Emetophobia is a fear of vomiting or seeing others being sick. Those who experience emetophobia may also fear being out of control while they are being sick or fear being sick in public, which can trigger avoidance behaviours. It is a condition that is not widely diagnosed even though it is a fairly prevalent anxiety disorder., It is more common for women to have a fear of vomiting than men. An estimated 1.7-3.1% of males and 6-7% of females experience emetophobia.
Emetophobia varies enormously in how it effects people; most worry excessively about being sick even though they are less likely than the general population to be sick because of all the steps they take to avoid being ill. For instance, some people may be unable to leave home if there are any tummy bugs going around and they will avoid family and friends who have an illness. (SOURCE: WWW.AnxietyUK.co.uk)
My Emetophobia stems from when I was seven and I had a sickness and diarrhoea bug and I was sick over myself and when I coughed or sneezed I messed myself and having my mum clean me up which despite my mum having the patience of a saint, frustrated both of us.
Being disabled meant I needed help getting on and off the toilet and whilst I could crawl to the bathroom I couldn’t get there in time resulting in me feeling deeply ashamed.
Since then every time I’ve had a stomach bug or diarrhoea I end up really tearful and anxious. When I was 20 I had a stomach bug whilst my mum was at work I messed myself and needed my Nan to clean me up. Embarrassing right?
Ever since I was seven I’ve done lots of things to prevent myself being sick or diarrhoea:
- I tell my Carers not to talk about if they’ve had a bug in front of me because it causes anxiety.
- I don’t eat from certain restaurants or takeaways
- I take anti sickness tablets when needed
- When I feel ill or sick I won’t eat until it’s passed.
- I check the side effects of any meds I take and won’t take them if they cause sickness or diarrhoea.
- Once I’ve been to the toilet I wipe really hard to make sure I’m clean especially if I have a bad tummy because it makes me feel dirty.
- If I’m going on holiday I’ll avoid trigger foods so I’m not ill abroad.
- If I see my mum or anyone cooking I have to ask if their ingredients are in date (even though I know they wouldn’t use bad ingredients deliberately)
The reason I’m writing this is so people know they are not alone in battling with this anxious trigger. I also want people to recognise it is a real disorder and it affects a lot of people. it’s even been recognised by The Speakmans on This Morning.