Emetophobia is my default. When everything else is okay, when I’m not particularly worried about a certain mole or dull pain, when depression slips away…emetophobia is always there.
Since moving in with my parents, my health anxiety and other anxiety issues have been generally under control. And thus, my stupid emetophobia has flared up. As I’ve mentioned before, none of my other anxiety disorders (GAD, panic disorder, a few other phobias) have had an impact as great (and as damaging) as my emetophobia.
It’s caused the absolute worst panic attacks that have lasted up to TWELVE hours (yes, I’m not exaggerating) and often end with me dry-heaving because, well, anxiety does that (and as you can imagine, that just fuels the panic attack even more).
But something has been happening recently. A few months ago, I had a minor breakthrough. I was in the pre-panic attack stage; the stage where it can go either way depending on a few factors such as how much my stomach hurts and what time of day it is.
Well, all the right conditions were in place:
- I ate dinner somewhere other than home
- It was the evening (my worst panic attacks happen in the evening, that’s why dinner is so hard for me)
- We were in the car
- My stomach was in a lot of physical pain
But somehow, I didn’t fly into a four-hour panic attack. Instead of feeling scared, I felt ANGRY. Angry at all the hours I’ve wasted panicking and hyperventilating myself into near unconsciousness. Angry of all the events I’ve missed, all the dates I’ve canceled, all the excuses I’ve made up…just…angry. And that anger was enough. I was too angry to panic. Emetophobia was not going to win.
That was back in June. Since then, I’ve had three major emetophobia meltdowns and a few small ones that went away on their own.
The thing is, I could have had five.
I’ve now been able to successfully stop two major meltdowns when all the conditions were right. I did this by talking to myself. I was angry, again. But I was also just so tired. Too tired to fight. Too angry to let my phobia take away another night of cuddling with my dog and binge-watching Netflix with my husband.
Two nights ago, I stopped the cycle. Anxiety didn’t win. I did.
I know this is just a tiny step in the right direction and I am FAR from panic-attack free or “cured” from my emetophobia. But man, it feels so good knowing that I am beating this thing. Slowly but surely. Emetophobia is not going to win.