Warning: If you suffer from emetophobia you may want to skip over the next paragraph as it may cause you undue stress. But do persist in reading to the end of this article – it may just make a huge difference to your future happiness!
Vomiting, being sick, puking, chundering, spewing, throwing up, chucking up, heaving, gagging …
These are terms for vomiting that I pulled from the top of my head, though I am sure there are many more if I put the request for some out on Facebook. For most of us there is an almost comical element to the act of being sick. But, almost unbelievably, for about three million mainly, but by no means exclusively, women in the UK (so goodness knows how many worldwide) the mere mention of vomit would induce intensely negative reactions which were seriously life inhibiting.
Emetophobia – also known as a fear of vomiting – tends to be a secret phobia. Those who suffer tend not to tell anyone about it, normally out of anxiety or embarrassment. And it can also be probably the worse phobia you could possibly have. If you have a fear of flying, you can avoid travelling on a plane. If you have a fear of dogs, you simply don’t get a dog (and avoid Altinkum’s streets!)
But emetophobia seeps into every single area of your life. You avoid alcohol because the last thing you want is the churning stomach of a hangover. You are scrupulously clean and avoid anyone who may be sick, because the last thing you want to catch is any vomit inducing bug. You are sensitive to the slightest twinge and gurgle of your stomach, frantically worried that something may lead to you being sick. You avoid going to certain places or doing certain activities simply because you are afraid of being caught out in an unfamiliar place. You develop obsessive compulsive tendencies as this reassures you that you are doing your utmost to guarantee a vomit free environment. You may even be morbidly afraid of dying, and spiralling into depression because you are so convinced that the slightest retch is a sign of worse to come.
Emetophobia can even be masked by a myriad of other phobias – each endeavouring to enable you to maintain a high degree of control over your environment to avoid any situation that could make you sick.
The chances are that every single person who reads this article probably knows someone who suffers to a greater or lesser degree from emetophobia – they just don’t know it. Three million people in the UK alone is a significant number of people who are living severely limited lives purely and simply because they are not managing their thinking well.
And that is what it is all about – managing your thinking.
The good news is, that every phobia, no matter how severe, how debilitating, how well entrenched over the years, can be overcome simply by managing your thinking better. Just like building muscle tone, it takes time, it takes patience and practice. But once it all clicks into place the feeling of liberation and release is fantastic.