I've got a phobia. It's called emetophobia and it's a fear of myself, or anyone else vomiting. And I don't mean I just don't like it (who does?!), it's a full on stop-you-in-your-tracks sort of thing. I've always been afraid for as long as I can remember, but it was only after having my second son that I really felt the full force of it. I can remember holding Ethan as a baby and being sat on the floor outside my oldest sons bedroom, crying, because I was afraid of him being sick.
I had never told anyone about my phobia before. I was embarrassed that I could be so afraid over such a stupid thing. Not even my mother knew! And when I mentioned it to my husband he thought I was just being silly. But the first time my oldest son was ill and he saw the colour drain from my face, he knew it was serious. He still didn't understand it though. I think it is difficult to understand if you've never experienced anything like it yourself.
I couldn't watch or hear anyone being sick, even on TV, I don't drink much alcohol, I don't eat 'high-risk' foods. But I'm obsessed with it; it consumes me. Or at least, it did. I have got to add though, I haven't got it as bad as some people. From doing my own research, and using internet forums, I found that emetophobia is one of the more common phobias and that in the extreme people can avoid going to restaurants, avoid using public transport, and even avoid getting pregnant. So I feel fortunate that I didn't have it that bad. But it was still bad for me.
The year Ethan was born there was a huge news story about how prevalent the 'winter vomiting bug' was that year. I was petrified (news was obviously slow at that time!!). I was afraid of going anywhere because I didn't want the boys to catch it, and I was afraid of eating anything in case I caught it. I researched everything I could about it in the hope of finding a way of beating it. I just didn't understand why I couldn't change how I was thinking. I bought books on Neuro Linguistic Programming, read every website I could find, and even bought tablets to boost immune systems (in the hope of not catching any nasty bugs).
Then I found out about hypnotherapy and how it can work to cure phobias. I found a hypnotherapist who had dealt with this kind of phobia before and after building up the courage, I emailed him. I just had to try something for the sake of my children. I wasn't the mother I wanted to be and I felt constantly afraid. I didn't want to be afraid any more.
My husband was a bit concerned about me being 'hypnotised' and came to the initial consultation with me. We were both immediately put at ease as the hypnotherapist explained to us that it is just a state of mind and that I would know exactly what was going on at all times. He also said that it could work for me and explained how a phobia is usually caused by something happening in your childhood that your immature brain can't rationalise. We were told that it was likely that the pressure of having two very small children had exacerbated my phobia, resulting in this awful, constant fear.
So, the following week I drove to Cheltenham for my first session. Now, I'm quite a reserved person and so hypnotherapy was quite difficult for me. You've got to relax for a start, and I really wasn't feeling very relaxed. And you've got to talk. Now this I can do! But was I talking about the right things? It took me a long time to get to the stage where I could relax enough to say whatever went through my mind.
I'm not going to bore you with all the details, but suffice to say I got there in the end, though the outcome was somewhat traumatic. I don't know if what I 'remembered' is true or not so I never really got the release of emotions that you're supposed to have, and my phobia didn't magically disappear.
It's more than three years later now and over that time my anxiety around the phobia has lessened, and I don't worry so much. I was afraid that it would all come back after having Oliver, but it didn't. I still think about it, but it isn't constantly on my mind like it used to be. My stomach still turns over if I think one of the boys is going to be sick, but it doesn't stop me eating.
So my reasons for writing this post? It's a little bit like every person I tell lessens the fear a little bit more. I think that's where the hypnotherapy helped - it started me talking. It's taken me ages to write this post. I keep stopping and starting and I didn't know what I wanted to say. All I had was a title for a week! But I knew it was something I wanted to write about. It's been a huge part of my life for so long.