Using ERP Therapy and Meditation to Treat Scrupulosity OCD

One woman's story of her evolving intrusive thoughts and the methods she discovered to treat them.

Written by Jana K. Hoffman

01 My OCD Was So Bad I Begged My Partner to Kill Me was first published via Cosmopolitan UK online in 2015.

02 A 27-year-old woman describes her experience with scrupulosity, a sub-type of OCD.

03 The subject explains that her obsessive thoughts focused on the harming of the environment or animals (harm OCD).

04 The article highlights how obsessive thoughts evolve and change over time.

05 The subject describes her choice to seek help through Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and harmony through meditation.

This particular article is another example where mainstream media served as an outlet for publishing a personal essay about mental health. In My OCD Was So Bad I Begged My Partner to Kill Me, one woman shares her experience with scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is a sub-type of OCD.

The subject, a 27-year-old woman, began to have debilitating thoughts of harming the environment and animals when she was in college. She was so fearful of harming something that she locked herself in her room. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. And she was even fearful of breathing.

The fear manifested, and she began to believe that she would actually commit the harmful acts she envisioned. The intrusive thoughts became so intense that she nearly committed suicide. Fortunately, her partner stepped in and urged her to seek help. As with many harm OCD cases, physiatrists often don’t know how to treat because everyone’s experience with OCD is different.

The subject chose to try Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which is a similar technique used for people who have phobias. Those who choose ERP gradually expose themselves to the things that frighten them the most. As part of the treatment, they are expected to resist the urge to perform the rituals associated with the intrusive thought.

In addition, the subject chose to incorporate meditation into her lifestyle as a way to combat her intrusive thoughts. She began to focus on her breathing and her body. And she began to live a more mindfully healthy life.

According to the article, something to consider is the idea that intrusive thoughts are "usually the worst things a person can imagine" and things that are "contrary to someone's beliefs". This idea can make it scary for someone who experiences them. But it's also what challenges the mind to constantly evolve so it stays in control of you.

Although the subject recognizes that her intrusive thoughts will never go away entirely, she has recovered with the help of her partner and family. She can now live a normal life and not one in constant fear.

About the author

Jana Hoffman is a writer, editor and storyteller based in San Francisco. She is currently working as a copywriter at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Outside of work, she is a trained volunteer for Crisis Text Line and has been open about her experiences with mental health.

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