Emetophobia Help with Anna Christie

S4E1 Living with Emetophobia: Kaylah's Ongoing Battle

September 18, 2023 Anna Christie Season 4 Episode 1
Emetophobia Help with Anna Christie
S4E1 Living with Emetophobia: Kaylah's Ongoing Battle
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

SEASON 4 of Emetophobia Help TRIGGER WARNING: Words such as "vomit,” “throw up” and "sick" may be used. 

Host: Anna Christie, Psychotherapist and Emetophobia Specialist

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

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

10 Emetophobia CLASSES with Anna: info at www.emetophobiahelp.org

Facebook Group: Emetophobia NO PANIC

ANNA & DAVID’S BOOK: Emetophobia: Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults: Russ, David, Dr., Christie, Anna S., 

EMETOPHOBIA RESEARCH CHARITY: www.emetaction.org

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

Speaker 1:

Hi and welcome to A Metaphobia Help. I'm Anna Christie recovered, a Metaphobic and Licensed Psychotherapist specializing in a Metaphobia. These podcasts have a trigger warning of words associated with a Metaphobia. If you enjoy these podcasts or you find them helpful, you can buy me a coffee. Just scroll down in the notes, click on the link and for a couple of bucks you can support the podcast. So season four, here we go. Hi everyone. So I'm here today with Kayla, who is from Wilmington, delaware in the United States. Hi, kayla, hi, good to see you today, nice.

Speaker 2:

Glad to be here.

Speaker 1:

Kayla and I can see each other, as you probably know by now, but this is only recording audio. So, yeah, so tell me, tell us all of us listening today about your Metaphobia kind of journey. When did it start? And all of that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So I've listened to your podcast quite a bit and I've loved hearing all of the different like start, almost like start dates for people's phobias. Kind of funny, Like some people started in adulthood. Or I have been a sufferer for as long as I can remember Very, very young childhood. I'm one of those. Like it's followed me through my you know, childhood years, my adolescent years, my teenage years and well into my adult years. I'm 30 years old now, so I don't have an exact age, but I'm going to guess somewhere around seven years old, you know, somewhere in that area. And like some people, I had a traumatic event with being sick. I don't know if you know, on this podcast you're okay with saying throw up, I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I guess you can say.

Speaker 2:

you can say words because I have a general trigger warning.

Speaker 1:

There are words being said, so yeah, and you can tell us a story, and if I think it's too scary or gory, I will cut it out and no one will ever hear what I'm saying right now.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so I'm like a, my Metaphobia I don't. I don't really get triggered by the word like the word throw up, the word vomit it, just for some reason that's not. He doesn't really do anything for me, luckily. So I'm able to listen to a lot of things and I'm able to listen to stories and um, but so my story, that this is the only thing I can think of where it started, because, like a lot of people, you know, you want to know where did this start? Why me? Why did I end up with this phobia that seems so specific? Because it is so specific and it's one bodily function, and why am I not afraid of sneezing or something else Like? Why this right? I know that throwing up is universally disliked. I understand that Nobody likes it. Every a Metaphobic person has heard the same thing of you, don't you know? You're not special just because you don't like throwing up. Nobody likes it.

Speaker 1:

Right, that's. That's so condescending yeah.

Speaker 2:

Or just, you know, just deal with it, It'll be over soon. Or, you know, I don't even have. I've heard on your podcast a lot of people have had the same thing said to them.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And so I know I'm getting a little off track. So you may have to like you know, but from what I remember I was young, you know seven or somewhere in that range. I don't really recall being sick a lot. I wasn't like a sickly kid or anything. And I believe I got food poisoning. And the only reason I say food poisoning is because I recall eating some strawberries again a very specific thing and then I recall having kind of like an upset stomach after that, and then that night is when I actually got physically sick. It's one of those things where it's like now in my 30s I know it could have been anything, but I avoided strawberries for many, many years.

Speaker 1:

But you don't anymore. Will you eat them now?

Speaker 2:

I will eat them now, but I have to wash them very well and I prefer to have handled them. And it's funny because now that you're saying that to me, I'm like, wow, you know, here, I thought I'm over and I can eat strawberries, but no, as a matter of fact, I can eat these strawberries, but it's in a still kind of a controlled-ish way, right.

Speaker 1:

I just wondered if you might have been allergic to them. They're a very common allergen, but you can eat them now, so it probably wasn't that. Who?

Speaker 2:

knows? Yeah, because it wasn't immediate Like I remember it being like daytime when I ate them and then nighttime when I got sick.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay.

Speaker 2:

And you know. So the biggest part to the story is that the person that I was with my grandfather was watching me that night my dad. I grew up with just my father, so my dad had gone out that night, I don't even remember where. But my grandfather, who isn't with us anymore and wasn't a particularly warm and fuzzy kind of grandfather he's not who you would have, you know kind of when you think of a grandparent he was very cold, he was kind of distant and I would say this was about the time when my relationship with him, you know, I would say after this incident and kind of like the years following, I really didn't see him that much and I don't think this was the reason why, but he just, I guess what I'm trying to say is he wasn't the super great grandfather.

Speaker 2:

You know I don't need to get into like all the details, but he just wasn't a nurturing, comforting person and he wasn't really in my life too much, but he was there this specific night. So he is a part of the story and I, you know, I wish I sometimes, I know, as a metaphobes, we are kind of like oddly morbidly obsessed with other people's throw up stories. I don't have too much of the nitty gritty details, other than I woke up in the middle of the night, I got sick at some point, went to my grandfather and told him that I was sick and he basically told me like stay away from me, you know, don't come near me, handle it yourself. Here's some trash bags.

Speaker 1:

Yes, how old were you Seven, you know Seven years old, oh my gosh, so you can imagine that that's so little, so little, so little.

Speaker 2:

And you just at that age, I imagine you just want someone to say it's okay, you're fine, like you know, maybe you know we'll get through this and you know just some very basic comforting. And when you don't have that, I believe that is where it kind of started, because that night was so uncomfortable for me. I remember I was in bed and I had these like grocery bags and I was, you know, throwing up in these grocery bags which I know might be kind of gross for some people, I'm sorry but and then I must have fallen asleep at some point and when I woke up again hours later and I got sick again, this time my dad was home and he did like rub my back and comfort me like a good parent would. This is where I believe my phobia of this happening, this fear I shouldn't even say it was a phobia yet this fear started because I remember thinking I never want that to happen again. That was awful, you know. That was scary, that was lonely, it was gross and the person that was supposed to take care of me didn't want to be around me and I don't want to be someone who people don't want to be around. So I don't want that to happen again. You know, I can imagine like that was kind of where it started.

Speaker 2:

And then, commonly with phobias, you start linking everything in your life to that traumatic event. So nighttime became hard for me. I got sick at night. Will I get sick at night again? You know I got sick at two in the morning. You know two in the morning became a scary time. You know you start doing things like that and that's kind of worthy. I say that's where the phobia probably started. I started avoiding foods. You know the foods that I ate. That day I was checking my body all the time for stomach aches so I feel nauseous. And then I also did not want my dad to not leave. Like I didn't want my dad to leave the house at night because if I got sick again I wanted to make sure he was there. So this is kind of how I feel, like the steep slope of falling into a phobia kind of happens and you don't even realize it's happening, especially when you're that young.

Speaker 1:

And you just lived with your dad. Can I ask what happened with your mother?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, she didn't pass away or anything. She was just not present in my life. She was very much in and out of my life as a young child, which also, I think, may have played a part in some of my just anxious tendencies as a kid. Yeah, I would think so. Yes, she was also not. So I had kind of a tumultuous childhood. I wouldn't say it was extremely hard. But you know, I had a mother who was not, you know, a typical mother in my life, who I couldn't rely on, who was in and out. We didn't live together. She lived. She had her own like house and boyfriends and her and my dad were not seeing each other. And you know, it got to the point where she would say she was gonna come pick us up and then she wouldn't or she'd be very, very late and my dad eventually had to be like. You know you can't do this. I have a sister. So when I say like to them anymore To them, yeah, cause I would get so upset you know, yeah, of course, yeah, it's.

Speaker 1:

Your mother was like a deadbeat dad, as they call them. You know so, not to exclude women from that, like anything else, that it can happen. But you know, usually we become very securely attached to our mother or whoever holds us when we are born, you know, and from that time forward, so let's say, two gay men have a baby through a surrogate out one, you know, one or both of them would be primary attachment figures. Normally it's mother. So if your mother kind of disappeared, she played some sort of disappearing act and then your father became your primary caregiver and then he wasn't there that night. So you've had a double whammy of being.

Speaker 1:

It's really scary when you're a little kid to feel like your parents aren't there, that someone isn't there, who's primarily, you know, your attachment figure, because I think little kids feel like they've been left alone in the woods, you know, and they'll be by wolves or something Like. That's how scary it is. It's absolutely terrifying. And so then you started associating it with what happened to you, you know. So you got scared when you felt sick and you got scared of the foods you ate and got scared of the nighttime. You know cause, your little brain doesn't know when you're a little kid what to attach to exactly, but for some reason, when it decides to attach itself to vomiting as being the big culprit, that does not get quickly resolved unless you get treatment for it as a child. So, yeah, so what was it like the rest of your life then, going forward from there?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it was. So I would say another like big part of my life that I think just fuel this phobia even more, and I think a lot of people can probably relate to this, is that elementary school. I don't know what it is about elementary school, but Kate loved to throw up in class.

Speaker 2:

They can yeah, they can yeah they're, it's prone to happening more, you know, just because they don't know the signs of when it's about to happen. And you know, looking back now, I used to be so like disgusted and angry whenever that would happen, because I was just like it just scared me so much, right? So a couple times that happened and the chaos of it, so a kid would get sick and everybody would just, you know, the whole class would be completely disrupted.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, everything stops doesn't it Everything stops Even. It's a situation that has to be dealt with then.

Speaker 1:

You can't just carry on, yeah, and it seems like grownups, I think, because there's a sense of urgency like, oh, get this kid to a waste basket or a bathroom or something, or oh, get them off the couch or off the carpet. We do the same thing if we hear a cat throwing up in the only part of our house that has carpet, which is the stairs, and for one of my cats of three likes to run there and throw up, I don't know why. I think he thinks it's outside or something Anyways, but there's this chaotic urgency and then, as children, that reinforces oh, we don't realize it's urgency, we think it's anxiety, we think everybody's freaking out and panicking.

Speaker 2:

Everybody's scared of this thing, right, yeah?

Speaker 1:

but they're not, but it looks like it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and so that was a big one. Like that happened two specific times that I can still remember to this day. I mean, I don't, it does not torment me as much as it did when I was a kid. But now school's not safe. People throw up at school. Oh yes, right, you know I was always on guard. So I would say these things happened and I, like, started collecting them and they started building this full blown monster, like I feel like a metaphobia starts as a fear, a small fear, and it grows into this phobia, because a phobia needs to be fueled by so many things to keep it alive, like avoidance and rituals and all those things.

Speaker 1:

Safety behaviors and things like that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, and oftentimes by the time you realize it, you've been doing them for years.

Speaker 1:

Right yeah.

Speaker 2:

This is yourself, safe and enabled. Sorry, go ahead.

Speaker 1:

I mean, some people don't even know they're doing them, yeah, like they don't, they don't even think of oh, they just always have water with them, for example.

Speaker 2:

Water.

Speaker 1:

Well, isn't that okay to always have water? It's like, yeah, but why do you have the water? You know, are you going on a marathon run? Then, yes, it's okay to have it. Otherwise, why are you carrying water around when you don't need to? You're doing it because it's a safety behavior for you. A little break halfway through to let you know about resources that you can find. First of all, I teach a set of 10 classes for people with emetophobia and you can find information about those on my website at emetophobiahelporg. I also have a Facebook group called Emetophobia no Panic and you can look that up on Facebook. If you're listening as a therapist, there is a free website for you at emetophobianet. It has all the resources you need for free to treat emetophobia. Dr David Russ, child psychologist, and I recently published a book called Emetophobia Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults, and it's available at all online booksellers. And now back to our podcast.

Speaker 2:

Safety behavior. I mean I had tons of them. I had a little and I still kind of do. I had a little as I got older and I started learning about the little things I could take with me into the world as little bits of security. I don't know if you guys have this in Canada, but there's. I don't even know if I see it too much. It's a homeopathic, actually medicine called Box Rescue Remedy.

Speaker 1:

Oh, yes, yes, we have that. You have that. Yeah, you have that.

Speaker 2:

So somebody at some point must have told me this helped with anxiety and I would take it at the first thought of panic and luckily that was homeopathic, so not a big deal. But it became something I had to have in my arsenal. I had to have, and then I know a lot of your. I've heard a lot of your people on previous episodes say mints. Mints are a big one. I feel like that is a common theme. I still like the Altoids Smalls Peppermints. The first sign of Panic, panic induced nausea. I feel like if I can have a few mints in my mouth it just, it just helps.

Speaker 1:

Right, yeah, and I wonder if, like sometimes, I don't know about the Altoids, but a lot of mints don't actually have mint in them. Yeah, and so in that case, this is a placebo you know, this is your safety behavior. It's not even mint, but then. But then. A metaphor, for people are smart. I had one client who was like an 18 year old young man and he, he, his mother got mints at Whole Foods that were 100% like pure mint or whatever.

Speaker 1:

So that was his number one. You know that was like a number one safety behavior for him. And other people are looking at mints and making or ginger ale we were all shocked to hear didn't have any ginger in it and so you have to get like a yeah, so ginger and mint are two things that are sort of known to calm down an upset stomach and that's why but but they get used for safety behaviors Definitely.

Speaker 2:

So I had I had a lot of really safety behaviors. I had at home teas, you know, chamomile tea, mint tea. I had to have it the minute I felt a panic attack coming on because my stomach hurt or because my time was approaching. Make tea, you know, turn on the fan, put on a show that is, you know, makes me feel happy, and all of the little things that you can gather and try to set yourself up for success whatever. Wherever you are in the world, whether you're at school or at home.

Speaker 2:

And then as I got older I was I was actually medicated with like real medicine, you know, anti depressants and anti anxiety medicine, and I was prescribed at a van for panic attacks At a van is amazing and that it helps with nausea and sickness, but again, it can be. It can be a slippery slope if you start relying on it and it's a real drug.

Speaker 1:

It's a, it's lorazepam, so it's a benzodiazepam and it is habit forming, which means, among other things, that eventually you need more of it to get the same effect, but your doctor's not going to prescribe more of it, you know. So then you start going down to Skid Row or something to try to find it, you know. So that's the slippery slope. If you take it every time you fly on an airplane, which is maybe once every four or five years or something, or every time you go to the dentist once a year, you know that's okay. But and some people get it prescribed on a daily basis because they are just so anxious, you know which is. You know, if your doctor's prescribing it, you probably need it.

Speaker 2:

Right, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So what about now?

Speaker 2:

like if you had any, any kind of therapy or recovery that you've done yourself, or yeah, I mean, you know, as a lot of years have passed, I could never fit my entire story with this phobia and how it's intertwined itself in my life and the time we have. But you know, I as a 30 year old, I married, I have a house, I have two dogs. I still have my safety behaviors. I still cannot really stand to be in the house if my husband is sick. That's a whole other thing. He knows about my phobia.

Speaker 2:

He does not have this phobia as commonly with many married couples, but he we've been together for 10 plus years so he has really really seen many, many sides and phases and panic attacks and everything under the sun. So you know he's, he's, he's in it with me, I guess, and he doesn't feed into it. He's not scared when I get scared, he doesn't panic when I panic, he doesn't tell me to avoid things, but he also, you know he's. I guess I'm just kind of getting to the point that he is someone who does get sick, probably once a year as an, as an, a metaphobe person. I have not thrown up in a very long time, right Like 10 plus years.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, that makes sense. Whereas, yeah, as a not a metaphobic person, I haven't thrown up in 13, you know so it's yeah, but there are some people. If you ask my daughter, she gets sick, she vomits several times a year. I don't know what she's doing.

Speaker 2:

She's doing half the time.

Speaker 1:

People that just don't seem to care and they don't mind it. I mean, I still don't like it, I'm not going to sign up for it, right? So you haven't had any treatment per se, other than you had some medication you were saying.

Speaker 2:

Well, I've. So I have done therapy, but I haven't really done and this is I mean I've been in therapy since I was a kid, so I've done lots and lots of talk therapy, but it wasn't typically specifically focused on curing this phobia, because there isn't a lot of people who know how or even know what this phobia is. Right, absolutely yeah, and so I kind of try to find people who did I also it's. It can be very expensive to go to like a actual treatment center. Yeah, they exist. They're not. I don't think there's any in Delaware. I think I may have seen one in Texas or something. I'm not sure they're out.

Speaker 1:

Rhode Island.

Speaker 2:

I think there's one in Rhode Island, yeah, yeah, but again, it's just, it's not like something I can just like pack up my life and go to the hospital, pack up my life and go do right now. But I've done a lot of therapy. I've done some exposure therapy with myself. Exposure therapy does not really work for me. I can force myself to look at pictures of throw up videos a lot harder to do for me. I've tried to break down what it is that bothers me. Is it the sound? Is it the vision? Is it both? If I close my eyes and listen in my less anxious, if I plug my ears and see, am I less anxious? You know, I've. I've done it all. I've talked to therapists about it and I've gotten some stuff. But again there, I've never spoken with any therapist who said Ah yes, I have had a fellow, I've had a client had a metaphobia, so I've had some exposure. I'm always the first, I'm always the only one I've ever talked to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, well, that's here's a good time for me to plug our book then. You know, you can't see it because I have a pretend virtual office, but David Russ, child psychologist, and I have just published a metaphobia understanding and treating fear of vomiting in children and adults. Basically, what it is is a clinicians manual, so it is written for clinicians, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists. It's got a forward by Dr David Viel, psychiatrist and head researcher of a metaphobia you know, the most prominent one in the world, and the reason we wrote that book is because of just what you're saying.

Speaker 1:

So you know, you can always, you know, find a therapist and say, hey, I know a book. Would you be willing to read it? Because sometimes I think people buy it, maybe have bought it and give it to their therapist. I don't know if their therapist reads it or not, but but some will very willingly read it and try to. I certainly would have. Or if, when I was sort of a general therapist, if someone said I have you know what were you talking about? Sneezophobia or something Right, I shouldn't even laugh.

Speaker 1:

There's probably someone listening I have sneeze phobia and they're laughing about it. So I'm really sorry I don't know the name of it, but you know, if they came and gave me the name of a and then there was someone that had a book right, I'd be like oh great, oh, thank goodness.

Speaker 2:

Yes someone's.

Speaker 1:

Someone's got a book, you know by the time. Yeah. So you were saying if I can just quickly change topics for a moment I think you were saying in your, in your email to me, that you could talk a little more about how it affects your relationships. Was that you that said that? Yeah, I think it was.

Speaker 2:

It was I think you know, for some, for a lot of people who have phobias, there's a lot of shame and you kind of want to isolate yourself. Also, a metaphobia is much easier to handle, in my opinion alone, because then you only have one risk and that's yourself.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

You know, but we can't live like that. Humans are not meant to live alone in a room, a safety room. So you know, we must go on. We must have friends, we must have family, hopefully partners, you know whatever that means for you. But I could not. It's never stopped me from trying to live a life that I want to live. It certainly made a lot of things harder than they needed to be and I've, you know, probably not enjoyed everything as much as I could have, and I've. But basically, it's just when you have a metaphobia, severely, I could consider myself on the severe side where I need to like flee the room if someone gets sick you know even someone I love so much my own, my husband who, like you know even my own father.

Speaker 2:

If he got sick, my first initial response would be I'm getting the heck out of here. See ya, I'll come back tomorrow. You know, and I've done that I have literally gone and stayed at my mother-in-law's house when my husband got sick because I just could not be there, and anyone who is maybe listens to this and resonates knows just how horrible that feels to do. But it's not me that's doing it. It's not like no, it's just.

Speaker 1:

It's this unfortunate phobia that you just I mean, yeah, well, you kids, not your fault, and you can't help it, and it has nothing to do with how much you love your husband or your kids.

Speaker 2:

I mean.

Speaker 1:

I would. So I didn't have any family in town and we had no money so I couldn't even go to. I would go and sit in the car or I would go into a basement, shut the door and plug my ears for three days. Like that's how bad it was when.

Speaker 1:

I was young and you know the just wanting to flee from it all is certainly very, very you know it just just goes with what it is and you know, I think, that there, I'm sorry you've never found anyone, but even before we put the book out, that I find there are more people now, more therapists, that know about this than ever before and who have treated other people. So it takes a lot of digging, I think, and you know there's always psychology todaycom where there will be psychologists and other counselors listed and you do have to email every single one in your neighborhood, your town or your city and ask them yeah, do you treat this? Have you seen it before? Right, how do you treat it? Because if a lot of therapists will say, oh, I use CBT, but they may be mainly focusing on the cognitive part of CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, so trying to get you to think differently about vomiting, which is important, but without the behavioral aspect, the exposure therapy, you it's highly unlikely that you'll actually get better in a way that will last.

Speaker 1:

And you want it to last, you want it to be forever, right? So?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, kayla, you've been a fantastic guest. A sad story, but one that I think a lot of people are going to identify with, and you know you're doing very well so far in your own, so good for you. Thanks for coming and being here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thank you so much and I hope anything I said can give anybody hope that you can. You can live and have a good life even with this phobia. So Right.

Speaker 1:

Are you listening from down under? If so, I have a set of a metaphobia classes 10 classes that I'm conducting beginning in January on a Wednesday afternoon here in Vancouver at four o'clock, which I believe is nine o'clock in the morning. In Sydney, Australia, it is also seven pm Eastern. If anyone is interested in these classes, the information is on my website at a metaphobia helporg.

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Childhood Experiences' Impact on Emetophobia
Living With a Phobia