I'm turning 21 next month and I've been suffering from emetophobia (fear of vomit/vomiting) for as long as I can remember. As a child, it wasn't such a huge issue but the older I get and the more I learn about illnesses, the worst my phobia gets. It's been particularly bad for the past 2/3 years after a particularly stressful time in my life.

I feel sick every single day. I struggle eating (especially certain foods) so I've lost a couple of stone. I struggle sleeping, I struggle with pretty much everything. I hate crowds, I hate outside, I hate eating out, I hate touching door handles, etc etc etc. It really holds me back in life - socially, professionally, academically, and more.

The phobia in turn causes extreme anxiety. I feel like a huge let down because I'm scared of leaving my house to see friends or family just in case i'm sick, they're sick or someone is sick and I just hate having to pretend that I'm okay all the time. But I don't want people to think I'm lying, or seeking attention, and I don't want them to just get sick of me complaining that "i'm scared and I don't feel well."

I'm scared of buses and trains and just any public place where people could be sick. Slowly but surely I'm becoming isolated from the people I care about. When the anxiety sets in, I feel more sick and struggle to breathe so it's a horrible vicious circle.

I feel so helpless, as if life is never going to improve. I want to be as normal as my other 21 year old friends who can go out partying and drinking but of course - drinking and alcohol terrifies me. I'm scared I'll never be able to have a baby because of morning sickness but also everyone knows that babies throw up all the time. I just want one day where I don't have to feel ill.

My parents don't care and aren't really interested anyway. I was abused as a child and they're alcoholics. So again, the fact they consume huge amounts of alcohol is really scary to me. I have a great boyfriend though and he helps in the ways he can but it would be so great to know other people who are struggling and people who truly understand what it's like. So my question really is, can anyone relate to this?

1 Reply

  • I can. :)

    I went through a really bad patch of this when I was 11. Everyone just thought I had anorexia, only my Mum realised it could have been anxiety/ depression driven. She even mentioned it to the doctor when we went and he just scoffed at the idea. I don't know about you, but it's sort of a chicken and egg thing; which came first, the anxiety or the fear of being sick? I'd always, always been afraid of being sick even when I was really little. I have many memories of waking my Mum and Dad up in the night terrified and shaking because I thought I was going to puke, but this wasn't that often. I think the isolation I felt at school in year 7 and the anxiety I felt going there everyday brought it back... and some. I stopped eating. I got paranoid of food. I hated the feeling of food in my stomach. I used to sit and rock myself sipping water when I felt nauseous, tapping my chest because I was panicking. It all stemmed from that initial anxiety of the people I would have to face alone every day and what they'd do or say to me that day. The anxiety was causing me to feel sick, it was a symptom not the actual problem. One day I'd just reached my limit and walked out of Art, walked straight to my year head's office and told her I wanted to move forms. I didn't look back. The change of environment and people helped me massively. I felt happier. I started eating properly again. I still have issues with eating when I'm feeling anxious because I feel it more in my stomach. It really churns when I'm stressed, but I do see past it now. I know it for what it is. It's just me reacting badly to something or some situation and I try to put it into perspective. I think it helps when you know the reasons why you're feeling the way you do and the fact is; you're not going to be sick, you're just anxious about something and the feeling of your stomach churning makes it worse because you're focused right in on that and it makes you panic even more. Try to take deep breaths. Feel what's happening, but don't worry about it. Try to move passed the feeling and slowly calm yourself down. In all probability you wont be sick. Your stomach is a pretty solid thing, it'd have to be if you think about it. It would be very rarely that these feelings would lead to you actually being sick. And you know what; so what if you are sick. It won't actually kill or hurt you. It passes very quickly. It's not the worst thing that could happen to you. Feeling sick all the time is by much worse than actually being sick and that's anxiety driven. You just need to breathe through the feeling.

    Going to your doctor and explaining how things are for you at the minute would help (don't take my bad experience with a doctor when I was 11 put you off. I think it's because I was so young and him being in his 60's, he couldn't see what I could possibly be depressed about). They might refer you to therapy or offer you the option of anxiety medication. It's worth thinking about at least. It'd calm you down enough to see things for what they really might be.

    I hope you feel better soon. :) x

    P.S. I know what you mean about the bus thing. I used to get so terrified on busses just incase I started to feel sick and ended up being puking infront of everyone. I don't feel like that anymore. It does pass.

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