Therapy Thursday March 17, 2022

This week I’m going to share a personal story:

I have a vomiting phobia.

In 1993 when I was 19 I mixed alcohol at a wedding (I had NO idea that champagne toasts plus my 2 rum and cokes over 4 hours would be so traumatic!) This was the last time I threw up. Ever. Despite 5 pregnancies and then those little people bringing home little viruses from school, I have never tossed my cookies since. Why? I have no idea. BUT, I have a theory.

From the time that I was little I HATED getting sick. Maybe it’s because I’m a controlled sort of person – the thought of my body behaving on its own in some way is unpleasant to me. Maybe because, well, it’s just plain icky….who knows. Whatever the origin story, my brain learned that getting physically sick is BAD.

Over the years I’ve had people say to me “vomiting? That’s not something to be afraid of”, and “but, you feel so much better after!” and, “that’s so silly, everyone gets sick sometimes!”. Maybe you’re thinking something like that now at the same time you’re thinking of the thing that triggers your fear. My frontal lobe knows that it’s unrealistic to have this fear – that it’s designed to keep us alive by emitting something that is potentially poisonous, but my limbic system (emotional system) just knows it’s BAD BAD BAD and responds accordingly. When one of my kids gets sick I tend to pace, leave the house to get remedies from the drug store when my partner is there to provide care, and then I start mentally talking myself through all of the “rational” thoughts I SHOULD be having. Sometimes it works quickly, sometimes it’ll take a lot longer, but it almost always prevents a panic attack.

My theory is that the marvelous chemicals in my brain have worked together somehow to prevent this fear trigger from affecting my GI system. I also use effective self-talk to help it along. The amazing part of this process is that I know I am intentionally tricking my brain into not getting sick, and it works anyway! Did you know that you could do that?

What is that one thing for you? Or maybe you have many. Did you know that you could trick your brain into working better for you so you feel more in control?

My services include phobia therapy, a detailed and systematic treatment plan that takes some hard work AND is also easy to do in a fairly short amount of time.

Book now for a free consultation if there is a phobia that gets in your way!

And, the next time you feel triggered by your own fear, try to think to yourself….”at least I’m not afraid of losing my lunch!” 😉