2 November 2011

My old friend 'Emet'

"Emetophobia (from the Greek etmos, to vomit, and φόβος (phóbos), meaning "fear") is an intense, irrational fear or anxiety pertaining to vomiting. This specific phobia can also include subcategories of what causes the anxiety, including a fear of vomiting in public, a fear of seeing vomit, a fear of watching the action of vomiting or fear of being nauseated.[1]"

Not only am I battling anorexia, a lot of my issues with anxiety around food stem from a phobia I have been having therapy for since I was 7 years old. Emetophobia. 

It used to dramatically affect my everyday life and led to daily panic attacks throughout my childhood and teenage years. Its direct association with food and eating was the first reason I was referred to the EDU in 1993, then in 1995, 2000. I have had extensive counselling, therapy, CBT and battles with Emet and as I have grown up, it affected my life less as I've gotten older, I suppose, mainly because I learnt how to control the anxiety and panic attacks and 'faced the fear.' during my years at university and in my working life. It doesn't 'go away' and I could think of nothing worse than vomiting (especially in public) and the thought of being sick or feeling sick fills me with dread if I stick with the thoughts too much. 

It has direct links with restrictive anorexia and can, in some cases, lead to people suffering with Emet being wrongly diagnosed with a clinical eating disorder, but in my case it's all mixed up. 

Although my Emet hasn't 'caused' my clinical diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa. They are intrinsically linked by food and diet, yes, but they are not the same thing. In going over old notes with my current therapist (at the same unit) I have started to realise that I used my EMET to HIDE my struggles with AN as 'Ana' became a louder voice.

However, now in recovery I am tackling the left over anxiety and habits linked to well-engrained obsessions (and compulsions) with food. They are all still present and cause problems as I am recovering. It's a case of 'balancing' the phobia, OCD behaviour and AN at the same time - what a juggle ehy?

A few problems are: 

-My list of 'Emet' SAFE foods are my AN 'Bad' foods.

This means I 'blamed' my EMET for the conflict I used to feel about not 'listening and following' Ana - I was tied to my safe options and gave myself a hard-time about not leaving them - and this lead to Ana telling me I was TOO WEAK to listen to her.

-I 'banned' so many foods throughout my life, I don't actually know which as AN or Emet choices.
-I get set in a rigid structure with food and meals 
-I don't mind eating the 'same old foods' I always have.
-I am scared of 'new' foods making me sick
-I have deep rooted 'good and bad' foods
-I find it hard to separate my AN thoughts, OCD habits and EMET anxieties.
-I have always had 'disordered eating'  

and a long, long list of other conflicts that make sessions with my therapists multifacial to say the least! 

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