Me and emetophobia – fear of vomit!!

I want to share something with you……
“I don’t like sick!!!”

“Well nobody likes sick,” is the usual response I get to that remark.  But actually it is so much bigger than that, way much bigger than that, and I want to try and explain it to you, because in the last year I found out I have emetophobia.

Emetophobia is an intense fear of vomiting, or seeing somebody being sick.  It is one of the more common anxiety disorders and affects more women than men.  Although it is such a common phobia, not much research has been done into it and there is not always a reason for having it.  It is believed there is normally a trigger, such as an event in your life which has caused you to be so anxious about it.

I’m 37 now and it is only in this last year, after speaking to somebody else who suffers with the same fear, I realised I have spent most of my life suffering.

Why do I suffer?? I’m not sure, my mum has vividly painted 2 pictures of me and vomit. As a baby I suffered from a condition called pyloric stenosis, which basically meant everytime she fed me, I projectile vomited a huge amount.  My Mum had the washing machine on a lot!! Sorry Mum.  The other time was when I was about 8.  It was in the evening and she was decorating a cake for my little brothers birthday.  I walked down the stairs to tell her I felt sick and apparently covered all 3 walls going down the stairs.  I can’t remember this, but I can picture it easily because my Mum still lives in the same house.

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As an adult I have been sick twice, this time the blame is entirely on something called Stella Artois and Jagerbombs. I got caught out, other people get drunk, not me though, because I could be sick.  Other people, including my husband, don’t seem to be bothered by drunken sickness.  I avoid drunk people and they are certainly not allowed in my car.

I can’t tell you if there was a turning point in my life when I suddenly became more aware of my fear.  I remember being scared before every one of my GCSE’s, not because of what the impending result might be, but because I might just be sick in a huge room full of my classmates.  When I was at college, the fear became much bigger.  I spent a year of my life waking up nauseated.  I went to the Doctors and said “I think I suffer from panic attacks” She gave me a prescription and said to come back in a couple of weeks.  I got home and read the packet, they were anti depressants.  “Why have I got these??” So I tried them, and ended up with a huge head rush of dizziness and taking myself off them within 2 weeks.  I researched online and learned breathing techniques to help calm me.

I would go out for a meal with my boyfriend and order some food, to have it put in front of me, then not be able to eat it. He thought it was funny and pretended to wretch.  We were young, he didn’t know, and I didn’t know there was something a bit different about me.

A few years later I met my husband, he was completely oblivious to my fear.  I never expressed it to anybody, other than my Mum.  I braved much more with him and I started to come out of my shell and try new things!! Curries, scary roller coasters, venturing way out of my comfort zones!!  Although when I was about to step onto nemesis at Alton Towers, somebody got off puking.  I was about to run for the nearest exit, but my husband managed to keep me calm and get me on that ride.

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So here comes the nuttiness, this is what my head tells me!!  This is the bit I want to share with you, because then if you feel these things, then you’ll also realise that it is a thing!!

I have 2 beautiful girls, but before getting pregnant, I was scared of being pregnant, because I could be sick!! In labour, I didn’t have pain relief, yes maybe I am hardcore, but actually it was because gas and air could make me sick! Baby girl number 1 was not a sicky baby.  Yes, I had survived, so I did it again.  Heavily pregnant with baby number 2 and my big girl picks up a sick bug.  I spent the entire night sitting by the bed, ready to catch vomit, sucking polos, shaking! My husband slept, oblivious to how scared I was.  Baby number 2 arrives and she is sicky.  Not to the extreme I was as a baby, but every few days she would absolute cover herself.  I could deal with this though, because it’s just milk.

It’s March now, I hate March.  Something always happens in March.  My friend lost a baby, my Mum broke her leg, my Grandad died and ……. somebody catches a sick bug in my house.

So we have had sickness in my house this weekend, and I am living in a nauseated state, counting down the hours since the last person was sick, sucking polos and bleaching and washing everything!!  I haven’t slept much, because I have been pre empting the next round, who next??

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I hold my breath near the person who has been sick.  I certainly can’t give them a kiss and tell them it will be better.  I’m sorry Mum and Amber!!

This year I have become very open about my fear and have now met 2 other people in a short amount of space of time who also suffer.  I have learned in the grand scheme of things, I am probably about middle of the range in my phobia.  I avoid going near anybody who says they are ill, because it could be a sick bug!!  I hold my breath near people who have been ill recently.  I suck polos a lot!! This is because the mint acts as an anti sickness and also clears any flavours from my mouth.  I avoid heavy meals when I go out for dinner and certainly wouldn’t pick anything off the menu which could make me sick.  As a midwife I freak out if I know there is norovirus nearby and certainly can’t look after people with it.  I would take ten patients over the one who has noro. However I shall save midwifery and emetophobia for another blog.

To those of you, who are thinking “what a werido” yes you are probably right, but the thing is, no matter how rational I am about it, it doesn’t stop it.  To those of you, who are thinking, “that’s me” then you are not alone!  Talk about it, I find it helps.

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