Growing up with a vomit phobia was not overly fun. To be honest, one of my main fears about being a mum are that I will pass this awful phobia to my child. I feel slightly at eases that I had a boy. I know that doesn’t mean he won’t inherit the phobia. But I feel in my heart that if I’d had a girl, there’d had been more chance. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I know a lot of women with the phobia. Having the phobia caused no end of problem for me as a child. And problems which I guess were not easily recognisable as a phobia for my parents. I recall seeing multiple therapists as a child, and I remember feeling very afraid about saying I was worried about being sick.
For this reason, my phobia was often mistaken for numerous other issues:
- Anxieties about school
- Separation anxiety
- Fussy/picky eater
- Social anxieties
- Eating disorders
- Stomach/Gastro problems
- Non-stop “illness”
If it were me now, with a child that I thought could be emetophobic, these would be the signs I’d be looking out for:
- Excessive anxiety about going to school. The teachers used to have to force me from my mum and carry me into school. I was that scared about going.
- Constantly feeling “ill” and needing to be collected from school. If anyone else vomited at school and I saw it or was aware of it, that would be it, I’d have to go home. The teachers would always say that I felt ill – I guess my panic attacks were mistaken and they just figured a “bug” was going around.
- Irregular eating and overly worrying about eating. One minute I wanted to eat, the next I could hardly stomach a cucumber sandwich. My mum was really great at giving me small meals and often. Little and often, that’s what she would say.
- Anxieties about going to sleep. I was worried that if I went to sleep, I wouldn’t be alert, aware or ready for being sick. I used to stay up well past midnight, reading. I was about 13 years old at this point.
- Faking illness. I tried to get out of going to school multiple times. I was so scared about going and I’d do anything to just be at home with my mum. Twice I faked hitting my head, multiple times I held my head against a radiator to make it seem that I “felt” hot. And a few times I’d get up, make myself hot and pinch my chest and back. I managed to get a few days off school for having “rashes” that we thought might be the start of measles or pox.
- Anxieties about going to friend’s houses and parties. I must have been five or six when a friend had a birthday party at her house. I remember my mum dropping me off. And ten minutes later she picked me up. I was beyond anxious about being sick and being sick away from home and away from my mum. I remember this vividly. And I remember mum telling me I couldn’t have a party bag because I hadn’t been to the party. I remember she was cross that she had to come out straight away to get me. To be fair, now that I have a little one, I’d be miffed too if I thought I was getting the afternoon free time haha!