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Fear of being sick ('emetophobia')

(7 Posts)
FromTheHart Thu 12-Jan-17 12:15:26

Hey smile

4 or 5 years ago, after many years of battling a crippling fear of being sick (which I really didn't think anyone else had, I thought I was just weird!) I came across the Mumsnet website among others where I started to read that other people had it too. It seems to be far more common than I imagined!

I was in absolute despair - I had stopped going out for fear of catching something from other people, I couldn't go to a cinema or theatre unless I was on an aisle seat right near the exit and knew where the toilets were, I was fussy about food to the point of badly burning meat on purpose to make sure it was cooked, never eating white meat in restaurants (then never eating in restaurants full stop, and never eating at friends' houses either which impacted on my friendships), never even trying fish or shellfish, washing my hands with strong anti bac to the point of bleeding etc. I stopped seeing friends, making silly excuses especially if their kids had been ill when I would avoid them for weeks, I couldn't take public transport without taking a serious number of tablets to calm me down, some of which were meant to be anti nausea but didn't work, even occasionally having panic attacks on tube trains and passing out, having to be carried off and then sitting on the platform hardly able to breathe, shaking and crying and worrying that I would be ill or someone on the train had given me germs. Life was terrible, and my family were all being affected and starting to pick up the same habits which broke my heart. I started to drink heavily when I had panic attacks just to calm myself down and my family were worried that my drinking was becoming more problematic too. I dramatically lost weight and eventually hit 8 stone, which as a natural size 10-12 with a normal weight of 10 and a half stone was a huge drop. Eventually, I was only eating one bowl of soup and a few cups of tea every day because I was so scared of it.

I tried CBT, counselling (both the counsellors I had didn't even know what it was and thought I was the victim of childhood trauma and abuse instead - one tried to convince me my Dad had sexually abused me and that's what was causing my fear, and to evoke false memories which was horrible and really scary), I almost tried hynotherapy but chickened out, I saw an eating counsellor as well as an alcohol counsellor (who just treated the symptoms rather than the cause as they had never heard of a fear of sick) and I was so upset I completely stopped sleeping as well as eating and was soon put on anti depressants and sleeping tablets which didn't help either. I considered suicide and self harmed to try and deal with the anxiety. I was crumbling inside, and my work was suffering as well because I couldn't even sit through a meeting in a meeting room without extreme anxiety, often having to leave to go to the toilet and calm myself several times during a one hour meeting. I was scared if someone even mentioned feeling a bit unwell, I wasn't just scared of me being sick but other people too.

The reason I mention all this is that I've seen a lot of similar posts on here over the years, often commenting on multiple websites and forums myself asking for help and advice, and for a long time I believed there wasn't a cure, or if I saw one I believed it was bogus. I then tried yet another approach - something called 'Cure your emetophobia and thrive' and it's been so successful I wanted to post something in case it can help something else. I was so nervous my hands were shaking but I emailed the guy Rob who wrote it and was crying as I wrote it just begging for help, and he sent me the Amazon link to buy the book and told me to start working through it to get over my fear. It's a pretty simple programme that teaches you how to get over your fear completely and live an amazing, happy life. It took me a while to believe in it but as I started seeing improvements it started to become real that maybe I could live a better, normal life. I finished the programme recently and a fear of being sick doesn't ruin my life anymore and I am just really happy and able to get on with living a normal family life! I nearly cried when I'd finished eating a full Christmas dinner with my family this year with almost no anxiety, the first Christmas since I can remember when I've been able to do that! please please please if you're suffering with this like I was for so many years, don't suffer any more, give this a go. I have no promotional role or vested interest in the program, I just know what it's like to feel absolutely awful and consumed with fear and I can't tell you how good it feels to be free of it. I actually slept for 7 full hours last night. 7 hours!!!! Without waking up!!!! I never used to do that before smile smile

Feel free to ask me any questions about it if you have any and I am happy to try answering if I can, but the website (with links to videos from people who got over it and also a link to the amazon website where you can buy the book) is:

I hope if you've got this and hate it as much as I did that this gives you a wee bit of hope that you can get over it smile I personally used a consultant to help me understand the book properly but it's actually quite simple to follow if you want to just do it at home by yourself in those rare free moments that mums have ;) haha.

Anyway, I hope this helps anyone that suffers from this - I'm off to the gym, another hurdle for me as I used to avoid them in case touching the gym equipment passed on some germs to me haha (good excuse eh?!).

FromTheHart smile x

Hecticlifeanddrowning8 Sun 15-Jan-17 18:59:44

Can I ask if you have actually been sick (and coped well) since your treatment?

Ames33 Sun 15-Jan-17 19:12:14

I'm very emetophobic and tried all the counselling there is!
I'm currently working through Thrive with a consultant. I'm finding it really hard, and although seeing some results in other areas of my life, the vomit phobia is still horrendous. Especially with a child at preschool age!
I'm so desperate sometimes and think nothing will work 😞

hanban89 Sun 15-Jan-17 23:12:03

I'm going to try it. I've been emetophobic as far back as I can remember. It does rule my life and a side effect is always planning an escape route to nearest bathroom (so aisle seat always etc). I get so anxious and I carry wipes and gel around in my handbag and wipe trolleys etc. My DD1 is 5 and got the dreaded sick bug before xmas and I put gloves and a mask on! I bleached everything and I was panicking for a couple weeks after. I felt so bad like I wasn't looking after her. I'm glad I haven't passed it onto her as she is calm after being sick. It really has had a huge impact on my life and I so wish I can get over it.

hanban89 Sun 15-Jan-17 23:13:50

Oh and it has also made me a germ phobe. I won't touch rails handles etc out in public in case they give me a sick bug. I use a tissue or my elbow!

FromTheHart Tue 17-Jan-17 09:40:55

Hi all!
Sorry for the delay, had a long weekend away with the boyfriend and for the first time ever (dun dun DUH!) I sat in the middle of a row during a football game, I didn't take the aisle seat!! And I was really calm about it smile So proud!

Hecticlifeanddrowning8 - Yes I've been sick a few times since and it wasn't half as bad as I remember. It's not exactly something you put on your to-do list but what I realised when doing the programme was that NO ONE actually likes being sick! So I had to be realistic about what I wanted to achieve, now I'm calm about being sick, I just get it over and done with, but I don't worry every minute of every day about it, I've started sleeping well for once (which is a relief!!) and I eat normally and healthily and can enjoy simple things like eating out or going to a football game etc without having a total meltdown like I used to! Life is good smile

Hanban89 - I even touched railings etc at the footy game and I didn't need to disinfect my hands with antibac or run to the loo to wash them or anything! I really really hope you try this programme and get over it because it really is amazing to be free of it :-D

Ames33 - Great to hear you're doing the programme. I hit a bit of a wall early on thinking that it wouldn't work and got really down and 'this will just be another failed treatment' etc. But I found that until I actually started to believe it would work and imagined it working for me, I struggled to make it work... I'm sure your consultant will be great at guiding you in the right direction so just keep going at it! Maybe this short video might help? I really got something out of it smile


JennyGoldman Tue 14-Feb-17 14:24:03

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