Introducing Emetophobia – Mum Life with a Vomit Phobia

What its like to live with emetophobia vomit phobia when youre a mum

Introducing Emetophobia – Mum Life with a Vomit Phobia

Hey there. How’s it going? Back into a routine with school? I’m kinda pleased the boy is back and we can bring some sort of normal back in to our lives. To be honest I feel like the whole summer has been a bit of a write-off. It hasn’t by any means, but it’s been blighted by pregnancy and emetophobia. Two things which really don’t go hand in hand.

So I’m doing something a little different on the blog…I’m actually going to share a bit more about me. I typically post “useful” posts, helpful write-ups, reviews, fun stuff. And although I enjoy that aspect of blogging, I don’t really feel like I’ve opened up about the real Emma. Trust me, the real Emma is not full of sensory play ideas and she doesn’t bounce off the walls full of happiness each day. To be honest I find most days a struggle and a constant battle between thinking “what’s the bloody point”,  to the crushing guilt that then comes with having those thoughts. And a massive part of feeling like this – emetophobia.

Emetowhat?

Yep, emetophobia. A quick google search will tell you it is a fear of vomiting.

I started blogging about emetophobia and motherhood a few years ago after I’d had B. I used to keep countless diaries, journals and notes, documenting the many lows of living with emetophobia. This was back in the 80s and 90s. I decided to join the modern world in 2016 and write those thoughts as blog posts. Emetomum was born.

And then I realised how hard maintaining just one blog was. What an idiot to think I could run two!

It’s taken me two years to build up the courage to finally write something on this blog. I guess one reason for sharing with you my emetophobia stories is that I really hope it helps someone else out there living with this dreaded fear. I really want to share with other mums that yes, you can live with emet and still be a mum. It’s bloody tough sometimes but I want to share with you things that have helped, even in the moments where I felt nothing at all would.

Me and B - being a mum with emetophobia

What is Emetophobia?

In the simplest sense, emetophobia is a phobia of vomiting – being sick, puking, spewing – whatever you wanna call it. I personally can’t stand all the slang terms. I refer to emetophobia often as “emet”. If you continue with me on my emet blogging journey then you’ll see me use this word loads.

But No One Likes Being Sick!

Ah this one has been done ad nauseam. Excuse the slight pun there.

I’m sick of hearing this in response to telling people about emetophobia. Sorry, another shit pun.

You’re right, unless you’re an emetophile (let’s not even go there), then no, no one likes being sick. But emetophobia isn’t just a strong dislike of vomiting. It’s an all consuming way of life. It literally takes over. And it has done since about the age of 5 or 6.

No one likes being sick but for most people they vomit, they feel better and life goes on. For emetophobes that isn’t the case. Life is a constant battle of avoidance and fear. Pretty much everything I do and don’t do is somehow linked back to emetophobia.

Emetophobia what is it and living with it as a mum

But Vomiting is Normal

I’ve been so afraid of vomiting all my life. I find emetophobia for me is like a horse race. For a while life is good, anxiety is managed and things are relatively “normal”. And then something will happen to throw me of course. A bug, an incident, vomit in the street. Something will happen that puts up that huge fence to jump. When I look at my life, I see it as a racing track – green grass and them bam, fences. Fences being the times I’ve been sick or particular vomit-incidents that have caused a lot of anxiety.

Vomiting is normal.

Rationally I know that. But when faced with my worst nightmare, any rational thoughts are expelled faster from my brain than vomit from my mouth. I kind of go into a lock down. I can’t eat, I’m afraid to leave the house, I feel an awful sense of dread. I feel that life will never be the same again. And I honestly wish I were dead. I don’t want to feel like this by the way. I really want to experience that “normal” response to throwing up.

Go Get Some Therapy

Yep, been there, done that.

Since the age of 6 or so I’ve been in and out of various therapy and counselling. And honestly, I feel I’ve spent more time and money telling so-called therapists what emetophobia is and isn’t. I’ve found a happy medium that, for the most, works for me and the family. A mix of medication and CBT techniques I’ve learnt over the years. And keeping busy. A busy mind means that it isn’t consumed with irrational thoughts.

emetophobia and motherhood

So what next? 

Well, over the next x amount of months, I really want to share a peek into the life of an emetophobe. I want to give other mums (and dads!) who might be going through this some sort of hope. And I want to be honest.

Everyone is at different stages with emetophobia and I’ve known many people who haven’t been able to work or go to school, people been confined to home, people unable to properly eat. I’ve been there – my emet has been truly awful in the past. Right now it’s about finding a way to deal with, and live with it that means minimal impact on day-to-day life. Let’s see how we get on…more to come soon.

Connect with me on social too, and feel free to ask any questions there – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter!

Emetomum x

what is emetophobia and how can i get help

5 comments

  1. This sounds so much like me when any one in my house partner or kids are sick I have to avoid them I don’t no what it is I just can’t stand it and feel like have to get away as soon as I can I get so paranoid as well about my girls getting bugs my oldest is 4 and just started school,how did u get help with it did u just go to the doctor or just go straight to see a therapist. xx

    • It’s so tough isn’t it. my son is five and back to school in yr1. we were ok through reception but i feel dread now for the winter term. i’d go have a chat with your GP and see what services they offer. ours have a mental health service but there is usually a wait. i’ve paid privately for therapy but never found it helpful tbh. if you find it’s impacting day to day then medication may help too. i find it takes the edge off and stops me catastrophizing loads ! xx

  2. A huge congrats Emma for opening up about your condition. I really sympathise with you as it’s a hard one to control. Thank you for educating me on this – I didn’t even know there was a word out there. I know it’s really stupid but when I’m sick, I literally cry – just because I hate it so much. X

  3. I have also struggled with emetophobia – I learned the term during a therapy session when someone first tried to treat me for it. My fear of vomit is strongly focused on other people being sick, although it has also affected my ability to eat and relax, especially during holidays abroad or social drinking. A lot of anxiety goes into limiting the risk of being sick. I wasn’t always like this but had I developed it during adolescence after I had a nasty a micro bug for several weeks, and also through and various negative experiences of caregivers and people close to me being sick through alcohol. I then had a partner who had issues with alcohol and his unpredictable behaviour added to my fears and bled into my emetophobia. Things escalated when I first started living with my now husband, as so many occasions were blighted by my fear that he would be sick and the sense that I couldn’t escape if that happened. Years of spoiling things followed- friends weddings where I couldn’t relax for looking over his shoulder and counting his drinks because I was so afraid he might get sick if he had too much… if he wasn’t sober enough I wouldn’t sleep. I would lie awake listening to my heart race and have a panic attack and run out of the room if he cleared his throat in his sleep. Every party or house guest we had meant massive anxiety- weeks of irrational worrying that they would be sick in my house somewhere other than the toilet and I would basically have to move or get rid of my furniture. Worrying they would drink too much or get food poisoning. I wouldn’t let anyone sleep on the sofa in case anything happened and when people stayed in the guest room I would lie awake all night on hyper-alert listening and praying they wouldn’t be sick. If I see a drunk person staggering in the street, my first instinct is to walk the other way in case they throw up. Maybe because I know the roots of my emetophobia, and because my husband is very supportive, I have been able to come a long way through cognitive behavioural therapy. It doesn’t affect me nearly as badly as it used to. I’m expecting my first baby in two months, and have survived pregnancy without actually being sick. I spent a lot of years worrying about having children and how I would cope with their vomit, but I finally feel ready. I know that I will learn gradually, baby reflux isn’t proper vomit and the routine of dealing with that along with mothering instinct will help to normalise it and prepare me. I never share my emetophobia with anyone except my husband- and I haven’t always told him how much it affected me. I just feel no one will understand. I wasn’t looking for this blog but read pregnant at Christmas and linked through to it. It’s helpful to know there are other people out there suffering the same anxieties and behaving this way so thank you for sharing and well done for managing to live a stable family life! It is hard, and it’s nice to have someone acknowledge that without just telling you that you’re being silly. It has definitely made me feel less alone in emetophobia to hear your story.

    • thank you so much for your comments and im sorry you’ve been through it in terms of emet and anxiety. it really is horrible. Well done you for getting through pregnancy and exciting times ahead with the baby. I wont lie, there are really tough times but the good times far outweigh those. I found the baby reflux/milk sick was fine really. I know i cant catch it. I’m planning on posting a lot more in the new year about pregnancy/emet and being a mum with the phobia so keep in touch 🙂 xx

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