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Emetophobia (Trigger Warning, TMI)

I don't feel too good and my anxiety levels have rose drastically. I'm having a vertigo attack and it's triggered off severe anxiety of throwing up. It's lasted all night so far and won't let me sleep. I'm scared to take a pill because I'm taking too many at the moment and I need a break.

My heart keeps beating really fast and my whole body keeps shaking in fear. The nausea kept returning earlier but isn't now, I just keep feeling my food digesting in my stomach, probably because I've been focusing on not throwing up.

Just when I'm feeling like this my thoughts keep returning to that night I had norovirus 6 years ago. Because I have a strong stomach and don't throw up easily, it can take a long while (up to a couple of hours) of feeling horribly nauseous and not quite knowing what my body wants to do or what's wrong.
My legs jerk, and I break out in a cold sweat all over my body, and I start thinking of suicide. Yes, I rather die than vomit.
Vomiting is like torture, and is why I avoid getting pregnant, despite wanting a baby of my own. Morning sickness is very common in pregnancy and the risk itself is enough to put me off. Also the morning sickness would probably cause me severe stress and anxiety, which doesn't do a pregnant woman much good. I just can't go through with it.
 
Thank you for posting about this, I genuinely thought it was just normal to cold sweat at the thought of having the vomit. When I actually have to vomit I fear for my life and sometimes black out.

And I hope you are feeling better, it seems like you experience the same effects I do only worse. Which I cannot imagine
 
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I think it is normal to experience cold sweat before vomiting, but I still fill with fear at the thought of vomiting. I think it's all the senses being tortured at once; the horrible gagging sounds I make, the sight of vomit, the horrible taste, the smell of it, and the uncontrolled movements your body is making you do. Sometimes this happens when there aren't even any toxins to get rid of, like with vertigo or travel sickness. I mean, why does it have to affect your stomach for? Why can't it trigger a less frightening reaction, such as a sneeze?
 
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I used to work at a care home, so you can imagine how it became the worst job in the whole world when there was a stomach bug going around there. The only area that had air conditioning was the kitchen, otherwise there was no air ventilation anywhere else in the building and we had to keep the windows closed if it wasn't summer, and all the radiators had to remain on, because the residents were elderly. But this just made the bug even more contagious and you were in the same building for several hours, so no matter how much you washed your hands or wore a mask the virus was still hard to avoid.
And to have elderly people with dementia smear vomit and poop everywhere just made it even worse. It wasn't their fault though.
I'd love to work at a preschool place with little children, but I know my phobia of vomiting will affect this. But I'm not sure it's as bad as a care home, because at least at a preschool the children go home each day and the place can be cleaned and disinfected, and if other children had caught the bug then they wouldn't come to preschool the next day so I think the virus would be easier to control, at least for the adults. At care homes the residents there live there permanently and whenever there was a bug going around almost all of the residents would catch it, even if they stayed in their rooms and didn't mix. That's because of the poor ventilation, nobody going outside, and people being present in the building 24/7, so the virus circulates.
But I'd still be scared. I did volunteer at a preschool for a year when I was 16, and luckily there didn't seem to be any stomach viruses that winter, and each day I went in all the children seemed well.
 
I had a shock today, almost passed out when I saw a huge puddle of sick on the floor in a coach (bus). Often I can face cleaning up vomit if it's only a little bit and quite...transparent, but this was bright yellow with loads of lumps and food, and it just freaked me out so badly I just jumped back off and ran off crying. It didn't last long, and another coworker offered to clean it up, to which I offered to help. I just couldn't tackle it on my own, it was so much sick and I didn't know where to begin.
I often feel embarrassed when I freak out at the sight of vomit because people might think "why are you a cleaner then if you don't like sick?" But the answer to that is, it isn't often there is sick to clean up, and some sick I can handle. But that what I saw today was enough to freak anybody out I think. Just the colour of it. Makes me freak out that I have that inside of me.

I keep feeling sick now and worrying that I'm going to start being sick myself, if the sick I cleaned up today was norovirus. I made sure I had PPE on, and washed my hands thoroughly after taking my gloves off. I'm not sure how easy virus puke is to catch just by cleaning it up. I think it's more avoidable if you're not near the person while they're being sick. Norovirus germs are heavier than covid germs, so tend to linger in the air less and so become less airborne if you weren't in contact with the person being sick.
 
I think I ought to start having therapy for emetophobia, as it's ruining my life. But I don't think that will make being sick any easier for me. People don't get it. They just say that being sick isn't that bad. It is for me. Maybe I'm just unskilled at vomiting. I can't seem to do it properly. I need help. Maybe physical help, not emotional help.
 
I think all the other stress and strife I have at the moment just amplifies my fears and anxieties of other things too. Ever since I've been stressed about work, the neighbours, and family, I have been experiencing heightened emetophobia (even though it was intense enough before).

Now it seems that every time I go out I suddenly come over dizzy, nauseous and feel mild cramps in my stomach like I'm about to have diarrhoea - even though I'm not feeling anxious at the time and am enjoying myself (I always know exactly what emotion I'm feeling, as I don't have alexithymia).

It's like I can be sitting in the middle of a restaurant waiting for my food to arrive, and my brain suddenly goes ''you know what would be awful? You to start vomiting here and now in the middle of this restaurant, grossing everyone out and ruining their day with your disturbingly noisy retching, because there is a norovirus going about at the moment and you wouldn't know you had it until you start feeling nauseous, like that time back in 2017 when you felt all right but then woke in the night and was sick, even though you were safe at home in your bed then. But you're not safe now, you'll vomit, then you'd have to get home somehow, and you could start projectile vomiting and having diarrhoea even worse in the car and can you imagine how horrific that would be?''

So this then makes me want to find the bathroom, just so that I can prepare just in case I have caught the bug that is going around and will start puking at the most inconvenient time and place. I excuse myself from the table, find the bathroom, sit on the toilet for a while, squeeze my left thumb on to my right wrist where the acupressure point is for nausea, and concentrate hard on convincing myself that I am healthy and well.

This is becoming a regular occurrence now. I just don't trust my body any more. I think of my guts, and all the things that can go wrong (viruses, cancer, kidney stones, burst appendix, food poisoning, unexpected labour from a mystery pregnancy that I often hear about, etc, etc), and that every day we just live taking our insides for granted that they're going to perform their functions properly and naturally.

I envy everyone else who doesn't have that thought hanging over them whenever they go on vacation. Whenever I book a vacation I immediately start panicking that I'm going to catch a virus or some other illness the day I fly out, as there are so many invisible germs in the air that your immune system can very unhelpfully lose against at any given time.
I've only started feeling like this in the last couple of years.

And, before you give me a shopping list, just please don't.
 
Two-hour car journey. I didn't even feel sick but I kept thinking I was going to. When I woke up this morning before our journey, I wasn't hungry at all so couldn't face eating. All I ate was a banana and a glass of water.

I know I was just getting worked up about travelling. I kept telling myself I won't feel sick or throw up. I had to fight it - mind over matter. It's hard though. Throughout the car journey I kept imagining myself involuntarily leaning forward to retch, or worse, throw up. It would have been so embarrassing and unpleasant for the others in the car, even if I just did dry heaves. I hate dry heaving too, because I tend to shout unintentionally when doing so.

Okay, so staring up at the light can trigger a sneeze. Being tickled can trigger laughing. But why does being dizzy have to trigger vomiting? Why can't it trigger something better, like a yawn or a knee pain or even tears? Why does it have to be vomiting for?
 
Two-hour car journey. I didn't even feel sick but I kept thinking I was going to. When I woke up this morning before our journey, I wasn't hungry at all so couldn't face eating. All I ate was a banana and a glass of water.

I know I was just getting worked up about travelling. I kept telling myself I won't feel sick or throw up. I had to fight it - mind over matter. It's hard though. Throughout the car journey I kept imagining myself involuntarily leaning forward to retch, or worse, throw up. It would have been so embarrassing and unpleasant for the others in the car, even if I just did dry heaves. I hate dry heaving too, because I tend to shout unintentionally when doing so.

Okay, so staring up at the light can trigger a sneeze. Being tickled can trigger laughing. But why does being dizzy have to trigger vomiting? Why can't it trigger something better, like a yawn or a knee pain or even tears? Why does it have to be vomiting for?
I live by Meclazine. Take it an hour before any activity that might make me motion sick. I have Zofran on prescription but don't like to use them except for emergencies because it knocks me out. Also used scopalamine patches on long cruises until I get used to the rocking motion.

Most dizziness today is the result of an inner ear disturbance. It wasn't a big problem for our ancestors because they didn't do things that would make them dizzy. Some people don't get sick at all from being dizzy and others get sick at the slightest sensation. Dizziness often results from moving your head just the wrong way which messes up the inner ear. That's known as "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo" (BPPV). There's a technique called the "Epley maneuver" to help make the BPV go away.


I was told by a doctor once that nausea is often the result of a symptom your body misinterprets as being possibly the result consumption of something very bad for you. Dizziness can be a result of food poisoning which was a lot more common in the past. Of course, the symptom may have nothing to do with a toxin but your body would rather be safe and sick than sorry and even sicker or dead. I have not been able to verify the explanation.
 
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I live by Meclazine. Take it an hour before any activity that might make me motion sick. I have Zofran on prescription but don't like to use them except for emergencies because it knocks me out. Also used scopalamine patches on long cruises until I get used to the rocking motion.

Most dizziness today is the result of an inner ear disturbance. It wasn't a big problem for our ancestors because they didn't do things that would make them dizzy. Some people don't get sick at all from being dizzy and others get sick at the slightest sensation. Dizziness often results from moving your head just the wrong way which messes up the inner ear. That's known as "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo" (BPPV). There's a technique called the "Epley maneuver" to help make the BPV go away.


I was told by a doctor once that nausea is often the result of a symptom your body misinterprets as being possibly the result consumption of something very bad for you. Dizziness can be a result of food poisoning which was a lot more common in the past. Of course, the symptom may have nothing to do with a toxin but your body would rather be safe and sick than sorry and even sicker or dead. I have not been able to verify the explanation.
I hate it though. I wish my body knew that I would rather die before vomiting.

It seems it's always in the back of my mind that I might be sick, no matter how much I try not to think about it.
I'm on vacation now and all I keep worrying about is being sick. I keep thinking that if I eat without washing my hands properly I'm going to catch norovirus. I use hand gel but apparently that doesn't kill norovirus. But sometimes you can't always find a sink and soap every time you want to eat something, especially if you're on the beach. I also get anxious when touching my phone in case it's covered in noroviruses. Oh God why can't they give me a vaccination for that dreaded curse? I heard there was one but I haven't heard when they're going to give it to people. I hope they give it to people like me who live in fear of it every day.

And yes, I am awaiting therapy for this but still on the waiting list.
 
Thoughts I have while flying:-

- Do I feel sick?
- Is my stomach just hungry or am I going to start wretching at any moment?
- I have earache
- What do I do if I am sick?
- What will everyone think if I started throwing up?
- Did I even take a motion sickness pill? I can't remember!
- If I squeeze my wrist will that make the vertigo go away?
- I hope someone doesn't fart, otherwise I will be sick
- I'm OK, I'm OK, I'm OK, go away nausea, go away nausea, go away nausea...
- Do I tell a flight attendant that I feel ill or do I just sit here and fight it off?
- Do I really feel sick at all or is it just in my head?
- Oh please get me off, my head is spinning
- I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster
- If the plane crashed right now at least I'll be out of my misery

Emetophobia for you..
 
It is all in the mind, although that doesn't make it less frightening. I saw on a helpful YouTube video that the best thing to do when having one of these emetophobic panic attacks is not to tell yourself that you're not going to vomit, but instead to accept that this is what emetophobia is and this is why you're having this panic attack. That actually helps more than trying to distract yourself or telling yourself you're not going to be sick.

Triggers are a huge factor of a panic attack. Sometimes I want to educate myself on vomiting bugs and how your body reacts to the vomiting function and how to vomit more easily if the worst did ever happen. But I get very little information on it and instead Google spews out a load of triggering stuff instead (no pun intended).
Google will say things like norovirus and other vomiting bugs variate each year and our immune systems are only immune for a couple of years.
It also says nothing kills norovirus except hot water or harsh chemicals such as bleach. So going around with antibacterial toilet wipes in my bag that you use to kill surfaces from vomit-inducing bacteria apparently don't kill noroviruses so if you use one of those to wash your hands with in public you could still have norovirus on your hands from the last door handle you touched. Which then transfers to your phone screen and your hair and your bag and everything else personal you have touched.
So, apparently, to avoid norovirus you must find a public bathroom where there's running hot water and soap, wash your hands thoroughly, then not touch anything at all between then and when you're next going to eat or touch your face.
A very difficult life.
 
So, apparently, to avoid norovirus you must find a public bathroom where there's running hot water and soap, wash your hands thoroughly, then not touch anything at all between then and when you're next going to eat or touch your face.
A very difficult life.
What about wearing gloves?
 

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