I’m starting a mini series that’ll probably go across the course of about 3 weeks or so all about anxiety and my personal experiences and struggles, in order to help others out there…
I do warn you now, these posts may be lengthy but I have a lot to say on each matter, so please bear with me on this one. I desperately hope I can help a few people out there that maybe suffer with similar problems.
The first issue I want to talk about is ’emetophobia’. If you don’t know what emetophobia is, its the fear of sick (vomit). As simple as that. Nobody likes throwing up, its extremely unpleasant however being an emetophobic is something slightly different than just finding being sick ‘unpleasant’. Although the number of emetophobics is unknown, its said that more women have a fear of vomiting than men. The closest estimation is that 6-7% of females suffer with emetophobia and only 1.7-3.1% of males do.
Now the statistics are over, I want to share my experiences, living with emetophobia. I have been afraid of sick ever since I can remember, although when I really sat down and thought about it, I think I’ve managed to trace where the phobia first started. I must have been about 5 years old, me and my best friend at the time were playing at my house whilst our mums were having a coffee and a chat. Suddenly my friend announced she felt unwell and had to go to her mum, then proceeded to throw up in my bathroom. I remember feeling panicked, even as a 5 year old and crying for hours. My parents told me I was being very silly and it was only sick but I was so traumatised by it. And from this, I’ve been afraid of sick ever since.
Now having emetophobia is much more than just being scared of sick in general. Theres much more to the matter. Emetophobia has stopped me from doing so many things in life, its almost like a barrier that I just can’t get past. Having emetophobia means that whenever I hear there is a ‘bug’ going around, panic fills my body and all I want to do is run away from everybody and everything and hide in my own little space. This is all in fear that I will catch the bug and as a result be sick myself. I also can’t eat anything in a public place without using hand sanitizer, in fear that I will have picked up nasty germs and then be putting them in my body. If one of my friends has thrown up within the past few days I physically cannot go near them, its impossible for me. Recently one of my friends had been sick the previous day but come into college anyway. She was in one of my classes and I had to stay in a separate room and do my work all on my own purely because I couldn’t be near her, in fear of catching something.
So along with not being able to be near people that have thrown up, or wanting to run away when I hear there is some sort of ‘sick bug’ going around, I also can’t go near alcohol. Typically, you don’t throw up from a couple of alcoholic beverages yet I can’t even have a sip of one in fear it might make me throw up. Parties aren’t really my thing, as people tend to get very drunk which results in a lot of sick. And I really can’t stand the sound of it, or obviously the sight of it so thats really not fun for me. Annoyingly the ‘typical teenager’ drinks and thats what a lot of people socialise over, so it makes me feel quite left out when I say I don’t drink, or don’t go out somewhere where drink is involved.
Talking about the sight of sick, hospital programmes on TV or anything of the sort is a no go. I believe the fear of hospitals or anything in that field comes along with emetophobia, well in my case it does. This is something I’m going to talk about in another anxiety 101 post though. So if there is any form of sick on the television, I have to cover my eyes, ears everything! I might not even be able to watch the programme at all. Taking any form of medicine is an issue for me as well, as so many have the side effect of vomiting. I won’t take anything that has this side effect in fear I’ll end up getting it and throwing up. As you can see, emetophobia really does effect every day life.
I had a particularly tough year last year and my anxiety/emetophbia got extremely bad. One night all the way back in January of last year I woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely sick, and I really thought I was going to throw up however I didn’t and I think I stopped myself as I was just so terrified. Whenever I personally feel sick, I get panic attacks and that night I had a pretty severe panic attack from feeling sick, which was truly horrible. I then proceeded to feel sick almost everyday that year and onto the beginning of this year. This stopped me from eating and obviously I lost a lot of weight. My fear and anxiety also stopped me from going on a trip to New York, which is truly gutting and it still upsets me to this day that I was not able to go on that once in a life time trip due to emetophobia.
I am much better now than I was back last year, however still suffering from emetophobia, and I imagine I will do for the rest of my life. But there is help available for emetophobia, such as CBT therapy, exposure therapy and other methods. If you have emetophobia, just know you’re not alone. Its not fun, but it can be managed and thats the best thing to do. I manage my anxiety daily and try and stay rational about situations. If you can relate to any of what I’ve mentioned, maybe consult your doctor and they can refer you to get help for the phobia. If you want to chat about this issue you can DM me on twitter via ‘@foreverrsept’ or email me at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. If you got this far, wow thank you for sticking by and reading through it is much appreciated.
Do you have any phobias?