Have you ever heard of fear of vomiting? Neither had I, until to this date three years ago. I thought that I was alone in the entire world until then, having this embarrassing and ridiculous fear.
Lately I even found out that this phobia is actually a common, yet so very little investigated problem in the world. The largest online forum for emetophobia, and this specific phobia only, currently(October 2010) with +17 000 members and growing every day. I always thought that I was a freak, but getting deeper into this subject in fact had me to realize that only suffering from a milder version of it, I was actually very lucky.
Many of my fellow emetophobes are in a severe state of this condition, having them to rush in and out of the emergency with panic attacks, depression and sometimes attempts to suicide. The constant anxiety have them to be on sedatives just to make it through their days.
And many of us, with little or no understanding at all, neither from our family and friends, nor from the professionals and medical establishment that really are the ones that are supposed to help and support us. The suffering, the shame and lack of knowledge is still immense.
On top of all this, the public healthcare system in most countries is in most cases organized so that the fact this is just nothing else but a phobia, will put the patients in low priority, which instead may end up in tragedy.
With fear of not being taken seriously, many emetophobes report that they dont dare to be frank about their phobia, even when they look for professional help. They just get diagnosed for general anxiety, which only keeps them in the shadow of no-man’s-land, and out of the core of the problem.
This distressing tabu can very well officially result in eating disorders, OCD, social phobia, to name some. Young students are being robbed of their own education everyday, because of their so disabling panic and fear.
We all need to spread more and more awareness about this silent suffering, and in my opinion its urgent. Today it still seems like these people have no where else to turn but to the internet.
Exposure therapy is definitely not recommended for emetophobia, at least not together with the therapist. In this situation the therapist will be in control over the process, which could be hazardious for the mental health of the client. Remember, these are people that censors the word vomit if you understand what I mean. A better solution would be to for example give a homework of some kind, where the clients can just sit silently by their own and learn to know their fear better and better, on their own condtions.
It is very important that the client is in control when it comes to be more and more in contact with his/her fear. Otherwise the fear may take over and win. A therapist can only support this gentle step by step process.
When I realized the extent of this mental condition and all the useless suffering following along with it, thats when I decided to do what I can to spread knowledge about it. Deep down we all have our fears and challenges, that can be a trigger for personal growth. Thank goodness it seems like we live in a world that opens up more and more to relate and speak freely about difficult emotions and topics.
Ive done my very best to describe this important subject in a cheerful way. BOLA TANGKAS