Friday, 14 October 2016

Life as an Emet Sufferer

Emetophobia is something that I have only recently been diagnosed with, before the diagnosis i thought i was the only person to feel this degree of fear towards vomit. No one likes to be sick and i think this is where it becomes hard for people to understand emetophobia. It is an anxiety condition that if not controlled can take over your life. I was fortunate enough, however in quite a lot of people it can trigger OCD and even eating disorders. I wanted to take the time today to explain what life as an emet sufferer is like, because the day to day difficulty is often over looked and even mocked. 
So i want to let you in on a bad emet day.

I wake up in the morning, all snuggled in my blanket and then it dawns on me that its the season of norovirus, my flatmate last night was complaining about stomach ache, do they have it? -No calm down there are plenty of explanations for a stomach ache. -They definitely have it.- They are probably ok, you are panicking about nothing.- IF THEY HAVE IT YOU WILL CATCH IT, YOU WILL BE SICK.- Shut up brain, as far as i know no one has been sick.- NOROVIRUS CAN SURVIVE WEEKS ON COUNTERS YOU NEED TO CLEAN THE SURFACES BEFORE TOUCHING THEM! - Shit its half 7 i need to get up and be at uni in an hour and a half. I get changed, a sick feeling becoming heavy in my stomach. I feel sick, im going to be sick, i have norovirus. - or do i feel sick because im worried - or is it norovirus? I leave my bedroom, no one is awake, thats a good sign, if they are asleep that means no one is being sick. Result! This may be a norovirus free zone, great you can relax now. 
I walk up to university, great its cold, if its cold enough germs will be killed. Breathe in this cold air. 
I get to university, everyone is coughing but thats ok its a cough and a cough doesn't equal vomit. Breathe. I sit in my first class, urgh its 9am why do we have to be in class so early. The teacher begins to talk and then someone begins to repeatedly cough. They look pale, very pale, are they naturally pale or are they sick? Why can't i remember their skin tone. They get up and leave. Oh no they left, have they been sick? Did the coughing equal sickness? What if they have coughed the germs around the room, what if i get sick??? Ok, no deep breathes, you need to minimise the amount of the same air as them that you breathe in. 45 minutes left in this lesson, how am i going to survive this? The germs are coming over to me.  I feel sick again. Physical pain will stop you from thinking about the sickness time to start pinching myself. My heart is beating so fast, breathe, i can't hear the lecturer, all i can here is the pulsing of my heart everywhere in my body. WHY DOES TIME GO SO SLOW!! 
10:00am yes its over! Ok don't walk where he was sitting the germs could still be floating around, also try to avoid the people that sat next to him, they could be infected too. I feel light headed, am i ill? Is this just anxiety? I sit down on a sofa with a dread that fills me at the realisation that I still have the whole day to go through.
12:00pm Lunch time, i still feel a little sick, best not eat too much because if it is norovirus eating might make me sick, even drinking water is a bad idea. Apples! They are a safe food, they wont make me sick. 
5:00pm Some of my flatmates declare that they want to drink. The sickness hasn't got any worse, its just anxiety, so chill, maybe a drink will help you too. 
8:00PM By the time i have finished two drinks my flatmates have had 3 bottles. Oh no, they are drunk, they might be sick. Ok where are the nearest exits? Remember as uncomfortable as this is you can't catch this, but look out for the warning signs, if they start to look unwell or say they feel unwell, RUN. Why do they keep drinking knowing they might be sick? Ok might be time to leave now. 
9:00pm Ok you are safe, you are in your bedroom, all is well here. Time to go to sleep, the quicker you go to sleep the quicker these feelings can go away. And then repeat tomorrow...

Vomit to me is the worst thing in the world and as dramatic as it sounds in those moments when i feel like i could be sick i would rather die because it means i wouldn't have to feel that level of anxiety. I feel like many people around me find the whole thing ridiculous, which i guess it is, but to me the fear and the panic is so real. My family find this whole emetophobia thing funny, which sometimes is hurtful, but how can they understand when they have never had that level of fear and panic, I found a whole bunch of people online who also suffer from emetophobia and who feel everything that i feel and that is the most comforting feeling there is. To know you are not alone, you are not crazy and there are people who understand.

I want more than anything to be free of emetophobia, to not panic as much as i do and not have to hide the panic because hiding it is so tiring because otherwise people just find it funny and just think i can "get over it".  Well i can't "get over it" just like that, im trying recovery for emetophobia but its harder than i thought, trying to re-programme your brain is a lot harder than it seems. 
So i am writing this post, because if you are an emetophobia sufferer then you are not alone, i can't tell you that it will get better or that it will go away as i honestly don't know if it will but you certainly can get back control of the majority of your life. If you are reading this and you are not an emetophobia sufferer but know someone who is, please be patient with them, it is real to them even if its not to you. 

I best stop writing now because all this talk of sick is making me feel sick, ironic isn't it?

Post a comment