It’s been a while.
Actually, forget that; it hasn’t been.
You were there when I was trying to enjoy going to France with my family over Christmas. You made me feel like crying as we sat in the airport and waited for our flight home. You made my stomach turn, made me feel so ill that I couldn’t even talk for fear of being sick. It was all you.
You were the one that swept into my life 6 and a half years ago, and destroyed everything you touched. It was your fault that my first ever trip to America was ruined for me and my family. You were the reason that I barely ate for the duration of it, and the reason I lost so much weight. If it weren’t for you, I’d have been fine. Normal. Just as I was before you turned up.
There are many words that I could use to describe you. Selfish, spiteful, and sociopathic all spring to mind. But no word can completely sum up the utter efficiency and dexterity with which you tried to dismantle and poison each aspect of my life. At first, it was hell, having you around. I couldn’t handle it. I had no idea that you even existed – I couldn’t explain why my body was acting the way it was. Why did I suddenly feel constantly nauseous? And why did that constant nausea make me want to tremble and run away? Year Seven was the worst year of my life. Countless panic attacks, constant nausea, and climbing anxiety levels became the parts of the shaft that the wheel of my life spun on. I didn’t even know what a panic attack was – I just thought that there was something wrong with me. Doctors tried to help, doing pointless blood tests; my mum googled all sorts of methods to relieve nausea. (Looking back, I should have told the school, which would have helped a lot – but I didn’t, naïve as I was.) Underneath it all, I felt pathetic. Stupid. Weak. I was the only one like this. None of my other friends woke up with a reeling stomach and a mind full of dread. No one else had to have mints all the time, or hold back tears each morning. It was just me.
But then I realised that it wasn’t.
5 years after that first, massive panic attack when I was nine that triggered it all, I stumbled across you on the internet. I can’t even remember how. I just did. And everything clicked into place. It wasn’t just me that had you sitting constantly on my shoulder. It wasn’t just me whose heart started to beat faster each time someone mentioned that they felt ill. It wasn’t just me who couldn’t handle it, whose life had been swiftly and surely wrecked by your presence. And you know what? There are hundreds of people like me. Hundreds in Britain alone. And so many of them want to reach out. It’s been nearly two years since I worked out what you were. In that time, things have started looking up.
Now that I know what you are, you no longer have such a hold on me. You want to make me panic? Fine. Bring it on. You want to make me push away a friend who’s feeling ill? Go for it. Try your hardest and look on as I resist you. You want to make me say no to something that I would love to do, simply because I know you’ll make it hell? Okay. Watch me say yes. Over the past two years, I’ve improved so much. I can eat out without feeling horribly sick and having to choke back panic as the world begins to blur around me, pushing food around my plate and leaving most of it. You know that holiday at Christmas that I mentioned? Apart from the airport, I was fine. Not a single panic attack. And do you remember how you used to make me feel before school? Remember the gut-wrenching nausea, the panic, the tears? That doesn’t happen any more. Because I have coping mechanisms now, and they all help to get rid of you. So what if I’m having a small relapse? It’s fine, it happens. I’ll just get back up and start over.
Because now, I know what you are, I know how you work. And I’ve got this. We’ve all got this. Making an emetophobia support account was the best thing I’ve ever done – it’s connected me with others who feel the same way, and by helping them I’m helping myself. Every single one of us is much, much stronger than you give us credit – and as a group, we’re unstoppable.
So, emetophobia? Fuck you.
Hey, guys. Sorry for the different format (and the fact that I’ve been AWOL for a while!) – I just felt the need to do this after talking to an online friend. I want to make it clear: this is not a sob story. I am extremely lucky to have the life that I do, and it is not ruined. Compared to others, I have it so easy. So yeah – small disclaimer there!
(Also, sorry for the cheesiness!)
If any of you can relate to this at all, or think this describes you in any way, please reach out! My support account on instagram is @emetophobia_help , and I’d love it if any of you guys reached out to me (seriously – you can tell me your story, ask for advice, or just rant – I’m there to listen!).
Also, try googling “emetophobia” or “fear of being sick” – it can come up with some useful resources!