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Nov 01 2016
by Rachel Loia

Dealing with Emetophobia in College

By Rachel Loia - Nov 01 2016
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I have always been afraid of vomiting. Not the usual fear most people have about sudden and horrifying bodily functions; more like I'm always thinking about the possibility of having to deal with it. Who might throw up? Will I throw up? Will people still love me if I throw up on them? These questions buzz around my head almost all of the time, and often lead to panic attacks or states of depression.

When I first decided to apply to college I wasn't sure I could leave home, but I really wanted to. Being away from my family though? The only people I trusted enough to care for me if I were to get sick? College was, and still is, my own personal nightmare while also my most beloved dream. As I sent in my application to a number of schools I told myself that I was wasting my time. How can one go to college when one has a hard time coping with normal bodily functions? Especially in a place where normal bodily functions happen all the time and in such close quarters? 

I was so set on going though and absolutely refused to allow my fears to incapacitate me. And if I did stay home, what else was I going to do? All the goals I have previously established for myself have some form of higher education as the platform, and I know that if I were to go to community college I would allow myself to settle. For those of you who do not know me, I do my best not to settle. In fact, I rarely ever do. I'm picky with absolutely everything; from my music to my friends to the guys I fall for, I am almost never impulsive. So college...it was a big deal, and I believed I had to go. And so I chose a college, packed up my stuff, went dorm shopping and picked out a suite of girls I thought would be the best fit for me. 

When I got to school I was scared. There was no "this will be over soon" like the school trips I went on. This was "home" for now and I had to find a way to remember that. The first night I felt sick, and thought I would get sick. Of course it was just my anxiety, but as I heard other kids partying around me and the smelled alcohol in the hallway, I couldn't help but worry. What if they throw up on me? What if I throw up? What if they hate me? What if I hate them? 

I asked myself, "how am I going to go to class?" and told myself, "my professors will hate me." It was my common methods self sabotage, but this time I didn't want to run. Instead, I laid in bed, looking at the ceiling with tears running down my face. When I turned over, I fell asleep. 

So where am I now? 

Well, currently I'm in my dorm sitting with two of my suite-mates. Both of whom have assured me that if I vomit they will clean it up and take care of me. I tell myself it's not going to happen because I'm horrified by the thought, but if it does happen, I'm less frightened. You see, sometimes I am going to be scared - plain and simple. How do I get over it? I don't know if I necessarily get over it; I just work towards getting through it as efficiently as possible. I wake up each morning, I go to class, I come back to my dorm and then I do homework with my friends. 

A lot of this positive experience has been because I have been honest with myself, and with other people, about my phobia. I'm aware that if someone threatens to vomit I might feel the need to run (and sometimes I do). I'm also aware that if I feel sick I might start to pace. Full blown panic attacks may happen, and I will just have to breathe to ride them out. There will also be days when I call my therapist in tears. But I won't think about those moments until there here, in the present.

For so long I had always assumed that I would wait until my fear was gone to go to college, but to be fair, that may never happen. I have had emetophobia since I can remember. After countless panic attacks, weeks of not eating or sleeping and so many missed opportunities, I know that I can't force things. 

My point is, you can't wait to feel "whole" again before striving towards your goals. Time is precious; it is the one source we lack the most in this world (I would know, I'm studying environmental science and we're all about resources). If you're scared, which is totally fine if you are, don't wait until it goes it away. I know you might be saying "she doesn't get how serious my phobia is." Trust me, I do and it's not easy, but it's so worth it.

And if there's anything that ever helped my phobia it's working on it. So get going champ, you're going to be great. 

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Rachel Loia - Ramapo College

Rachel is a freshman studying biology at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She also loves writing and uses it as an excuse to not do schoolwork. Instagram: @rachloia

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