I’m not sure how long I’ve had emetophobia, a fear of vomiting or being sick, but I remember the first time I had a panic attack because of sick I was around 10. Since then, every time someone has been sick in the same room as me, I have had a panic attack. I also get triggered by thoughts, sounds, and smells. Sometimes I can’t watch TV or films if they show throwing up, too.
People don’t understand it at all unless they have it themselves
I’ve been told countless times: “well...no one actually LIKES sick.” But that’s such a bad argument to make because emetophobia is so much more than not liking sick. It’s about facing extreme terror when faced with vomit. It’s about not being able to see your friends because you’re scared they will be sick. It’s about not even being able to read the word “sick” without getting upset. It’s about the constant thoughts of “is someone going to throw up?” plaguing your mind 24/7. It’s about hating yourself and your mind because of it.
I find it hard to tell people that I have emetophobia, because most people just haven’t been taught how to react. I don’t blame them, though. It’s not like the fear of spiders, which is so commonly shown in the media that everyone knows about it.
The best thing someone can do for me if I’m having an emetophobic panic is to just... believe me
Listen to me. Understand that my fear, although irrational, seems very real to me. Please don’t laugh. If someone has trusted you enough to open up about their endless anxiety, then laughing or simply brushing it off can be crushing.
If my emetophobia has been triggered and I’m not talking to anyone, I’m not annoyed at you. I’ve simply gone into shutdown, in a way. It’s like I just can’t cope with interaction. I’m not cross, just very scared. Terrified, even.
My emetophobia has ups and downs; there will be weeks where I’m absolutely fine, and then weeks when I will crumble very easily. I can’t even bring myself to imagine going through exposure therapy. The thought of it scares the living daylight out of me.
I think raising awareness and educating people about emetophobia is so important
Life for me would be SO much easier if I didn’t have to explain why I can’t come to your party, or why I can’t hold that baby, or why I am isolating myself from everyone.
My battle with is a daily one, and one that I don’t think will ever end. I will keep fighting as long as people keep learning. Together we can end the stigma surrounding severe phobias. It will take both of us, though.