While being unwell is an unpleasant experience for everyone, for those living with emetophobia, vomiting is a terrifying, horrific ordeal they will go to extreme lengths to avoid the risk.
Natalie Timotheou, a 30-year-old suffering a phobia of being sick would resort to harsh measures in order to reduce the risk. She would eat only plain, dry food in small portions and avoid long car journeys. Her life was completely controlled by fear, until she found hypnotherapy.
While Timotheou had developed a complicated relationship with food during her childhood, it wasn’t until adulthood that the anxieties intensified. Divorce, being a single parent and work-related stress started to take its toll. Despite only vomiting twice in ten years, the fear escalated. The fear of vomit had developed to a fear of what might happen if she became unwell.
She became so fearful of falling ill that she would only eat small portions. Her BMI fell; she would eat only dry food and had to sleep under numerous pillows to reduce the risk of choking on her vomit during the night.
Timotheou was referred to an eating disorder clinic. After two months of being on an eating plan and a course of anti-depressants, she had still not recovered.
“I joined an eating disorder forum online.”
“One day a girl messaged me saying, “I think you have the same thing as me, emetophobia.””
After researching the phobia, Timotheou found hypnotherapy for emetophobia. Through relaxation exercises, the hypnotherapist helped her revisit childhood memories to discover what may have triggered the phobia.
After starting a hypnotherapy programme, progress was starting to be made. Within two weeks Timotheou had gained weight and after six sessions, was beginning to do things she never would have thought possible.
“I was able to rub my son’s back and comfort him while he was ill, previously I would have been looking away waiting for it to be over.”