Emetephobia: My OCD Fuel

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Chester is looking at me like I’ve lost it.  I’m laughing uncontrollably at nothing in particular.  He’s so precious.

I apologize in advanced. I’m writing this buzzed.  K bought Maple Jim Beam and it is awesome.  Lately in the evening, we’ve been mixing a bit of it with Diet Coke and it’s pretty great.  Sometimes when you come home from work you just need a drink, you know?  Anyway, Zoloft + alcohol= wicked buzz.

Today at work, I had a couple of strange discussions with colleagues during our office break.  We were outside and the topic of phobias, namely agoraphobia, came up during one of our breaks.  Someone commented several times saying, “I just don’t know how someone could think that way. What’s going through their minds?”  I was thinking in my head, if you have a phobia, then you can understand.  Later on, during another break, another coworker said, “Megan, sometimes I just want to shake you and tell you it’s going to be ok.”  This was said in reference to my constant hand washing and hand-sanitzing.  I wish it were that easy, to just be shaken out of it.  It’s not.

Having OCD is not just as simple as having OCD, if that makes sense.  My OCD is fueled by my emetephobia, or an irrational fear of vomit(ing).  If my coworkers, or anyone without emetephobia, went in my shoes even one day they wouldn’t make such comments or they would at least understand the torment that I go through almost daily.

I’m not sure when I started having emetephobia. I have some ideas of events in my life that may have triggered it, but can’t say for sure.  Anyway, it sucks.  The “v” word, as I call it, is a “normal” bodily function and I have a phobia of it.  It’s very debilitating.  I never drink a ton or party, which I think is overrated anyway, because of my fear of the “v.”  I fear having kids because of the “v.”  It literally is on my mind at least once an hour every day.  On particularly bad days, it’s on my mind every minute of every hour.

I like to say it’s what fuels my OCD.  I think I’ve always had OCD.  I can remember times when I was a kid when I did things that were clearly OCD tendencies, such as wearing long sleeved shirts to school everyday even in the warm months because I had texture issues.  It has only been in the last decade or so that emetephobia has overtaken my life.  I hate it.  I hate having this phobia every single day of my life.  I wash my hands constantly and roughly because of it and it’s almost always on my mind.  Even whenever someone mentions “getting sick” years ago, I freak out.

In the past year or so, I’ve taken great pains in trying to overcome this phobia.  For those of you with phobias, you know this is VERY difficult.  I know the things I”m thinking are irrational, but my body reacts in a way that seems very rational and protective.  I go into fight-or-flight.  Something that has really helped me to work on my emetephobia is educating myself on how illness spreads.  I’ve read websites and articles and whatnot on how the “stomach flu” spreads.  Educating myself on the nature of the viruses that cause this illness has helped me a great deal in knowing that I can’t get it just by breathing the same air as someone who is sick with it.  This site has been really helpful http://www.emetophobiahelp.org and so has cdc.gov.

If any of you have emetephobia or OCD, you can probably relate to most of this.  If you have a phobia, I certainly empathize with you!  It’s not easy being afraid of something that you know isn’t rational.

Anyway, I’m going to take a nap now and sleep the rest of this whisky off.  Please feel open to share your experiences.

Thanks for reading!

Megan

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31 thoughts on “Emetephobia: My OCD Fuel

  1. I noticed our kitties get really nervous when I laugh — I figure they think I’m going to hack a major hairball on them. Like you said, people who don’t have a phobia can’t really relate to people who have a phobia. I don’t know that I have any phobias, but I’ve lived with chronic pain for years, battled cancer, and have been in many life threatening situations over the years. Few people know how much pain I live with, and the few people that find out are surprised because I’m highly functional. Few people see me when I can’t function, but there are times the pain makes it impossible to do things, and it’s frustrating.

    I can somewhat understand your issues, especially when other people don’t understand them. When I was 8 years old I got a very rare disorder in my knees that made them too weak for me to stand. I had to waddle around like a duck. People didn’t understand my condition, and other kids could be pretty cruel in their teasing. But after surgery and long rehab I was pretty well back to normal by age 10. That was the start of various physical issues that have cause me much pain throughout my life. In Roberto Benigni’s movie “Il Mostro” there are instances where he walks like a duck. It’s clever and funny, and I can see how funny I looked to other people when I was 8.

    1. haha! That is too funny about your cats 😉 My sister’s cat chirps if you sneeze, even fake sneeze. Cats can be quite funny. Thanks for sharing about yourself. My grandmother suffers from chronic pain and I know how much it affects her life. I empathize with you.

  2. This post really exposes the complicatedness of mental illness. I’m not sure if I have a specific phobia that fuels my hypochondria. I guess it would be either phobia of disease or chemicals but those to me, fit under the umbrella of what my hypochondria itself is. hmm

  3. I enjoyed reading about your phobia, and consider it pretty normal to fear not being able to breath. Maybe this is because I share the same patterns of mental process around the v word, alcohol, and hand washing, I don’t know. Your process of researching illnesses was validated in this cool blog I just found: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/choose-your-default-response-to-everything/ so I thought I’d come back here and share it with you. Cheers! 🙂

  4. Dearest Megan I could not even start on saying I understand. Truly I would not know how it feels. Though I can somehow feel what you trying to share here with us and for that I am thankful
    Though an experience I learned from self education is, it can cause new fears.
    Keep on smiling.You have come a long way and i am sure you can get much further too.
    Keep it up Super Megan.

  5. Hey be careful with that stuff, it can hurt your tummy in no time at all. Trust me if anyone knows about that stuff, it’s your old mom.
    I think you are getting better controlling your ocd, thinking things thru as they occur can really help the fear from getting out of control. Plus you always have to keep in mind….what’s the worst that can happen? I hurl, big deal, it will pass. Keep up the good work Megan, you have come a long way.

  6. You’re right, just because a person is aware that their phobia is irrational does not stop the phobia from existing for them.

    I have problems with telephones, but only landlines. It doesn’t matter if the phone looks like a cell phone or not, if it’s a landline I have problems with it even if I’m not aware that it is a landline.

    1. Oh and my OCD has been escalating lately to. I have a boy, 10 years old and let me tell you…boys are DIRTY little buggers. It drives me insane that he thinks he can come out of the shower, still dirty! It’s things like that, that drives me nuts. I’m constantly washing my hands and being that I have a boss who burps, farts and spits all over papers we exchange, the hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes are a NECESSITY at my desk.

  7. I have something that is constantly on my mind, well, they’re more nihilistic thoughts. I understand what it’s like to fixate on things to the point of panic.

    I’ve never had panic attacks before and I’ve always been very at ease with life – all of a sudden, I get a depersonalization attack and nothing is the same. It’s like being thrusted into a world that is similar to yours, but everything feels new and scary.

    I’m aware that they’re not the same, but it’s truly stopped me from asking (even myself) what goes through the minds of others. Stuff happens to everyone and not everything we do makes sense (I washed my hands for an hour because I was convinced I’d never felt anything as wonderful as water before).

    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. I’ve never heard of that before, depersonalization I mean. I can empathize with you in the way that we only understand what goes on in our own minds. Trying to explain it to others is never easy and sometimes I get weird looks!

  8. yep, definitely there are days where a nice chillax drink(s) is welcome. Glad you were humored 🙂 i’ve had a few wine buzzes where my joyous, hey, irrational even, laughter was looked upon by cats as so not cool. i never heard of the fear of vomit. good to be educated about it. the mind is definitely a precarious thing, how ‘mind over matter’ can work against us sometimes.

  9. Emetophobia used to fuel my OCD too… somehow I “outgrew” the OCD though… not sure how! Phobia certainly hasn’t gone anywhere though… what a menace that is 😦 I’m sorry you have to deal with it all too x

  10. I have such a bad fear of getting lost. If I miss a turn or don’t know where something is I hyperventilate. Once I was on the highway and was about to miss an exit and I panicked so bad I crashed my car!!! My parents where mad and kept telling me to get over it. So I know how you feel about people not understanding your phobia!

    1. That’s a terrible phobia to have too! I don’t like getting lost, but it’s not to the point that I consider it a phobia. I’m sorry you have to deal with that 😦

  11. I remember always wearing long sleeves for a period of time but not because of texture issues. I wore long sleeves shirts and long jeans that covered me because i was afraid of the germs from anyone or anything or anywhere! I’m glad you don’t have to wear long sleeves due to texture issues anymore 🙂 Take care!

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