I have regressed. In some ways, it is comforting, dealing with a well-known anxiety. But in other ways, it is extremely frustrating. My emetophobia is back full force. It seemed to come completely out of nowhere, last Tuesday night. But now I realize, nope, it had a trigger. And that trigger was my new puppy. 

Meet Max, a rescued “sato” from Puerto Rico! (No, we didn’t name him the most generic dog name of all time. He came with that name.)

When my husband applied to the job he has now, I told him:”If we move an hour away from all my friends and family, I need a dog. Okay? ”

When he got the the call about getting the job, I was out with my parents. He called me and the first thing he said was: “You better start looking for a puppy…”

I am not just a dog person. I need a dog. I’ve had a dog since I was 13. I begged my parents for YEARS. You hear about kids “really” wanting a dog, but I REALLY wanted a dog. I would cry and cry and cry whenever my parents rejected my plea for a dog. For years this happened until they finally gave in (which I consider a miracle, by the way).

You also hear about kids getting bored of their pets – welp, that also never happened. Toby is 11 years old today and I still love that big goof to death.

The problem is, Toby lives with my parents, an hour away. Not exactly helpful for me anymore. As soon as we moved in, I knew I needed a dog. I work from home, and my husband works with youth and children at our new church. This means fairly regular late night outings or evening meetings, when I’m home alone aaaall by myself in big, old, creaky house.

I needed a dog to feel safe, but I also needed a dog because (in case you haven’t heard) dogs are extremely therapeutic. My dog Toby came into my life right as my emetophobia was spiraling out of control. At 13, I weighed about 50-60 lbs and skipped most of my meals.I had panic attacks every single night and missed school almost on a weekly basis. Within months of having Toby, I started becoming “normal.” I wasn’t perfect, but my anxiety began to subside.

So anyway, long story short, my horrible anxiety about death and my health coupled with depression AND moving away from all my support systems made it very clear that now was the time to get a dog. So, against many family members’ advice, we adopted Max the mutt.

Since adopting my new BFF almost two weeks ago, my health and death anxiety have substantially decreased as well as my depression! (Probably because I’m so exhausted all the time and distracted by my mouthy, whiny pup).

However, an interesting thing has happened since then. On Tuesday night, my little idiot opened up his stitches (he was neutered before we got him) and at 11:00 at night, my husband and I took him to an emergency vet clinic.

As soon as we got into the car and began driving away, my stomach felt a little weird. Now, my emetophobia has been mostly under control for the past year. Very few panic attacks were related to stomach issues, and even if my stomach hurt, it didn’t bother me 9/10 times. Something was different though on that Tuesday night.

I completely, utterly FREAKED out. I felt like I was 13 years old again. I waited in the car for my husband, air conditioning on full blast, shaking and picking at my skin, dry heaving a few times here and there. When we got home, I ran to the bathroom, convinced I was about to throw up. I dry heaved twice and then…it was over. I fell asleep on the bathroom floor.

A few days later, my parents came over. They took us out to dinner. Now, I haven’t had panic attacks in a restaurant for probably 4-5 years now. They used to be a huge trigger for me, but I have since worked through that. Once again, my panic attacks were triggered in the restaurant. I barely ate anything and felt my gag reflex acting up.

What the heck? 

After talking to my mom about this, we came to a conclusion. I’m having panic attacks because of Max. It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault at all. But taking care of this puppy has brought me back 11 years ago to when I got my first puppy – and that was a terrible, terrible time for my emetophobia.

So yes, I have regressed. I didn’t think it was possible to go this far back. It seems my mind is a time machine.

Fortunately, I am not 13 years old anymore. I am a 24 year old woman who is much better equipped to deal with all the crap that comes along with emetophobia. So even though it’s frustrating, and even though I’m stuck in some weird time jump, I’m going to work through it.

And I’m not even scared.

5 thoughts on “Regression

  1. I know how you feel about getting a dog. When I got Miss Darcy, I immediately started feeling better. Unfortunately, she wasn’t my dog, but it’s amazing how much better I was just having her around. The only reason we’re looking to replace her (as my dog, she’s still going to live here, just not work for me) is my need for a dog that can be what I need. It makes all the difference in the world.

    I can’t say I understand about the trigger of having a dog again, but I do understand regressing that far. There are certain things that set me back decades. It really sucks when you get flung all the way back to childhood because of a triggering experience, but you’re older now and more prepared. You’ve distanced yourself from that time by a decade with good years put between you and then. It sounds like you’re in a much better position to face it than you were before.

    1. It is amazing how therapeutic dogs can be – whether as a family pet or as a service dog! I thought it would take longer for my new pup to begin increasing my mood, but it only took a few days and it’s only been uphill since we got him (even though he drives me crazy half the time!)

      Yeah, the regressing is not amazing, but I am definitely in a better place to deal with it now :)

      1. I’ve been telling friends for years how much having a pet can be a benefit, which is why I wanted one so badly. Now I’m getting my service dog, so I’m ultra excited. All the shedding stresses me out, but it’s totally worth it. Dogs, no matter how crazy they make you, still make such a difference!

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