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Thread: My CBT journey

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  1. #1
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    Default My CBT journey

    Hey guys!

    I just started CBT and I thought I would share my journey and treatment here. Perhaps it'll be inspirational or give you tips on how to lessen your fear.

    I first called for help in January 2009, but because of long waiting lists I only just started a couple weeks ago. The first session was basically just getting to know me a bit better, asking me what exactly my fear is - When I started thinking about it, it turns out that I am more afraid of the waiting, and the horror right before the actual 'deed'. I've thrown up before, and really it wasn't all that bad. It happened, and then it was over and it made me feel better. But still, I am afraid it will happen in less controlled form (which I feel would be the noro virus, as I only remember having food poisoning).

    My CBT therapist explained the reactions in the body during a phobia, which I already knew about, and quizzed me on it to make sure I understood. He then asked a little about my childhood, where I think it came from, and what my life is like now. He pinpointed some stressors (my relationship with my husband is difficult at the moment) and said that if I don't resolve these then I will have a very hard time bringing my general anxiety level down. And if I don't do that it will hurt my recovery.

    He then gave me a worksheets. The first one asked me to list all the things that is making me unhappy in my life. It was a long list. I suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from.... things in my childhood, aswell as depression. I also wrote that I have no friends anymore, that I easily get hideously overwhelmed and have to stay in bed for days to recover, and that my relationship with my family, while loving, is not very genuine. I've always protected them from everything that I could - from my depressions, and from eachother.

    The next few sheets were the same - a page that I was to write down situations where I felt anxiety - for example after eating - and how it made me feel - scared, anxious, annoyed - my reaction and behaviour during the situation - Panic, I freeze up and don't want to move, I try to distract myself by going on the internet - and my automatic negative thought pattern - "I'm going to get food poisoning. I've avoided it for a long time, it's due to me now. It's going to happen, it's inevitable. I have it coming. It's happening now!!!"

    He asked me to write a couple down during the week between our sessions.

    The next session, which was a few days ago, he probed a little more in my stressors and tried to get me excited about facing them and resolving them. It actually helped. I feel determined.

    Then he played a little 'joke' on me. Boy was I mad. He said that in the treatment I might have to drink a vomitting syrup, and have my husband drink it to. You drink a cup of it and you feel sick for about 15 min and then you throw up for 15 min and then you're a little bit queasy, but fine. He said that today was the day to do that. He said he had timed our session perfectly so I would have time to drink the syrup and face the consequences of it. I paniced. I could hear the blood rushing in my ears, and everything suddenly felt very far away and I had a hard time focusing my eyes on anything. I instantly felt nauseaos. And I just started laughing nervously and saying "no. no. no. I don't think so. No." and he asked what was going on in my mind, what I was thinking. I said that I was thinking about what I had for breakfast. I had an egg. I just recently started eating eggs again after many years of being afraid of them because I thought they were going to make me sick. I told him that I thought if I threw up egg now it would be disasterous. He said I had 2.5 min to decide on what to do. I told him I couldn't do it. I wanted to, but I just couldn't do it. Turns out he was just testing me to see how I would react, to see where in my phobia I am.

    For next weeks session he's asked me to write down a list of things I am afraid of doing or avoid. He wants me to list them from 1-10, 1 being low level fear and 10 being complete panic. He wants me to start doing the low level things that I am scared of. I'm having a hard time thinking of these things. I think partly because of my PTSD (I often automatically block unpleasant thoughts or feelings and it's very hard to push through the block) but also because it's so overwhelming because there is so much. I don't know what is considered 'normal' behaviour and what is part of my phobia.

    My next session is on Tuesday. I am both dreading and looking forward to it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Thanks for sharing this! I've got my first CBT appointment next Tues!

    What a git, scaring you with the vomit-syrup thing! Hope your sessions continue to go well, keep us posted....

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Good luck! Be brave!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Good luck with your treatment! I have to admit, I was boiling mad reading about your therapist's "trick." I just think that's cruel. But it didn't seem to bother you as much as me...hahaha...and he's your therapist so I should probably just stop projecting!

    I normally get at the same feelings with a client this way (after I tell them that I will never trick, surprise or joke them) - I say "If I told you that you would have to drink potion and vomit today, how would that make you feel?" Clients describe their feelings pretty well, I think.

    Anyway, keep us all up to date. It's good to have posts of someone going through treatment and knowing what their experience is.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Today was my third CBT session. I feel like the work is really starting now and it's a bit frightening and just the though is pretty exhausting. But I know that I have no other choice at this point. Why live like this when I can choose not to, when I can fight to change it? It's scary right now but it's worth it because in the end I can trade it in for a fear free life.

    We decided on four things for me to do that I'm afraid of. I have to do three of these things every day, and the other one once or twice. We picked one easy, one medium, one medium/hard, and one hard.

    The easy one is to go for a walk every day when it's dark. I am afraid of snow and dark because I associate that with noro. So everyday at 8pm I am going for a walk. I am not allowed to bring my mp3 player or distract myself from the anxiety. The point is to feel the anxiety, and keep walking until the anxiety goes away and I learn that walking in the snow and dark isn't dangerous.

    The medium one is to keep the bathroom door open all the time. From the couch, where I usually sit, I can see straight into the bathroom if the door is open. Seeing the toilet gives me mad anxiety because, once again, I associate it to being sick.

    The medium/hard one is to sit down every day and watch a movie. I am afraid to sit and relax when I watch a movie because I am convinced that if I relax I will get sick. I bought a Bruce Lee box many years ago but only got through the first half of one movie because I had a really intense panic attack, then I never dared to watch it again. I am going to watch one of those movies every day. I am not allowed to pause, I am not allowed to leave the room. Even if I feel awful I am to sit it through.

    The hard one is to go to a cafe that I don't feel safe in and eat there. I may not sit in the corners of the cafe but must choose a table in the middle. I may only wash my hands once, and I may not use hand sanitizer.

    During all of these things I have to be in the moment. I'm not allowed to distract myself from the feeling. I have to face what I'm afraid of and see that it's nothing to be afraid of. It's going to be hard at first and I might REALLY want to quit but he said call me if that happens and he will talk me back into it. I'm nervous. I'm anxious. But I am ready.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Reading your experience with CBT is making me excited to start my treatment on Friday.
    I hope it continues to be good for you

  7. #7
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I'm glad KaydeeJayde!

    Today is going to be a 'big' day. A very small one for anyone who doesn't have emetophobia but I'm a bit nervous and my stomach is definetely feeling it. I'm going with my husband and his friend to a grocery store that sells turkeys (not many around here that do that) and then I'm going to the gym. I can't believe that this little makes me so anxious. Car ride with someone who I don't know is 'clean', a big grocery store that I usually don't go to, and then going to the gym. And this morning I had two eggs and some tuna and black tea. I don't usually eat tuna for breakfast and I don't drink black tea (but I'm out of green tea). Just trying to be really brave at this point and just do it because it can't possibly be as dangerous as I make it out to be in my head.

    Viewing the first movie last night went really well! I didn't get nearly as anxious as I thought I would and I got into the story and enjoyed it. I'm sort of looking forward to watching a second one tonight. But I feel like this is really pushing it. TWO movies in TWO days? I'm so afraid to relax completely because I don't want to be taken off guard and come down with a sv.

    I also went to a cafe right by my apartment yesterday as a warm up to going to a cafe I don't feel safe in. Me and my husband had a nice talk about my phobia and he told me he hadn't realised how bad it was for me until these past few days. I really thought I'd told him how bad it was, but I realise now that I was afraid of saying exactly what I was afraid of and why because I thought saying it would make it happen. He would only see the consequence of my thoughts (complete panic) and had no idea what led up to it. It's made him much more understanding and a lot of the resent he had for me not doing things- like me saying no everytime he wanted me to watch a movie with him, going out with his friends - he has a whole new understanding for and doesn't get upset with me for anymore. It's made a huge difference for our relationship. I don't feel as guilty anymore for being the way I am, and he realizes I am not saying no to things because I don't want to be with him.

    Okay. I am going to breathe a little and get ready.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFjOZ0NGjbQ helps me when I'm feeling down about this whole thing. Especially this part: "If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will"

  9. #9
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I can't go to a therapist since I am still on a tourist visa in Canada, and this helps me a GREAT deal!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    =)! I'm so glad!!! It's just what I hoped this thread would do, as well as keep motivating me.

    The shopping trip and gym went well. I got a little anxious and overwhelmed at the gym but I focused on my breathing and I got through it. I'm getting ready to make some dinner (boil some eggs - my go-to food now! And I didn't eat eggs for years because I was so afraid!!)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: My CBT journey



    I used to work out quite a bit, but since my emet/anxiety is back, I can't do it longer than maybe 20 minutes. my stomach bothers me when I do any form of cardio, or I think it does. Maybe I should just go for it again

  12. #12
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Lieke View Post


    I used to work out quite a bit, but since my emet/anxiety is back, I can't do it longer than maybe 20 minutes. my stomach bothers me when I do any form of cardio, or I think it does. Maybe I should just go for it again
    My therapist actually talked to me about that. He asked me how many times have I ever seen anyone throw up in the gym? None. And he said that he's been active within a sport for 30 years and he's never seen one person be sick either. One got pale and had to lay down but that was it. He said it is a normal body thing that the stomach feels a little upset before you get into the grove of things and it's nothing to be afraid of. I was really afraid of cardio. So I've been working myself up on the crosstrainer: 8 min...10 min... 15 min... 18 min... 20 min... 25 min... 30 min. Now I feel like I can go forever!

    I do a lot of weight lifting which is something I loooove to do. My muscles are starting to look so awesome and I'm losing a bit of the weight I've gained when I was rigid with fear =P

    I think it's so important to get exercise when dealing with anxiety as it releases endorphines but also because you get to know your body and get a positive view of it when you take a step up in your training. It boosts my confidence a lot. And when I'm doing it I get a very one minded focus and it's like time off from the anxiety. I still have to battle it inbetween reps sometimes but that it getting LOADS easier because now I just remind myself that 'hey, it's just anxiety. Nothing is going to happen. Now back to the burn!' Plus I get out with people and get a little bit of social interaction which helps me from falling into depressions and feeling isolated and lonely and like a freak.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    You got some good points there. I am going to work out as soon as I'm done cleaning my house (which is always a nice break from anxiety). I usually do zumba (latin dance/aerobic stuff), alone in my room though. I'll keep the points you mentioned in mind when I start to feel anxious, see how that works. I will let you know how it went!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOU STORY. I cant even tell you how much i appreciate you doing this.. I went to therapy once a few years ago and it wasnt very helpful because my therapist didn't really know about emetophobia.. so its amazing for me to be able to know whats going on in yuour sessions! Please keep updating, and good luck with everything! And congratulations on your recent successes

  15. #15
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Thanks Jada!!!! That makes me feel so good =)
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I'm quite scared and anxious tonight. I'm hosting a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and I'm really scared I or someone else will get sick and ruin the day =(

    I've been eating some things with wheat in it (a little slice of pizza, a couple pumpkin muffins I made) and I'm afraid that I am going to throw up from it (I have done before, because I ate cookies with wheat in them). But I'm thinking because I'm hungry my stomach can't be upset? But I'm afraid to eat. My stomach has been hurting a bit all day but I seem to have a lot of gas today (probably from eating wheat) and I've been a wee bit constipated. My husband says if I'm hungry I won't throw up. I guess I just need a little comfort and reassurance. Trying really hard to be brave and calm about it but because it's such a big day tomorrow I'm really afraid sickness is going to mess it up =(
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Cannot sleep. Having such bad anxiety, going in waves into panic. Feel like I am doomed. Would rather be dead in this moment. I'm trembling and my throat feels tight. Like I'm choking. I am trying to tell myself that it's because of the anxiety and not my body trying to keep vomit down. It's just anxiety. But that doesn't explain why my stomach has been gurgling so much today and why I've had a cramp come and go in my lower stomach. Trying hard to keep my hold on being brave but it feels like the tighter I grasp on to it, the harder my anxiety fights me.

    Low point. Been doing so well the past few days, but right now it feels like I'm in hell. I feel like the anxiety will never go away and I will never get to sleep. My husband says I have to eat something, that I'm probably mistaking hunger pains for cramps but I don't think I am. They feel like IBS pains and that scares the living bejesus out me right now because of the dinner party I'm hosting. I feel like I am going to disappoint everyone.

    Low point. Very low point.
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Hi Just read through your posts and wanted to reply as I have only just joined the forum and having read your thread I saw a lot of my own behaviors.
    I too am having CBT, Im currently studying counselling and ideally want to get into CBT as it interests me. So by my second session I knew where it was going when I was told to list the things I avoid and the behaviors I carry out to avoid being ill. (see I cant even type the damn word) lol
    My therapist asked how I felt about making myself ill. I said if I had to stick my fingers down my throat it was a no no. She said they had formulated something that could make you sick. (probably the said syrup you spoke about) is this stuff real? Ive noticed my anxiety returning around the day I have to go to therapy and Im getting real nervous about facing these things. You have done so well with what you have achieved.
    I too dont eat eggs, or meat and feel anxious after eating something unusual that might make me ill. And I would never have a take away or anything for fear of contamination.
    Luckily i dont wash my hands loads, but I have had OCD because of this phobia. I have also never travelled abroad, dont go very far and have a very limited life. Would love to message you and compare notes. Well done for pushing yourself, as I fear I will back out.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Quote Originally Posted by Avath View Post
    Cannot sleep. Having such bad anxiety, going in waves into panic. Feel like I am doomed. Would rather be dead in this moment. I'm trembling and my throat feels tight. Like I'm choking. I am trying to tell myself that it's because of the anxiety and not my body trying to keep vomit down. It's just anxiety. But that doesn't explain why my stomach has been gurgling so much today and why I've had a cramp come and go in my lower stomach. Trying hard to keep my hold on being brave but it feels like the tighter I grasp on to it, the harder my anxiety fights me.

    Low point. Been doing so well the past few days, but right now it feels like I'm in hell. I feel like the anxiety will never go away and I will never get to sleep. My husband says I have to eat something, that I'm probably mistaking hunger pains for cramps but I don't think I am. They feel like IBS pains and that scares the living bejesus out me right now because of the dinner party I'm hosting. I feel like I am going to disappoint everyone.

    Low point. Very low point.
    OMG this happened to me two days ago.. I couldn't even cook for my friends..I was paralyzed with this choking/gagging feeling that I couldn't even cook them my special bbq meat.. My parents came over and helped and I calmed down because I knew they wouldn't feel weird when I was constantly clearing my throat to avoid that gagging feeling. It was the first time they had seen me like this, so it was a good thing, because now I don't have to hide it..

    I also love exercise and outdoor things like skating and surfing...but i haven't surfed in years due to my anxiety, because the saltwater dries my back throat and I gag..aswell as the energy exerted trying to paddle etc


    Hope your CBT is working for you, I am trying some hypnotherapy soon because my fear is closely linked to a childhood trauma (embarrassment) of being ill infront of people.

  20. #20

    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I too have trouble at night. It's actually my hardest time for anxiety. I have found that taking a shower helps me. Not only does the warm water have a calming effect but it soothes the sore tight muscles from all the shaking. Then I imagine that I'm rinsing the sick feeling down the drain. When I get out I feel a little better and then I can sleep. Also I play relaxing games on my phone or tablet to fall asleep. I didn't used to be an emet. It didn't bother me. But somehow I've gotten to this debilitating fear. I honestly wish I could I dentify when it all started So i could fix it. It seems like the more I give in to the fear the worse it gets abs the more I choose to live rather than let it control me the chains loosen. So hard to take these steps but once they are past and nothing happens I feel so much better and am less afraid to take another. I should note that I suffer from anxiety in general as well. I've also been forced to deal with my fear of spiders since we moved to a place where there's tons. Seems like as I deal with that fear it also helps me deal with emet as well. I'm just getting sick of fear control my life. A side note. it has been helping to remind myself that nothing horrible happened all the times I v*d in the past and that it didn't really hurt and often made the nausea go away. But sometimes the fear takes me for a ride.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    The syrup thing is real - it's what they use in the emergency room if someone has eaten something poisonous or drank too much.

    Try not to feel too anxious about your CBT - You are in control! You don't have to do anything you don't want to or don't feel ready to do. Tell your therapist if you feel like it's going too fast and you're overwhelmed. It's such a huge life change - let it take time. It's a very hard emotionally, it's okay not to power on relentlessly.
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Oh no! I was hoping it was a fake. I just dont think I can do it. I cant even imagine doing it. I have feared all of this for so long, years. It just seems totally out of my thinking!
    Thanks for replying

  23. #23
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I've been hardcore emetophobic for 10 years - it's so hard to change your mind about it after so long but it is possible!

    Put the vomitting syrup out of your mind if you don't want to think about it, don't quit therapy over it!!! You don't have to take it at all if you don't want to. Just think that if you are to take it you will be READY for it. It's not tomorrow, not next week, not next month. When YOU'RE ready! I'm not ready to do it either, NO way. But I'm sort of excited because when I feel ready to do it I will be so closed to cured.

    This is at our own paces.
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    You are so right but I feel pressured into doing this quickly. Ive waited so long for an appointment with the CBT therapist that Im scared she will write me off if I dont act fast. I just want to be normal again. Your showing real signs of progress and determination, I admire you.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    If your therapist is a good therapist she will do it at your own pace. If she is not, you report her. You sound a bit like me; a bit of an overachiever? I feel incredible pressure to be as perfect as I possibly can- I want to be faster, better, more thorough than everyone else. But with this CBT I'm realising that it's taken me 10 years to build up this level of fear.... I have to let it take time to rebuild. And I know if I push myself too hard and too fast I will get overwhelmed and quit. I don't want that. I want to be free. Every day I am closer to being free of this.

    I totally understand that you're scared. It goes against our instincts all these things that we're asked to do. I am scared a lot too (like last night was AWFUL) But I don't want to live like this anymore. I keep in mind that pain is temporary. My freedom will be forever.
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Thanks for your post. I feel like Ive won the lottery stumbling upon this forum!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I feel the same way! It's such a blessing! I don't feel like so alone in this anymore!
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Ive been scanning all these posts and just feel so relieved. Your right, I dont feel so alone, so stupid, so different anymore. I hope everyone posting knows just how much this helps others.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    Such an incredible rush to see someone write that they're afraid of the same things you are after feeling like an outsider for so long, nobody really understanding what you go through. I love this forum. It's made a huge change in me (especially reading the Noro info thread!). It gives me courage every day.
    If fear hasn't killed me yet, then nothing will.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: My CBT journey

    I dont think I can even read the Noro virus thing. I will panic about that then.

 

 

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