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emetophobia, trauma and my step sister(7 Posts)
I have a step-sister with whom I shared a room for ten years as a child, who vomited with such frequency while we shared the room, that I don't know whether i have emetophobia because of it or whether I had the phobia anyway and it was worsened by the constant vomiting. All I know is that I found the constancy and severity and all round middle-of-the-night drama of it when I was younger quite traumatising.
I don't know why she vomits so much. She still does it to this day (We're both grown women. I'm early 30s, she's 40s.)
There hasn't been a year where she has had norovirus less than four times, and each time it's incredibly dramatic - like uncontrollable sickness where she cannot make it to the bathroom. There is not a car, train, boat or plane journey where she doesn't vomit. There isn't a fish or egg which doesn't give her food poisoning/some allergic reaction. Yet she continues to eat and do all these things. I spend journeys, meals and chunks of time in her company, anticipating her getting sick.
We get in a car and I suggest she sits at the front, with a bag to vomit in, or that she takes a travel-sickness tablet before we go? I even remind her 30 mins before to take the tablet! But she says no, absolutely not, she'll be fine, she'll go in the middle. Lo and behold, every journey... EVERY journey, she throws up, all over everybody. We have to get out of the car, wipe it out. She's feeling very sorry for herself, so we can't ask her why she refused to take our advice.
Anyway, it's happened again, for the second time this year. She comes round feels ill, she vomits in my house, makes a huge fuss, touches the kids on her way out. Then I disinfect, have the 48 hour wait.. It just throws me into meltdown.
I've always tried to talk to her about it, and the rest of my family, but they don't have much to say on the matter. They simply disagree that it's something we need to talk about. She gets sick a lot - big deal. Every time she vomits appears to be a surprise for her. Thing is, it's not a surprise to me! Tell me what she's eaten or where she's been that day and I can predict it half of the time. I have spent my entire life anticipating when she will vomit and living in fear.
i don't know if it's me or it's her... or what? Every time I get visibly upset by it or ask why she's let it happen again when it could obviously have been prevented I get told I'm making it all about me!
If I avoid her or choose not to spend time in her company because of the vomiting I get told I am being very unfair on her. So the only choice it gives me is to re-enter into the traumatising situation and spend all my time incredibly anxious and fearful.
I don't know the solution as I have emetophobia too so I can see how it must be affecting you. Vomiting is the worst thing in the world & I can't understand why anyone wouldn't do anything to help themselves or prevent it. I wonder if it's constant if she needs testing for lactose or gluten intolerance. It sounds like something with her health needs to be checked. She is really being very selfish in the car.
Mt phobia stems from my brother getting bad car sickness when we were little. When I had my son the other mum I was sharing the room was screaming & vomiting & I hady fingers in my ears. Luckily they moved me to another room. I was also fostered & a girl in my room vomited in the night & it was left up to me to sort it out so I know the feelings it must be provoking for you.
I wonder if you sent her an email telling her how it's really affecting you then she might listen.
I'm emetophobic too. I've found that antidepressants help reduce the anxiety. I don't take them just for the emetophobia, I found it was a useful 'side effect'. If it's really affecting your life then it might be worth considering though.
However, you can't change your step sister, you can only really change the way you behave. Quite frankly, I'd refuse to get in a car with her unless she agrees to do something (ie carry a bag, take a tablet, any of the solutions you've offered). Emetophobia aside, what adult knows they get travel sick and refuses to do something about it? Vomiting all over someone else's car, and other people when she hasn't taken any steps to minimise the chances of it happening? I'd be asking her to pay for clothing and dry cleaning bills (and I really do mean that, I asked my boyfriend redecorate the bathroom after he missed the toilet and it stained the wall).
I most assuredly do NOT have emetophobia and I think you are being completely reasonable. Nobody likes the smell of vomit (sick face). If I knew someone with a problem like that who made no effort to take precautions or avoid throwing up over everything I'd be disgusted. Some people get very carsick, which is awful for them, but surely it's only reasonable to sit in the front seat, hold a sick bag just in case, etc?
I do not think you're being unfair to her and I think you would be perfectly reasonable to distance yourself given how stressful the situation is for you.
Actually, just had a thought- does she act like this (refusing to take precautions) because she knows it affects you?
oh you poor thing!
I'm a bit suspicious of your sister - sorry. If she knows it will happen, she should be taking steps to minimise the discomfort for everyone, regardless of phobias. I wonder if she does it to get sympathy?
I am really surprised your family aren't on your side with this.
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