Emetophobia Help with Anna Christie

S3E18 Breaking Free from Irrational Fears: Kassidy's Journey

June 07, 2023 Anna Christie Season 3 Episode 18
Emetophobia Help with Anna Christie
S3E18 Breaking Free from Irrational Fears: Kassidy's Journey
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

SEASON 3 of Emetophobia Help features people from the Facebook group “Emetophobia NO PANIC (Recovery)”

TRIGGER WARNING: Words such as "vomit,” “throw up” and "sick" may be used. No upsetting stories will be told without a specific episode trigger warning.

Host: Anna Christie, Psychotherapist and Emetophobia Specialist

Intro Music: YouTube Audio Library, "Far Away (Sting)" by MK2, Used with Permission.

Anna’s Website for emetophobics: www.emetophobiahelp.org

EMETOPHOBIA RESEARCH CHARITY: www.emetaction.org

Facebook Group: "Emetophobia NO PANIC"

Anna & David's BOOKEmetophobia: Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults: Russ, David, Dr., Christie, Anna S., 

"Free Yourself from Emetophobia" (Keyes/Veale) and 

“The Emetophobia Manual” (Goodman) for adults.

FOR KIDS:
 "Turnaround Anxiety Program" with Emetophobia supplement (McCarthy/Russ) and 

 Emetophobia! The Ultimate Kids' Guide eBook : Russ. PhD, David

Support the show

Anna and David’s NEW Resource Website: www.emetophobia.net

Anna:

Hi and welcome to season three of emetophobia. Help. I'm your host, anna Christie, licensed therapist, author and emetophobic. If you're enjoying this podcast or you find it helpful, you can buy me a coffee for a couple of bucks or a couple of pounds. Just scroll down in the notes to see the link. I'm here today with Cassidy, who is from sunny Southern California. Hi Cassidy, hi Anna.

Kassidy:

Thank you so much for having me on.

Anna:

Oh, thank you for coming on. It's just great. I love it when people are volunteering to come onto the podcast and tell their story. That's just awesome. So let's hear your emetophobia with When did it start? and all of that.

Kassidy:

Yeah, so for me, i've had a metaphobia for as long as I can remember, so just starting off in my childhood. I feel like that's with most people who have a metaphobia It starts off in childhood And I think for me actually I thought having a metaphobia was the worst and I couldn't get any worse. But actually listening to your podcast, i realized that I'm probably more on the better end. I guess I mean, that's even possible.

Anna:

That's good.

Kassidy:

I've never struggled with any eating problems or issues or anything like that, except for if I got sick off of the food. Then I never want to eat that food again, But lucky enough to be able to eat whatever I've wanted to. So I feel like I am very blessed in that sense, And through listening to your podcast I have heard that there has been a lot of casers in that and that's very common in emetophobia.

Anna:

Right. So eating is it can be a really troubling thing because we have to eat, of course, but if it scares you, then it takes a long time to get over that And you have to take such small steps that people get frustrated with it sometimes, some of my clients especially. But I'm glad that you're OK with eating. What was it like for you in childhood? Like what were your parents and your family like, and school and all of that.

Kassidy:

Yeah, so for me, i grew up with my older sister and then my younger sister And anytime my siblings would get sick I would freak out. Anytime my friends would get sick, i would freak out. And so everyone knew something was wrong. Like everyone knew, like an. I knew, but I didn't really know it was a phobia or anything like that until a few years back. But everyone just kind of knew it was not normal And I just kind of grew up with that And so kind of what I did was kind of try to hide it. I knew that it wasn't normal And so I tried to really just kind of conform and really try to be normal and try to pretend like I didn't have it. But my family all knew, because anytime anybody would get sick I would just freak out. And, interesting enough, this is really crazy, i think, for me. I think there's a genetic component for my metaphobia, because my younger sister has it as well.

Anna:

And I don't know.

Kassidy:

Hopefully I wasn't the one that gave her the phobia, just from my phobia growing up, because anytime she would get sick or anybody gets sick, i would just freak out. So that is very interesting. So I do have someone to relate with and really just goes through the same exact thing as me, and how much younger is she than you? She's five years younger than me.

Anna:

Oh, wow, yeah, Yeah, well, probably your reaction would have quite an impact on her. Then, you know, if she were two or three years old and you're eight, and then you're freaking out.

Kassidy:

Yeah.

Anna:

There is a genetic component to having an anxiety disorder, not necessarily this one. There's no particular gene emetophobia phobia, but we're anxious, we're born anxious, we're anxious people, and why it sticks to vomiting and not something else, i don't know. I don't think anyone knows actually, but in a sense it doesn't really matter, because we know how. We know now how to fix it. You know whether You know, regardless of what caused it in the first place bill, it would always be a few things, few factors, for sure. Yeah, so you're a middle child and your older sister she's okay.

Kassidy:

Oh yeah, she's still pick a few off the ground and eat. It is not care, she is completely no anxiety at all. She's, yeah, doing great.

Anna:

There's always some kid in the family that just gets off scot-free and everybody is focused on the others. did you find that your parents worried about you and your sister when you were young?

Kassidy:

I'm not necessarily as in like a sense of like you have anxiety and like phobia I think more so with my younger sister, because we both do have a generalized anxiety but I think for her they kind of were like realizing with me I didn't go to therapy or anything like that until I was older. I feel like in my family it was kind of like you only go to therapy if, like something's really wrong. Like my parents got divorced so they went to therapy and like so it was kind of like a negative stigmatism around my family with therapy. So I actually didn't even tell my family I had gone to therapy and kind of getting help until recently, until I was like almost done with like my therapies when I kind of let them know.

Anna:

Yeah, it's, some families are really funny, you know, really wrong. That's some Like obviously they've never had what you had because it is really wrong. Right, like it's, just it's. It is something that's really wrong and I think for parents if it affects a child's eating and their weight, then they're much more on it than if it doesn't. So in that sense that wasn't very lucky for you, but it's still luckier that you didn't have an eating problem, that's for sure. Yeah, so what? what happened? like, what led you to get some sort of? you were saying you got therapy. So what? what kind of factors led to that for you?

Kassidy:

Yeah, so I grew up with just a metaphor when people were sick and like around, basically only like when people around me were sick and I didn't really think much of it other than that unless somebody So they don't feel good and not sick, other than that really didn't think about it. so really wasn't that bad up until maybe about to about two, two and a half years ago. So I just got done and finished graduating dental hygiene school and my husband and I decided to take a trip to Greece because I do love to travel. so that's what's been really hard is I love to travel and such a passion of mine and my metaphor. I think that has definitely kind of interfered with that and my dream was always just to actually be like a travel photographer and I was always in my dream and I would just love to travel and so I really didn't have too many problems with traveling. I would be fine, up until the trip we just took to Greece a few years back and So we were on, you know, you get on like the little shuttle bus to kind of take you from the plane to like the airport. So we just landed in Greece from San Erini, so Athens, and we, they crammed us on one of those little shuttle buses. There's way too many people to be on the bus, just in general, and of course we're still following all the COVID guidelines. So we had our masks on and they just crammed way too many people in this one shuttle bus and it was very, very hot out. We just got off the plane and then there was a girl that got sick on the bus And I was. She was in the back of the bus and I was kind of in the middle of the bus but I still saw, and even though she was a good 10, 15 people away from me, i just had a panic attack and I pushed my way all the way to the front of the bus. My husband and I both I just pulled us up there like fighting through people, like almost pushing people over, and I was just shaking so bad And so we were all like standing because there's way too many people in there, and there was an older lady. She was sitting down and I was just like shaking. I just cannot stop shaking. I was having a panic attack, i was freaking out And she asked me. She's like do you want to take my seat, do you want to sit down? And I was like no, i'm okay, like this older lady sitting here, like I should not be taking her seat, you know. And so I was like I'm okay. But basically ever since then, i think just something just switched in my brain And it was just very traumatizing for me And I just had such a hard time I started having ever since I got home. We actually, if we're going two days later to a trip to Hawaii with my husband's family And I love Hawaii, i love traveling And that's like my favorite thing to do And I had a panic attack the night before And I just didn't think I was going to be able to make it on the flight. I did not want to go, i was just freaking out and begging him not to make me go. We ended up going at an amazing time. So I'm really glad we went, but just the anxiety was so bad. And then, coming back from that, just into that summer, i just had terrible anxiety. I in church I was having anxiety, just intrusive thoughts like all these places that I could go before and have no issue movie theaters, just basically anywhere. I was just so terrified, so terrified that someone was going to get sick And it was actually really crazy because there was multiple times and in such a short timeframe that somebody we were driving down my street and at the end of the my street there was a guy pulled over and he got sick on the side of the road. And so just all these different like exposures which now I know an exposure kind of throwing at me and it was just really triggering my anxiety to just a terrible level. And I think the really pushing point for me was that I just really turned into a mean person. And that's not who I was. I've always just been super, just nurturing, caring, loving And my anxiety really just turned me into just, i would say, a terrible person. And I had any situation I just pushed my way out. I was being so mean to people, like I didn't care if I was knocking people over in that shuttle bus. So for me it's like that's not who I am And the anxiety really changed me into somebody I didn't want to be. And that's when I really realized, ok, i need to do something about this.

Anna:

Yeah, yeah, wow, that's. That's a lot to unpack there. Um, you know it. I just want to say first of all that you're not a mean person. Yeah, just because you did that thing. You know we talk about the fight or flight response all the time, and I think that for people like you and me and most people that are listening, it's mostly flight, like we run away from whatever it is or avoid it in the first place, so. But there's a fight component as well. So if you can't run, you will fight. You know you will. You'll put, yeah, you'll push old ladies over and climb over them. And you know you're too young to remember Seinfeld, probably, but there's this great episode where there's a fire and George Costanza literally pulls an old lady away from the door and runs out himself, and then he has to account for that later. But it's you know it's, it's meant like it's this instinct that we have. Fight or flight is meant. If you see a bear or an alligator, wherever you are in the world, and it's coming after, you will run from it. You know you'll run. And if you can't run, if it catches you, you'll fight, just without even thinking, like no thought goes into it at all, because you really can't fight much with a bear. Or I don't know anything about alligators because I'm in Canada But we have, we have bears here. If you have grizzly bear or a polar bear catches you, they will just eat you. So you know there's no point in fighting them. But you'll, you'll fight anyway. You won't, you won't even think. And sometimes people have children that just act way out of character for them as well, and they'll, you know their parents will contact me and they'll say, oh, he also has oppositional, defiant disorder And when you really look into it, the child doesn't have that. It's just terror. It's so scary. You know it's so hard to explain to people that have never experienced it how frightening it is. And it sounds to me like for you other people vomiting is. Is that like the worst thing? Was that the most triggering thing or would it be sort of feeling nauseous or sick or something yourself?

Kassidy:

So for me it was always the fear of somebody else being sick and they were going to make me sick. So I was always really deeply scared of getting sick myself And I was scared that someone else was going to make me sick. So that's why And I feel like I think maybe it has something to do with control And I'm able to control myself more, but I can't control everybody else around me.

Anna:

So I think that might be part of it- Yeah, there's, there's a component of that in it for sure, because being out of control is a terrifying feeling, just terrifying. The other thing I wanted to unpack a little bit before you, just before you talk about, you know, you're the therapy that you received, that flight to Hawaii when you were. you just didn't want to go. I've had clients text me. I've had people quite a few people actually text me from airports where they're waiting to board And they're like I don't think I can do it, i don't think I can go through with it, and I never know really what to tell them other than to just say, yes, you can do it. What was it that got you on that plane, do you think?

Kassidy:

in the end, I think at the end, just like the desire of wanting to be there and really wanting to travel and be there with my family, i think, things that helped me, which are safety behaviors, which I don't know, fishing, these shared for other people, trying to get over it, but what I do is I put my face mask on and I put my headphones in and I just Beeping pill and I just knock out, so that's like kind of what got me through it. I remember someone, one of our family members is like oh my gosh, cassie, i wish I could be sleeping the whole flight like you did.

Anna:

Yeah, I have to be, otherwise I wouldn't be able to be here right, right, yeah, so you probably like to fly with someone else to you, somebody that you know, as opposed to by yourself.

Kassidy:

Yes, my husband, yeah, Yeah.

Anna:

Yeah, that's the I, when I wouldn't get on a plane at all At all, at all until I don't know. I was like 40 years old or something when I finally got over the phobia and I flew somewhere with my husband, i think and then and then I just signed up for a national committee that meets in Toronto And I'm out here in Vancouver, so that's a five-hour flight. I just get halfway across the country, but and it's by yourself and so But it it met four times a year, that committee and I was on the committee for three years, so that really helped me get over it and I actually quite enjoyed it after a while, like not knowing who you're gonna sit beside, you know, and what might be wrong with them or whatever. Yeah, it's, it could be scary, but eventually most people are, are fine, and you do. You work as a dental hygienist.

Kassidy:

Yes, i do. You do that. Summer is when I graduated dental hygiene school, which I just have a lot of anxiety anyways, and I feel like there's a lot of anxiety throughout the program and just finishing it and like all that kind of anxiety Went away and I feel like it just kind of poured into like a metaphobia. But yes, i work as a dental hygienist. I've been a dental hygienist for almost two years now And luckily I've been okay with like my metaphobia. I haven't had come across any issues. Most of our patients are healthy. Like we won't see a patient if they have any like cold food, like symptoms, we take their temperatures, but there are instances and I've heard stories of people getting sick and I've heard my doctor tell stories and things like that. Then while we take dental x-rays I make my patients gag a lot and I don't have any issue with that.

Anna:

I have no problem with that. Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah, i've gagged a few times, i think, and Dental something or other, i don't know what. But just gagging, that doesn't make you throw up, like a lot of people think. Oh, that's it. If I, if it goes too far back in my throat and I, you know, you can make a gagging Motion with your body and it, just to get the thing out of the back of your throat is all it is. It's not about throwing up, i tell people. No, it's more like throwing up causes gagging more than Gagging causes throwing up. Yeah, so all of you afraid to go to the dentist, just go to the dentist. You never know. You might get a nice hygienist like Cassidy who understands your problem and can kind of reassure you that It'll be fine. So besides that, you can. As I'm, i don't need to preach to the choir talking to you, but I'm sure There are people who are so afraid to go to the dentist and many of them a metaphobic that they end up with the worst, worst problems, like a million times worse than going to a dentist in the first place. Like you know, infection Obsesses that go up into their sinus and it can go to your brain and it can kill you and, yeah, go to the dentist people. Yes take good care of your teeth or you'll end up with none, and even that, you know, doesn't always. It's not a very nice thing for sure. So tell, tell us about your therapy. What did you look first for someone? How did you find someone and how did that go?

Kassidy:

Yeah, so for my therapy it's actually interesting because I Wanted to go to therapy to get over my metaphobia. But there's also other traumas in my life and things I've dealt with and that kind of seemed more normal to go to therapy over. So I was telling myself I'm gonna go to therapy to kind of get over this, even though I feel like I've kind of done my own therapy and I was pretty much over that. But I found a therapist and for me I was, i'm Christian, i was raised in the church and I feel like there's a little bit of Negative stigmatism around therapy as well. So I was like, okay, i really want to make sure I find a Christian therapist and I did and she was amazing. She's not too far from me in Riverside California and she actually specializes in a lot of just like phobias and She did exposure therapy with me. So I initially started just like normal therapy and then it led in to just come overcoming my I'm not say 100% Overcome, but really just working on my metaphobia. And so I was able to find her and I actually read the a Metaphobia, metaphobia manual and I was able to give that to her and she's really, really great with exposure therapy And we just worked with a lot of exposures and we made a hierarchy and we just went through all the different things. And The interesting thing about my therapy which I feel like is just definitely just all from God, is I actually got sick a couple times during my, during my exposure therapy, which I feel like really helped, so I ended up getting food poisoning when I was pretty much almost at the top of my higher. And I ended up having I don't have to say home from work, and it was really crazy because I didn't text my therapist or tell her anything And she never would call me. And then, out of nowhere, she called me and she was really just able to help me and like talk me through it and work through it. So I just really think that was just like a gift from God. And I know, not being sick is not fun, but I feel like that really helped me. And then we ended up going on another trip to Hawaii. So this was last summer and I did okay on the flight. I did a lot better. I made it there and I ended up getting food poisoning again And I got sick there and that would be like that would be like my worst nightmare and barely like. I don't think I've ever got food poisoning in my life. I've only ever really had norovirus. I really haven't gotten sick there many times And so over there I got sick. But I think a huge thing that really helped me get over is my husband was there this time, The last time he was at work So he wasn't there with me And this time he was there and he was just like comforting me and holding my hair back And I'd never had that before. I think for me my metaphobia also stems down just to being like isolation and alone. And I think like when I was young, like I'd really like a lot of times I was sick. I'm like I can't see my friends, i can't go outside, i'm alone And I think that's the deep root of like my cause of my metaphobia is just being isolated and being alone. So I feel like that really just kind of helped trigger my brain And I feel like I'm almost over being sick myself. I mean I still I don't want to be sick, but I feel like I'm probably a good like 80% cured of the metaphobia part of myself being sick. It's still more for others, but I'm definitely so much better than where I was.

Anna:

That's great. What's the highest thing that you've worked on in your hierarchy of you know, of other people being sick?

Kassidy:

Yeah, so that was just going to a lot of different like places. So a lot of the places I was scared of. One thing for me was going into like restrooms, so public restrooms, and I would just sit there in the stall and I would go through breathing exercises and really just try to focus on that And I would go to different, a lot of different. So Disneyland and going on rides That was a big thing. We live right by Disneyland. I love Disneyland And I had such a fear going there And I actually had a panic attack at SeaWorld before I started my exposure therapy And we were just getting on a ride for one of those little water rides like the rapid rides. It's like I don't know if anyone ever getting sick on there. But I was getting on the ride and I had a panic attack because they put other people on there with us And I was. I got separated from my husband and I just ended up. We waited like in a two hour line and we were with my family and I just took off across the park and I had a panic attack and my husband took off after me and I just felt so bad. But so I come a long way. That's where I used to be.

Anna:

Yeah, yeah, wow, that's, that's amazing. Have you looked at? have you looked at pictures and videos, things like that? Yeah, yeah, yeah, got through that.

Kassidy:

Okay Yeah, so the like, the words, pictures didn't really bother me as much The videos did, and we did some videos. In my therapy. I did eat the jelly bean. Oh yeah, there was actually two jelly beans and I. There was one that was vomit flavored and one that was dead fish flavored, oh yeah, and. I didn't know which one I was going to get And I got the dead fish and I think it was worse than the vomit.

Anna:

I know I played this game Bean Boozled and it had one of the flavors or whatever was dirty dishwater And another one was canned dog food. And, like you didn't know if it was it a chocolate jelly bean or a canned dog food, or was it peach or was it vomit. Anyways, i wanted to try the vomit ones, but the vomit wasn't nowhere near as bad as the dog food And the dog food wasn't even as bad as the dirty dishwater, like what was in their dishwater. I have no idea what these people used as a basis for how they wash their dishes, but oh, it was just like mold or something. Anyway, anyway, nobody threw up. We played the game. We laughed. My nine year, eight year old grandson played it. He wanted to play it. He said I hope I throw up Like you know, because that's because he's an eight year old boy, right? So he didn't throw up. Yeah, good, good for you. Well, i think you've got a wonderful story here. You know, you went through some stuff as a child, and obviously in your family, because your sister ended up with this as well. How's she doing, by the way? Has she gotten help, or?

Kassidy:

She hasn't. I told her how I was going to therapy and I even wanted to give her the book because she likes to read. But she said why would I ever want to get over this? I want. Why would I want to get over this?

Anna:

Okay, interesting, all right. Well, it obviously doesn't affect her life and stop her from doing things she really wants to do. So in that sense, yeah, people aren't necessarily motivated to get over it. But if you want to have kids and you want to travel and you want to go on rides and all that stuff and you can't, then that's when you really start looking for something to help you out. But awesome, cassidy, you've been a wonderful guest. Thank you so much for coming and I'm sure that a lot of people are going to find a lot of help through your story. Thank you so much for having me. For you, therapists who are listening, dr David Russ, child psychologist, and I have a new resource website for you at imedophobianet, and there are self-help instructions there as well. If you're looking for exposure resources People with a metophobia I have a new Facebook group that I made called imedophobia no panic, which has very strict rules and is more about sharing success, therapy, information and so on, more so than the other groups.

Living With emetophobia
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety
Overcoming Emetophobia Through Exposure Therapy
Overcoming Emetophobia and Supporting Others