I have a fear of being sick which I’ve never spoken to anyone about

I have a fear of being sick which I’ve never spoken to anyone about

02/27/2021

DEAR DEIDRE: I HAVE a fear of being sick which I’ve never spoken to anyone about, not my husband or friends. 

All my adult life I have managed to hide this phobia but now, with the arrival of Covid-19 and the need for regular testing, I would like to overcome this.


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I was sick once at the age of seven when I was travelling on a train – it was hot, stuffy and people were eating all around. 

I vomited over myself and my mum’s shoes and her reaction told me I was disgusting.

I am now 51 and work in a health centre where we have introduced regular testing. 

I am so worried the swab going up my nose or throat will cause the gagging reflex and I’ll disgrace myself again. What can I do?

DEIDRE SAYS: It seems you have emetophobia (a fear of vomiting) and the emotional attachment you have to this stems from your shaming experience as a child.

Please don’t add your own stress, shame and embarrassment on top of your fear of being sick.

Can you talk to a senior nurse or doctor at work who you trust?

They will understand this condition and will support you. Get advice and support from Anxiety UK (anxietyuk.org.uk 03444 775 774).

I’m sure that as you open up to people, you will find their main aim will be to support you, rather than pour scorn on you.

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