It's coming up to the end of June and just like everything else, whether we have kids in school or not, we tend to think of this time as an "ending" time. The good news is that many of my clients have now come to the end of their therapy and are headed out to experience the world with new skills and tools for coping with their anxiety. Of course they are still on wobbly legs, which is as true of a re-birth as a birth. It's scary to end your therapy and strike out on your own to see what you can see and let those anxious times come upon you. Some people feel confident, but most are unsure they have what it takes. They do!
So with the end of this time for a few and others dropping off the wait-list I now have some openings again. Of course, the times are rather select and it depends on your time zone and your availability. While I still encourage people to find a therapist "in the flesh" and offer to speak with them if they wish, many have had bad experiences with therapists who just don't understand the phobia and they really want to work with me. That being said (and I get it), I promise you that there are thousands of therapists who can help you get through this. They may have never heard of emetophobia, but if they really listen to you they will come to understand it.
I hope for many of you July 1st will be a beginning time. Time to address this before next winter!
It's June, or in emetophobic language, officially "not-winter!" The sun is shining, the outdoor patio furniture is being used, kids are outside playing and most emetophobics take a sigh of relief. Because if winter is over then "winter vomiting virus" aka "norovirus" season is over for another year.
First of all, that's not really true. It's winter in Australia and the Australian emetophobics are scared as hell right now. They're also traveling to the northern hemisphere by the plane load, and will bring the virus with them (sorry Aussies, I don't mean to blame - lol). Secondly, even if it is true that there are less "stomach bugs" about, that very fact is making your phobia worse.
It's true. The one thing that causes phobias for sure is avoidance. The more you avoid what you fear, the more afraid of it you'll become. I believe this is why emetophobia is so severe in most people who have it. Adults naturally "avoid" vomiting because they just don't vomit very often. Once every few years if you don't like it; once every 20 or so if you downright hate it; and if you're emetophobic you can go for a lot longer. But this "natural avoidance" as I like to call it is doing more harm than good. If adults were sick every few weeks, before long you'd probably not be afraid of it.
So how do I not avoid it when I'm so afraid of it, you ask? Good question. The best way is to start a program of gradual exposure which gets you talking about, and looking at, vomiting every week somehow. My program, as you can see from the "Resource" page, is very VERY gradual. It starts with just looking at the word "vomit" and goes on to drawings of cartoon people just not looking well, etc. But it's exposure nonetheless. And it gets you away from that dreaded avoidance which is only making you worse.
My best advice to northerners is to GET HELP NOW when the season is calming you down some. Don't wait until September when you send the kids back to school and freak out! It's much better and easier to get a good "run at it" in the summer so that by the time fall rolls around you will have some skills and tools to use to ease your anxiety.
Good luck everyone!
Emetophobia Awareness Day is officially May 1st, 2012. I say "official" rather tongue-in-cheek. It's only official because I thought it up and said so! But the point is, we emetophobes need to come out of the closet for the good of all.
Emetophobia is so common yet most doctors, therapists and researchers have never heard of it. It's been featured on the TV show "My Strange Phobia" as though the woman featured was some kind of fluke of nature. As a result people suffer in isolation, are looked down upon by their partners and families and cannot find any help or hope from the medical community. This is wrong. Part of it is our fault.
For some reason emetophobic people (myself included, in the past) are horribly ashamed and embarrassed to admit that they are afraid of vomiting. Sometimes we try it, tentatively. "I'm deathly afraid of vomiting" we say. To which they reply "Well nobody likes it." As if we would then go, "Oh ok" and we'd get our lives back. But the problem is, these sorts of belittling comments silence us. This can go on no longer.
What I've noticed by listening to literally thousands of emetophobics online and after spending the past two years treating exclusively emetophobics is that we are not specific enough when we talk about our phobia. Some people use the word "phobia" loosely, meaning they squeal and jump up on a chair when they see a spider. This is not a phobia, it's just a fear. A true phobia of spiders would mean your life is completely ruined and you are debilitated by the fear. You can never sleep at night in case there's a spider in the house. You spend every waking hour vacuuming and cleaning and spraying with Raid. You can't work, socialize or even go out of your house because other places are not as "safe" from spiders. That's a phobia.
So we need to not only come out of the closet, but we need to say more. Explain more. I find in consulting with other therapists that most of them have no idea how scared an emetophobic is of vomiting. Some therapists have tried ludicrous ways of treatment such as suggesting that the emetophobic vomit in order to "see how it can't hurt you." Imagine having a fear of spiders and being forced to be covered with them for an afternoon. Now imagine having a phobia and doing the same thing. This is not "treatment" it's cruelty.
We have to speak out, and we have to be more explicit. We can't back down when our families or our doctor or therapist tries to brush the phobia off as not very significant and believes it can be overcome by just "getting over it."
Stay tuned to this blog (or subscribe) for ideas, press releases, tips and more as we get closer to May 1st. Meanwhile, think about what media outlets you might have access to or what PR/marketing folks you could approach for some help.
It's winter here in the northern hemisphere and it seems whenever there's a slow news day one of the stations that has to now fill 24 hours a day will report on a norovirus outbreak. Norovirus is now the technical name for any "Norwalk-like" viral gastroenteritis. It's also known as the "stomach flu" (even though it's not related to the flu) and in the UK it's called "winter vomiting virus."
In reality, you can catch a norovirus any time of the year because when it's summer here it's winter in Australia and somebody can hop on a plane and spread it just about anywhere when they arrive. But since it's spread primarily from hand-to-mouth it can tend to hang around more when people spend a lot of time inside. That's why you hear about noroviruses in nursing homes, schools and cruise ships. These are places that a lot of people gather inside - all touching surfaces that can be contaminated.
Out in the general population if you don't have kids and don't go to schools and nursing homes without washing your hands after you've been there then it's almost impossible to catch a norovirus. If you do have kids and you're in the room nearby them when they vomit then you're at risk. But if you're not, then all you have to do is wash your hands before putting your fingers in your mouth and you'll be fine.
So what about cruise ships? Emetophobics are notoriously terrified of them because on slow news days reporters tell stories about norovirus on a ship. Here's the thing: cruise ships have 3,000+ people on them. That's more people than the entire population of my small town growing up. Every winter somebody got an illness in my town. And every winter somebody gets an illness on a cruise ship too. But that doesn't mean everyone on the ship catches it. My sister works as a theatre production manager aboard Royal Caribbean's Brilliance of the Seas. According to her the cruiseline is super-paranoid about noroviruses. So much so that every crew member, no matter what their job, is called out to bleach the hell out of every surface if ever someone on the ship gets sick. And they're confined to their rooms for 72 hours.
So cruise away! Cruises offer great fun, great food, and a wonderful and inexpensive way to see the world.