By Jessica B.
#Fearless Family Writer
I might be one of the luckiest emet’s in the world. That is, if you consider having photographic evidence of the moment your phobia first physically manifested to be “lucky.”
Can you tell which one I am?
If not, well maybe this helps.
Still not sure? How about I just tell you. I’m the one standing as far away as possible from the other kids, and judging by the haircut, I’m going to say this photo was taken sometime during second grade – the year it all began…
To say I’m a lucky emet goes deeper than the possession of these photographs.
I consider myself lucky because I know exactly how I got where I am today. What started as extreme avoidance of a black t-shirt and staying up way past my bedtime, gradually evolved into an adolescent, and eventually even an adult, who struggles on a day to day basis with an irrational fear of vomiting.
I’m sure every single person who lives with emetophobia could fill the pages of 1,000 blank journals with things that make them tick – with every twinge they’ve ever felt in their stomach to every muscle spasm in their leg that their brain has somehow interpreted as nausea. There would be a chapter dedicated to every time someone threw up throughout their school career, and we could detail the lengths we went to in order to avoid coming in contact with them for the months and years that followed. My book would specifically detail every shower I took at the beginning of a new school year where I evaluated how long it had been since the last time I got sick, thinking that this year was bound to be the one.
For 18 years this has been my daily reality. And every day for roughly the last 6,570 days I have been wrong. Phobias make enjoying life and finding happiness extremely challenging, but in January 2017 I decided it was time to take control and no longer let this phobia dictate what I am able to accomplish and experience throughout my life. As I write this, I have been going to therapy once a week for the past two months, and the most important piece of information I’ve learned is that the key to overcoming your anxieties is being able to change your attitude.
I used to see every day for the struggle that it was – how hard it was to go to the grocery store, or the struggle of getting myself to school every day – when in reality, I should’ve been looking at it from a completely different perspective. Now I am able to say “today I went to the grocery store,” or “I got myself to school today” and see it as something I was able to accomplish DESPITE the challenges I faced while doing them.
For the first time in my life I can say with confidence that I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself for never giving up on my dreams. I am proud that one year from now I will graduate college with a degree in Architecture. And most importantly I am proud of myself for the little things I am able to accomplish on a daily basis.
Every day I am able to push myself a little further, and experience things that were too scary the day before. And I, for one, can’t wait to see where tomorrow takes me.
Thank you to Jessica for sharing her remarkable story!
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Lastly, we run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle we are passionately engaged in. It 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.