This afternoon, K and I went to CAMHS. The ‘other’ CAMHS. K was transferred to another team with the aim of making space for her without L’s issues dominating. We have a session with school, as K is really struggling and her schoolwork seems impossible due to her levels of anxiety. Her pastoral head attends along with the psychiatrist and we talk through options for her, from dropping a subject, or perhaps two, or restarting next year. The doctor confirms there is ample medical evidence to support a reduced timetable, but that withdrawal altogether may not help. K is asked her views on these options, but this is fairly difficult as she struggles to make decisions about cake in a shop, so to ask her these big questions and expect any kind of answer is unthinkable. She then has her session and I wait outside. I am used to CAMHS waiting rooms now. I am working on a complex restructuring at work, which is highly politically sensitive and requires close technical detail if it is to survive final decision making processes next week. I have been working all day on a final constitution, as well as annotating previous versions to show changes. It is painstaking but strangely satisfying. In no time at all, the psychiatrist returns and asks to speak to me. She tells me there are many things about her discussions with K that she cannot share with me, but she is confident she should diagnose her as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I look at K, as she plucks at her coat sleeves and looks at the floor and just want to hug her. In the car on the way home, she asks if that is a diagnosis. Yep, I tell her. But it can be cured? I try and temper her hopes. I am sure it can, but I have learned to manage expectations. I think of all the girls of her age group saying how TOTALLY OCD they are and grit my teeth.
At home, she and I talk about hand washing and dirt and she asks about my own compulsive behaviours and obsessive thoughts. We laugh about or own idiosyncrasies and foibles. Later, we visit L and she greets us, sobbing, as she found dinner so hard, misses us and the Boyfriend so much and has been barred from any weekend leave. K tells her about her diagnosis and they chat, almost companionably about obsessive thoughts and disturbing images. We all hug. And laugh. Bleakly, slightly hollowly but we laugh. Because in the midst of illness, despair and pain, there is still love. We are all together. And for now, that will have to do.