11. Interoceptive Exposures

Interoceptive exposure is something that involves your whole body. Each of these exercises could theoretically lead to vomiting. The point is that you don’t know. At this stage of recovery, the rubber meets the road. You need to be willing to vomit now. This is not the same as forcing yourself to vomit. If you want to do that you may certainly go for it, but do it after you’ve done these interoceptive exercises AND the “Deepened Extinction” exercises.

These interoceptive exercises also teach you that it’s not that easy to vomit, and that all the things you thought would make you vomit for sure don’t after all.

  1. Spin around in an office chair, or just spin in the center of the room until you feel very dizzy.
  2. Eat a big meal, more than you would normally eat.
  3. Smell a vomit mixture. If you can find butyric acid, add a few drops to a can of vegetable soup (don’t add water). DO THIS OUTSIDE as the smell sometimes permeates the whole house. If you can’t find butyric acid, then use a lot of cheap parmesan cheese. Add it to the soup mixture until it smells like vomit.
  4. Clean up a mess. Take some vegetable soup or tinned chili or spaghetti and throw it wherever you’re afraid someone will vomit. Practice cleaning it up. If your child thinks it’s a fun exercise, throw some on them. Practice getting their clothes off, putting them in the shower, etc. Launder the clothing and bedding. Rent a steam cleaner for your carpets. It’s all a pain in the butt, but totally do-able! The exercise will teach you that it’s not a catastrophe or a disaster or your worst nightmare. It’s just a situation. A few hours ago our built-in vacuum cleaner bag exploded all over our garage. Dust, hair, spiders and tiny Lego everywhere. It took 2 hours for him to clean up. A situation, that’s all.
  5. Practice vomiting by putting oatmeal in your mouth and spitting it into a toilet, especially if you don’t like toilets! After oatmeal you can try spitting that horrible mixture in point 3.
  6. Have someone else fake-vomit and make horrible noises when they do. Most husbands are totally down for this.
  7. Order the game Beanboozled from Amazon or some Harry Potter “every flavour bean” and try your luck. They all taste disgusting. I found the canned dog food flavour much worse than the vomit flavour.
  8. Gag yourself with a popsicle stick or a toothbrush. Try this a number of times and in a few locations.

Next Step: Deepened Extinction