I am currently going through a bad episode of my Emetophobia, and no one seems to understand. I just want a "space" to share my feelings.
I have had Emetophobia since I was 7 years-old, in first grade. I caught a horrific stomach virus - I think I vomited six times, and was hospitalized for four days due to severe dehydration. Afterward, I would not use public or school bathrooms because I was scared that I would hear / see someone vomit. In third grade, I remember having a panic attack on two occasions - once because my best friend vomited and left school early, and another time because the girl who sat next to me felt ill, and our teacher merely placed the trash can in between us (luckily for me, she didn't vomit).
Then, when I was 11 years-old, in fifth grade, it happened again. I caught a stomach virus, though this one was not nearly as horrific. I vomited twice and was fine the next day. Thereafter, I actually started to use the school bathrooms because I was obsessed with washing my hands before lunchtime. In fact, I would wash my hands before every meal, so much that they would dry, crack, and bleed.
Throughout the next three years, I was able to manage my Emetophobia. Sure, I obsessively washed my hands and had a panic attack if someone vomited at school, but I was generally okay and enjoying my young life. However, I had a terrible bout of Emetophobia in 8th grade, as my father and sister caught the dreaded stomach virus. My Dad was down and out on a Monday morning, and my sister started to vomit late that night, when I was already in bed. I remember waking up the next morning, crying and screaming, scared to death that I would contract it. I refused to use the bathroom, even though my mother cloroxed the heck out of it, and barely ate for a week. My mother and I never contracted that stomach virus, but I was traumatized for the remainder of the winter. On several occasions, I left school early or stayed home because my stomach hurt. My heart would race, I would violently shake, and felt as though my throat was going to close up. Summertime came, stomach virus season ended, and I got over it.
I was able to manage my Emetophobia throughout high school and college, as no one that I had direct contact with or lived with had the stomach virus. Once again, I still obsessively washed my hands and panicked when I went on CNN.com and saw an article about a stomach virus outbreak, but was generally okay and enjoying my life.
I am now 25 years-old and going through my WORST bout of Emetophobia. I still live at home with my parents as I attend a local graduate school, and I must say that my parents rarely, if ever, get a stomach virus. On Saturday morning, I woke up surprised to see that my mother was in bed. I knocked on the door, and she said "Don't come in, I've been throwing up all morning." I completely shut down. I called my older sister, hysterically crying. I did not leave my bedroom until 3:00 PM. Currently (five days later), I will only use our downstairs bathroom. My father and mother yelled at me over this, because our downstairs shower leaks a little bit. They also gave me an attitude because I bought a new cosmetic mirror and hairdryer because my she vomited inches away from the products, and I couldn't bear to disinfect them. They yelled at me for getting upset when she prepared our dinner on Tuesday evening. This is because I read online that an individual still carries the virus 72 hours after they last vomit, and that the bacteria can live on surfaces for TWO WEEKS
! My hands are dry and cracked from washing them so much the past five days. Today, I decided to get back to my normal life - using the upstairs bathroom, touching items in the kitchen without panicking.
Because I was "triggered," I know it is going to be a long winter and that I am likely going to have panic attacks until April (though one can vomit at any time). For instance, the past couple of days, I had to force myself to go to the grocery store and touch a "contaminated" cart, and go out to eat because the person who prepares my meal may have went to work ill. My significant other and I are currently apartment hunting, and I am nervous to just have one bathroom because if she has a stomach virus, I won't be able to use a separate bathroom, and in a one-bedroom living situation, there is nowhere to escape from the germs.
So, this is the sad life of an Emetophobic. I can't seem to shake my own phobia and stressor. Another pathetic thing - I haven't had a stomach virus since fifth grade - so I spend my time obsessing about something that has not happened to me in 14 years. But, I know there will be a day that it DOES happen, and it scares me to death. Interestingly, I am an Emetophobic that only fears vomit via the stomach virus. For example, my friends in college sometimes vomited due to drinking, and it didn't affect me in the least - I took care of them. This summer, I was on a deep sea fishing trip and comforted those who were vomiting overboard. It doesn't bother me because I know that they are not contagious.
I just wanted to get all of that off my chest.