Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Confession of my biggest phobia...

We all fear... some of us have fears that are bigger than others.
Of course I fear the general things - like failure, disappointment, ect...but many of us (me) have a specific phobia that makes them feel like they are losing control when dealing with it and causes anxiety and panic.

I've been dealing with this since I was little.  There was a specific incident that I remember being completely afraid of for the first time, but I don't know exactly what caused me to develop it.  If you're a close friend of mine... you already know my fear and have probably had to deal with me before. {i apologize if you have}

Okay... I'll cut to the chase.  I am an ematophobic. Simply put, I have an irrational, stupid fear of vomit.  And I know there are more of you just like me out there.

I'm the girl who covers her eyes during the "puke" scene of a movie {in fact, I haven't seen Bridesmaids because I was told there was an entire scene I would hate}, I wouldn't be caught dead on a ride along at my husband's work {he's a firefighter/paramedic}, and I absolutely refuse to visit the ER {you know I really love you if I visit you in the hospital}.

Think about it... vomit can be anywhere.  I tend to have a little {or a lot depending on the situation} of anxiety when I am in a really crowded and rowdy place.  I've been known to skip out on a day at the theme park {roller coasters make people sick}, concerts, and college fraternity parties.  My close girlfriends and family are amazing... they do their best to be aware of our surroundings when we go out.  But, I often end up feeling really embarrassed or left out because of it.  I'm truly lucky TL and my friends put up with me.

I don't know anyone who likes puke.  It's disgusting.  It looks gross, smells gross, and feeling nauseous is one of the worst feelings.  My fear isn't of me vomiting - I am fine when I do.  It doesn't bother me when I see a baby spit up, or even when I know someone has the flu and they are getting sick in the other room.  I have no problem cleaning up after my dogs when they get sick.

My fear has more to do with that loss of control when you are in an area where you can't get away and someone gets sick.  I was told I have an "internal locus of control" and it makes sense.  {read about that by clicking here and reading under "causes"} I also get really nervous when people are intoxicated and throw up because I worry that they won't make it away from me.  I am not a fan of crowded buses, on public transportation, airplanes, or anywhere I can't get away if someone gets sick.

Sadly, this little fear of mine has caused me to miss out on some fun things.  When I write about this, I realize I am sounding a bit crazy... I swear i'm not.  I have made big leaps in recent years with dealing with it.  You remember that trip to Vegas I took with my girlfriends, or even going to the 49ers game, ect... all of the fun experiences I write about.  I enjoyed them so much and often the fear doesn't get to me... but occasionally, in the side of my mind, that little fear creeps around.  

College was when I started making regular attempts to face it, and with the help of my girlfriends... I made a lot of progress and didn't miss out on too much!  But anytime I am around and it happens, I panic and get away from the area as fast as possible {I have been known to run away}.

You might be asking... what are you afraid of?  It can't hurt you!!  And believe me, I ask myself that same question.  That's what makes it an irrational fear.  It's not like being afraid of spiders or snakes, because they can bite you... but it's the same feeling.

So... this year, my goal was to start doing what I can to face that fear.  I know it may never go away completely, and the thought of living with it for the rest of my life causes me so much sadness.  
If I could change anything about myself... it would be this stupid fear.

I guess the reason I am writing about this is because I want to encourage other people to not be afraid to admit their fears.  I am also hoping that openly admitting this will help me take a small baby step in dealing with it and pushing myself to realize how silly it is.  There isn't a cure {believe me, I have researched} - but I refuse to accept it.  I'm afraid, but I just have to keep facing it.  In fact... you'll find me in that rowdy sea of red at the Niner game again this Sunday!
Anyone else have a fear of something unusual?
{please tell me i'm not the only one...}

PS.  It took me a REALLY long time to decide about posting this... so please don't make me feel like an even bigger idiot by thinking less of me. ;)

34 comments:

Tracy said...

if it makes you feel any better, i am terrified of midgets. i'm totally serious. i can't watch willy wonka or the wizard of oz. i wish it was only puke.

Michelle P said...

I know exactly how you feel. Seeing puke in movies or in real life makes me sick and I can't look at all.

Heather P said...

I don't have that particular anxiety, but I do struggle with anxiety relating to loss of control. I know that being rational has nothing to do with how scary it is. I won't go on ski lifts and I am terrified to fly. You're brave to admit it. I know how hard it is to explain why something makes you anxious when you know there's no rational reason for it. Good luck as you try to face this fear. I wish you the best!

Kristin said...

I have a similar phobia! Not sure mine is to the same extent as yours but I have some of the similar thoughts as you! Started when I was little too after hearing my dad get sick one night. After that I would panic whenever anyone around me was sick. And I was terrified of getting sick myself. It is a little better now ever since my daughter was born and she would spit up on me all the time :) So I got used to it, ha! Anyway, I don't think you are silly, you might find a lot of people have similar fears! :)

ashley said...

I'm deathly afraid of birds. Pigieons to be specific. I know a lot of people are afraid but it really really bothers me. I freeze up, become irrational and think they're going to bite (kill me). Yes I know they don't bite. But pecking might be worse. Ugh. I will walk in other directions, completely reroute myself. It's embarrassing. I went to Tiberon (i live in sf and this is especially hard! so.many.birds.everywhere) this weekend and couldn't even be outside enjoying the weather bc I was afraid of the birds..... And let's not even talk about seagulls. Eek!!

Hope you get over your fear!! Great you have an amazing support system. :)

Kelsey @ Seattle Smith's said...

I could definitely say it's something I try to STAY way clear of!!

Allison said...

I love that you're so brave to face your fear like this and be so open about it. Anxiety issues like this are so real, and it's so unfair when others judge. I respect how much effort you're making overcome this!

Adrienne Gomer said...

I too have a dibilitating fear, I'm not comfortable sharing it online but it affects things for me constantly. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with a fear that most people don't have, although you are much braver than me for sharing. Just know you're not alone!

Steph said...

I have the opposite problem...I am terrified of throwing up. I remember vividly the last time I did, I was about 6 years old and I hope it never happens again! Not sure why I am so irrationally afraid of something natural, but I don't want to feel that feeling ever! I go to great lengths, if I have a stomache ache, to do anything but throw up. I lay on the ground, refuse to talk, rub my tummy, etc. It's quite childish really.
Another fear I have is of death, and it makes me slightly uncomfortable even thinking about it. I avoid any songs, poems, books, movies or anything else that directly talks about dying. WHen people I love make comments like "before I die I want to.." I get overwhelmed with sadness because I don't ever want to imagine life without these people. It could seriously make me burst into tears just typing this comment! Like you, I just need to face my irrationaly fears and enjoy life! (wow this was waaaay longer than I planned! love you!)

French Lover said...

Anyone who'd think less of you because of this is an idiot. If anything, it makes you a stronger person!

I am a very anxious person and I hate losing control so I can kind of relate. I like to think I'm a very rational person, except when it comes to myself and my deepest fears (not being happy, not being able to have a baby, losing the man I love, etc.).

I have to work hard to stay rational and sane, and not let my irrational fears get the best of me. But then again, don't we all?

Thank you for sharing!
Bisous!

Katie! said...

I have a fear of clowns and anyone in some sort of full-body costume (like the Disney characters that you can have your photo taken with). I avoid both groups at all costs, and have a mild panic attack if I'm confronted with one I didn't see coming. There is zero logical reason for it, they just freak me out to no end.
My Mom has tried to get me over this fear - she even made me take a photo with Chip and Dale in Disneyland. That was incredibly difficult for me - I was freaking out inside. I did it, but I don't think it helped the fear much.

Ashley @ Places To Go, Things To Buy said...

Oh my god....when I first read the title of your post, I thought to myself, hmm if I wrote a post about my fears......I would write about my phobia of vomit! And then I read your post and saw that you were in fact writing about vomit!

You are sooo not alone in this one! I have the same phobia as you....I've been dealing with it since I was like 8 or so? I can't handle the idea of not being able to get away when some gets sick! When I explain this phobia to people, I tell them its like a feeling of the vomit is going to get me--but obviously its not! But that's how it feels! I freak when someone around me vomits....I'll cry and yes, I'll run away too! I don't avoid amusement parks or things like that though, so maybe mine's not to the extent of yours....but I definitely know what your talking about! Talk to me anytime! :)

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I am not alone. My phobia is a little more severe than yours. I fear everything about vomit. I haven’t gotten sick since I was 6 and I am deathly afraid to do so. I will do anything it takes not to be sick. I am so afraid of getting the stomach flu that even when I read or hear of someone (I may or may not know) having it I start to feel sick and think I am getting it too. I run away from it too and have missed out on things because I’m scarred someone might vomit. Public transportation is the devil to me. I fear it like the plague! I have always had this fear, but it seems like the older I get the worse it gets. One of the reasons I don’t want children is because I am afraid they will get sick and I won’t be able to run away and that I will have morning sickness when I am pregnant. Sad I know, but unless you have a phobia you don’t really understand. It’s hard for me to talk to anyone about it because they think I am being irrational and scarred of something so stupid. I’ve heard they only way to really get over it is to confront it. I am terrified to be around other people puking and I know that one day I will be sick and maybe it won’t be so bad. it’s good to know that I am not alone….thanks for writing this 

Brooke
bkasemeyer@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I am not alone. My phobia is a little more severe than yours. I fear everything about vomit. I haven’t gotten sick since I was 6 and I am deathly afraid to do so. I will do anything it takes not to be sick. I am so afraid of getting the stomach flu that even when I read or hear of someone (I may or may not know) having it I start to feel sick and think I am getting it too. I run away from it too and have missed out on things because I’m scarred someone might vomit. Public transportation is the devil to me. I fear it like the plague! I have always had this fear, but it seems like the older I get the worse it gets. One of the reasons I don’t want children is because I am afraid they will get sick and I won’t be able to run away and that I will have morning sickness when I am pregnant. Sad I know, but unless you have a phobia you don’t really understand. It’s hard for me to talk to anyone about it because they think I am being irrational and scarred of something so stupid. I’ve heard they only way to really get over it is to confront it. I am terrified to be around other people puking and I know that one day I will be sick and maybe it won’t be so bad. it’s good to know that I am not alone….thanks for writing this 

Brooke
bkasemeyer@hotmail.com

Kara said...

You are SO not alone! Up until college, I was PETRIFIED to throw up! Not only did I live in fear of seeing it, I would break into fits of tears when I would throw up! I still avoid road trips because I get motion sick and I have NEVER been on a roller coaster. Every school trip, I was the girl who held her friend's purses at amusement parks. And if I SAW someone throw up, It would trigger instant dry heaves. Thankfully college (and lessons in drinking alcohol) and pregnancies that had me throwing up day and night helped me get over it. Thanks for sharing Tracy!

Abbey said...

I have Ailurophobia....diagnosed myself! It's a fear of cats! I seriously become filled with anxiety when I find out the house I'm at has a house cat or when one is roaming the streets. It's really sad how freaked I become. So I don't think yours is silly or odd at all! I think everyone has something!!;)

KRISTIN said...

Wow girl! I had never heard of this! I am deathly afraid of birds. So I can relate to how you feel! I get super panicked and anxious when I know birds are around...I often can't sit outside at restaurants because of it. OR if I see birds on the sidewalk during a walk I will cross the street to avoid them. The worst part of it is that my family and friends aren't supportive like yours. They think its ridiculous and irrational. They don't understand that I can't help it.

Meredith said...

I’ve had your blog on my reader for a little while now, and I’m so happy to see this post! I suffer from the same fear. Similar to you, I only truly panic when I can’t get away from vomit or someone getting sick. If it’s happening in the bathroom or somewhere away from me it doesn’t bother me at all. I also don’t fear throwing up myself.

I get particularly anxious in crowds, on airplanes and packed busses (I live in SF and take MUNI everywhere, but really struggle with crowded busses or express busses that don’t stop frequently). For me it seems to have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older and more aware of my surroundings. I love to travel but seriously dread flying, especially when the plane is full.

This is something I think about every day, multiple times per day. I don’t let it prevent me from doing things like going to concerts or travelling, but it’s something that weighs heavily on my mind at times. I’d love to see updates if you find anything that helps you lessen your fear!

msoden7@gmail.com

amourissima said...

I used to be ematophobic and last year, I got better. Finally. After years of being controlled by it.

I avoided so many things in my life because of it. I was a veg for years, not by choice but because of fear of meat. The idea of having a baby used to scare the living day lights out of me because I was worried I might get morning sickness. I've never been "too drunk" because I never wanted to "yammy"...

When ever anyone said they were sick I always asked "why kind of sick" and I would gage if I had been in scary contact with them if they had a tummy thing. I know far too much about what can cause a person to get sick and what to do to make it better. It was obsessive and draining. I started to talk about it though. And then I finally got help.

I am scared of me vomiting. I am not too scared of other people vomiting unless it would make me vomit.

I saw someone for OCD and did a lot of work around it. I am really proud of how well I did getting over it. I finally dealt with the issue. I found that challanging myself with exposure therapy worked best, as well as having a really good support system. I started by eating the stuff that would scare me, little by little. Eventually I was taking big risks like eating from scary places when traveling. Even when I did catch something, my body was strong enought to deal with it. Little by little I got over it. I went to Disneyland and rode some scary rides. I did it with food in my tummy. For the first time in my life, last month... I finally realised that I wanted kids. I've never wanted them before... but I get it now and the first thing I think about when I think about having baby isn't "am I going to yammy?" it's "will I be a good mom?".

You can do this, you are taking the steps. You have an amazing suppport system and you will get there! you will!! Be paitent with yourself and be open and honest. People like that. You will like the people who like that. It's nice to be accepted and understood.

You are not alone. You can do this!!

Bobbi said...

I have a few fears but none to the extent of yours but I wouldn't think of making you feel bad about it.
I don't like vomit either, more specifically, other people's vomit. If I see it in person or have to clean it up, it makes me want to vomit as well.
I don't know how I made it through flu season working in doctor's offices, I really don't!
Glad you have such a strong support system and are working on overcoming your fear!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I am a severe hypochondriac to the point of seeking both intense inpatient and outpatient therapy. I have suffered from anxiety disorders since the age of 4. They often manifest themselves in different forms. Once I get over one specific fear it tends to move onto something stronger and harder to conquer. I have been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder, OCD, and depression. It has taken so much away from me including a very successful career in finance. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who is my rock and I am glad you have a great support system as well.

Life With Lauren said...

I think it is great that you did this post! Everyone has something they fear and it takes courage to put it out there!

Smiling is Good for Your Teeth said...

Now that it is out you will feel more responsible about making it better for yourself!

Jax said...

My roommate has the same fear! I felt SO badly b/c I got sick last year and she had to leave the house. I had to tell her I didn't feel good and that she should probably leave. That has to be such a difficult fear b/c you really can't control where it happens! Really admire trying to face this fear! I have the same paralyzing fear of dark water. I mean.. even on boats at the lake with friends.. I won't get in. And the whole time they're in the water, I freak out watching them. It stinks to have a fear you can't really control and you have no idea where it came from. :(

Lindsay said...

You are not alone! I am terrified of vomit! I am the girl who plugs her ears and nose if someone in the area is vomiting. I'm so glad I'm at the age now where my friends can drink responsibly :)

I once had a student throw up on my desk and I thought I was going to die. The janitor was my hero that day.

Claire Kiefer said...

You are not alone. I used to have the same phobia (along with a friend of mine, and we would call each other if we saw a movie that included throw up so that the other one wouldn't see it). I threw up once in kindergarten (my teacher made me go to the cafeteria with the class for "snack time" and they were having blueberry muffins), and I've never forgotten it. I didn't even eat that day, but I still haven't had a blueberry muffin b/c it reminds me of vomit.

A couple years ago, I developed this esophageal valve thing that makes me throw up if I eat too much, if I eat certain foods, etc. Although it can be really awful to deal with, in a way, it's a blessing, b/c it basically cured me of my fear of vomit. Still, I find it disgusting, of course, but it doesn't have nearly the same power that it used to.

You're brave for putting it out there, and I know it can get better!

Lauren @ Dreams Take Flight said...

This post is so brave, Tracy! I have a very good friend who has the same phobia; it started when she was really young too. It used to be to the point where she would have a full-blown panic attack when she even saw someone throw up on TV or in a movie. She has gotten a lot better but I know she still struggles with it. I definitely don't think it's silly...things like that are hard to face, but once we do I think it gets easier with time.

Nicolette said...

I'm so sorry about your fear! And it's not dumb at all. Like you said, we ALL have our fears. I know it's different, but I have an irrational fear of spiders. I know that's pretty common, but I can relate to your fear in some way. It doesn't keep me from being social, of course, but I know that FEELING. Anyway, congrats on taking steps to taking control of that fear! You are very inspirational. Miss you girlie!

Portuguese Prepster said...

This isn't dumb at all! everyone has something that they are scared of! I have horrible aracnaphobia to the point where plastic spiders even make me cry!

Amanda said...

Thank you for sharing, Tracy! You're really brave and courageous for posting about this.

Ana said...

I was terrified of dogs. For a long time. I remember one day when I was kid, I saw a dog coming my way and I crossed the street without looking, and was almost run over by a car. I remember I would invent excuses to my friends for why I wouldn't go sleep over at their houses after parties, because I was so afraid of their dogs. It was paralyzing.

Don't worry, dear, everybody has some kind of unusual fear!

pinkpeonie said...

OH my good, I have the same fear!! (and so does denise richards) I literally leave when someone vomits, i have to escape ASAP. and don't get me started on my drunk friends, i refuse to babysit them! (only when i know them throwing up is inevitable). I saw a therapist in college for it, and it's helped a little, but mainly, juste dealing with it step by step. i didn't even vomit myself until maybe 2 years ago. my biggest fear is being stuck on a plane, and someone nearby is puking. that would be the worst. or stuck in a car...thankfully, that hasn't happened much lately! also, sometimes, i make my friends check the ladies room for me when i'm out and about, i'm afraid of what i'll see inside the bathrooms during those nights out! So relieved that someone else has the same fear! each day, hopefully, the fear wil subside little by little...Thanks for sharing!!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

Well I think that it's great that you've been getting out there and getting in situations trying to get over the irrational fear. I have a fear of not being able to find a bathroom in time if I have to use the bathroom. Long car rides and being in unknown areas are when my panic sets in!

missy. said...

do not feel stupid. i think it is great that you are facing this fear and understand completely the anxiety and panic something like this can cause.

i know it's stupid but i used to love driving my car and now just even driving my two miles to work can give me anxiety. cute guy almost always drives us and for the most part it doesn't bother me but there are sometimes i'm tempted to reach in my bag to grab my medication for fast acting anxiety and take one. but just like you, i'm working on it and trying to not let it ruin anything in my life.

keep it up girl. xoxo