I’ve had emetophobia for as long as I remember. I am 35 now and my earliest memories of being afraid of vomit are around 3 or 4 years old. When I think about that, it makes me sad that at such a young age I was so scared. And even to this day. I cannot figure out why I felt so afraid at a young age. As far as my parents tell me, I never went through some traumatic vomiting hell. Anyways, the point of this post is to note down things which may be useful for parents to help them understand emetophobia and be aware of the signs. I remember feeling so alone and so scared to tell anyone that I was scared of being sick. A lot of the times my issues were completely misdiagnosed purely because at such a young age it is difficult to really explain what is going on in your head. Below is a list of the things I remember going through and feeling as a child. They are things that I will look out for as my child grows up.
Strong dislike of school, bordering on school phobic. Between the age of 4 and 10, I would pretty much cry every morning and cling to my mum and dad. I remember the teachers having to unpick my fingers from my parents. Many times my parents were called back to the school because I was so afraid of being sick or someone else being sick.
Continual gastro-problems and feelings. Through the anxiety, I ended up convincing myself that I felt sick and needed to go home. If your child continues to complain about stomach issues and feeling sick, it could be an indicator of emetophobia related anxiety.
Refusal to eat or picking at food. For me, I felt if I didn’t east, nothing could come back up. I still semi-use this strategy today even though I know it is complete bs. When you are a child though, to some extent, ignorance is bliss. I really believed I wouldn’t be sick if I was hungry. So for me, the sensible thing to do was not eat. Most of the time I was told I was anorexic. I want to publish a separate blog post on this topic so I won’t waffle on here.
Social anxiety. Because of emetophobia, I was a very anxious child in social settings. I didn’t enjoy friend’s parties or any type of school gathering/play/assembly. I remember my mum picking me up from a friend’s house all of ten minutes after dropping me off. She wasn’t best pleased.
Dislike of things other kids typically enjoy. By this I mean fairground rides, swinging upside down, eating loads of cake, running about – generally being a carefree kid!
Honestly, writing this down and reading it makes me feel sad. And angry. Angry that this has consumed such a huge part of my life. Which is part of the reason for writing the blog – to raise awareness of this horrid horrid phobia.