Emetophobia isn’t diagnosed often by professionals. I diagnosed myself about a year and a half ago when I had a not-so-great experience in a school van. We were on our way home from a conference and someone in my van got carsick. As soon as she mentioned not feeling well, I turned the volume up on my iPod, and hid my face under my coat. Thankfully, I was not sitting between her and the door. Not-so-thankfully, I peeked out when we stopped. Later, I was trying to describe the experience to a friend, and I looked up “Vomit Phobia”. I learned the word, emetophobia, and found that it was the fifth most common phobia. I found a list of typical behaviors. I exhibited many of them. I spoke a little to my doctor about it, but we were more focused on my roommate problems and my depression. So not much really happened with it for a while. I explained it to my family, and some close friends, and they were just like, “whatever”. Having a name for it didn’t change anything really. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. I can vividly remember every time anyone threw up in elementary school. I can remember always feeling like I needed to escape. I remember that I always used the bathroom stall furthest away from the door because I figured a sick person would run to the first one. I remember waking up often in the middle of the night not feeling well. I’d go to the kitchen and get the big bowl that Mom always gave me when I was ill and I’d sleep with it in my bed just in case.
I think I developed emetophobia when I was very young. My mom suffered with hyperemesis during her pregnancy with me and when she was pregnant again when I was three or four. (She lost that baby. My brother was born when I was almost 7.) My mom also suffered from a lot of anxiety when I was young. I also used to get really carsick because I needed tubes in my ears. I remember my dad threatening to spank me if I threw up again. (Yes, my parents spanked us. I don’t blame them. I could be a spoiled brat.) My dad is very much a control freak and I have inherited this from him. And it definitely contributes to my phobia.
Right now, I am taking medicine. About two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. I was put on 20 mg of Lexapro. About a year ago, I decided that I wasn’t depressed anymore and I slowly discontinued the medicine. A few months later, I had lost 10 pounds because I was so anxious that I couldn’t eat. (Making me 5’4” and 100lbs- not healthy.) I was started back on the Lexapro at 10mg. It really helped. I wasn’t depressed, but it had been helping the anxiety too. I also have a prescription for the very controversial Xanax. I went to France and Italy last summer and I told my doctor I needed something for the panic attacks because I hate flying. I don’t take it often, but it is my crutch. I always have it with me. I don’t panic so much at the thought of myself being sick, because that hasn’t happened in many, many years, but if someone around me is sick, I pop one if I don’t think I can handle it. I frequently try to tough it out. That usually doesn’t end well for me. I also usually carry around a bottle of Dramamine, Pepto-Bismol, and a bottle of Benadryl. I use the Benadryl as both a sleep aid, and it works as a slower acting anti-anxiety. (Plus it helps my allergies!) What I like about the Benadryl is that I can take it if I’ve been drinking. I do enjoy the occasional drink, but I never know when I might have a panic attack. So the Benadryl fixes that. This combination has been pretty effective. I would like to be cured instead of just maintained someday, but right now, that’s not happening without a little help.
Last night I did purchase the Emetophobia Recovery System. I only just started it, but I will let you know how it goes.