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malina

Anxiety/obsession about exposures

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Hi,

I think that I may be going through what some others on this forum are experiencing and I don't know what to do. I think that I am developing huge anxiety around my ERP. Essentially, I have harm OCD and my therapist has asked me to hold a knife near my wrist to see that I wouldn't do anything and that nothing would happen. I found it really overwhelming but did this several times. I then got too upset about it and discussed with him, we agreed to slow down and attempted this more gently a few weeks later. That felt fine during the session and for a few days, until I started getting urges to do this on my own at home (something we previously discussed). We talked about this again and once again agreed to slow down, he said that he doesn't want to stop pushing me to do exposures all together but doesn't want to do it so much that it makes me lose faith in the entire process.

That conversation really helped but only temporarily. I have just become so worried whether the therapist is right for me, whether he is doing a good job, whether I can handle ERP and if I should continue. 

My logical side says - yes, he's a great therapist who has taught me a lot and has shown himself to be flexible and understanding. This is just OCD and I need to continue with the exposures, even if that just means slowing down and mixing it with the cognitive things as he suggests.

I just don't really understand why I'm reacting so strongly and how to make myself feel better. 

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Hi malina,

Sounds like OCD is just fighting back. I've had this same sort of situation where exposures will go well for a while and then suddenly I can't seem to move forward, or a different theme will pop up to take the place of the one I've just gotten a handle on.

I think your therapist has the right idea to maybe slow things down a little, increase work on the cognitive side, but keep the exposures going to some degree at least. Are you doing a lot of work on the cognitive side? That is sometimes neglected a little but can really help a lot.

7 hours ago, malina said:

 

My logical side says - yes, he's a great therapist who has taught me a lot and has shown himself to be flexible and understanding. This is just OCD and I need to continue with the exposures, even if that just means slowing down and mixing it with the cognitive things as he suggests.

that logical side of yours sounds like it's giving great advice--I would listen to that!

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Thank you both for the advice! I've had a good think about this today and decided to follow that logical voice in my head :)

I think that I'm just being asked to do something that I am deeply frightened of and that is going to have an impact on me. I need to accept that the anxiety isn't going to be confined to the 1 hour session where I do the exposure, but that I will feel it when I go home, for days even. This is just going to be part of the process. 

I'm scared that this exposure to knives will make my OCD worse because I'm so worried about it, but all the evidence suggests the contrary. Overall, I feel much better. My fears about knives are starting to go down, my sleep is better, I feel happier and less consumed by the anxiety.

I've talked about this particular exposure to my partner and my parents and none of them see it as a big deal. So I think I need to continue with the exposures until I see for myself that this isn't a big deal and it becomes irrelevant. So the plan is to continue, but to take it at a pace that I can handle and work on the cognitive side of things, like my therapist suggests.

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Good outcome malina. 

Leif is spot on. The disorder tries to fight back. Be ready for it, see what it is up to - and stick to the recovery path. 

There will be blips bumps issues along the way - see them as hurdles, challenges, but nothing more :)

 

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21 hours ago, malina said:

decided to follow that logical voice in my head :)

So great malina!!

21 hours ago, malina said:

I need to accept that the anxiety isn't going to be confined to the 1 hour session where I do the exposure, but that I will feel it when I go home, for days even.

yes I find that too with some of my exposures around contamination...things feel contaminated and dirty for days, but to a degree that I can handle it without too much stress and anxiety. I've walked around with a coat on that keeps nagging me with its contamination feel...but that voice gets quieter when I don't respond with compulsions.

21 hours ago, malina said:

I'm scared that this exposure to knives will make my OCD worse because I'm so worried about it, but all the evidence suggests the contrary

yes that is why cognitive exercises are such an important part of exposures...really helps you to tap into that logical side that we all have but is sometimes covered over by the very loud anxious thoughts. I find cognitive exercises where you write stuff out especially helpful--seems to make it more solid.

21 hours ago, malina said:

So the plan is to continue, but to take it at a pace that I can handle and work on the cognitive side of things, like my therapist suggests.

Such a great plan! Keep up the good work!!

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Thanks so much Leif and Roy for the encouragement! There I was walking home from work doubting myself but seeing your kind words has really helped!!

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