This morning, something very very VERY exciting came through my letter box!! My workbook that is going to help me overcome my emetophobia. For those of you that don’t know what emetophobia is, it is an intense fear of vomiting or seeing somebody else vomiting, or just the general fear of vomit. It is one of the most common phobias in the world, yet barely anyone has heard of it. Most GP’s aren’t entirely sure what it is!
I have had emetophobia for as long as I can remember, I think it may have started when I was about 5 or 6, and ever since I have been completely obsessed with basically avoiding any situation that could involve vomit. It sounds irrational, and that’s because it is. I don’t actually know of anybody else that suffers from emetophobia, however I have researched online and there are a lot of emetophobe’s out there that are just too embarrassed to tell anybody how they are feeling, and I understand completely. There are a handful of people that know I have this phobia because it has been completely un-avoidable. Whether I’ve had a panic attack near them or freaked out when being in contact with sick. I think the only people that are kind of aware of it are my mum, dad, brother, boyfriend and best friend, and yet they aren’t entirely aware of how extreme it really is.
My phobia has been getting progressively worse. When in middle school, I would have a dinner lady sit with me every lunch time to make sure I ate all of my lunch, as I was so afraid of eating near anybody, as children are always prone to illness and sickness! I had a day off every time somebody close to me got sick or I felt slightly off, just in case (god forbid) I got sick in a public place, like at school. In high school I really struggled, I would have so many days off, trying to avoid getting sick as best I could, not going near anybody that had been ill, washing my hands excessively through the day, not eating or touching my face, and actually holding my breath near people that I knew had recently been ill. I was at my all time worse every winter when the vomiting bug made it’s appearance. At this age, I thought it was just something that people did, trying to avoid not getting ill, I didn’t really think I was any different to anybody else. I knew I was completely afraid of getting sick, but I thought everybody was!
When teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always answer ‘I want to be a midwife!’ and I did. Not just because I love babies and the thought of pregnancy and giving birth, but because it is something I had always wanted to do. I studied my hardest in my GCSE years and managed to pass every exam I sat. When I got into sixth form, I pushed the boat out a little bit and applied for a school an hour away from my house because it was a really good school. I got in, went to about 3 days worth of lessons, and was way out of my comfort zone. Being that far away from home every day really scared me, I hated not being in control, so I left the ‘really good’ school and went back to my high school sixth form which was still quite a good school. A lot of things happened in those couple of years in sixth form, many things I can’t bring myself to talk about, but I had a lot of time off, because again, I was scared. I ended up passing one exam, English Literature at D grade. Everything else, I failed. My dreams of becoming a midwife were shattered.
After leaving sixth form, I decided to apply for a job at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as a Health Care Assistant. I thought I could start from the bottom, take an access course alongside slowly train to become a midwife. The duties of a Health Care Assistant include the general nursing duties such as washing, bathing patients, dressing them,assisting them with any help they may need such as feeding, toileting etc. I knew this would also be completely out of my comfort zone to be working in a hospital. I spoke to my parents a couple of times about it and my boyfriend at the time, they all said the same thing. It would be so good for me to be exposed to my phobia so much so that I could get used to it, and finally get over it. This did NOT happen. Every time a patient would say they were going to be sick, I’d panic so much that I would have a panic attack and have to leave work. If I was aware that a ward had Norovirus (a highly contagious vomiting and diarrhea bug) I would again instantly feel sick, sweaty, shaky, panicky and then would have to leave work. I was a complete and utter nervous wreck. I tried my absolute hardest at that job, it was such a challenge for me, but any outsider would see a failure, somebody that gave up at the slightest chance of getting sick, somebody weak. I would come home almost once a week, and my parents would be so disappointed in me, saying I was lazy and didn’t want to work. This was so far from the truth. The fact is, I got myself so worked up every minute of every day, that I was exhausted before I even got out of bed in the mornings. I handed in my notice working as a Health Care Assistant, I could have tried harder but I didn’t feel it was fair on my employer, putting up with somebody that couldn’t even finish a whole shift, they needed somebody they could trust, not somebody like me.
Here I am today, still working for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital but in an office. I still have emetophobia, and if anything, it is worse now than it has ever been. I have had counselling, hypnotherapy and have been put on several types of medication to try and help me, but nothing has yet worked. Norovirus made a surprise appearance this April at our hospital, and I have actually been signed off work for 3 weeks with ‘anxiety’ after having a panic attack at work. My parents again are disappointed in me for letting it take over. They don’t understand how I feel, but how can they, when I don’t either?
One day, I want to start my own family and become a mother. It has always been a dream of mine and something that I will never give up on. It scares the hell out of me, the thought of getting morning sickness or having a poorly child to look after but I want to be cured of emetophobia so I can be a mum.
That’s why I have ordered this book, in hope that one day be cured of this horrible phobia. I will put 100% into this book, and I want to blog every step of my progress. If I can overcome my phobia, I want to help others do the same. If anybody out there suffers from emetophobia too, I want to hear from you, you’re not alone, and neither am I. I don’t have to be defined as having emetophobia and it doesn’t control me anymore 🙂
Thanks for reading.
Lots of love, Laura x
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