My Experience With Exposure and Response Prevention in Pictures

Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of therapy most commonly used to treat OCD and phobias. This is the act of doing exposures to prove to one’s brain that their fear/thought is illogical. In order to prove to the brain that the fear is not reasonable, one must do that fear in a series of exposures that build up in advancement. Many people have asked me what this entails and the best way I could describe it was through my camera lens, taking pictures of what I do on a daily basis.

1. This is my ban book. In here, I track all of my submits, resists and undos of my compulsions. This day was particularly hard and I had over 300 head compulsions. (My head compulsion entails throwing my head back in order to protect myself or undo something I have thought or done.)   
2. This is my fidget collection. I keep at least four fidgets on me at all times for times of high anxiety and to resist skin picking. Often during hard exposures, I whip out a fidget and keep my hands busy to keep from any tapping or other compulsive behaviors.

3. This is me completing a book exposure in which I am placing my hand on a book and holding it there until I am habituated. The obsession with a book is that if I touch it, something bad will happen.
4. Flipping the pages of a book is another exposure for me. It also coincides with the same fear of something bad happening, but was the next step in this set of book exposures.
5. My medications are a big stable in my life. Without them, my mental illness as well as chronic pain would be uncontrollable. Although they do not fix the problem, they do make it easier to fight and get up every day.
6. I recently just began wearing gloves to stop from skin picking. Although very hard and anxiety provoking, I am able to resist the urge.

7. This is a lipstick exposure. Not only is lipstick a sensory thing for me, it is also a contamination obsession. This exposure works by putting lipstick on my hands and having to leave it on all day.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image provided by contributor

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

woman looking out window

What It's Really Like to Be 'Sooooo OCD'

There is an adjective showing up more and more in everyday vocabulary that really gets to me. In fact I will admit that when I hear it, I instantly feel a whole heap of emotions inside. My stomach gets instantly upset and I start to feel rage and hurt all at the same time. I [...]

16 Hilarious OCD Memes (That Don't Make Fun of People With OCD)

Let’s be real — “OCD content” on the internet is typically not made for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I constantly come across headlines like these: Take This Test to Find Out How OCD You Are!  34 Super Symmetrical Pictures That Will Totally Cure Your OCD.  Organized Closets That Might Look Familiar If You’re “So OCD.” [...]
close up of woman receiving manicure from beautician at nail salon

What Happened When I Told a Manicurist About My OCD Hand Washing

I am extremely self-conscious of my hands. They are dry and cracked and often bleeding due to my obsessive hand washing. I live with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and unfortunately you can see it when you look at my hands. My hand washing isn’t my only compulsion, but it is the most painful. My hands look [...]
Portrait of a young woman lying on the grass

Why My OCD Diagnosis Actually Made Me Happy

Generally, the word “happy” doesn’t fit in the same sentence as “mental illness.” For me, however, my diagnosis brought me a glimmer of hope and relief. On paper, I seemed like a pretty average kid. And for the most part, I felt like I was, too. I was a cheerleader, gymnast, played the violin, received good [...]