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How My Fear of Vomiting Controls My Life

Emetophobia is a fear of vomiting, whether it be regarding someone else or yourself.

A cough. A sneeze. A new virus plaguing schools. Food and eating out. Alcohol. Public toilets. Public places. These and so many more things are daily triggers of my anxiety surrounding my debilitating phobia. It creates a vicious circle of trigger-based anxiety and anxiety caused by the nausea from the triggers, until panic attacks set in.

Some days, the only thing I consider safe is water and things I’ve read online that can halt nausea. I often cancel plans when I know people will be drinking, through the fear of them becoming a little too drunk. Using toilets in public comes with a multitude of difficulties; the confinement and contamination cause my anxiety to spark, and then scalding my hands to try and remedy this makes my hands dry and sore. People coughing and sneezing makes my heart jump to my chest, because I instantly think the worst has happened.

I constantly check sell and use by dates and only eat some meats. I am overly cautious about dairy, only eat some foods I classify as safe at new places, or familiar places when the anxiety is high.

People making fleeting mentions about feeling ill set me on edge. My brain screams about contamination and horrific visions of what might happen if they are ill, which take over my vision and the anxiety builds.

Emetophobia has caused me to have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tendencies, which help me to cope with the anxieties of day-to-day life. But life is still exhausting when the slightest change of feeling in the body sparks anxiety attacks.

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