My life suffering from emetophobia:
What is emetophobia? Well, it is basically the irrational fear of vomiting. Not only vomiting, but also hearing someone vomit, see someone vomit, feeling nauseous, or being around anyone who may be sick. You yourself feel the fear every day that you may throw up… And along with that, I have an even greater fear or feeling nauseous in a public place and not at my home… I’m scared to basically go to any public place for the fear that under some kind of circumstance I may get nauseous and throw up but I will have nowhere to puke…
This has completely ruined my life… And no one understands what it is and how to help me because it is not a very common fear. Most people have a fear of spiders, flying, or heights. And even people with those fears don’t have them control their lives in every way possible. For me, the thought of throwing up actually sounds worse to me than dying…. That’s how horrible it has gotten…only about 4 people in my life actually know that I suffer from this. They always knew I didn’t like to throw up, but they never understood the complete extent of it… I was too embarrassed to ever share my story, and I just thought that most people would just laugh and make fun of me. I realized that I can’t just hide everything anymore. So here is my complete story…
When I was young, I never thought about throwing up, and if I did, it was no big deal. Who cares right? I remember being little and almost every time we went on a car ride that was over and hour, my sister usually got car sick and threw up in the car. It never scared me. If that happened to me now, I’d probably jump out of the car window as the car was driving…. I can sort of pinpoint when my fear actually started… I remember that I was in first grade. We had an awesome field trip with my class to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois. The field trip was great. My mom chaperoned and I had a great time! All of the sudden I started to realize on the bus ride home that my stomach hurt and I was not feeling well. When we got back from the field trip and all sat in class for a little while I suddenly just vomited all over my desk and the floor. It was everywhere. Even inside my desk. (sorry for the details) I remember feeling humiliated and lucky for me, since my mom had chaperoned the field trip, she was right in the office when I got sick and she took me home… I don’t know if I threw up anymore after that, but even though I am 23 and that happened so long ago, I still remember those little moments like they were yesterday…. I started to have some weird fears after that. I never pin pointed them to my emetophobia, but looking back now, I can see that that was where it started…. After that day, I never wanted to ride a bus again in my life. For some reason, I thought it was the bus that made me sick, but it wasn’t. Even as I got older and realized that it wasn’t the bus that had gotten me sick, it was an actual virus, I STILL would not ride a bus because it reminded me of that day…. I remember also, when we got back to our classroom, we all got cherry flavored juice boxes. I still can’t drink cherry juice or eat cherries after that. Also, till this day, whenever someone asks me if I want to go to the Shedd Aquarium, I always find a reason why I can’t. The Shedd Aquarium is always a reminder of that day and the horrible phobia that I started to gain in that day…. Other than having a problem with taking the bus, eating cherry things, or going to the aquarium, those are the only problems I suffered directly after that. Who knew it would get so much worse…
Fourth grade is when I really began to suffer from emetophobia… And yet again, what brought this on was another traumatic experience of vomiting… It’s so weird to me that I can always remember the slightest details from this… I don’t remember much from that day of school, other than I remember it was the Cubs Caravan Day. Some of the Chicago Cubs players actually came to our school that day. Other than that, I remember having tacos for lunch… It’s so weird how we remember some of the dumbest things, right?! Anyway, school was totally fine this time, but coming home I just remember that I had no appetite. I don’t think I felt sick but I remember that I just didn’t want to eat. Not thinking anything of it, when my mom bought us Taco Bell for dinner, I still had some because I didn’t want to go to bed without eating…. BIG MISTAKE. After eating, I started getting nauseous and my stomach hurt really bad. I decided to lay down on the couch. While my mom was sitting in the living room too, I just remember standing up and throwing up ALL over the living room. I then began to run to the bathroom where I had actually slipped on the throw up and began throwing up in the hallway. I got to the bathroom and was covered in vomit. I stripped down completely and just threw up in the toilet a little while longer. I remember when everything happened, it caused so much chaos. My mom was yelling for me to go to the bathroom (not in a bad way, just cause the throw up wouldn’t stop coming out!) and I just remember being humiliated again. I was so embarrassed and I was so ashamed that my mom had to clean that all up. Especially after we just got new WHITE carpet in the living room and I had just completely ruined it. I even remember asking everyone in my family if they stilled loved me even though I threw up everywhere. Of course, they said that they did. I even remember the couple days after that incident and I remember the days off from school that I took. Nothing significant happened but I just still remember it. After this incident, I could not eat tacos for the longest time…. But honestly, who can stay away from tacos? I eat them now but it took me the longest time to eat them again. After this, I began to have an obsession with washing my hands. I became absolutely terrified with germs. Anytime I touched something, I immediately doused my hands in hand sanitizer. To this day, I cannot go anywhere without hand sanitizer. Everyone laughs at me about it, but they really didn’t know what was going on with me. Unknowingly, I became emetophobic without even realizing. I could not be around anyone who didn’t feel good, in fear that they might puke and I might get sick from them. I was absolutely petrified to throw up again.
Ever since that day in 4th grade, everything changed. My life is completely taken over by this fear… Here is just a short list of how this affects me…
-I hate being in cars too long for fear of car sickness.
– I’m scared of planes for 2 reasons. For getting air sickness or feeling sick on a plane and having nowhere to go.
– I hate going to ANY public place because I’m scared I’ll get sick and have nowhere to go (this is also an indication that I may be a bit agoraphobic too)
– I don’t really drink because I’m scared of getting to drunk and vomiting
– I get scared taking medicine for the fear that it may upset my stomach.
-I’m terrified of anesthesia for the fact that it sometimes can make people nauseous.
-I’m scared to get pregnant someday because I may get morning sickness
– anytime I have any feeling that I am nauseous at all, I instantly think that I’m sick and I go into a full blown panic attack. And every time I get a panic attack it makes me nauseous. So, it’s a lose lose situation.
-I try to avoid anyone who I have heard has been sick for at least like 2 weeks…
– anytime a single person might mention that they don’t feel well, I instantly panic that they will throw up and I might get it.
– I will not go on amusement park rides for the fear that it may make me nauseous. Growing up, my siblings always called me a baby and laughed at me because I would just tell them that I was scared of the rides. If only they knew what I was battling. I wanted so badly to go on those rides and have fun like everybody else. But my fear took over me
– I am terrified of hospitals for obvious reasons… Germs…
– I will almost always cancel any plans I make, even if I really want to go, just because I’m scared that I might feel sick wherever I go.
-I don’t try new foods.
The list can honestly go on and on… It never ends. It has complete control of my entire life….
I have been dealing with this now for about 17 years and I always thought I was the only person in the world to have this irrational fear… Until I finally did some research. I found out that I’m not alone and it’s actually helped me feel a bit better. Not only do I suffer from emetophobia, I have suffered from depression since I was in 5th grade, I suffer extremely from anxiety since about 8th grade. And I started showing extreme tendencies of OCD since 8th grade. While I am able to take medicine for depression and anxiety, which also helps with the OCD, which I really no longer have problems with, only small ocd tendencies. There is no pill out there that can make me not afraid of vomit. This is one that I have to deal with on my own. It took me about 16 years to actually tell anyone about what I’m going through. I thought that everyone would laugh at me. But everyone has been extremely supportive, and to those people I would like to say thank you I have noticed that the emetophobia is usually worse when I am stressed as well. Sometimes I’m okay and I am a little more tolerant to my fear and other times it is overwhelmingly terrifying…
After the whole puke-a-thon that I had in 4th grade, I was pretty lucky to not throw up for a while… It was not until my senior year in high school when it happened again. Which of course, I remember vividly. I had come home from working my shift at Schoops Hamburgers and my mom had bought me Portello’s. She had a beef sandwich for me, and fries. I scarfed them down and went to sleep for the night. Now I really don’t know if I was actually sick, but I woke up feeling like crap in the middle of the night. I think it may actually have been from eating way too much that night and falling asleep. Because that tends to happen to me. Anytime I eat a huge amount of food and take a nap (food coma) I always feel like crap when I wake up. So, this time, I may not have even been sick, this just happened from being a gluttonous pig that night. So anyway, I woke up and felt crappy. I didn’t really think I’d throw up so I wasn’t too worried. I got up and burped, and BOOM, the gag reflex started going. I actually remember in that moment I just sat there and thought “oh my god, I’m actually going to throw up! All these times I have panic attacks and think I’m going to be sick but this time it’s really happening!”
And so it happened….
And afterwards I didn’t freak out… I thought to myself “okay that wasn’t so bad, now I actually feel completely better, and guess what? I survived it”
After that day, I really thought that since my biggest fear had happened, that I would be cured. I knew that when I threw up it wasn’t a big deal and I really felt so much better after throwing up…. I actually felt good about myself…. I was proud that I threw up… Weird right!?! Well it actually didn’t fix anything because that was about 6 years ago, and this fear is still going….
So, the most recent instance of being sick was in 2012. I was probably 18. Or around that age. I had come home from work that night from the bank and I just remember having no appetite. That instantly made me worry that I was getting sick. So, I didn’t eat dinner and I instantly went to my room to lay down because I absolutely hate being around people when I’m feeling nauseous. I was up until about midnight trying to fight the urge to throw up… After a little more time of fighting the urge, I decided to give in. So, I got up and just waited till I was ready to throw up…. But nothing happened. I felt so horrible. I actually wanted to puke so I’d feel better. But it just wouldn’t happen! It was the weirdest thing. Afterwards I actually read some information about being emetophobic and they say that people who suffer from this fear very rarely actually throw up because they fight it back so much. After years and years of fighting the urge to throw up, your brain eventually gets use to this and it seriously won’t let your body do it. I really think that that’s what happened that night. From all these years of holding my throw up back, it had actually trained my brain to automatically hold it back, even though I actually wanted to throw up…. Eventually that night after trying, I gave up and watched tv the rest of the night to get my mind off it. And eventually I just started to feel better….
The reason I tell these gross stories is because I want others to understand where this problem of mine is stemming from…
No one understands.
I now have very few friends because they figure that I’m just antisocial or don’t want to hang out with them. When in reality, I want so badly to go out and have fun with everyone. I just can’t get myself to do it. And the depression and anxiety make that even worse! I constantly make plans to do fun things and I get so excited, but as soon as the day comes to do It, I get the thoughts in my head like “what if we’re hanging out and I get sick? or what it I have a panic attack with everyone around”
So to those that I have lost contact with. I’m sorry. I promise that I never wanted to lose any of your friendships. This battle was too hard though. And for those of you who have stuck around, I am everyday thankful. I still get the friends who know what my problem is but continue to wonder why I will blow them off once Ina while. I don’t expect them to understand. But I want them to know that it has nothing to do with me not wanting to hang out with them. It all has to do with all these issues that I’m suffering from… I’m tired of being completely embarrassed and ashamed of myself. But I’m also tired of holding myself back from all the fun opportunities I could have had. I have managed for all these years to hide the biggest secret from the closet people in my life… And I never made any of it apparent when I was around people.
I think that’s really why I am writing this. Not to make you go home and research emetophobia and Not so u can feel sorry for me. I’m writing this because I have hidden the biggest secret of my life and nobody around me knew. Not my loved ones. Boyfriends. Friends. NOBODY. And that makes me wonder. How many other people in this world are hiding their biggest issues that no one knows… Having this phobia has made me look at things differently. From looking at me, you’d never just automatically think “gee, I bet that girl suffers from emetophobia.”
Even if someone looks so happy and normal on the outside, you never know how many demons someone is battling on the inside and just hiding it…
You never know what someone may be going through…