One of the most-rewarding parts of the work I do as a licensed Thrive Programme Consultant® is helping clients overcome a severe phobia of vomiting known as emetophobia. This debilitating fear can involve sufferers being afraid of vomiting themselves and/or others vomiting.
The Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive Programme® is such effective help for this fear that I am often contacted by female emetophobia sufferers who are desperate to overcome their phobia because:
1) they are afraid to start a family due to the possibility of pregnancy sickness and also because they believe they couldn’t cope if a future child was sick, or
2) they are already Mums and are finding that their fear of vomiting is having a detrimental effect on their experience of motherhood due to almost constant worry about their child being sick.
I make particular mention of female sufferers here because, unlike most other phobias where the split between male and female sufferers is approximately 50/50, the vast majority of individuals with emetophobia are female (with research studies revealing that 85-97% of their emetophobic participants are women). However, any emetophobic fathers/fathers-to-be: this blog is aimed at you too and I would be delighted to guide you in overcoming your phobia!
Last year, I was contacted by a lovely client, Ruth, who has given permission for me to write this blog about how she overcame emetophobia and is now thriving as a parent. When she initially made contact with me, Ruth explained that she had been sufferering with emetophobia for as long as she could remember. She had a toddler son (who I will refer to as B) and was really unhappy with her inability to look after him when he was ill. She was also concerned that she was teaching him to be fearful too and aware that she was limiting his activities to accommodate her safety seeking and avoidance behaviours.
We started weekly sessions of the Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive Programme® over FaceTime. We both thoroughly enjoyed working together and I really noticed how much Ruth was engaging with the programme, asking questions to get the most out of the process and learning from any little set-backs. Plus, her dry sense of humour meant sessions were lots of fun!
We were a few sessions into the programme when Ruth encountered her first “sickness scenario” with B. Whilst chatting with her mum on the phone, B ran into the room and was sick. She told me that she calmly said to her mum that she had to go and proceeded to look after him and clean up. She explained that it felt “very strange to be reacting in a new way”. Whilst B continued to be sick throughout the night, Ruth was present throughout. Because this was relatively early on in the programme, she understandably noticed that it was sometimes a struggle (it can take a little time to build up the belief in your coping skills). However, at those times, Ruth left the room (leaving B in the capable care of of her hubbie) and was able to calm herself down and go back in.
Ruth made sure to process this experience in a really powerful way, telling herself that this was evidence that she was overcoming her fear and she COULD cope. Together we identified that an area to work on going forward was the unhelpful worrying and brooding she engaged in over the next 48 hours, however despite feeling “a bit wobbly” she now KNEW she would cope.
As we continued with sessions, Ruth challenged herself in other ways: taking B on public transport; going on a roller coaster at Alton Towers (it turns out that B is quite the adrenaline junkie!), eating out and generally having fun family outings. Again, Ruth processed all these achievements really powerfully as further evidence that emetophobia was a thing of the past for her.
We finished our sessions last summer and Ruth recently contacted me for a little up-date. Poor B had been ill again and Ruth wanted to share how proud she was of herself for how she had handled it when he had vomited:
“I didn’t run away, I didn’t obsess for days to come and most importantly I cuddled him, gave him a bath to clean him up, sang songs with him and cheered him up. Then he lay asleep on me for an hour or so. And unlike last time, I didn’t struggle as much in the following 48 hours, I ate food, I went about my business and I interacted with B just the same. And when it was over, it was over.”
Ruth has also said, “I am much more ‘present’ in all moments with B now rather than having a large proportion of my focus on creating anxiety. Whether it is a weekend away, a day trip, time at home, shopping or at the park, I am just concentrating on the here and now and enjoying what we’re doing. And some of the thrive skills I learnt also come in very handy when dealing with a crazy toddler too! Parenting is a difficult job and thrive skills can be applied to that as well as so many other challenges we all face from time to time.”
You can imagine how hugely rewarding it is to see the people I work with flourish like this and how I treasure every success, however big or small, my clients make. If you are a parent, or a parent-to-be, who is suffering with emetophobia, please decide now not to “live with” your phobia any longer- there is incredibly effective help available via the Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive Programme®
I will leave the last words for Ruth:
“I think I have become a different person!! I find myself giggling inside as I do these things which would have seemed completely impossible, disgusting, catastrophic etc just a few months ago.”
Please click here to book a free initial consultation to discuss thriving as a parent.