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Old 01-02-2007, 12:03 PM   #1
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broken_smile HB User
Emetophobia

Is anyone else consumed with this overwhelming fear of vomiting or am I the only weirdo?

This phobia is what all of my anxiety is based upon. I became agoraphobic because of it and even the slightest hint of nausea can trigger a panic attack.

I've recently learned that there is an operation that's performed on some people who have reflux (I think) which prevents a person from ever vomiting (or burping). I have to tell you, that sounds tempting because I know - I mean I KNOW - that if I was sure that I would never vomit, my anxiety disorder would be instantly cured. (Yes, I'm well aware of how insane this sounds).

Does anyone know of a less drastic way to treat this? The medical community seems to be clueless. I waited for months to see one of the best anxiety disorder psychiatrists in the city and his brilliant professional advice was for me to go home and stick a finger down my throat - and if a finger didn't work, to try a popsicle stick. I listened closely to what he was saying, nodding at all appropriate times. When he was finished, clearly satisfied with himself that he had given me excellent advice, I very calmly said "can I ask you a question?" He said "sure." I said, "you don't have a vomiting phobia, correct?" He said, "correct." I nodded as I pointed to the garbage can beside his desk and said, "well then can you please demonstrate what you just told me to do." He looked at me puzzled . I helped him out, "stick a finger down your throat and show me how it's done." He didn't answer. I said, "so what you're saying basically is that you who doesn't have a fear of vomiting can't self-induce, but you want ME, a person who would rather gnaw off her right arm than puke, to go home and stick a finger down my throat????" "If I could do THAT would I have this phobia???"

 
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Old 01-02-2007, 01:35 PM   #2
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LauraDaydreams HB User
Re: Emetophobia

BrokenSmile -

Gah! I am also afflicted with an overwhelming, debilitating fear of vomit. (Ever since I was 6 years old, although it's gotten worse over the years...particularly the last 9 months.) We're talking if anyone around me feels nauseous, I immediately remove myself from their presence. And if I, myself, feel nauseous, I do ANYTHING in my power to stop myself from throwing up. I'm constantly nauseous, and I don't know if it's from the actual anxiety of throw up or that I am actually nauseous. After all these years, I'm concluding that my anxiety makes me nauseous and have acid reflux and dry heaves.

I'm armed with an arsenal of medicines at all times, in addition to peppermint, ginger supplements, saltine crackers and water. Yet, I get dry heaves usually once a month. (I got them this morning out of the blue! I think it's because I have TONS of work to do at work before I leave for my cruise on Saturday, which is ALSO stressing me out, because I'm terrified of motion sickness, stomach flu...and so on!) I'm borderline agoraphobic, I guess you can say? But somehow I have to force myself to go to work, run errands and such. While I'm out of the house, I get mentally EXHAUSTED from stressing that I'll puke/be nauseous. But sometimes, I'm fine and I truly can enjoy myself.

About 2 months ago, I finally gave up fighting all of this and saw a psychologist....and finally a psychiatrist. After a very long talk with him, he diagnosed me as OCD with this vomit phobia, because it LITERALLY consumes my every thought. And you're RIGHT! ALL of your anxiety stems from this ONE ISSUE. (I CONSTANTLY say that I'd rather chop an limb off than puke!) Which clearly does sound completely irrational. But if this ONE ISSUE was eliminated, I feel like I would be 100% okay again. He put me on Prozac and Niravam (a form of Xanax). I haven't been on Prozac long enough to know if it's working, but he says that the meds combined with therapy, should start to help my obsessive thoughts about vomit. The Niravam does seem to calm me down, but I feel like I need a higher dosage.

If ANYONE TOLD ME that the cure would be to self-induce vomiting on myself...I'd laugh and THEN immediately cry that I would be too scared! I'm glad you told your psych what you told him! If that isn't the right method for you - I would suggest talking things out with a psychologist regularly. Perhaps you could consider a drug like Prozac to help you past this, while you talk it out at the same time. My psychologist is currently teaching me breathing techniques to calm the nausea/anxiety when it happens.

If you EVER want to discuss this fear with someone who understands, just leave me a message! I try to explain this to family members, friends and my boyfriend, but no one really understand how paralyzing the fear actually is.

Hang in there! You are not NOT a weirdo OR insane! It's a VERY common phobia! Sorry this was so long!

 
Old 01-02-2007, 02:37 PM   #3
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Re: Emetophobia

Hi Laura,

Thanks for your post. Reading your post is like me reading about myself.

You're a better woman than I'll ever be because you couldn't pay me to go on a cruise... not even a 3 hour one!

I did try Prozac and that was THE WORST thing I could have possibly done. Not only did it nauseate me something fierce, but it made my already full-blown panic attacks about 10x worse. My body doesn't respond well to any of these mood altering drugs for some reason.

What does work for me is taking just 1/2 a gravol (anti-nausea med). I do this only on very rare occasions when absolutely necessary although when this nightmare first started I was taking extra strenght gravol every day, several times a day.

I would love to find a therapist who truly understands this very unique, although common, phobia. But, I have a feeling that I'll win the lottery before that happens. I mean, if I had a driving phobia I could desensitize myself by just sitting in the car on my driveway, driving to the end of the street, then around the block, etc. How does one vomit s l o w l y? And who would want to? Plus, I know that vomiting won't eliminate the fear because I don't really think it has anything to do with vomiting... if that makes sense.

I would like to keep in touch as you've suggested - thank you. {REMOVED}

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Old 01-02-2007, 04:55 PM   #4
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horseygirl14 HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hi Broken Smile (and Laura too). I too suffer from the same thing.

I have been suffering from this for I think my whole life (I am 39 now). It's been manageable for quite a few years now. I don't think I really knew what it was when I was younger. Over the past few years I have been having bad anxiety, panic attacks and the emetophobia has been really bad. I feel exactly the way you do. I am seeing a psycologist right now but we are dealing with a lot of stress, husband, family issues and haven't really touched on the emetophobia much. My family dr. prescribed cipralex for me but I can't bring myself to take it. One of the possible side effects is nausea and I already feel nauseous a lot of the time and don't want to make myself more nauseous than I already am.

I am trying to get healthy. I have lost quite a bit of weight and don't feel healthy. My hair was really suffering due to my poor eating habits. I have started taking stress vitamins, evening primrose oil and a chewable multivitamin. I am going to try to exercise more. I listen to relaxing cd's at bedtime, spray lavender body spray (it's supposed to be calming) and drink chamomile tea. I am obsessive with washing my hands and using hand sanitizer.

I have 3 kids and it's hard to get through every day. I work full time luckily in a small office but I find it hard to eat during the day because I am so worried about getting sick or someone around me being sick and spreading germs.

I have found one website on the internet about emetophobia but there's not much out there. I too would welcome any advice that anyone has about this condition.

Good luck.

Last edited by ms_mod; 01-02-2007 at 07:06 PM.

 
Old 01-02-2007, 08:29 PM   #5
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Re: Emetophobia

Hi horseygirl, wow you're not too far from me!

I do the little or no eating thing at work too and for the same reasons and I have an industrial size hand sanitizer on my desk.

I'm sure I know which emetophobia site you're referring to, because if there was anything else out there, believe me, I would have found it and tried it. I even had a session with a world renowned psychic who appears regularly on a certain talk show, but I won't name names of course. I waited a year to get an appointment and for a half hour session paid the equivalent of what it costs to rent a nice 2 bedroom apartment in downtown Toronto and for that this person told me that the reason I have emetophobia is because in a previous life in Morocco some 400 years ago, my husband poisoned me by putting lye (a caustic acid) in my food and I literally puked my guts out... ummm... yeah... that's it. She told me now that we had found "the cause" we could get rid of it for good. YAY! I was told to surround myself with a white light and ask for this fear to go out of my body and into it. Apparently the white light wasn't very absorbent.

I told you I'd try anything.

Last edited by broken_smile; 01-02-2007 at 08:29 PM.

 
Old 01-03-2007, 03:04 PM   #6
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Re: Emetophobia

Hi ladies!

By reading your posts, I truly feel like I am not alone.

I am just beside myself right now. After my random bout of dry heaves yesterday morning, I stayed home from work. On the drive over to work this morning, I got the dry heaves again, and had to pull into a parking lot. Somehow, I got the nerve again to pull back onto the road and keep driving and made it work. While I was very, very anxious all day, I didn't dry heave. I ate saltines and a very little bit of chicken to get some protein in me. (Like you, I have a very hard time eating at work and at other places, because I'm afraid of getting sick and/or getting germs from my desk or office.) All of a sudden at 3ish, I began dry heaving and panicking VERY BADLY at my desk. I tried to distract myself by reading the news, which after about 1/2 hour I finally stopped heaving, but was so physically exhausted. Much to the dismay of my boss, I clocked out an hour early.

My job is INTENSELY stressful, especially recently with one of my co-workers quitting - I ended up with a lot of her work. I'm stuck in a pickle, because I am normally a motivated, independent woman and I have ALWAYS dreamed about the "Sex and the City" type life, with a swanky career in Manhattan, swearing sassy heels, of course! Since I graduated college and took the job, things have gone down hill so badly. I've always been able to handle stress, but apparently not so much anymore. I am intelligent and creative and I want to express these qualities so much, just like I used to. I just don't know how to get back to that point of relaxation and "normality."

BrokenSmile - (while disappointing) that is hiliarious! I'd try anything as well! I'm seeing a Natropathic Doctor, who charges ridiculous fees, but I am desperate! I've also tried a Reiki healer, and I was VERY open to it, but unfortunately it didn't work so well. I'm taking Tigan (an anti-nausea med) and Niravam (and if neccessary, a small portion of a Xanax pill - any more of it puts me into some sort of coma and I wake up feeling confused and anxious!) I chug Pepto Bismal from the bottle. And back in the day, I ate so many tums that I got kidney stones from the calcium deposits! When I was 16, I was diagnosed with gastritis after having an endoscopy. So at one point, I had a real physical medical problem. These days, I have no idea what's going on. I baffle doctors! The reason I am on Prozac particularly is because they give the same drug to women who have very bad PMS/periods (except it's called by a different name - Sarafim). I take it every other day (will be upping this soon), but I have no benefits or bad reactions to it that I can tell as of yet. As for finding a therapist that you click with - do NOT give up hope on that. I saw three therapists before finding my current one. She is AMAZING and I knew immediately that we would get along. It just takes a little "browsing" I think.

Horseygirl - How do your natural supplements work for you? Before I leave for my cruise on Saturday (eeee gulp!) I am going to buy ginger supplements. I heard that evening primrose oil is good for PMS/menstruation. I am in LOVE with the thought of having children. I am only 22, but I imagine myself with them of course in the future. I am TERRIFIED of the morning sickness associated with pregnancy and I am TERRIFIED of my children throwing up on me. I hope these feelings change - I want them to so badly. I do not want this obsessive fear to ruin EVERYTHING. I too, feel unhealthy. I KNOW I look sickly thin. I've always been a petite girl - never weighing more than 110, but always athletic and with healthy eating habits. I LOVE FOOD - I used to take so much pleasure in delicious, slow meals. Now I rush my meals, because I'd rather get the eating over with. Now I am down to 96 pounds. People accuse me of having an eating disorder, but I SWEAR I don't, unless having a fear of eating/vomiting consitutes an eating disorder.

The severity of my problems has risen IMMENSLY in the last 9 months. (The combination of getting sick on a plane ride to Costa Rica, beginning birth control with terrible nausea side effects and beginning a new job seem to be the 3 events that sparked it.) Prior to that, I hadn't dry heaved in YEARS. And now I have 4-5 day episodes once a month at LEAST.

I am SO SCARED to get on that plane this Saturday (and even more scared to get on the cruise ship!) I want to conquer it, so I feel like if I can get through it, I will be less scared. Baby steps..........

I TRULY wish I had advice. As I see my therapist, I will surely relay the strategies that we work on together, to the both of you. I'm sorry this was so long! I really don't have anyone to talk to about this who can truly understand.

I appreciate your input very, very much!!

 
Old 01-04-2007, 07:01 AM   #7
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broken_smile HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hi Laura,

Have you noticed if the monthly dry-heaving occurs just before your period? That's when I get it.

You mention that people think you have an eating disorder. Well, I was misdiagnosed with anorexia by a doctor, despite the fact that I WANTED to eat and was acutely aware of how skinny I was. This of course was back in the mid 80s when anorexia was the newest "trendy" disorder to have. I was around your age.

I had the same fears you have about having children. Obviously everyone's different but I went the entire 9 months without so much as one dry-heave. In fact, I was completely panic-free... and when my daughter was a toddler, she came into my room in the morning, hopped on the bed and threw up on my (long) hair. You'd be surprised what you can and will do when it comes to your children. What I mean by that is, if anyone else had done it I probably would have freaked out big time, but because it was her, it wasn't so bad. More than that, I don't ever want my daughter having this phobia (or any other) so I didn't want my reaction to her vomiting to in any way instill fear of vomiting into her. So I took care of her before myself, made sure she was ok, reassured her that it was ok, she'd be ok, and explained that throwing up is just the body's way of getting rid of whatever's making her tummy feel yucky. (Wish I could take my own advice lol).

 
Old 01-04-2007, 07:35 PM   #8
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horseygirl14 HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hi ladies. I can so relate to your emails. {REMOVED}

Luckily when I was pregnant I didn't have any morning sickness or I wouldn't have had 3 kids. With the 3rd one I felt yucky most of the time but it wasn't too bad. I think I was just overtired, with 2 small kids and my husband had a few health issues.

Laura - I hope you enjoy your cruise. Take all your medications, items that make you feel better with you. I find the lavender spray, soothing music helps relax me.

I started taking the evening primrose oil and stress vitamins because my hair was doing so poorly. I found I haven't been as anxious lately but the emetophobia is still always hanging over me.

I have gotten the same questions about the eating disorder. I am too embarassed to tell people at work about the emetophobia so I just tell them that it's stress. They all say they wish they could have my stress. I'm not really skinny - about 130 and 5 foot 6 but in the last 4 years I went from 172 to 130 and am now skinnier than before I had my 3 kids. I really notice it in my face.

Broken Smile - that's too bad about the psychic. It's terrible to feel so desperate that you are willing to try anything. There doesn't seem to be much out there to help with this condition and that's disheartening.

I don't have dry heaves thank god. My 9 year old son had the stomach flu in early December and it was so awful. I felt like such a bad mom that I couldn't comfort him the way I wanted to. It was the middle of the night and my husband was at work. I did the best I could and it wasn't so bad. I disinfected the house over and over again with the wipes, sprays, hand sanitizer and bleach for the whole week. My daughter got sick once the next day after him. My husband's niece got sick (I think it was food poisoning) on boxing day while we were visiting relatives and I couldn't wait to get out of that house.

Have you ever noticed that you feel panicky when your blood sugar is low. I seem to be noticing that. I guess because we don't eat much for long periods of time (during the day) - it screws up our blood sugar and the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can be the same as anxiety.

Good luck ladies. Hope to talk to both of you soon.

Last edited by ms_mod; 01-05-2007 at 09:22 AM. Reason: Read and follow the posting rules. Ms_Mod

 
Old 01-05-2007, 05:42 PM   #9
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krisdance83 HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hello everyone! I have to say that all of your words feel like they could be coming from my mouth exactly. I have a pretty horrible case of this phobia and it is all-consuming. It has slowly but surely taken over my life. I feel like I am at a breaking point, and I am only 23. By the time I am 50, I will surely be locked up in a mental ward somewhere!!

My phobia goes back as far as I can remember, although it started with me being afraid of other people vomitting. I don't remember being afraid of myself actually vomitting until I was around maybe 10? The last time I vomitted was when I was 11 (knock on wood!!) and I remember being terrified by that point. It has gotten consistently worse since then, although I got through middle and high school pretty well. I was afraid around this time of year but I didn't take it to the extreme.

Once I got to college I wouldn't even go away to a dorm. I was afraid of the germs and afraid to be away from home. All of the fears and anxiety in my life center around this fear. My separation anxiety, emetophobia, OCD, general anxiety are all interrelated and a result of this phobia.

Anyway, the past three or four years have been the worst of all. In 2003 I had two of my pets pass away which triggered extreme stress/anxiety/sadness. The panic attacks and anxiety remained long after I came to better terms with the loss. Not long after their passing I started feeling ill ALL of the time. I can only describe my feelings as "weird sensations" in my body. I constantly had a sort-of tightness in my throat that made me think I was going to gag, which triggered an endless circle of panic. I even gagged into the toilet one night in a state of panic. I don't know if it was technically "dry heaves." I got lightheaded a lot and always felt just generally sick all over. Of course I refused to believe it was all anxiety so I went on a mission to figure out what was wrong with me. I tricked myself into believing I was constantly "nauseous" even though most people wouldn't call what I experienced "nausea." Basically any ailment in my body makes me think I am nauseous or are going to become nauseous. Anyway, once the doctors insisted that there was nothing physically wrong I started to wonder if it was all anxiety related. But I wasn't used to having this much anxiety. Even with my phobia, I handled it well when I was younger.

After a few months of those weird sensations I started actually feeling very sick to my stomach. I saw a gastroenterologist who diagnosed me with "gastroparesis" which in other words is a paralyzed stomach. There is no cure for the disease, only methods to make one more comfortable. The disease causes delayed emtying of the stomach which makes one very nauseous and causes most people to vomit. Some people have it so bad that they vomit every time they eat and eventually get feeding tubes!! Of course that wasn't the news that I wanted to hear. I felt like this was the WORST thing I could possibly have. I researched it and found that many people that have gastroparesis also have emetophobia. Which makes me think that I/we maybe created the condition for ourselves. I went a few months eating very little because I was sooo paranoid about it. I got down to 74 pounds. Eventually my life took a turn for the better and I felt better overall, the weird sensations subsided but were still there sometimes, but I was able to start eating again and am now actually heavier than when I started.

Everything was pretty good for a while as far as how I felt. I still had anxiety here and there, and felt ill maybe every other week as opposed to every day. Of course the winter time brought back a lot of fear because all I hear about is stomach viruses that are "very contagious."

The past few months have once again been a struggle. At this time of year every year I get worse because of the viruses everyone talks about. I was my hands until they are raw. I use hand sanitizer all day long. I will not touch a piece of food without making sure I just scrubbed my hands, and even at that I would rather eat with a fork or not at all. I also LOVE to eat so it puts a damper on that. I also LOVE the idea of having children, and insist on having a bunch of them, but I don't know how I will get over the idea of the child being sick around me. Children pick up so many bugs that are usually passed throughout the household. I can't get over that. The morning sickness scares me, but not as much, because statistics show that people with this phobia actually have much less chance of vomitting during pregnancy. HOWEVER, although my "gastroparesis" has subsided, my GI doc says I might have more trouble during pregnancy. Over the past months I have come to believe that I never TRULY had gastroparesis, but that my CONSTANT nausea or what felt like nausea to me, was and still IS a result of my anxiety. I know that I have GERD but that is probably my anxiety too. I have come to believe that all of my weird sensations, nausea or what I call nausea (which could mean a weird feeling in my mouth and not even an upset stomach) are a result of this phobia and the anxiety/OCD that it causes.

I feel like you all feel: that I would rather lose a limb than vomit. Frankly I would rather die a slow, horrible death!! It is terrible to say, but that is what this fear does to people. It consumes them. And the world around us has no way of understanding. They say "oh nobody LIKES to throw up," to which I proceed to explain that I more than "don't like it," I actually have an overwhelming, irrational PHOBIA that does not go away just because "nobody likes it." I also wish I could find a therapist that understands. My therapist insisted that I would get over it if I vomitted. We all know that is a ridculous notion. Won't happen. I need to find someone that is experienced with exposure THERAPY but knows that jumping right into the extent of actually vomitting is not an option.

In the meantime I think that if I could reduce my anxiety even a little bit, that it would help everything. My anxiety makes me feel sick, and when I feel sick it produces anxiety. It is a never-ending vicious circle. I can't beat it. I can't get past it. I sometimes wake up in the morning or go through the day feeling relatively calm, but at the same time I still feel "off." I never feel physically "normal." My "weird sensations" produce something new every day that throws me for another loop. I need to not feel sick anymore. I need to be able to go to work and do my job (accountant -- busy season, long hours approaching!!) and not worry about how I am going to feel. I wish I could get through it like I could high school and most of college. I had the phobia but my anxiety wasn't so bad to the extent that it made me physically ill on a daily basis.

This has become so out of hand and ridiculous. My boyfriend and I are looking for houses, and in a way I am terrified because he will realize just how much a freak I am. Right now and throughout our 7 year relationship I have explained my phobia, he has come to understand as well as he can, but when I get anxious and out of control he kind of gets aggrivated. We spend nights together but I have been lucky so far and most of them have been fine. I've only had a few of what I would call a typical night for me, which involves sitting up in bed, scared, panicking that I am sick and might throw up. Panicking to the point where I have to take an Ativan and pass out. He knows I can be like that and he is very supportive, but he hasn't seen anything yet!! I have a lot more bad than good, but I trick him by pretending I have more good than bad. I wouldn't want to put more of a burden on him. Nobody knows just how bad I am. My mom knows the most but not nearly all of it. She is the most understanding and I couldn't do it without her. But at the same time I don't tell her everything because I would be going on and on like I am in this post!!! It is ridulous. It is always on my mind. It is an inner struggle for me because I refuse to show people how bad it is so I struggle inside with it. I don't know if that is good or bad, but in a way I think it is better because I feel like I could ruin relationships easier if it was all I talked about with people. I refuse to let them believe that I am constantly worrying about it even though I am.

(continued in next post...)
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Old 01-05-2007, 05:43 PM   #10
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Re: Emetophobia

I can't believe I have gone on and on for this long in this post. SORRY!!! Bless you if you have read this far!! But if I were reading it I would be thrilled to realize that I am not alone. Not even close. There are others struggling as much as I am if not more. And that is rather comforting in a twisted way!!!
I agree with whoever said that vomitting to cure this phobia wouldn't work because it isn't necessarily ABOUT the vomitting. That sentence doesn't make sense but to ME it makes sense. I am not afraid that vomitting will harm my body and/or kill me. There is just something about it that is terrifying. Maybe it's about losing control. When I think of vomitting or someone I know vomitting, it makes me feel like they are temporarily not themselves. Like something else took over. I don't like that. I don't like thinking of dark, cold nights, alone in front of the toilet. However I couldn't do it in front of anyone either!! As far as I can remember it has only ever happened in my house at night, so I get the heebee geebee's sometimes when I picture the darkness of my bathroom or any dark bathroom/bedroom. It is so ridculous but it brings back my memories of childhood (when I didn't fear myself vomitting) and sparks fear decades later!

I don't know what it's about. They say that it can be caused by something traumatic in childhood that did or did NOT involve vomitting. Only God knows what it could be. But I fear that after all these years of feeling this way, how can I be trained not to feel this way anymore? If I could decrease the fear even a LITTLE bit I would be grateful. I REFUSE not to have kids because of this. I can't let it take over any more than it already has. I can't let it ruin more of my life. I, too wish there was a way that I could guarantee it would never happen again, and then I could live without anxiety. Because all of my anxiety revolves around this. I thought about the Nissen-Fundoplication surgury too!! But I don't believe they will perform it for this phobia only. It is actually a treatment for gastroparesis!! But only extreme cases. And I have concluded that it is my anxiety making me sick and not GP anyway.

I guess the fact of the matter is that there is no easy way out of this. But I feel like we are strong people for having suffered through this for so long. This constant struggle with ourselves. Not being able to escape ourselves. That should give us the strength we need to fight and get over this. Or at least get a little better. I can only hope that we can all keep working through it and going on, and living life as best we can. I give you all my best wishes and best of luck to keep fighting through this. To many, this is a ridiculous fear that could be solved so simply, but to us it is our lives, and we have to work at making them better. It is easy to tell myself these things, but harder to do them.

Sorry this turned out to be so long...but I am thinking and feeling for all of you with this terrible phobia. Your stories are that of my own.
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Old 01-05-2007, 07:20 PM   #11
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Re: Emetophobia

Hi,

Well add another story to the list here. I can relate to everything you all have said. I just wish I could offer some solutions.

I have had this phobia since at least 9 or 10 years old. I am now 49. It has touched every aspect of my life. I obsess about this constantly and always have. I have not pursued many opportunities in my life because of this lingering fear. I have two children and did not throw up during pregnancy. Also i managed to keep it together when the kids got sick.

The interesting thing is I have had many rounds of counseling and have never shared this tidbit with any of them. My family is not aware (or maybe they are) of the extent of this problem. I just do not want to drag them down into it. They are aware of quirkieness in my behavior but I doubt they have put it all together. I am not sure myself. I firmly believe the control issue aspect, although am not sure what the defining instance was. I was molested and had other issues within my home growing up so maybe what I was experiencing was the reason.

I have a few questions. Are any of you aware of anything or instance such as abuse that you experienced as a child? Do you find you have other issues, such as depression, OCD (which I have seen some reference), severe anxiety (regarding situations other than vomiting). and other phobias. Does anyone in your family have any mental health issues, such as a genetic pattern?

Again I am in total understanding of what has been said here. I wish I could offer a solution. I am glad we can at least share our stories.

Thanks,
cbr

 
Old 01-05-2007, 09:29 PM   #12
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krisdance83 HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hi CBR, well most of the literature that I have read about this phobia is that it either has no known origin, or it is caused by a traumatic childhood event that either involved or even did NOT involve vomitting. The brain centers are so close that a traumatic event not involving vomitting can trigger the fear somehow. Molestation is said to be a frequent trigger for this phobia, so I wouldn't be surprised if that applies to you (and I am sorry you had to go through that...).

For myself, I have a few theories as to what it could be: first, I was adopted at 4 months old. I have had separation anxiety for my whole life. Of course there is no way of knowing if my adoption triggered anything, but it is a possibility. The literature says that emetophobic adults often remember being very scared of losing parents/loved ones as children. Even taking extreme measures to keep a parent from leaving the house out of fear that something bad might happen. When I read this I was in absolute AWE because my mother said I did that constantly when she and my father would leave to go to work. My adoption couldn't have helped this any I'm sure. But I don't know where I would be without my parents so I couldn't imagine staying where I was.

Secondly, when I was in kindergarten I had a friend in the class that would constantly get sick and vomit at school and on the bus. I was his partner in class so I had to walk with him to the nurse each time this happened. I quickly became very terrified of other kids vomitting in class. I remember the "good" years (where nobody got sick in class) and the "bad" (where someone did). I quit the chorus in fourth grade because someone always vomitted during the concerts!! (ironically the last concert after I quit -- nobody got sick!). Anyway I am getting sidetracked...but this is what this phobia does. It instills weird memories and thought patterns.
After a time I became terrified of myself throwing up rather than just the kids around me. And now I am terrified of both but of course I would rather have someone else do it if I HAD to choose.

I remember an incident -- but have no confirmation of this happening -- of my grandmother holding me upside down by the feet when I either choked on something or was vomitting as a child. I swear this happened but nobody remembers if it did.

I have had many traumatic incidents involving and not involving vomitting that I personally believe all played a part in my phobia. I guess these things manifest themselves in different ways. Some people who went through childhood trauma turn out to be fine, some are very violent as adults, some have depression, anxiety, etc. I guess it depends on the person.

To answer your other questions, yes I have a touch of OCD mostly involving the phobia and obsessive hand-washing and cleaning. The stupid rituals that I do are all to avoid getting sick. I have done some weird things in the past with my OCD but I did them with the idea in my head that they would prevent me from throwing up even though they had NOTHING to do with throwing up (for instance turning the light switch a certain way). Sometimes I would do it for safety. I felt I wouldn't be safe without doing this. I have gotten better with those things but the germ thing/cleanliness thing remain. I have the obsessive thoughts too. Sometimes I experience that depersonalization (derealization?) thing, where I start to feel like I don't know who I am for a few seconds. I usually snap out of it but for a small while I think to myself "why are we here?" "how did we get here?" "what is this world?". Very strange.

I have had situational depressions that I believe added to my phobia and helped get me to the bad state I am currently in. The situational depressions that I have had all involve loss (which relates to my theory above...). Loss of beloved pets, loss of boyfriend, etc.

I don't have severe anxiety for anything besides vomitting, illness in general (because it could lead to vomitting), and loss of loved ones. I am fine with small spaces, crowds, etc. unless I could possibly get ill. Although I do get scared when I start wondering about the world and getting those weird thoughts.

I wish I knew of any genetic patterns, but I have no contact with my birth parents. I have no desire to find them either.

I am so glad that you have gotten through so well with your children. I can only hope that I can get through it too. Because it is something that I desperately want. I hope my boyfriend/future husband will continue to put up with me!!

It does feel good to talk to everyone here...
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Old 01-05-2007, 11:15 PM   #13
cbr cbr is offline
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cbr HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Hi Krisdance,

Thank you so much for your response. For such a young lady I am impressed with your knowledge and your willingness to look for some answers.

It is interesting you brought up the loss issue. One of the other problems I dealt with on a daily basis was my mother saying she was going to die from some illness everyday I can remember. She would threaten to leave or not live to see any of my milestones. Unfortunately she had problems with depression and anxiety and our lives revolved around her fears and insecurities. Of course that came at a price for us and me in particular as she was 42 when she had me and I seemed to reap the benefits, since her situation got worse as she reached menopause. Without boring you with all of the specifics, her behavior has had a profound effect on me. I have transferred my fear of loss to everyone close to me and myself, which is a daily all consuming problem. My family has unfortunately reaped the benefits of my fears. One other thing my mom had a stroke at 83 and lived another 5 years, although no quality of life. But 83 was a pretty long time. I spent a lot of time in fear of losing her.

I am sorry you have no genetic family history to draw from but you seem to be on the right track with some of your thoughts regarding the source of your phobia. I agree that the OCD does seem to go hand in hand with the phobia. As I have gotten older I have learned many things about my family and mental issues seem to be prevelant. They just manifest in various ways.

As for having a family, I urge you to go for it. It is not saying it will be easy to deal with the fears. But it is so worth it. Do not give up on your dream of a family. During pregnancy I was given suppositories for nausea for my queasiness. The doctor deemed they were safe and I only used it once, as I really did not need to. The good thing was I kept the prescription for future use. It seemed to take the edge off when I was feeling under the weather. As a matter of fact I have a standing prescription for anti nausea vomiting pills.

I wish you and your boyfriend luck. I can so understand how hard this is and the price those closest to us pay for our phobias. You are doing a great job.

Thanks,

cbr

 
Old 01-06-2007, 07:23 AM   #14
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 14
LauraDaydreams HB User
Re: Emetophobia

Krisdance and CBR (and everyone else!)-

I don't have much time to reply, because I have to (last minute) pack for my cruise. But I read all of your posts (nearly gagging) and I feel like I could hug you ALL. I have SO MUCH to say, but I will be gone for a week, and will not be able to participate in this discussion until then!

I just want to say really quickly, that my phobia definitely stems from childhood. I've done research and I've spoken with my psychologists. At the time, in first grade, I had a VERY bad phobia of the toilet. While at school, I was in the back of the classroom, and the toilet overflowed all over my feet. For some reason, that terrified me. It just seemed like SO MUCH WATER. I wouldn't use the toliet at school, so my parents had a meeting with the principal and she gave me PERMISSION to use her private toilet at any time. But this stemmed into using the toilet at home, so for a while I needed my parents to come into the bathroom with me in first grade. At the same time as all of this was happening, I got the stomach virus for the first time. I threw up SIX times (but it seemed like it just would NEVER stop.) I've never been the same since. My classmates would get sick - In 5th grade, one in the middle of a school assembly. He just STOOD THERE, throwing up...like it would never stop. And I just STARED, like I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I couldn't believe there was that much liquid in this kid's stomach. He sat next to me in class, so I was afraid of him the entire year.

I also, have strange superstitions that I somehow conjur up so that "I won't throw up." Part of the OCD I suppose...I'm on the 3rd week of Prozac and I'm sticking with it. I'm hoping it kicks in soon.

I am absolutely terrified of going on this cruise. (I, too, have separation anxiety!) I saw my psychiatrist two days ago, and he upped my Xanax and gave me anti-dry heaving medicine. I dry heaved from Tuesday-Thursday. I fought it all day yesterday and this morning it is only 10 a.m., but I feel like I could gag at any moment. I am so scared to get on the plane (I dry heaved the entire way to Costa Rica last March! I had taken WAY too much medicine - the motion sickness patch, birth control and allergy meds, which clearly is what made me heave. This was the very first incident that sparked this 10 month journey of dry heaves.) So naturally, I'm just afraid it's going to happen again. And even worse, I'm scared of a stomach virus outbreak on the cruise ship (I have a huge bottle of hand sanitizer I am armed with!). I am scared of getting motion sick. I am scared that I'm not going to want to participate in any activities, because what if I just start dry heaving or EVEN WORSE, just throw up.

I want to eat all of the GLORIOUS food that I love while on this ship. Lobster...seafood fests...pasta....EVERYTHING. I want to eat it all! I just can't even stomach a piece of toast at this moment. I am scared of embarassing myself in front of my boyfriend's parents.

It's a VACATION - it's supposed to make you relax! My psychologist says it's all anticipatory anxiety and that once I get there, I will probably be fine. I have every medicine possible to help me, including the nausea wrist bands for motion sickness. But it just seems like if my body wants to heave, it's going to heave.

When I get back, I will find this thread again and catch up and reply! I have SO MUCH to say. Krisdance- We have a LOT in common - we are close in age! Just like you, I have an amazing boyfriend and we would like to move in together. He understands to a certain extent, but he is getting more and more frustrated, even though he doesn't outright say it it. I ask him if he has any fears and he says nothing TRULY scares him so much it paralyzes him. So I say he couldn't possibly understand that my anxiety is manifesting itself into dry heaves - the ONE thing I am afraid of. As for my parents, they yell at me a LOT. Saying I bring it on myself and that I caused my dry heaves by working myself up.

I don't think it's because they are ANGRY with me, I just think they are frustrated and don't know how to help. My job causes SO MUCH stress, it's unbelieveable. I'm terrified of losing my health insurance, because I don't know if I'd be able to cover the cost of my Rx and frequent doctor visits and the occasional trips to the ER for violent dry heaving/dehydration.

Ten months ago, I was a different person. I had an active social life, I was athletic, I had a libido that was out of control (and amazing!), I was BEYOND HAPPY that I had gradated college early and was just beginning this brand new chapter of my life. Yes, I had a vomit fear, but it did not consume my every waking moment. And yes, I had real stomach problems that I was clinically diagnosed with, but I've ALWAYS been able to handle it.

With all of the added anxiety of being afraid of being fired from my job, losing my boyfriend due to all of my panic, not being able to run simple errands on my "bad" days...everything has just escalated out of control. I HATE how much of a coward I've become. I used to be up for ANYTHING....spontaneously...no worries...just fun and feel good moments!

When I return from my cruise, I hope I have something fantastic to report for you guys. Any last words of encouragement? How does an emetaphob deal with travel anxiety!? I suppose just to put my life in the hands of the pilot, the cruise staff and most importantly, God.

I will NOT DIE if I throw up. I will be FINE. My body will probably feel as though it is relieved of all sorts of physical and mental stress. I want to be optimistic so much, so here it goes! I am going to see parts of the world I've been itching to see - the beaches and rainforests of Belize, Hondruas, Grand Cayman and Cozymel. I've earned this vacation!

I don't personally know any of you, but I truly thank you for identifiying with me.

Bon Voyage! And be well!

Sincerely,
Laura

 
Old 01-06-2007, 09:21 AM   #15
Senior Member
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: MA
Posts: 234
krisdance83 HB User
Re: Emetophobia

HI again girls. CBR, thank you for your encouragement. It seems that we all have this "loss issue" so it's hard to believe that it isn't directly related to our phobia.

Laura, I think you might have already left, but I want to wish you luck on your trip. I know that you will be fine, and have a great time. The year that this nightmare began (not the phobia itself, but the actual phsyical symptoms of it) I had a vacation planned with my boyfriend and another couple. I was absolutely terrified to have a horrible time and have "BAD days" the whole time and ruin the trip!! The day before we left I felt HORRIBLE. I felt the worst I have ever felt the night before and the morning before getting on the plane. I ended up taking an ativan for the first time, and I felt just wonderful after that. It seemed to relax me for the whole trip. And get this-- my boyfriend THREW UP on the plane ride to Mexico!!! I was the one who felt nauseous and HE was the one who threw up!! He had been up all night drinking because it was his graduation day. I had taken my ativan so I didn't FREAK out, I turned my head and blocked my ears. He used MY baggie that I brought just in case! I would have freaked out more if I thought it was something I could catch. I am less afraid of people throwing up near me from drinking because I know I can't catch that....but that is a whole other story...I am getting off track here...

I just wanted to tell you that I was terrified to go on vacation and once I got there it turned out to be wonderful. It was like a vacation from my fears. I don't know what did it. I don't know if it was the atmosphere, the ativan, or what, but I ate, drank, swam, sunbathed, and had a GREAT time. And I know that you will too. Just be open to it, and you can do it. Make sure to catch up with us when you get back because we have a LOT to talk about!!

Everyone stay strong!! You are all great to talk to.
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