The IOCDF will be hosting the 6th Annual 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk at Jamaica Pond in Boston on Sunday, June 3rd. Each year, we highlight an individual (or a canine or two, as was the case in 2016!) to serve as the grand marshal of the Boston OCD Walk. The honor of being a grand marshal is bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant commitment to helping members of the OCD and related disorder community, whether that be through their dedicated work as a treatment provider or as an advocate working to raise awareness.
This year, the IOCDF is excited to announce that the title of grand marshal will actually be given to 60+ individuals both for their commitment to advocacy and for the important work of the institution that they are representing. For 2018, we are pleased to have the Bradley Hospital Walk Team serving as the grand marshals of the Boston Walk! Based in East Providence, Rhode Island, Bradley Hospital is the leader in pediatric and adolescent mental health, offering inpatient and outpatient mental health services. The grand marshal collective is comprised of kids and teens who are currently going through the OCD intensive treatment program, supportive alumni who have completed the program and returned to the Walk Team, dedicated clinical staff, and family members.
The Bradley Hospital Walk Team has participated in the past four Boston Walks and was even named the Largest Walk Team in both 2017 and 2016. Their all-inclusive Walk Team has for years been a wonderful example of how all members of the OCD and related disorders community can come together and support one another. This is most evident with Bradley Hospital’s extensive alumni network, with those who have completed intensive treatment returning year after year to offer support and advice to those currently going through treatment. In addition to their awe-inspiring presence at the Boston Walk event itself, they have also been a top fundraising team year over year, helping the IOCDF to continue its mission to support all those affected by OCD and related disorders.
We asked a few of our 2018 Boston Walk grand marshals to share their experience at Bradley Hospital and explain how being part of the extensive Bradley network has led to their continued participation in the Boston 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk.
Brady Case, MD
Medical Director, Bradley Pediatric Anxiety Research Center
“I have increasingly come to see my work with children and families with OCD as facilitating a form of radicalization. This is true in exposure therapy, where children and families learn to revolt against OCD, move towards rather than away from distress, and embrace the “exposure lifestyle”. But it is also evident in a changed stance towards other people and institutions. Children and families who have previously felt misunderstood, criticized, and isolated find they get better help when they speak, push, and question. Families who struggled through misdiagnosis, ineffective treatment, and thoughtless judgment and blame learn to demand more of clinicians like me, of hospitals, of teachers and schools, even of other family members and friends. They understand spreading accurate information about OCD and its treatment changes the odds for themselves and others like them. In turn, getting the word out requires making connections, harnessing media, and changing a culture that has often avoided the daily reality of mental illness and recovery.
Over the last four years, the Bradley program has tried to support the continued growth of community sparked by shared experiences and goals. The IOCDF’s Boston 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk has been a crucial part of our efforts. The trip to Boston feels like an adventure in the big city, and the convergence is a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.With the help of art therapist Melissa Weaver, children have designed our team t-shirt each year. Fashionably adorned, we strut a little as we walk the 5k around Jamaica Pond. The Boston OCD Walk is both a personal experience and a window on a larger, less familiar international community.”
Parent and Parent Advocate, Bradley Hospital Partial Program for OCD and Related Disorders
“Parents walk into Bradley with the same look: a mix of fear and desperation. While our children are treated, we’re given hope, instruction, respite, and perhaps most importantly a bank of people who “get it”. The staff understand our pain and fear, and we meet other parents who, surprisingly, are going through the same thing. Surprising because OCD can be just as isolating for the parents as for the children suffering from it. Suddenly, we’re not as alone as we thought we were.
This connection is vital, because all too often we leave even the most successful treatments with a familiar look of fear and desperation. After the safety and support we experienced, the world can look like a frightening abyss without it. A community of parents is a support we can take with us. We can access it without insurance, without forms, without a credit card. Through these relationships, we also find that our support community is much bigger than we supposed. Bradley staff does a wonderful job of helping parents establish an after-program plan; the “parental grapevine” becomes our informal access to information and support.
I cherish the friendships I’ve formed with other OCD parents: their compassion, understanding, and experience is invaluable, not only to me, but to my child as well. I want my little one to see that even though we’re no longer going to program, we’re still reaching out, learning, enjoying each other’s company, and not going back to the isolation OCD likes to impose on us. For me, the IOCDF’s Boston OCD Walk is a chance to enjoy, reconnect, and expand the community I have found so crucial.”
Katlynn “Kat” Hashaway
Student & Advocate
“I spent much of my life feeling alone, but I never felt more isolated than when I developed severe OCD. When I stumbled upon treatment in the form of Bradley Hospital, I was ushered into a room with other kids who had OCD. It turned out, it was extremely motivating to have other sufferers in the room. We supported and encouraged each other, sometimes during our most difficult moments.
Though we had just met, there was a sense of comradery because we all understood each other. Although we hide our problems from our friends at school, we did not have to hide at Bradley. There is nothing like having people who intimately understand your deepest struggle. Since discharge, I deeply missed having that community. I actually cried the day I left the program. Not because I would miss the daily help, but because I was scared I would never make friends outside of that environment. A year later, I started making video blogs to educate people about OCD. My motive was to help people first and foremost, but I also wanted to connect with people who have OCD again. I found having a community online fulfilled the desire I had since leaving Bradley. My “OCD friends” from Bradley Hospital and around the world will always hold a super special place in my heart.
The International OCD Foundation works tirelessly to help people with OCD. They spread only the best information, guide people to the proper treatment, and help people know they’re not alone. I wish I knew about them when I was really struggling! That’s why I continue to participate in the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk. I have created my own Walk fundraising page, so you and I can help them in their amazing efforts!”
We are thrilled to be able to highlight Bradley Hospital and the amazing work that they do, and to have them lead us around Jamaica Pond on June 3rd as the 2018 Boston Walk Grand Marshal(s)!
We hope that you can join us for one of the many 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walks that are taking place this June, including the flagship Boston OCD Walk, our 26 Affiliate-hosted Walks, or the Community Walk event. To learn more, register, or make a donation, visit iocdf.org/walk!