Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dealing With Emetophobia

We all have fears. Even the toughest guy who says "I ain't afraid of nuthin'" has a fear or two hidden deep away in his sub-conscience. But fears come in two categories: rational, and irrational.

Since about age 5 I have dealt with a semi-debilitating phobia that at times has influenced my life in very negative ways.
It's called Emetophobia.
Emetophobia 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.

Why is it irrational?
How many people do you know that have died, or have been even injured by vomiting or seeing someone vomit? I mean you hear of heorin-addled musicians and actors who died from choking on it after a heavy night of partying. Usually a Xanax/alcohol cocktail is somehow involved. But 99.9% of us have never even heard of a friend of family member who has been seriously affected medically by the act of vomiting or being around someone vomiting. So essentially we are afraid of how it makes us feel psychologically instead of the actual act itself.

My story..
It's happened to all of us. There I was in Kindergarten. We had "calender time" every Monday morning. We would sit cross legged around the calender and the teacher would talk about the week's events. Then I heard that tell-tell noise behind me. I look over just in time to see a little boy vomiting all over himself and the floor. It was gross. We went back to our desks, the janitor came and cleaned it up.. we went on with our day. All the other kids finished the day as normal. Maybe a little grossed out, but nothing more. I, though, could not stop replaying the incident over and over in my head like a broken record player. Something inside me felt different. And it affected me way more than it should have. In fact I had trouble going back to school every day that week. I was terrified it would happen again.
From then on things changed. If I saw someone holding their stomach I wanted to run away. And I did. I would find anyway I had to to get out of the classroom and go hide in a bathroom stall for 30-45 minutes. If someone did get sick I would put my hands over my ears and close my eyes as hard as I could until the situation had passed.. and then after that the rest of the day was ruined for me. And then going to school the next few days was so hard to do, because.."what if it happens again".
Things have not changed much. I am engaged with a future step-daughter. Last week she got sick. I stayed away from my fiance's apartment for two days after she was better. Then I got sick anyway. I threw up for a few hours one morning. All my hiding didn't help me. And now my fiance is sick with it too.. And I am doing what I can to avoid her. Avoiding someone who is sick is not necessarily a bad thing, they need their rest, and leaving them alone helps stop the spread of germs. However, why am I absolutely terrified of seeing her get sick, seeing my future step daughter get sick, or getting sick myself?
We all agree that throwing up is not fun. Nobody wishes to get sick. But once we get better we move on. But for me it affects my habits, it affects my relationships, it affects where I go, and how I act in certain places. The aftermath can even bring on some slight depression and lots of anxiety.
I took my step-daughter to school today, and passing little kids in the hall made me anxious. It's like I see them as potential time-bombs just waiting to vomit. Especially this year when the virus is going around so bad.

Why does this happen to us?
If you are reading this and you are an Emetophobe, you have no doubt experienced people laughing at you, telling you to "suck it up", "quit being a baby", ect.. But it doesn't work that way. Sure we can fight through the anxiety.. but it still affects us.
Here is my theory on why vomiting is such a life changing event for us. First of all.. there are three types of Emetophobes:
1.Some only fear seeing someone throw up, hearing, smelling, touching, and being around that person or the vomit itself.
2. Some people are deathly afraid of throwing up themselves.. The act of vomiting scares them to the point of total avoidance. Some even to the point of anorexia because they fear having food in their stomach. I have read about some who say they will never have children because of fear of morning sickness, and the inevitability that their child will one day vomit. (Ironically a vast majority of these people rarely vomit, if ever. They will actually psyche themselves out of vomiting even if they have the stomach flu.)
3. Some fear both of the above.
I am more of the first one from the above with only a slight fear of the second one. I vomited last week. It wasn't so bad.. The lead up to it isn't fun.. but when the time comes you are so ready to get relief.
Why are we scared of something that is, in itself, absolutely harmless? Here's my theory..
It's simple: Control.
We see ourselves as being in control of all things that pertain to us. All good things and bad things happen because of my actions. The internal thoughts and ideas shape the world around me.. It's an actual theory called the "Locus of Control".
Wikipedia explains it better than I can: Here
Dr. Angela L. Davidson et al. conducted an experiment where it was concluded through various surveys that people suffering from emetophobia are more likely to have an internal locus of control pertaining to their everyday life as well as health-related matters.[2] A locus of control is an individual’s perception of where control comes from. Having an internal locus of control means that an individual perceives that they have their own control over a situation whereas an external locus of control means that an individual perceives that some things are out of their control. She explains how this phobia is created through the locus of control by stating, “Thus far, it seems reasonable to stipulate that individuals with a vomiting phobia deem events as being within their control and may therefore find it difficult to relinquish this control during the act of vomiting, thus inducing a phobia.”[2]

So what is the answer?

* If you are a Christian like I am, it is hard to swallow the idea that you have control issues.. because we know that God controls all things at all times. However I read all throughout the Bible of men who feared lots of things. Godly men who knew better. Peter was standing in the presence of Jesus in person and he all of a sudden was afraid of his surroundings. So just losing a fear based on my faith is easier said than done. But that IS the answer. If someone is going to vomit, and it is God's will.. all my fear and running cannot make it go away. The answer is giving up. Accepting.

* If you are one who fears vomiting, know that you will be 100% fine. In fact you will feel instantly better. It is a natural process that your body is going through for a specific purpose. As gross as it is, when you think about it, it is actually quite an exquisite thing. It is the body working on your behalf to save you from a much worse outcome. This is why when you get food poisoning you throw up as your first symptom. Your body is saying.."Hey there is something in here that can hurt you..I'm going to get rid of it for you. I got this!" It is the build up that is so scary and so rough. It can literally feel like you are going to die. But you will not die. You will throw up, it will be gross, and then you will feel better. Trust me.. I had it last week.. I threw up.. and I remember thinking right after "That was not near as bad as I had remembered it being." I did not think "Oh that was fun, let's do it again." No.. I hated it. But I survived it quite easily and without any harm. So if you are going to throw up.. JUST DO IT!! 

* Do your best to walk into the lion's den. Stop running. Avoidance breeds avoidance, and eventually can lead to isolation, and agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house). The more you run.. the more you will keep running forever. If someone gets sick at school or work, go back the next day even if it is killing you inside. Make yourself uncomfortable so that you can function. Trust me, when you go home you will smile, and you will be elated just that you did it. You faced it and survived.

* And just praise God that you are alive and that you get to experience this life in all it's glory. All it's beautiful and sometimes unpleasant glory. And think of people who work in hospitals and police stations who see this day in and day out. That might also make you appreciate your surroundings and even overcome some of your fears.

Lastly, go online and talk to others who fear the same things. Remember some have similar fears, just about different things (fainting, falling, dizziness, etc..) talk to those people.. help them, or let them help you. A great place to do this would be emetophobia.org

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Whose Image Is On You? -- Ravi Zacharias

If you are a professing Christian, then the world is watching you to see who is you motivation.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

What The 2014 Wichita State Basketball Season Can Teach Us About Life: Part 2

Previously on TLAT... Part 1

We lost the game. And it hurt. Bad. Worse than I thought. I told my wife that no matter what happens, I will be proud of the accomplishments that this team made. And I was, but I was disappointed. 3 inches separated us from glory. In that moment all I could think about was what might have been. I forgot all about what they had pulled off to get them to this point.

But as the hours after the game passed by, the dust settled, the emotions calmed and I was able to think clearly, I realize that what we had just gone through was a play-by-play of life. A free stage production of our daily struggle. Granted it's just a game, but try telling that to the emotional roller coaster I just went on for the past 5 months.

So how was the 2014 WSU Basketball season like life?

1. Life IS a series of emotional highs and lows.
This one is easy to see the similarities. WSU's ride to the top was one steady uphill climb. With each win they got higher and higher, to where it seemed like there was no end. Usually "good" teams win 8 in a row, lose one or two, win another 6, lose 3, but ultimately win enough to send them to the big dance. But WSU won, and won, and won again and again. With each win we knew the stakes were higher for an emotional let down of epic proportions.

People like to say that life is a roller coaster, and it is. But sometimes it feels that.the sky is the limit. Ultimately, life spares no one. Soon the bottom will drop out, and the higher you are, the harder you fall.

Most of my hardcore Wichita State friends can't even watch the rest of the NCAA tourney because it still stings so bad. That's because we had yet to experience loss. We felt it after we lost to Kentucky.

2. People will often judge you by the content of your character and less by your accomplishments.
We are a society that loves talent. We have a ton of reality shows that reward talent. We give our most gifted athletes millions of dollars to perform. We want to see winners. But I'd rather see a humble loser than an arrogant winner any day.
Fred Van Vleet is the player who took that last shot and missed it. But every player interviewed afterwards said there is no one who they would have rather had take that shot than Fred Van Vleet. A week prior to the start of the NCAA tournament the Shox won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Something they had not done in many decades. As the final buzzer sounded some of the players for the Shockers began to celebrate. Fred Van Vleet calmed the players down quickly and said something along the lines of "Hey guys, let's go congratulate the other team first and we can celebrate in the locker room."

That is class. This kid is classy from top to bottom. It's remarkable how much this was mentioned in the press. If you are a humble, intelligent athlete then often those qualities will be mentioned even before they talk about your athletic ability. People want to know that good still exists out there. This is why Tim Tebow was mentioned in the press months after he was cut from the NFL. Humility speaks volumes.

3. Life is about losing.
Wichita State's goal was to go undefeated at 40-0. It would have been unprecedented. But it was our destiny. Everyone in Wichita thought it was possible. Most believed it was going to happen. Gregg Marshall had built this unstoppable 5-headed monster that made even the best player in the nation crumble at it's combined ability. But Kentucky answered the call. And they defeated us by 2 points. We lost. That is life. Life is a cruel thing sometimes. It can take you down in your prime. People get fired from jobs just as they start to excel. People find out they have cancer when they are at peak physical condition. Loss eventually falls upon us all. God often chooses to let us fail when we are on top of the world. It's what keeps us grounded. Unfortunately there is no way to be sure of anything, ever.

But out of loss we excel as we learn from it. Sometimes it takes a storm to really know the light. Sometimes God gives us problems to let us know only He can solve them. Losing hurts, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. If you learn to use it to focus and improve then you can do almost anything. You just have to prepare to try more than once.

WSU will be back next year and once again they will be a force to be reckoned with. Can't wait to see what life lessons they have for us next time.. Hopefully they will teach us what it's like to be National Champions. I'd like to learn about that.