Ah the last week of A to Z Challenge. I really have enjoyed it. Although trying to maintain two blogs has been a bit of a stretch I must say! I’ve enjoyed writing more for the emet site as I feel it comes so much more naturally for me. It’s what I’ve lived with all my life. Today is U and U is for University. I write about some of my tips for being a student while suffering emetophobia/vomit phobia and anxiety.
Tip 1 – If you can afford to, try and go en-suite when it comes to halls. I really didn’t want to miss out on the hall of residence experience, but equally I really didn’t want the worry of popping to the loo and hearing someone else being sick. Knowing I’d be around loads of students, and well, students like to drink don’t they, I knew I needed my own bathroom for my own sanity. It didn’t come cheap and I am forever grateful for my broke parents stretching themselves to get this for me. I am also grateful for my university taking me seriously when I wrote and explained the reason why I needed an en-suite room. I included a note from my doctor also. I wanted to be sure I got an en-suite as I knew they were limited! And I did. And it was well worth it. So tip 1, don’t be afraid to ask and back up what you are asking for.
Tip 2 – Lectures and seminars. To be honest, I was only ever overly anxious during lectures and seminars while I was studying abroad. I studied German Language and my third year was spent in Germany. It was tough to be honest and I think I lived on bread and cheese for year lol. I used to spend most lectures trying not to panic – doodling, trying to focus on what the tutor was saying, sitting by the door etc. Whatever got me through? I guess my main tip for lessons is to position yourself by the door and remember that if you nip out, no one really cares. No one needs to know it’s because you have this crushing anxiety that any moment you will vomit in front of the whole class. For all anyone knows, you need the loo, need to take a call, just need to pop out for air. No one cares.
Tip 3 – Look in to mental health resources at your university and register with your doctor. In my second year, I was really struggling with emet and depression. I was on and off medication and I found it mental challenging, preparing for the year abroad and the uncertainty around that. I managed to get an appointment with one of our onsite counselors. She was brilliant. It wasn’t CBT or any fancy therapy. It was simply visiting once a week and talking stuff through, along with learning a few relaxation techniques. It helped me a lot.
Tip 4 – Don’t give in to peer pressure. University is synonymous with drinking and getting drunk. When I started uni, I pretty much had never had an alcoholic drink for fear of being sick. I remember the very first night and my hall mates all went down to the student union bar. When they asked me what I’d like to drink, I literally had no idea. I remember my first “proper” drink with my uni mates – an archers and lemonade. And I’m pretty sure it was an “I’ll have whatever you’re having” drink. And from then on, it was either archers or Malibu and coke. Easy drinks that you could sip most of the night. I don’t think I was ever “drunk” drunk until I’d moved in with J. And then I was 23. As an emet, I was just so fearful that one drink would equal projectile vomming all night. How wrong I was lol. The point of this post – it’s ok to say no. To alcohol, to drugs, to whatever. Don’t feel pressured just coz others are doing it. Many I time I was offered drugs and each time it was easy to say no because I was “scared of being sick”. This kind of made it acceptable to my “friends” and they’d stop bugging me. Which leads me on to tip 5…
Tip 5 – Pick who you share emet with. On the one hand, telling people who you live with that you have a phobia of vomiting can be beneficial. See point 4. They assume you won’t want to drink, do drugs or take part in communal food share activities. On the downside, they may well make fun of your phobia, not “get” it and not take it seriously. Of which I experienced all of. Mostly it was fine and to be honest, if I don’t laugh at myself most of the time, I’d go insane. But some of the things which means days of fall out to us emets – a casual comment about a bug or so, seem trivial to friends. So my tip here, just be selective in who you confide in.
So there, my five tips for keeping your shit together while studying. It can be done. Yes it was tough but mostly enjoyable. When I look back now, my uni days were some of the most fun, carefree days I’ve ever had. To anyone about to embark on university, I am extremely jealous! Enjoy! I’ve included a couple of my diary excerpts from 2001 – feel free to have a nose if you fancy :)