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Emetophobia - a hopeful story

(8 Posts)
BrianBettyGrable Thu 24-Nov-16 14:34:19

I have read so many threads on mumsnet over the years about this horrible phobia. Sometimes they brought me comfort, sometimes they contributed to the anxiety I felt around vomit. Anyway, I have just finished a course of CBT for emetophobia and I can honestly say it's been life changing. Am at home today with my youngest DC who vomited yesterday and I am coping! I thought it might help fellow sufferers to hear this and if you have any questions about the treatment, I'd be really happy to answer them.

Obviously it's different for everyone, but I can't speak highly enough of the therapy and if this thread helps even one person, that would be amazing.

Bookridden Thu 24-Nov-16 20:47:08

Well done you. Can you share a bit more about the techniques and how they work? And what did you do when your Dc started vomiting to keep yourself calm? Thanks.

YellowLambBanana Thu 24-Nov-16 21:01:13

Ah that's a really positive message thank you for sharing and it's nice to hear a happy ending from cbt!

I suffer from anxiety particularly around food (not ED or emetophobia but similar avoidance and fears) and am currently on the waiting list for cbt so I'm very pleased to hear success stories. Was there one thing in particular that clicked for you or was it a gradual process ?

BillyDaveysDaughter Thu 24-Nov-16 21:04:09

Well done. I had CBT 20 plus years ago and it was incredibly helpful, although obviously I'm not cured. This time of year in particular makes me extremely nervous, I hate Christmas for pretty much that reason (prevalence of noro), but the key points from my CBT have got me through a few dramas.

Ankleswingers Thu 24-Nov-16 21:15:43

Well done OP. That's really good news, I am so happy for you.

I have had Emetephobia since I was aged seven. I know exactly what triggered it off.

Over the years it's always been there. Every single day but the past year or so I would even say it has become severe. I won't go into masses of detail but it is affecting my life in so many ways.

I wouldn't even contemplate CBT because of pictures or heaven forbid, videos, which I would be made to see. Just the thought of that makes me shake and gets me very upset. That's what puts me off.

Please can you tell me ( but not in loads of detail) if you do have to see those things I mentioned.

I feel such a twat but I realise too that this phobia is seriously affecting my mental health and I honestly don't know what to do. I guess I just have to carry on living with it.

Hats off to you op, you have done amazing.

Hope that your DC feels better.

BrianBettyGrable Fri 25-Nov-16 14:37:20

Hi there - thanks for your questions, I'll try and cover everything in one go, but please ask if I miss anything or you have any more.

It was definitely a gradual process. I think I had 15 hour long sessions spread over 5 months. For the first 6 or so sessions, I spent a lot of time crying, feeling stupid that I was even having the treatment. I hated that I couldn't cope with something so mundane and that intrusive thoughts of impending doom were ruining my daily life. We came up with theories about how prior experiences may have made vomit such a threatening trigger for my anxiety.

We spent quite a few hours looking at my belief system around vomit. We looked at whether there was any evidence to support these beliefs and supposed that I could change these beliefs and wondered what the impact would be on my daily life. We talked a lot about how thinking errors (eg catastrophising) can be recognised and challenged and ultimately replaced by rational thoughts - this final part is definitely a work in progress, but I am hopeful I will get there.

I really hated the sessions and dreaded going. I felt awful for the rest of the day and contemplated giving up, as I found it painful going over past experiences and I just felt really foolish - this was part of the problem, being so hard on myself.

The second half of the treatment was the dreaded exposure therapy. This sounded so hideous, but we built up very gradually with words to read, then to listen to, then pictures and finally videos. I was actually fascinated by the theory behind it and the therapist provided evidence that it had a high success rate, which really spurred me on. I did actually feel proud of myself for completing the tasks every day as if you had asked me at the start, there was no way I would have believed that I could do it.

We then finally looked at dropping all the safety behaviours I had been using to prevent myself getting sick. Again, we started gradually and the therapist never expected me to do anything he wouldn't be willing to do himself. If I had to touch a handle and eat a biscuit without washing my hands, he would touch the handle, rub his hands on the floor, step on the biscuit then eat it! This part was also really hard work, but it paid off quite quickly as I noticed that as I used fewer safety behaviours, I had fewer anxious thoughts.

So, it was great timing actually to have my dc vomit this week. They are fine now thanks - it was grim but short lived, as these illnesses so often are. Luckily we were near the bathroom and they gave me a few seconds warning to get to the toilet which helped massively. I didn't say anything in particular to myself, but the urge to help her dominated my urge to protect myself if that makes sense. This to me is proof that the exaggerated negative beliefs I had around vomit have been reprogrammed with more rational thought. I have other dc, and in the past I would be in a heightened state of dread waiting for someone else to fall ill. Now, it is a pain waiting to see if anyone else gets it and disappointing that we have had to rearrange our plans, but it is no longer filling me with panic.

Thank you so much for your kind words, I really appreciate them. I am somewhat evangelical about the treatment, but I can't express how much it has helped me. I really hope my story does give you hope and that this awful phobia can be overcome.

INeedNewShoes Fri 25-Nov-16 14:44:08

That's brilliant. You've clearly had to work hard at the CBT and really be quite determined to get through it star

It sounds like it has all paid off though.

I was very badly emetophobic as a child (I really thought I would die when I had to vomit) and not much better as a young adult. Mine has improved over time thanks to a couple of very bad stomach bugs, the first of which had me vomiting regularly for five days. Exposure therapy free of charge! I'm now in a place where I can deal with myself vomiting just about ok (though I still cry) but I still need to work on my fear of others around me being ill.

murathan09 Sat 26-Nov-16 15:22:04

i found an article on associated press site about Emetophobia.
I hope it is useful.

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