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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    Arrow A few things I found helpful

    @font-face { font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }table.MsoNormalTable { font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } I wrote the following in response to a member's post, but I thought it might be helpful to others as well. Please know that I understand everyone's methods, needs, and views on treatment are different. I'm certainly not claiming that my methods will be useful for everyone. But, as you all know only too well, emetophobia is so hellish that I'd like to put my findings out there in case even one person finds them helpful.
    I am a 35 yr old woman, married with a child, house, job, friends, hobbies— utterly "normal" except for this dreaded phobia. My emetophobia began when I was six yrs old after a really rough bout with a stomach virus. For decades I managed to deal with my phobia privately, better at some times than others, but as I got older I developed panic disorder and generalized anxiety as well. Until recently I never told anyone about my phobia because it was just so embarrassing. My parents were as supportive as they could be, but there wasn't much done about emetophobia when I was a child, so I didn't seek treatment until after my son was born. In an amazing case of poetic justice, I gave birth to a puker. He came down with stomach viruses 4 times over a period of 6 months beginning when he was 10 months old, and my husband caught it every time as well. My son also has an amazing gag reflex and vomits immediately if he finds an unfamiliar taste or texture in his mouth. The good news is that I don't mind seeing or cleaning up vomit anymore (forced exposure therapy!), but the bad news is that those months & years left me an emotional wreck and hardly able to get through a day without anxiety attacks. I finally had to seek professional help.

    Jump to the present. After a lifetime of trying to deal with my emetophobia, I finally feel like I'm on a good, progressive path. I'm not "cured" at this point. I'm not sure if I'd use the word "cure" anyway, at least for myself. But I am, without a doubt, healing. My thinking patterns are changing, my confidence is growing, and I am learning a new way to be. I have worked very hard at my treatment, and I still have a lot of work to do, but my quality of life, my outlook, and my sense of everyday joy have vastly improved. For the first time in my life I actually believe that I will gain the upper hand over this crippling phobia. I've felt so much pain and fear over the past 30 years— I've made myself physically & emotionally sicker with anxiety attacks brought on my emetophobia than I ever would have been with normal stomach viruses. I know there are so many folks out there going through the same thing, and I want more than anything to share what I've worked so hard to learn.

    I'd imagine everyone's path to understanding and healing their emetophobia will be different depending on personality, circumstances, age, degree, etc. Here are some things I've found particularly helpful that you may want to consider or look into:
    * I've found it helpful to learn more about the physiology of the human brain and how it works, especially concerning anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. I like to know what's going on, physically & chemically, in my brain and body when this phobia does its worst. Knowing what's going on helps me understand what I need to do to stop the panic cycle—it demystifies my phobia and makes it seem less powerful and more treatable to me. Interesting research has been done fairly recently on the role of the amygdala in memory and fear. PBS also aired an informative show about the emotional brain on 3/29/10 in which they addressed phobias. (I don't have a note of the show's name though...) I'm sure if you start googling some of these keywords, lots of info will come up. Several interesting researchers and docs were interviewed.
    * Recent studies have shown parallels between phobias and post traumatic stress disorder. This information led me to research PTSD treatments in hopes that something might work on my phobia. As it turns out, a therapy called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) has had measurable and encouraging success in treating PTSD, and is starting to be used on phobias and other trauma-related disorders. Doctors are not exactly sure of the mechanism that causes EMDR to relieve traumatic stress, but reliable, respected studies have shown that it has a good success rate. It is also endorsed by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs and the Dept of Defense, the UK Dept of Health, and other upstanding organizations. Check out emdria's website if you're interested. I've been undergoing EMDR treatment, with one or two hypnotherapy sessions, since last spring and I've found it to be absolutely the most helpful method so far. And best of all, it's not one bit scary--it's fairly relaxing for the most part. But please, please: if you pursue EMDR, find a well-respected, certified, professional psychologist or psychiatrist who has been trained to provide EMDR treatment. There are a lot of schemers out there ready to prey on people who are as desperate to relieve their pain as we are. EMDR is legit and helpful, but not everyone who says they practice it has had the appropriate training. EMDR, in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy, has been very helpful to me. Thanks to EMDR, at last—for the very first time in my life—I feel like I have a weapon against my phobia.
    * Find yourself a therapist who is knowledgeable and experienced in treating anxiety disorders, and specifically phobias if you can. Many take insurance, some don't. The most important factor is to find someone with whom you feel comfortable and who "gets" you. I've worked with a few psychologists over time, and I've finally found one who gets my problem, gets the way I think, and who has been brilliant at working through my phobia within the context of my own personality—my own strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and experiences. He believes in me even when I don't believe in myself, which has been a tremendous help in itself.
    * Learn about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Working with a therapist who can help you make your thinking patterns and behaviors healthier is really worthwhile.
    * Look into meditation. Much to my surprise, it's not a new-wavey, hippie, mystical thing at all. (Neither was hypnosis, of which I was really, really skeptical before I tried it.) It's simply a way of becoming familiar with your self, your mind, your body, and what's going on with all of them. It's relaxing, and practicing it helps you gain more awareness and control over what your mind is doing, which helps when you feel it start to race off into that terrifying darkness we've all felt when the phobia kicks in. The more you get comfortable with and familiar with your mind and body, the more attention you pay to it, and the more you can influence what you're doing and thinking. I've learned to stop panic attacks mid-way through, which I never thought I could do. It takes a lifetime of practice though, and I've a lot way to go. Mindfulness meditation is great and widely respected. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the main guy to look up for that.

    * If you are currently overwhelmed just dealing with panic attacks, don't discount medication as a starting point. Medication will not cure your phobia—only you and your own willingness to work on it can do that—but it can alleviate your anxiety attacks so you can have the strength and presence of mind to start working on your phobia. I found that taking a low dose of Lexapro made my panic attacks subside significantly without making me dopey. I was then able to begin the process of addressing my phobia with a clearer head. It's hard to tackle something as overpowering as emetophobia while trying to battle panic attacks at the same time.
    * If you haven't already, perhaps you could talk about your phobia with a trusted friend or two. I once read that fear is like mushrooms—left in a dark, closed place, it will grow and grow, but open the door and it can't survive. I've confided in a few close friends and was shocked and comforted to find they loved me anyway and were fascinated by my experiences. It made me feel less alone, which has in turn made me feel stronger and better able to fight this thing.

    Sorry this is so long, but I hope it's somewhat helpful. Again, these are just things that have helped me, and I know everyone is different. Hang in there everyone, none of us is alone and things can absolutely get better.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Jacksonville, NC

    Default Re: A few things I found helpful

    THank you SO much for writing this. It really means a lot that you took the time to put all of your experience into words for us! Even if this doesnt work for some, Im sure it will work for others.



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