Living with Emetophobia as a College Student

Living with Emetophobia as a College Student

by Lily Christophersen

My battle with Emetophobia began at the age of 14, though it wasn't triggered by the pandemic of 2020. Despite taking precautions like masking up and getting vaccinated, my life wasn't dominated by fear of illness. However, everything changed on August 16th, 2020, during a road trip with my dad. Suddenly struck by nausea, I spiraled into irrational thoughts, fearing the worst upon returning home.

Although I didn't vomit that day, the nausea recurred every Sunday at 11am, gradually becoming a daily ordeal. Convinced of an underlying issue, I sought medical help, only to find no physical cause. My last episode of vomiting, on January 1st, 2019, marked the beginning of an intense battle with Emetophobia that has since exacerbated.

Now almost 19 and attending college out of state, my Emetophobia has reached its peak. Nausea plagues me relentlessly, feeding into a vicious cycle of anxiety. Diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Panic Disorder, I struggle to find respite from my relentless symptoms.

Living with Emetophobia is a constant challenge, exacerbated by the lack of research and understanding. Therapy and medication offer limited relief, as the fear of vomiting persists. Expressing my anxiety to others often falls short, as they fail to grasp the depth of my hyperawareness of gastrointestinal sensations, leading to daily panic attacks.

I have tried many treatments for Emetophobia. The main one that has helped me is medication along with CBT. I have also started exposure therapy, which is extremely hard, but I know it'll have good results in the future.

Despite the hardships, I hold onto hope for progress. While I've yet to meet others with Emetophobia personally, the support of friends and family offers solace. I chose to share my story with the ADAA because I want to raise more awareness on Emetophobia. It is an under-researched phobia that affects so many Americans. Sharing my story may help those who are also struggling with this fear. It is hard to find someone who you can relate to with this phobia and my goal is to educate people while also being vulnerable on how much my life has been affected.

To those battling Emetophobia, know that you're not alone.  Wishing everyone enduring this struggle a brighter, healthier future.

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