Anxiety, Emetophobia and Depression

It's a vicious cycle. I spend every single day feeling sick with anxiety and being sick is also my biggest fear. I'm anxious about everything - I worry about every possible thing that somebody could worry about. I hate eating, it makes me feel sick. I hate going out. I hate working. I'm just so terrified about feeling or being sick in front of anybody. I'm depressed because no one understands or takes it seriously. My own parents don't really care. I feel like I have no friends. I dropped out of University last year because I just felt so isolated. There were so many excited 18-19 year olds but I just spent the whole time terrified that I would catch a stomach bug or see someone throw up if they were drinking and then there's this enormous pressure on young people to drink too - if you don't, you're made fun of and left out. I just want to enjoy my life now. I've had this phobia for as long as I can remember but it's been seriously effecting my day-to-day life for 2 years now.

On top of all this I have seriously low confidence and self esteem. I wasn't brought up very well (I won't go into that) but I just feel so helpless.

13 Replies

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  • Hi there,

    I feel much the same as you, I've just finished my second year of uni now and it hasn't lived up to what I was expecting. I feel like I can't get involved with other people because I'm always afraid of something. I'm sorry to hear that you had to drop out. Have you seen a GP or a therapist? I think this might help, even if you don't see improvements straight away I've found that it's so comforting just to speak to someone that understands the problem and knows how it affects you. I've been scared of being sick and seeing someone else being sick for as long as I can remember too, it's so difficult to explain to people how absolutely terrifying it is, especially those who don't give a second thought to throwing up after too many drinks, I'm too scared to even have one glass of alcohol nowadays.

    I think the best thing is to find someone who you can talk to and who will support you. I'm lucky to have a boyfriend who I now live with, last year we lived at opposite ends of London and it caused all sorts of problems when I would call him and beg that he would come over to look after me becuase I was so scared of being sick. I'm sure lots of people using this forum will understand how you feel and you'll have them to talk to :)

    Hope you're feeling better soon,

    Devan x

  • I think we must be the same age then if you've just finished your second year ... I'm 20.

    I was going to start therapy at my last university but I had to wait for weeks and I just felt like I couldn't stick it out anymore so when I came home I registered with a new GP and he referred me to a therapy company thing but they only put me on a waiting list, which I've been on for 5 months now without hearing anything.

    Yeah everything about it scares me - seeing other people, smelling it, being around someone who is or has been ill, and being sick myself. I barely eat anything these days. I've got a job now and we've had a couple of people throw up on the shopfloor and now I can't walk down those aisles.

    I also have a really supportive boyfriend. I don't know how he puts up with me really because I rely on him a lot to take care of me but we've been doing long distance for the past year because he went to Surrey University and I live up near Liverpool! He makes me feel so much safer.

    It's so nice knowing that there are people out there that understand. I think this website will be a sort of therapy for me. :)

  • Hi SK92. You are not alone in this - I am now 31 and have been battling emetophobia since I was very litte. No idea how or why it started. It's got worse as I've got older - I did make it through 5 years at uni. As a result of my emetophobia I also strugle with anxiety and speaking to my doctor was the best thing I ever did. My doctor was very understanding and suggested a range of things to try. I had hypnotherapy counselling and accupuncture and I also tak enatural products to improve my IBS which often leaves me feeling sick. All helped in their own way at but I have recently had a setback and so the doc has prescribed me citralopram to help. Only been on them just over a week and dealing with some of the side effects at the moment but feeling positive for the future.

    I strongly advise you talk to your GP and ask about counselling. Emetophobia is incredibly common and there's lots of help out there if you ask. Don't be embarassed or nervous and feel free to contact me if you want someone to speak to. x

  • I'm so scared of it dominating the rest of my life. Doctors I've spoken to have been really unsupportive and acted like they don't believe me really and I think that's because of my age. I was 19 when I last spoke to one (20 now) so a lot of doctors think you're just after attention if you say you're depressed with an extreme phobia.

    I think I might have given myself IBS with stressing so much all of the time but because I'm so terrified of being sick there are only certain foods which I deem as "safe" and so my diet is really bad, which in turn would make the IBS worse and make me feel sicker. If that makes sense?

    I might be starting over again at University in September so I'm hoping to get some counselling then but they only offer 5 sessions and I don't want to be stuck on an NHS waiting list for years. (I'm currently on one and I've been on it for 5 months)

    Thanks very much for your words :) It's so good knowing I'm not the only one who is like this and there are other people that really understand what it's like.

  • Hi sk92 yes me to my emetophobia started 7years ago I really don't know why I was fine before never thought twice about it my doctor thinks its my need to be in control I do suffer from anxiety and have recently started Cymbalta plus anti sickness drugs I used to work in a children's shop and had to be signed off. It's only me being sick though I can cope with any other people being sick as long as I cannot catch it I know worse things can happen rationally but to me it's,like death keep going though thinking of,you x

  • Yeah I think control is a small part of it. It's a part of my life that I can't control so it terrifies me. So is Cymbalta an anti-depressent? I'm never actually sick, I just feel it. I've tried calming tablets and I've tried wearing anti-sickness travel bands but so far nothing has worked. My driving instructor has tried to get me into tapping too, which admittedly works a little but only temporarily because i'm distracted from feeling sick whilst doing it but I'm only distracted when I do it because I feel so silly doing it!

    I can't cope with any form of sick. I don't know how you managed to work in a children's shop! You must be brave haha. If I've been around someone who's been sick, I'll panic for at least 2 weeks afterwards that I've caught there germs!

    Thank you for your words. It's good knowing there are other people like me that understand :)

  • Gosh, I thought I was the only one. I'm exactly like you. I've just finished college/sixth form and my friends have just got into their chosen uni's and will be going in September. I honestly don't know what to do with myself anymore. I definitely don't want to go to University (for basically the same reasons you mentioned), I also don't want to go back to college, and I kind of want a job but the jobs I would like either have no vacancies or need qualifications.

    I also have no self esteem or confidence and, although my issue is social anxiety, a major branch of my SA is emetephobia/being sick in public. I feel ill everywhere I go.

    I don't really know what to say as 'try and get through it' is the most common comment and it doesn't help much. But know you aren't alone. Like comments above say, try and get someone to understand and help as much as possible. :)

    Hope you feel better soon and sorry I'm not much help. x

  • University is so scary for people like us especially if you can't get an en-suite room. Try not to let it hold you back though. I think i'm going back to University this September and I'm just going to stick it out this time! You can get therapy pretty quickly at Uni, which is one benefit. Although, maybe you should consider taking a year out and trying to get some help before you give it a go :) If you've got supportive parents you should go private because you'll get help so much quicker!

    People everywhere get sick. If you get a job, other employees or staff will be sick. It's something that we just can't get away from unfortunately. I mean, that's one of the worst things about having this phobia. At least people who are scared of heights can just avoid heights - we can't avoid sickness.

    Yeah I think I have some form of social anxiety too because I am also terrified of other people seeing me throw up. I feel ill everywhere I go too and I hate even just feeling ill around other people in case they think I'm totally miserable and hate me.

    It's horrible worrying about everything all the time isn't it? No, you were a great help thank you. It's great knowing that there are other people who understand me.

  • Thanks everyone for your replies, it's so nice knowing that there are people out there that understand. I've replied to you all individually (or at least I think I have ... I'm new to this site). It's good to know I'm not alone :) x

  • Dealing with this kind of conundrum is really tough. Get yourself a kechara healing chakras to strengthens your mental and physical well being.

  • im 38 an ur so young, dont drink it will make it worse, iv got funny vision from it its horrible, have cbt, good luck

  • Hi there - I never realised that emetophobia is so common, I had it for DECADES and thought I was the only one, until I worked with a very "together" young woman who finally confessed she had it!! My fear wasn't so much being sick/seeing others be sick - I used to get (well, still do!) mega panic attacks, which took the form, among other things, of making me feel/be sick, and I was CONVINCED I was going to choke on my own vomit and die! A counsellor who worked out of a different surgery to mine virtually "cured" that bit by asking all the GPs in that practice if this was possible, and they all replied No, it's impossible for a conscious person to choke on their own vomit. That worked - it wouldn't have worked if my own GPs had told me, cos I would just have thought they were "humouring" me! :(

    However, to get to the real problem - it is SO common, the NoPanic organisation have produced a DVD about it. It's based on "exposure" therapy, so it might not be easy - I never plucked up the courage to try it, but my colleague did and said it was good. Might be worth a try? Go to:

    nopanic.org.uk/onlineorderf...

    Hope this helps, but DO see your GP and say you need counselling or some more help.

    good luck

    Rose x

  • The thought of exposing myself to it is terrible though. I can't stand anything to do with it. I don't know if i'd rather just live with it than go through that. :(

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