I’m proud to say I overcame my emetephobia! I still feel a little uneasy sometimes around people who are a unwell, but it’s at a healthy level now.
I’m 27 now, but my emetophobia was triggered at the age of 10. I remember the day very clearly; I woke up feeling very unwell, very upset tummy, reflux, diarrhoea everything. I told my mum I couldn’t go to school, I felt too sick. Perhaps she had something on that day, but she was mad, she wanted me to go to school, she hit me, pulled my hair and tried to force me into my uniform, while I screamed. From that day on, I always felt sick. (Before you get too mad at my mum, she actually had undiagnosed schizophrenia, which perhaps contributed to her behaviour that day)
My strange habits started as eating an entire packet of cough lollies everyday, I found them too be soothing temporarily. I started having OCD behaviour, like I couldn’t step on a crack or I’d get sick, I rewashed plates incase they weren’t clean enough, if someone said they felt sick I hated them in that moment, I had an uncle get sick while he was staying with my family and I refused to go near him for a week, I also would wait to go to the toilet at school for like a week after because he was sick in the toilet at home and I just couldn’t bring myself to use it. Then when I finally did use it again, I put toilet paper all over the seat every time I used it until we moved out of that house a couple of years later.
As I got older it became harder to do things, like go out with friends, because I always felt sick. My school attendance was awful, I’d usually have a day off every week. I was 5ft 8” and only 40 kgs. I remember the day I decided I needed help was when I was 16, all dressed for school and I went to turn the doorknob and a panic attack hit me, I just couldn’t go, I fell to the floor crying. So I asked mum to take me to counselling. The psychologist gave me tools to help manage my anxiety, breathing, rational thinking etc, I think the year following high school was really helpful because I was exposed to a lot of vomiting due to friends drinking and getting sick, eventually, my reaction went from wanting to die instead of vomiting, to eww this is gross, but I hope they’re okay after this. I still can’t hold my friends hair if they’re sick and I always have a pack of chewing gum with me (my new soother), but I got through it! I never thought I ever would, so I want you to know and anyone reading this that it doesn’t have to last forever! 💜