At 22, Robin did the hardest thing she had ever done in her life: she confronted her fears. Her fear of God, her fear of unintentionally causing others harm, and her fear of germs—all caused by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)—had robbed her of her teen years and she wasn’t going to let the illness destroy her life any longer.
Robin was one of the first patients admitted into the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute (OCDI) at McLean Hospital upon its opening in February 1997, and 20 years later, she credits the program with changing her life.
“When Robin came to us, doing intensive residential treatment for OCD was a novel idea,” said Diane Davey, RN, MBA, program director of the OCDI and one of the program’s founding staff members. “We knew that for cases like hers, where outpatient treatment just wasn’t working, a program like the OCDI would be a beacon of light in an otherwise stark reality.”
Robin first developed symptoms of OCD as an adolescent, but didn’t get a diagnosis until she was a teenager. She also learned that her form of OCD had a name—scrupulosity—and it is what caused her to struggle with an extreme fear of being guilty of religious, moral, or ethical failure. By the time she was diagnosed, however, Robin was trapped by the many daily rituals that she believed she needed to complete in order to continue with her day. For example, she could not leave her room until she said the rosary perfectly, which often resulted in her repeating the prayer hundreds of times, because if she had an intrusive thought—or didn’t say it perfectly—she would have to start all over again. Incapable of getting out of the vicious grip of OCD, Robin was not able to lead a normal teenage life and was left feeling isolated, scared, and desperate.