Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I start ERP on Thursday

I will start exposure therapy for my OCD on Thursday.
I wrote a post when I decided to make the plunge, but I didn’t think I would start so soon.
I had an appointment with my doctor, a psychiatrist, on Monday and told him I wanted to start. Another doctor in the practice does the therapy, so we thought I’d have to wait a month or so to get an appointment.
Turns out he had an opening this Thursday, so I’m all set up.
My psychiatrist will continue to monitor my medication. He said medication could take me a certain distance, and therapy like the ERP could take me further. That made me feel better. I like the idea of the medication and the therapy complementing each other.
I’m nervous about the challenges, but I’m excited about the possibilities. I like the idea of setting priorities and goals as part of the therapy.
Do you have any suggestions on preparing for my first appointment?


  1. I am so excited for you as ERP Therapy can be your "ticket out" of OCD. I can't give you any first-hand suggestions, not having OCD, but I remember my son Dan saying once that as anxiety-provoking as ERP Therapy can be, he never gave up because he was able to keep his sights on the end result. He said that as long as he was going to experience anxiety (from dealing with OCD) he may as well experience it from ERP Therapy, something that would benefit him and bring down OCD. Good Luck!

  2. Congratulations on taking this step! Choosing to call an ERP therapist was a turning point for me in dealing with OCD. I would suggest making a list of what you really want in your life--those things that moved you to make this appointment. I didn't want to be in therapy, but I knew I had to do something, and even though I wanted to flee, I reminded myself of why I was there.

  3. Good luck to you!

    Big Hugs,

  4. Ocdtalk, Thank you for the encouragement. I can agree with that--if I'm going to have anxiety, it might as well be part of therapy!

    Expwoman, Thank you for the suggestion. I've had a lot of therapy--mostly talk therapy--and I resisted more. But I have reached a point where I want to see the ways OCD has affected me and work on them.

    Elizabeth, Thank you!

  5. Yahoo, yahoo, yahoo! I'm very proud of you for taking this step. I know it's scary. The best advice I can give is for you to remember that the anticipatory anxiety is probably the worst part of it all. At least it is for me. Sometimes I get really worked up and totally freaked out before doing an exposure. Then I do the exposure and realize that I was way more freaked out than I needed to be. Don't get me wrong, some exposures are brutally difficult, but it seems like very often my imagination ends up being worse than the reality of actually doing it. Try to take each session, each exposure, each day, one at a time (I know, much easier said than done). Also, don't forget - we're here for you every step of the way.

  6. Sunny, I appreciate your encouragement so much! I am sure that I will be posting about the ERP, and I am so grateful to be a part of a community of kindred spirits.

    And thanks for the heads up on the anticipatory anxiety.

  7. good luck! I did my 'erp' without a 'specialist' so it may not have been done 'right'. I did do a thot record before my erp so i could list my ocd thots and then list any 'rational' thots that show me ocd thot was wrong, or at least partially wrong. Then while doing the exposure, i'd do some positive self- talk like: you're going to be ok, over and over. Like sunny said, sometimes when i finally did the exposure it was anti-climatic and others i'd get LOTS of ocd anxiety (i call it DREAD) floating thru my body. It can take anywhere from 15 to an hour or so to have that settle down. In Brain Lock, schwartz says to do a pleasant activity while your body is reacting. That's when i go on the computer and surf around or write my journal. This isnt to not feel the anxiety sensations, but to not be at their mercy to paralyze me. But if you're doing erp with a therapist, he/she may not want you to do anything but sit with the emotion.

    Another thing i sometimes do, is do dry runs in my head, feel the emotions and get used to it. I'd do this anywhere from a day to 2 weeks before the exposure so i could feel all the feelings, and even watch them get less and less. When it came time to do the actual exposure, pretending helped minimize the feelings i really felt at the time.

    Also another thing i did is to tell myself all the good things that would come of being able to do this exposure. For example, i was afraid of touching the mailbox and any mail from it a) because others had touched it too and b) since we found mouse droppings in the kitchen after we purchased this house i imagined that the previous owners got into their car, after having touched the mouse dirt in their kitchen drawers and then they picked up their mail before washing their hands. Thus the mailbox was contaminated. Not that my dh ever found any stuff in the box.

    I told myself that if i could touch the mail, then i could do the bill-paying work myself without bothering hubby at work for him to read me the mail so i could pay the stuff.

    Both by visualizing the scene ahead of time, by telling myself that there was nothing to be afraid of- any real stuff would be long gone by now (thot record) and by picturing me paying the bills and thus contributing to the household chores again in a small way, i actually did it. And it stuck. I've been doing the bills aagain for over a year, maybe 2.

    Again good luck. I have some thot records on my blog, listed below, if you've never heard of one.



  8. Karin,

    Thanks so much for telling me how it worked for you. I like the idea of kind of "rehearsing" an exposure in my mind before doing it and trying to get the anxiety level down that way.

    I've been reading your blog and found your thought records helpful. I'll go back and read the one from last June too.

    I appreciate your help!!

  9. Wishing you the best of luck! I'm sure it will be tough at first, but I know you'll do the best you possibly can and that's all that matters! : )

  10. Tina,
    Keep us posted on your progress and how it was.
    I commend you for having the strength to go through the treatement and write about it as well.

  11. I hope your ERP session today was able to breathe hope into you! Remember, it is hard, but it only gets better from here!

  12. Thank you to all of you for your encouragment. I do feel hope!


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