Had my first Thrive session with Lucy last night. It makes so much sense to me and I hope that means I can clear myself of this phobia.
The main principle I learnt last night is that all phobia’s (and particularly Emetophobia) are made up of the following three elements – the sufferer has:
- A low self-esteem
- High social anxiety
- An external locus of control
I have all of these things! The low self-esteem is self-explanatory really. I often don’t think I am good enough and struggle to congratulate myself for achievements. That is something that I have been given as homework to do. I often feel that my self-esteem is based on what other people think of me but it shouldn’t be. It should be what I think of myself!
High Social Anxiety – I have never thought of myself as having this really but I really do. When I googled the symptoms of it I do everything! (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder-and-social-phobia.htm)
Emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia
- Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in everyday social situations
- Intense worry for days, weeks, or even months before an upcoming social situation
- Extreme fear of being watched or judged by others [for being disgusting for being sick. Or weak for crying at being sick], especially people you don’t know
- Fear that you’ll act in ways that that will embarrass or humiliate yourself [fear that I will be SICK!!]
- Fear that others will notice that you’re nervous
Physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia
- Red face, or blushing
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach, nausea (i.e. butterflies) [I also get pain in my stomach and IBS which is a classic anxiety symptom – right now it really hurts in the pit of my stomach]
- Trembling or shaking (including shaky voice)
- Racing heart or tightness in chest
- Sweating or hot flashes
- Feeling dizzy or faint
Behavioural symptoms of social anxiety disorder / social phobia
- Avoiding social situations to a degree that limits your activities or disrupts your life
- Staying quiet or hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
- A need to always bring a buddy along with you wherever you go
- Drinking before social situations in order to soothe your nerves [I would probably do this if it wasn’t for the fact I was afraid the alcohol would make me sick]
So as you can see I clearly also have social anxiety. It makes a lot of sense to me as my anxiety is always worse when I’m not in a place of comfort either physically or emotionally. So at the moment I don’t really feel comfortable at my job. I just feel that I don’t fit in and there isn’t really a place for me. So my anxiety is worse. After I got married I suddenly found that I had everything I wanted and didn’t know what to do with myself. Although I was happy I felt uncomfortable as I didn’t know what to expect next – except that people would be expecting me to have babies. That terrified me even more (morning sickness anyone?) and so my anxiety got worse. Actually my DH and I had planned to start a family this year and even began TTC but the one time I thought I was pregnant, I began to panic. Clearly I wasn’t ready and this is another case of me being uncomfortable. So I guess social anxiety makes sense.
Finally there is an external locus of control. There are two types of locus of control – an internal one which is how much you believe you control your life; and an external one – which is how much you belief other things such as fate control your life. I (and other emetophobes) have a high external locus of control. My fear is that my number is up and it is my turn to get sick. That someone or something out there will decide when the day is, not me, and that I can’t control it (that is another thing emets have – a high desire for control). I am working on believing on mind over matter, working on the belief that people can get over illnesses if they put their mind to it (to an extent). I sort of believe it as my Grandma was hardly ever ill and she was a Christian Scientist (I believe they pray to God rather than take medicine). It worked for here most of her life until her hip broke. Also my Mum often feels ill in the morning and says when she gets up and does things, and stops thinking about it, she feels better. So clearly it’s mind over matter for her as well! The book also talks about how significant imagination is as well. I often imagine myself being sick and think about how I would cope if it happened (for example I was imagining running to the toilet on the train). That is not helpful. It is my desire for control thinking it through (if I control how I would react then I will be ok). But actually thinking about it was making me anxious and feel sick (even writing this is). The book teaches you to imagine the positive outcome and then that is what should happen (though that is easier said than done and I haven’t managed it yet – though it is day 1). It really does make sense that you can control how you feel with your imagination and this brings me back to mind over matter. If you can convince yourself you are ill (and actually bring on physical symptoms) using your imagination, why can’t you do it the other way? Just need to convince myself of this.
So far I am looking forward to how Thrive can help me. I would recommend anyone with Emet to buy the book – Cure your emetophobia and thrive – and if it is really bad, work through it with a consultant.
I am also working on CBT myself (as much as I can) and having an assessment with the NHS later today for CBT to try and get over this. If I put it all together maybe I can rid myself of it?