Living with Emetophobia

*Before I go into my story and experience with emetophobia, I must preface this by saying that I’m currently suffering from this phobia, and that this may be a difficult read*

So you probably just read that big, long word and are wondering “What the hell is that?!”. Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. Yeah, I know…it’s natural, everyone does it, yadda yadda yadda. Doesn’t mean I’m not scared shitless of it. Even hearing/reading the word “vomit” makes me want to have a panic attack.

I developed this phobia after battling H. Pylori when I was 12. Suddenly, food became my enemy. I hated being around people, because I was afraid they would pass a virus onto me. School was an exercise in torture. Every day was full of obsessive thoughts of it. It was a miracle that I passed my classes, let alone made it to school. I ended up losing roughly 32 pounds, dropping down to 88 pounds at my lowest.

I got my phobia somewhat under control by the time I turned 16. I actually enjoyed going to school and gained back all the weight I had lost. Things may not have been great, but it was manageable. Until that grand old thing called college came along. That cesspool of germs caused me to contract the flu, followed by a stomach virus. Before I knew it, the cycle of fearing food and public spaces came back in full force. This time, I lost about 25 pounds.

I also started having panic attacks. I would have to go sit in my car with the air conditioning blasting (even in the dead of winter) to calm down. I also started cutting myself to try to take my mind off of my fear. Not my best idea. I still have scars from it.

Last year, I finally felt true happiness. I was so happy that I pretty much forgot my fear. I still had flashes of panic every day, but it was heaven compared to what I had gone through before. Of course, things crumbled and I was thrown back full force into my phobia. This year has seriously been one of the worst years of my life because of this stupid illness.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes think that it would be a blessing if I could just not wake up. Having to live with this is too much at points. But I refuse to give in. I never wonder why I have this. I know that I’m suffering for a reason. If I can educate others about this debilitating phobia, or provide support to others who are suffering, then every ounce of pain is worth it.

If you care about someone who has emetophobia, just support them. You’re going to have to reassure them every day that they’re going to be ok. Sometimes you’ll have to force them to eat. Just please don’t get angry at them. Emetophobia is usually triggered by a bad experience with being sick, and the only way to get over it is to go through intensive therapy. Your loved one can’t just take their mind off of it.

If you are also going through this hell, I’m here for you. I know it’s scary and difficult and frustrating. Keep fighting though, my love. Better days have to be ahead.


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