Real Issues

Emetophobia; how one girl got over her fear at uni

The Growing Up Guide woman girl ementophobia university student

Moving out and looking after yourself is hard enough as it is, let alone when you move to university on your own. My first year at university was made even harder by Emetophobia.

This is, put simply, a phobia of vomiting. I haven’t vomited for 10 years but it obviously makes perfect sense to worry about it every day doesn’t it?

Admittedly when I started university I was at one of my best points in terms of coping and living with this phobia.

During high school, I fought a constant battle. Trying to live my life, but forever being dragged backwards into the comfort of avoidance behaviours, ever affirming and maintaining my anxieties.

Sorry for the psycho-babble but for those who don’t know, I basically wasn’t helping myself.

I’d built my life around eating what I was comfortable with, only eating at restaurants I’d eaten at before, being wary of everyone’s cooking except my mum’s – and sometimes even being wary OF my mum’s.

The darkest days were the ones where I wouldn’t leave the house for feeling a little nauseous – which as a woman you know, is not an infrequent occurrence.

Descending in to instant and overwhelming panic at any mention of ‘sick’, ‘throwing up’ or ‘stomach ache’ from any friends or family.

Not to mention when one of them actually came down with a stomach bug.

Days of panic attacks, not eating, and weeks of avoiding the unwell individual – even down to my own boyfriend.

My family and friends became protective of me, even when they were the ones who need looking after.

They constantly found ways to soften the blow that someone was sick and hours convincing me that I wasn’t going to catch it.

Starting university brought a whole number of new challenges. Knowing what to cook and learning that you don’t have to throw everything away if it is one day past its ‘best before’ date.

The food, money and enjoyment I wasted in those first few months, now seems ridiculous to me.

I quickly acclimatised to drunken vomiting, this wasn’t as hard as it’s not contagious. I’d still run a mile rather than looking after my friend though.

In March of last year, I wrote an article talking about my phobia, which then caught the attention of Rob Kelly, a man who claimed he could cure me of my 10 yearlong phobia in just one month.

He invented the Thrive Programme an exercise book claiming that if you read it and completed the activities you could overcome a number of mental health issues.

I’d read about this before but I was sceptical. We got in touch and a month later I was a different person.

I travelled a lot over the summer, eating whatever I fancied and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve had careless nights out not worrying about being sick (also some of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had).

I still feel on edge when someone is contagiously ill, but doesn’t everyone?

I’m enjoying life more than ever. Tell 2016 Hannah she’d be eating seafood in Lanzarote at a restaurant she’d never heard of and not even looked up on Trip Advisor.

Tell 2016 Hannah she’d eat food past its ‘eat within’ day.

Tell 2016 Hannah she’d cook chicken at least once a week and not even blink at the idea.

Tell 2016 Hannah she’d be holding her friend’s hair back at 3am in McDonald’s toilets just weeks after starting the programme.

Aside from overcoming this phobia, I’ve learnt so much about myself, the way I think and how I am in control of my thinking. I feel stronger, and more in control than ever.

Being aware of your mind and how much of an influence you can have over your life is so important, and I can vouch for how much you can change from just changing the way you think.



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