I Am #Fearless, Mental Illness
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Medicine & Emetophobia: A Bittersweet Saga

I’m a terrible medicine taker, and that’s not an exaggeration. I think this is due in part to my phobia, but also because I’m a bit of an over thinker. That’s what a college math professor told me – I think too much. Of course, they were talking about why math was so difficult for me, but I think the point can remain the same.

Don’t believe me? Well here’s a brief, probably-not-in-chronological-order history of my terrible medicine taking skills.

Every time I would take a medicine as a child I would throw it up. It didn’t matter what kind of liquid medication I would take, it would touch my tongue and then bam, right back up.

When I was finally old enough to start taking pills, I just couldn’t do it. It would get stuck in my mouth, dissolve and I would throw up. Or, I would spit it out in my drink or on the floor. I remember it go to the point where I would throw out my pills so I wouldn’t have to take them.

One time, my parents got fed up with me not being able to swallow pills that they made me try to put it in my food (it was a biscuit), and then eat it. Well I ended up biting right in to it and, yup, you guessed it, threw it up.

And another time, my mom crushed it and put it in my food. It was the only time I ever successfully took a pill as a child.

Now I’m a full fledged adult (or at least, I like to tell myself that) and I still can’t take a pill without it being a 30 minute ordeal. That’s also not an exaggeration. I tell my husband it’s a process, and he rolls his eyes and says, “Just take the pill!” I always retort back with, “Okay, okay…!” then stare at the palm of my hand contemplating if I really want to swallow this pill. I always do, because I know deep down I have too, but it’s never without a lot of stress and struggle.

The amount of time that it takes me to talk myself up to medicine taking is determined by several factors:

  1. How big is the pill? Depending on the size determines how long of a mental battle I’ll face. Smaller pill = less struggle. Bigger pill = it’s gonna be a tough one. Also, if it’s too big I worry it might be a choking hazard (even if normal people take it with no problem).
  2. What are the side effects? Does it cause something I’d consider unpleasant, like throwing up or other stomach issues?
  3. Have I taken this pill (regardless of size and effects) multiple times before without issue?

I know, this seems ridiculous. Actually, I know it is. It can’t seem ridiculous if it is, in fact, crazy and unnecessary. But this is the life for a lot of emetophobics and for me. Taking medicine is an Olympic sport; it takes a lot of mental preparation, and many times my woes in taking medicine can be summed up to over thinking. Strangely enough, that is also what this phobia can be summed up too.

Some emetophobics will avoid going to the doctor when they’re sick so that they don’t have to get medicines that could possibly have adverse side effects. There are 1,000 other reasons why I don’t like going to the doctor (like being surrounded by people carrying God knows what), but antibiotics are always a fear.

Usually when I tell people that I don’t take pills very well they suggest me switch to liquid medicines and I just laugh. Why in the world would I want to take a liquid medicine, that probably tastes terrible, that could make me get sick? That’s why I always opt for the pill route, regardless of what kind of anxieties it provokes.

For example, I worry about choking on the pill, it dissolving on my tongue, or somehow accidentally eating it while I’m trying to swallow it which would result in throwing up. No seriously, that’s a legit fear I have – go ahead and laugh, I laugh at myself with this one too.

And then, if I do successfully take the pill without a huge ordeal, choking or having strange side effects, I always end up having this feeling it’s just lodged in my throat for hours. It’s all mental, but for some reason taking medicines makes me feel funky, and I only take medicines if I’m dying.

So do any of you also struggle with medicine taking or are you a medicine taking pro? What are you reasons for struggling and how do you manage taking medicines when you have to? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time, internet!

If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to contact@hashtagfearless.com. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on  FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram

Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.

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