It’s been a while, but I thought I would talk about this issue.
I’ve been emetophobic for about 5 or 6 years now. I couldn’t tell you what triggered it, because I really don’t know. All I know is it’s the worst. Thankfully, over the past couple of years it has gotten better. I’m not 100% better, but I’m hoping I will make more and more progress.
***In case there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know what emetophobia is, it is the fear of vomiting.
Let me first explain to you my story, and then maybe I can offer some advice.
The furthest back I can recall my phobia is to the 10th grade. That was the last time I was sick. Yes, I remember the year, month, and time of the day it happened. I think a lot of my fear comes from feeling like I am “overdue” to get sick. Ever since then I am terrified of throwing up. I obsessively check expiration dates and avoid anyone who has been sick recently.
It’s not like anyone likes throwing up. Everyone thinks that I’m being irrational. I don’t think anyone can truly understand until they’ve felt this way. I also have digestive problems, which make me feel ill often. Sometimes I do feel like anxiety plays a part in that too. Not only do I feel awful, but I have nagging anxiety that makes me feel worse. Not fun.
To give a rundown of what I deal with everyday, I’ve compiled a list.
Weird things that I do/trigger me/make me anxious:
- I check the expiration date on everything I eat. If it’s expired, I won’t eat it. If I can’t find the expiration date, it’s not worth the risk. I also worry about food going bad, so I’m very cautious about how long things sit out on the counter. I have a lot of issues with eating leftovers at other people’s houses because I don’t know how long ago the food was cooked. I will slyly try to find out when it was made.
- I never can completely enjoy myself while drinking. Not like it’s a good thing to get drunk anyway, but I always am conscious of how much I’m drinking. I am always asking myself if I feel sick and if I feel even slightly unsure I will not continue drinking or I’ll take a break. I also have bad anxiety when I’m at parties around people I haven’t been around while drinking before. I don’t know if they are the type of people who will get so drunk that they puke. Parties are really not my favorite things.
- I hold my breath while walking past trashcans. This is a weird one, but I read online once that breathing the air where someone has gotten sick can get you sick. I also have trouble going into bathrooms where I know someone has thrown up because according to that thing I read, even if it’s cleaned up you can still catch a bug. I probably shouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet and I don’t remember the source, but it always stuck with me.
- The sounds/being around it gives me severe anxiety. Movies, real life, etc…. I cannot be around anyone if they’re throwing up. I’m never going to be the friend that holds your hair while you puke. It’s not because I don’t love you, but I will start crying if I were to. Movies don’t bother me as much as they used to, but I still avoid it if I can.
- I won’t try new restaurants because of the fear of food poisoning. It’s amazing that I even eat out because most emetophobes don’t, but I will not take risks. Unless I know that lots of people eat there everyday and the place looks nice, I’m not going to eat there. I will probably never try hole-in-the-wall types of places.
- I knock on wood a lot. This is another really strange thing, but I’m pretty superstitious. Every time that I catch myself thinking “I haven’t been sick in a long time,” I have to knock on wood or else I think that it will jinx it.
I’m getting much better. It’s gotten to the point where I will take more risks with things, but I know I still have a long ways to go. I hope that one day I can not worry about it so much when someone says that they’re sick. I don’t want to panic when someone says they’re not feeling well.
Now that you know all of that about me… Here is my advice. Keep in mind that I’m not a professional; this is just what has worked for me!
- Don’t keep your fears to yourself. This is hard, I know. I still struggle with this because no one really understands. But it’s good to let people know if something makes you uncomfortable. Then maybe they can be more cautious with what they say or do around you.
- Try not to eat out. If you are really terrified of food, it’s best to just prepare your own. Not only is it healthier, you have so much more control over whether or not you’re going to be sick. Just make sure you know food safety to ensure that!
- Find someone who understands. I am fortunate enough that I have a friend who actually suffers from the same phobia and understands what it is like! It makes it a lot more comforting to know you’re not alone and share advice with each other. I also suggest finding blogs that talk about emetophobia! My favorite is a Tumblr blog called emeto-things. The girl who runs it is super awesome and she’s really good about offering advice that is really comforting! Whenever I’ve felt anxious about anything I’ve been able to send her a message and she will reply pretty promptly.
- Remember you’ll be okay. Most of the time you’re just psyching yourself out. Our immune systems are a lot stronger than we think, and it takes a lot to actually make you throw up. Your body basically uses it as a last resort to get toxins out. It helps me a lot to remember that even if I do get sick I’m not going to die. I might be terrified, but it won’t kill me.
I hope I was able to help anyone out there who may suffer from the same phobia as me. We’re going to be alright in the end!