsychological, and psychophysiological predictors of treatment response and mechanisms of treatment in severe, refractory OCD. As a member of the Office of Clinical Research, Krompinger supervises the implementation of structured diagnostic interviews at the OCDI and provides consultation on study design and data analysis.

"We anticipate many changes in the future at the Office of Clinical Research as we move to a new lab space, implement more comprehensive and efficient data collection, and increase efforts to disseminate research findings," said Davey. "We look forward to sharing more information about our publications, presentations and other findings from our research team."

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Link to Triggered on Amazon