Trigger warning: this post contains talk of anorexia and emetophobia, which is a phobia of being sick.
No one likes being sick, I mean its hardly a pleasant experience.
But for most people, that’s all it is, something they don’t like but that’s just an unavoidable fact of life.
Not so for people who suffer from Emetophobia.
It’s quite a wide-ranging condition but basically put it’s the fear of being sick and/or the fear of seeing someone being sick.
According to Anxiety UK, 6-7% of women and around 1.7-3.1% of men, suffer from emetophobia.
I had it for years without even realising it was an actual phobia.
It wasn’t until I read a blog post by someone else who has it too, that I realised this wasn’t just me “being silly” – a mindset I had been struggling with ever since I’d started with it.
I’ve actually had medical professionals tell me that I was just being melodramatic, that no one likes being sick but its not a real phobia and it doesn’t affect your life.
Well actually, yes it does!
I became anorexic because I caught the winter sickness bug that springs up every year and my brain, in its infinite wisdom, thought that starving myself would stop me being sick.
No, what stopped me being sick was the anti-sickness tablets I was popping like smarties.
All starving myself did was nearly put me in hospital.
Oh, and having kids? Yeah, that one isn’t going to happen for me because the thought of having to cope with morning sickness terrifies me.
Even just typing that made my hands clam up!
I know for a fact I would starve myself again before I let myself be sick, which would seriously harm the baby.
Plus what kind of mother would I be if my kids got sick, I couldn’t go near them.
Not wouldn’t, couldn’t.
My mum got sick on New Years Day and because my room is next to the bathroom I could hear everything, so I went to my bedroom door to ask her if she was okay and if I could get her anything.
Even stood 10 foot away I was shaking from head to foot and emetophobia physically wouldn’t let me get any closer.
I tried to make myself move and my just body wouldn’t respond.
I love my mum more than anyone in the world and if I couldn’t go to her (no matter how much it broke my heart to stay away) then I can’t imagine it being any different with a child.
I also can’t eat new things or in places I don’t know, because I’m terrified the food will make me sick.
This isn’t just restaurants and pubs, I panic when I eat at my boyfriend or best friends house!
I have to buy or take my own food with me more often than not, and then explain to them that it’s nothing against them, it’s just my phobia.
Luckily people don’t usually get offended, but it’s a constant worry for me especially when meeting people for the first time.
If there’s any kind of sickness bug going round I will become a hermit and refuse to leave the house unless I desperately have to.
If I do have to go outside I’ll obsessively use hand sanitiser if I’ve touched things like handrails and door handles.
I went through a whole bottle in less than a week once…
The amusing thing is, I can count on one hand the number of times it’s ever actually happened.
To this day I still don’t know why I suddenly ended up with this fear of being sick. I have a few guesses, but I can’t pinpoint for sure what set it off.
But having a name for the fear and realising that it’s actually pretty common has helped come to terms with it.
I’ve been making slow progress with it, and I hope in the years to come I’ll make even more.
However, as much as I hate to say it, I also don’t think its a fear that’s ever going to fully leave me now it’s here.
Do you struggle with Emetophobia? Do you have any tips or advice that help you cope?