My phobia shows up every year between November and April. I have a fear of the stomach flu and norovirus. I have had this fear since childhood. I was once sick with this virus as a pre teen and I did not know what was happening. Since then I have become paranoid that people around me are going to get sick and pass it along to me. This fear lives in my head, somewhere behind a darkened wall and come the moment that a trigger allows light in to that fear – I lose control and I become paranoid and I become obsessive about my health.
The fear is that, I cannot see what could make me sick. I could become ill at the most inopportune time and I could be embarrassed in public if I become ill. I fear being alone in my sickness. I fear being around others who are sick. I avoid going places and seeing people who I know have recently been sick. At its worst, I cannot disassociate a headache experienced by someone else, from an illness that is showing up.
I become embarrassed to speak about this disabling sensation of panic. I become irrational in my relationships with others. I become irritable when I try day to day tasks with an open heart; because at my worst I close myself off to the world in order to avoid coming into contact with a virus or with germs that cause a virus.
Life has to go on, I go to work, I pay my bills, I see my friends but ALWAYS with caution. Should anyone mention a slight stomach ache, I withdraw physically from them and avoid being too close to them. If someone has a migraine headache – I assume that it is because they are coming down with a virus and that I only have a matter of hours before I become ill myself.
I am aware of my thoughts, but I do not always get in control of my thoughts – before they sweep ME away.