What NOT to Say to Someone with Emetophobia!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve introduced my readers to Emetophobia – a phobia of vomiting. It’s a massive part of my life which I hadn’t included in the blog. I just didn’t feel ready to write about it. I do now and I want to make people aware of this awful phobia, and provide some tips on how to deal with it. For an introduction to emetophobia, start here. If you have a child with emet, take a read here. Or curious as to why I’d even consider having a child? Have a read here.
Now today’s post is very tongue in cheek. I get varied responses when telling people that I have emetophobia. They vary from surprised to downright rude. If you aren’t emetophobic and come across someone who is, well here are the things NOT to say, and the questions not to ask!
Also on a side note, I’ve pondered over images for my emet posts, and well, who wants to see toilets, bowls and Dettol? So instead I’ll scatter a few happy pics throughout the posts from now on. Like this one:
Anyways, let’s get started with the one phrase that makes me want to smack my head against a brick wall.
“But No One Likes Being Sick”
But no one likes being sick! Well duh – of course most people don’t like being sick. Although there is emetophilia. Don’t google it…
OK so you googled it and you’re back.
So back on track, yes, it’s true, typically people don’t like being sick. It feels horrid, it tastes yucky, it smells gross and it looks disgusting. But emetophobia is more than just a dislike. I don’t like spiders but I’m not arachnophobic. I don’t plan my day to avoid eight-legged creatures and I certainly don’t scope out a room before entering.
Like any real phobia, emetophobia controls your whole life. From what you eat, where you eat, to who you socialise with and where you travel to. It can even determine if you want have children. And I find that awful when I really think about it.
So yes, you’re right, no one likes being sick, but emetophobia is more than that.
“But it’s the body’s way of getting rid of poisons/toxins/a bug…”
Good point. Yes, in some cases it is. In some cases it isn’t. And I know this already. I’m not stupid. Vomiting is a natural, bodily function which serves an important purpose. Reminding me of that doesn’t help me though. There are other natural bodily functions which don’t control my day-to-day life.
“But You’re Never Sick”
Stop talking – I don’t wanna jinx anything and I’m certainly not agreeing with you. Actually I am sick and have been sick. Yes, most likely a lot less than you have been but each time has caused no end of stress and anxiety. Emetophobes may appear not to be sick often but it still consumes life pretty much daily. Being sick scares me as much as Daphne hates her photo being taken.
“But You Were Only Sick Once”
I get this response often if I have been ill. Either that or “oh but it’s only for 24 hours”. Yes, this may be true but the build up to vomiting and the impact afterwards go on for days, weeks and months. And in most cases for me, years.
“You Survived, You’re Still Here, Get Over it”
Yes, you’re right. I did get through it and I am still here. I now want to kill myself because I fear having to go through it again. Most emetophobes are pretty rational people. We know this phobia isn’t a normal, healthy response to vomiting.
I’ve had this in the past as a kid. I really believed that when I grew up, I wouldn’t have this phobia. It’s been over 30 years…Telling someone with a mental health problem to “grow up” is not at all helpful. Unfortunately mental health issues don’t conform to age.
“When You Have Kids You’ll Have to Get Over it”
Another really helpful comment. True, having kids is no walk in the park with emetophobia, but instead of dishing out opinions, maybe consider that parents living with emet, and choosing to have kids are actually incredibly strong! In many ways I have confronted more emet fears than I ever imagined after having a child. Has this meant I simply “got over” emetophobia. Of course not.
“I Thought of You Last Night”
“Oh I thought of you last night when I was up vomiting!” OK, thanks for that info. People who know that I have a vomit phobia often tell me that they thought of me when they were last sick. Charming! It doesn’t overly bother me, more amuses me that I spring to mind when people throw up!
“I Ate (Insert Whatever Food) and it Made me Sick”
Another snippet of info that people like to disclose. The last thing they ate that they suspect made them vomit. I do not need to know this! It just means another food item added to the list of things to avoid or worry about.
It’s OK, I do have a sense of humor most of the time. I just get sick (ha) of hearing the same “advice” to something that isn’t just going to go away. It’s hard and I know not everyone is going to understand or get it. I don’t understand it most of the time either. What I will do is share a post of things that you could say or offer up instead. Reassure your friend or family member, use some simple CBT techniques and language and most of all, just listen.