Monday, January 25, 2010

OCD Toolbox: Listening to Scripts/Imaginal Exposure

My husband had this habit, when records were still current, to play one side over and over, the arm continually lifting up and going back to the beginning. This drove me crazy, but it's the same principle that helped me to deal with my indecision. Jon Grayson discusses this in his book, and once I started writing and recording and listening to scripts as both exposures and support for doing exposures, I was able to give the healthy part of myself more airtime. OCD usually has a monopoly on all channels, and has worn deep paths into my brain, but scripts gave me some alternatives.

Traditionally, tapes were made on the itty bitty cassettes in answering machines that can loop over and over. I used QuickVoice recording software, which is very inexpensive, and fairly straightforward to use, which enabled me to record my scripts sitting at my computer with no additional microphone or device needed.

I then listened to the script continuously on my iPod Nano. I have about 50 scripts that I wrote and recorded. In the case of decision making, when I went grocery shopping, I would listen to a script I wrote about it never being possible to make a "perfect" decision and that OCD will change the criteria of "perfect" the minute I start to reach for an item, and that my life was waiting.

The key was finding what gave me the most unease about an OCD fear, and directly addressing that in the script, putting it out there, rather than running from it. Yeah, I might choose the "wrong" item and feel my face go hot, and a panicky ache in my chest. I might really screw up, and be haunted by regret about my poor decisions and never have any peace from the obsessing about obsessing.

For about a year, I took the shopping script with me almost everywhere I bought things, and listening to it continuously, logging many hours, and gradually, in combination with flipping a coin when I really felt stuck, I freed up a lot of time in my life instead of circling the aisles of the grocery store, looking at every item, reading every label, picking stuff up and putting it down, over and over.

Related Posts:
OCD Toolbox: Flipping a Coin

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