“Tell me, Neely. OCD—do you know about it?”
Oh wow. I hadn’t realized that I was going to be quizzed. “Some,” I said. “I’ve read a few books, some articles.”
He nodded his head vigorously. The sharply combed strands of black hair on his head did not budge. “Yes,” he said. “Yes. Education is critical. You know how you fight OCD?”
I wasn’t sure if this was a rhetorical question or not. I nodded a little, but when I saw that he was waiting for an answer, I said, “With education?”
“With knowledge. Knowledge is the weapon,” he said, continuing to speak in italics and suddenly launching into war metaphor, “You fight disease—disease fight back. You have to negotiate carefully. This is a game of tricking OCD. Invade without alerting your enemy. Side-step into enemy territory—your own mind—and take captive a small plot of land, just what you know you can win. You have to condition your mind to the idea of winning. Right now, it is used to losing. What works best is cognitive-behavioral therapy. You have heard of it?”
The vague sickness I’d been feeling all morning suddenly gathered into a physical reality in the pit of my stomach. It took only those three seconds to realize that this is what I’d been afraid of. “Yes,” I said quietly.
“It is the best treatment for OCD that we know of. Medicine is good, but CBT is better. There is a man—Jon Foster—you will call him. He will help you.” He scrawled the name onto a piece of scrap paper in the messy handwriting of a doctor. “He is young, but he is good. You meet with him—I bet he can kill it.”
Dr. Lee met my eye just then, and I could tell he meant what he’d said. “Kill it?” I managed to squeak out.
“Cognitive-behavioral therapy, very effective,” he said. “OCD is never cured, but CBT brings it under control. You will call Jon.” It was not a question.
“Okay,” I said, taking the piece of paper with Jon Foster scrawled on it.
I needed to leave. I needed to process all this. My indistinct fears now had a name, and I needed to be alone, let my head spin through this like a rolodex. I started to collect my purse.
“Listen,” he said, “it will be hell.” I winced inside and hoped it hadn’t shown on my face. “Hell,” he repeated. “CBT is very, very difficult. You will be asked to do things you cannot imagine doing. But it is the best treatment. You have to think like a mother. A mother would do anything for her child. You have to do anything asked of you. But you can do it. You are Christian. That is good. You will need will power and faith to get you through this.”
My heart went into a freefall, and I never felt it land anywhere inside of me. I swallowed—or tried to. My throat was suddenly very dry. “Oh,” I said. What else was there to say?