Life: Living with Emetophobia

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post may contain topics, words, and experiences that may trigger anxiety or panic for those with emetophobia.

 

I think it would be safe to say that winter is the worst time of year for someone with emetophobia. Flu season is in full swing and it seems like everyone around you is sick. Catching a stomach virus and vomiting seems like an inevitability, and my anxiety is always telling me that my luck is running out.

I’ve been living with a fear of vomiting for almost 20 years now. It was something that I developed as a child and continue to struggle with on a day by day basis. For the longest time, I thought I was crazy. I was the only one I knew who had this fear. I didn’t even know there was a name for it until I was in college.

Imagine my surprise when I suddenly stumbled upon a website (this one to be exact) that opened my eyes to the fact that I wasn’t crazy or alone in the world. As Anna S. Christieย states on her website:

It is a fairly common phobia, manifesting mainly in women and more acutely in adolescents than adults…symptoms range from mild disturbance to acute panic attacks (rapid heartbeat, rush of adrenalin, difficulty breathing, choking sensations, derealization, dizziness, fear of dying, numbness, sweating, trembling). Most emetophobics….would rather die than vomit…In severe cases, emetophobics will show symptoms of OCD and agoraphobia.ย Since the phobic fears her own body, this disorder tends to be particularly debilitating. Avoidance of the stimulus is impossible, and thus without treatment the emetophobic is continually re-traumatized, ritualistic behavior intensifies and the condition worsens.

Imagine fearing something that is a normal bodily function, something that your body does to remove toxins from your system to save your life. You can’t run away from your fears like someone who may be afraid of mice or clowns. Your fear is your own stomach, your own mind. Continue reading

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