Whether you are emet (vomit phobic) or not, I think some of these tips will be useful for anyone attempting to talk to their doctor about mental health related problems. I’ve lost count of the amount of doctors I’ve spoken to in the past about this phobia. I’ve also lost count of the amount of times I’ve been told to stop being so ridiculous and that no one likes being sick. In my 30 years or so of visiting doctors and therapists, not ONE has said, ah yes, emetophobia/vomit phobia.
If you think you have emet and want to speak to your doctor about it, here are some of the things I have learnt over the years:
• Double Up. By this I mean ask your surgery for a double appointment. Doctors are busy busy and they typically get allocated ten minutes. Ten minutes to explain emetophobia can be pushing it. Explain to the receptionist briefly that you will need more time and you would like to request a double appointment. Your doctor will appreciate this and you won’t feel like you are being hurried.
• Prepare. I can’t stress this enough. Write down everything you want to cover during the appointment. It saves the stress of getting in there, knowing you have just a few minutes and then coming out with gobbledygook or spending the whole time crying into a tissue. Sigh. It has happened many times! I prepare for any doctor visit as I prepare for an interview. I think about the questions I will be asked and think about the answers I will give. I think about the questions I want to ask too!
• Write. Don’t be afraid to write it down and hand it to your doctor. I have done this many times. Here is a simple mind map of all the things my emetophobia encompasses. A lot! And a lot to cover in a short appointment. Sorry it is a rubbish pic. I’ve been flat out this week and it was a quick snap on my lap.
• Be realistic. Your doctor probably hasn’t heard of emetophobia. They don’t know it all. See your first appointment as a start. The start of your “getting better” strategy. Doctors can’t work miracles in a few minutes so don’t expect to leave the surgery with a solution straight away. Many a time I left a surgery in tears because I felt no one could help me. I was always looking for an instant fix.
• What do you want? Have an idea in mind as to what you want to get out of this one appointment? A referral to an NHS-based therapy provider? Advice on medication that may help with the anxiety? I always used to go to doctors expecting them to tell me what was wrong. I’ve learnt that with emet, it usually isn’t the case.
• Disappointed? If you come away from an appointment feeling like you haven’t achieved what you wanted, book another with a different doctor. Doctors are all different and some will come across sympathetic and others will tell you to pull your socks up and get on with it. Not helpful I know but it’s just how it is sometimes. Don’t take it to heart though. If you feel like you aren’t clicking with your GP – go see another.
• Persevere! Don’t give up. I know it can feel like a never ending struggle of trying to get people to understand, but someone WILL listen and you CAN get help. You have to be willing to help yourself though and sometimes I’ve found that is the hardest bit.