Everyone has a fear, fears can stem from previous experiences or things you’ve generally have seen or heard. But, we are all afraid of something; Spiders, flying, heights, blood, needles and my phobia which is vomiting or seeing someone else vomit. My phobia started at a very young age and I want to show everybody the daily struggles that come with this specific phobia.
To ease the panic around my phobia there are things that I avoid and safety behaviours I do, some of these I don’t currently do but have done in the past;
- Avoid meat and fish (food poisoning risk)
- Obsessively wash hands and sanitise surroundings
- Don’t eat in public through fear of vomiting in a restaurant, seeing someone else vomit or get food poisoning
- Don’t go abroad through fear of getting heatstroke and air travel
- Avoid boats
- Take an obscene amount of antacids to relieve sickness symptoms
- Fear getting pregnant because of morning sickness
- I especially find it hard at the moment and have done since I was a child to stay the night at someone’s house in case I get sick!
- Get scared to take new medication in case the side effect is sickness
- Starve myself so I know I can’t be sick as there is nothing to ‘come up’
- If someone says they’re not feeling well I avoid them at all costs
- No alcohol
It must sound so delirious to some people that I have an actual phobia of a bodily function and I find it so difficult to talk about because people seem to judge me for it. When I have told people in the past they have thought it was funny to start making gagging noises or to tell me about distressing times they were sick. One of the most common things people have said to me is “Well no one likes being sick”. This statement is true but for us emetophobics, just thinking about it is paralysing.
In January of this year just days after my 21st birthday my mental health took a slight turn. My phobia of being sick was starting to make my life more miserable, every time I went out I got waves of wanting to be sick but then they intensify as the panic of doing it in public increases symptoms.
So in late February I managed to start therapy through the NHS and I must say it’s helping a lot, I’m now able to eat in public and do more anxiety aggravating activities (e.g going out for a long time alone). The type of therapy for phobias is exposure and as I just mentioned I am trying to push myself as much as possible. CBT also plays a major part in recovery as OCD is one of the main contributors to avoidance and safety behaviours. As I go through therapy, some things are too scary to face at the moments but here are some things I have achieved.
My list of small accomplishments:
- Sat through an entire film at the cinema without ‘escaping’
- Sat in a pub and eaten a full meal about 4 times now
- Spent 1+ hours in a supermarket alone without ‘escaping’
- Been to certain places alone
- Managed to go on multiple dates even though I’ve panicked I would be sick
Please do not be ignorant to other people that suffer from this, for others, the phobia goes to a mad extreme when they can’t even see the work s**k without getting a rush of panic. It’s a long journey I have still got but I am trying to give my all. I want to bring awareness to this phobia because most people think it’s a joke. If anyone reads this and think they may have this phobia please talk to a therapist and get the ball rolling to recovery, yes it’s scary but you have to keep pushing.
I have been very open and vulnerable in this post, hope you enjoyed and feel a bit more educated on how this affects my lifestyle and thousands of other people. Take care – Beth x