The theft of her case notwithstanding, that summer – when she received appropriate medical treatment for the first time in ten years of illness; six years diagnosed – saw Bink completely transformed.
And with Bink, of course, the rest of us.
She could eat without marigold gloves on. Help clear away a meal. Answer the telephone.
Accept hugs from members of her family.
And the day, home from the Royal Bethlem Hospital for the weekend, when she sat down and played the piano, I felt I had been reborn…
She found it very touching, and sad, to see how isolated others with OCD can become. All her fellow patients on the treatment programme with her – yes, I believe she said all – had lost any friends they ever had. Most of them, family members too.
Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
We couldn’t let go of our daughter, because your daughter is always your daughter. A sister, always a sister.
But a partner? Why would you stay with that? So mad. So unreasonable. So impossible to live with.
Was this the first time I heard Bink express her appreciation of how fortunate she was? That she had us there for her, always.
If you had no one waiting for you... willing you to get well... caring whether or not you did... In Bink’s case, emailing numerous friends to update them to pray for you... “What reason,” she asked poignantly, “would you ever have to get well?”
Whereas when Bink had been in for three days, her not-quite-three-yet sister Rosie rang full of indestructible childish hope, and asked, “Are you better now, Bink?”
Indeed, Rosie may have been more responsible than anyone else in the family for Bink’s improvement.
She told us how her therapist had persuaded her to touch the loo. He asked her to list her most longed-for ambitions, currently unattainable.
Number One on the list? “Taking Rosie swimming.”
So that was what he said, as he urged her to touch a loo seat.
“Think of swimming with your baby sister.”
Her desire was so strong that she did.
Bink also told us how dispiriting it was that you couldn’t be admitted until you were so ill it was almost impossible to get well again. And then not kept in for long enough to be well enough to leave.
How the patients she met now were often back in for the second, or third, or fourth time... Because they hadn’t been fully cured before, and had to deteriorate before they qualified to be referred to come back.
By the time Bink herself finished the 12-week programme I estimated she was a good half way better. Half her symptoms gone. Or all her symptoms reduced by half. (Or a combination of the two, to make up a mathematical half, just in case anyone as precise as Alex – or indeed my late mother – is reading this.)
And yes, of course she begged to be kept on for another 12 weeks, to get fully better. She had been told this could occasionally be made possible, if there was proven clinical need.
As so often in the course of Bink’s illness, I’m left wondering what clinical need could possibly have been more proven than Bink’s own.
She had obviously been very ill before admission. She had obviously improved enormously. And she obviously had a lot more improvement still to go.
I still now sometimes wonder how different our, and her (and the taxpayer’s wallet’s) life could have been, if her request hadn’t been rejected.
And the rest of us? When she came home for that first Easter, it was like the very beginning of the earth’s feeling the warmth of the sun after the darkest nights.
Remember when your children suddenly reached an age when you didn’t have to put poisons out of reach, or move valuable ornaments any more? Or your daughter’s Great Dane goes on holiday and you realise you can leave a cooked chicken out on the kitchen table while you turn your back for a few seconds, without a fortified safe around it which has been secured with multiple padlocks? Or your medical treatment starts to take effect, and you notice you've just spent half an hour without pain?
Or the rain stops, or the spring flowers start to sprout, or the guns go quiet on the Western Front... The damage they did will never be eradicated, but you can envisage the day when they won’t do any more.
You suddenly hear silence.
Silence, and birdsong.