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Emetophobia - Suffering From Elation
A Survivor's Tale
For most of my life I've had an irrational fear of vomiting. This is called Emetophobia and probably arises from the fact that my tough little bod doesn't succumb to illness often. Between the ages of four and twenty-four I'd only actually vomited twice. Both times were pretty traumatic: one an embarrassingly public and highly memorable incident in my first year of school, the other a painful food-poisoning bout at age thirteen. So vomiting was this powerful and mysterious thing my body did once every decade or so. It was no wonder I never felt comfortable with it; I never got the chance to get used to it.

Somehow this grew into a phobia that began to interfere with my life: if a partner was sick I would avoid them rather than help out; if someone was sick on a carnival ride I'd feel unnerved and uncomfortable for the rest of the day, and if I started feeling ill myself I'd spend hours lying on cold tiles hauling out every anti-vomit trick in the books (icy cold water on a flannel to the back of the neck is almost supernaturally effective) to avoid the dreaded specter of puking.

When a fear interferes with everyday life to that extent it's time for it to go. At twenty-four I got ridiculously drunk at my mum's birthday party (this entry does not highlight my finest moments, I'm afraid) and woke up in the middle of the night to throw up violently in the bathroom, back-patting supplied by Joe... and fairly enough, as I attribute at least 60% of the responsibility for that incident to him and the wormwood extract he put in my drinks. Seriously, who does that? Seriously!

Anyway, though I knew I wanted to work on chipping away the ol' phobia at the time, I was too bloody drunk to take any valuable lessons away from the experience, except for the knowledge that throwing up doesn't suck so hard when you're really smashed. So I just promised myself I'd be more even-headed about it from now on, that it's Not The End Of The World, and If You Really Must Throw Up, Just Get It Over With. And other such Sensibly Capitalised Ideas.

So recently we were at Dreamworld and after about ten of the fastest, meanest rides in the place, Joe decided to decorate one of the gardens with his stomach contents. To my immense and inappropriate glee, I was totally fine with the incident and petted him on the back ("a little patronisingly," he critiqued afterwards) the whole time.

Fast-forward to Sunday, when I came down with some sort of Mystery Bug that masqueraded as a cold until about 3am, when I woke up from feverish dreams of Katamari Damacy with a strong suspicion that tonight was the night I would Face My Fears. Equipped with a bucket (I kept thinking of the Lolrus, which made it more fun) I went downstairs to spare my flatmates the potential sounds. I lay on the cold tiles out of habit and the cats surrounded me, cheering me on... though that last part might not have happened, I was still a wee bit feverish. I opened the door to allow a cool night breeze in and felt that there was some ceremony about it all.

And then I threw up, repeatedly! This I will leave to your imagination, but it was effective, mess-free and there was a minimum of fuss and bother: it was a damn fine vomit. After some tidying and tooth-brushing I returned to bed, tapped Joe on the shoulder and proudly announced, "I threw up! A lot!" And he was all worried and stuff. Aww. But no concern was needed, for I am a vomiting champion! And with that, I believe I have laid the old phobia to rest.

Now if that's not looking on the bright side, I don't know what the hell is. :D
17 have fought ~ fight the power!
yaochi From: yaochi Date: April 28th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Around here we call it a "Technicolour Yawn".

Gotta be light hearted about it.

You have likely heard the phrase, "Driving the Porcelain Bus"
(Deleted comment)
phylos_fett From: phylos_fett Date: April 28th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
The cats would be proud :D
nipper From: nipper Date: April 28th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Good for you!
jesskat From: jesskat Date: April 28th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this post. I've always had the same phobia. Or, well, I say "always" but I think it actually started when I was around 8 or 9 years old because I still remember a time when it didn't scare me at all. Then something mysterious must've happened in between to make me completely panicky about vomiting and I have no idea what.

I'm still pretty paranoid about it, I'm scared to be in the same house with someone who's feeling sick to their stomach or who've recently been sick, even if it was like a week ago. I always close my eyes or turn away if I sense there's a scene coming on in a movie where somebody's about to throw up. The only reason I've never allowed myself to get drunk or even tipsy is because I'm afraid of the after-effects.

I have gotten better about it over time, though. Just like any phobia, I think it's strongly linked to the fear of losing control, and I've gotten a lot more looser about myself over the past few years than I used to be. I'm not quite as OCD-anal about every little thing as I used to be, and I think that's made a major difference. You've gained a lot of self-confidence over the years and proven to yourself you can overcome anything in your path. Maybe that's the key to defeating your phobia, or at least learning to live with it.

In any case, congrats on mastering your fear.:)
alby_lion From: alby_lion Date: April 28th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Vomiting's not all bad. I skipped class a lot in high school to go get coffee with a friend. One day we came back to have my drama club ask me to participate in a Root Beer Chug for Spirit Week. Well, naturally all that root beer didn't sit right with the coffee, and I lost it all over the tarp. I encouraged the photographer on site to get an action picture, and I made it into the yearbook. :P
thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: April 28th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
theres a picture of you urping in the yearbook?

thornwolf From: thornwolf Date: April 28th, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh good I'm glad! I have that phobia too, granted not to the extent you did, but pretty close. The first time I watched House, it was an episode where someone threw up 2 minutes in to the intro. I've hated the show since and refuse to watch it. My roommate got throw uppy sick a lot and I resented him for it. That sort of thing (then again he threw up near my front porch and didn't think "oh hey maybe I should clean this up"..but ah well.)

Thats pretty cool of you to recognize the phobia and get rid of it. Maybe I should do that for some of my many many phobias >_
martes From: martes Date: April 28th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've had the same phobia since I was a child. It was very bad as a kid-- a little less so now, but I can still count on one hand the times I've thrown up. Since I don't drink I've been spared the drunken barfing that so many of my friends have gotten. The last time I've thrown up was when I had the vestibular neuritis, and it was like I was sea sick 24-7, and even then I threw up only once. (the fact I felt too awful to eat probably helped) When I get intestinal problems it come out the exit, not the enterance. (yeah, I know, TMI).

A phobia to vomiting is probably more common than you'd think.
From: tigrr_wildcat Date: April 28th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, awesome entry. ;)
Congrats on facing your fears (and surrounded by cats at that ;P) Emetophobia is fairly common, mine started when I was about 7 or so, puking in front of the entire church congregation can tend to do that. ;P (I told my folks I wasn't feeling well but did they believe me? Naw.. threw me in the kids choir anyway..*sigh*)

Hehehe, I can't help but smirk at the lolrus reference, all I'm picturing right now is...

"I has a bukkit...*HURK*"

I have never seen someone more enthusiastic while posting about vomiting, you're definitely the champion. Hope you feel better soon and take care Tania!

porsupah From: porsupah Date: April 28th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Handy Life Hint™: if you find yourself needing to throw up in a bedside bin, do try to ensure it's not wicker.

justascream From: justascream Date: April 28th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I made the mistake of reading this entry while seated in the back of a dark class DURING class time. I have tears in my eyes and my chest hurts from trying so hard not to laugh.

I think that means you win.
justascream From: justascream Date: April 28th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
BY THE WAY: do not brush your teeth after vomiting. Instead, swish with tepid water VERY THOROUGHLY. Brushing your teeth immediately or shortly after vomiting burnishes the acidic contents of your stomach/bile into your teeth, which is very very bad for them.
isnotanexit From: isnotanexit Date: April 28th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
hahaha, that was an awesome story. Congrats!
earthminor From: earthminor Date: April 29th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not scared of throwing up, my body just refuses to do it. Even if I'm really sick and I need to induce vomiting. This was a problem when I got food poisoning in Tibet. ;p
niaid From: niaid Date: April 29th, 2008 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
you didn't wake joe first?

heheeh. awww i miss you kids.
tania From: tania Date: April 29th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing you've never tried to wake him up in the middle of the night to share something with him. Man, Father Christmas could rock up with a sackful of money but if it was 4am Joe would still be all, "Rrrrr, trying to sleep!" ;)

Plus, ironically, most of the time when I throw up he's too worried to get anything out of it. 9_9 Miss you too lovely, looks like Winter finally caught up with us and it's making me hanker for that snow idea... will have to send you a Facebook note to work out details soon!
17 have fought ~ fight the power!