Apr. 28th, 2008

tania: (Harvey Birdman - Judy - To the rescue!)
For most of my life I've had an irrational fear of vomiting. This is called Emetophobia and probably arises from the fact that my tough little bod doesn't succumb to illness often. Between the ages of four and twenty-four I'd only actually vomited twice. Both times were pretty traumatic: one an embarrassingly public and highly memorable incident in my first year of school, the other a painful food-poisoning bout at age thirteen. So vomiting was this powerful and mysterious thing my body did once every decade or so. It was no wonder I never felt comfortable with it; I never got the chance to get used to it.

Somehow this grew into a phobia that began to interfere with my life: if a partner was sick I would avoid them rather than help out; if someone was sick on a carnival ride I'd feel unnerved and uncomfortable for the rest of the day, and if I started feeling ill myself I'd spend hours lying on cold tiles hauling out every anti-vomit trick in the books (icy cold water on a flannel to the back of the neck is almost supernaturally effective) to avoid the dreaded specter of puking.

When a fear interferes with everyday life to that extent it's time for it to go. At twenty-four I got ridiculously drunk at my mum's birthday party (this entry does not highlight my finest moments, I'm afraid) and woke up in the middle of the night to throw up violently in the bathroom, back-patting supplied by Joe... and fairly enough, as I attribute at least 60% of the responsibility for that incident to him and the wormwood extract he put in my drinks. Seriously, who does that? Seriously!

Anyway, though I knew I wanted to work on chipping away the ol' phobia at the time, I was too bloody drunk to take any valuable lessons away from the experience, except for the knowledge that throwing up doesn't suck so hard when you're really smashed. So I just promised myself I'd be more even-headed about it from now on, that it's Not The End Of The World, and If You Really Must Throw Up, Just Get It Over With. And other such Sensibly Capitalised Ideas.

So recently we were at Dreamworld and after about ten of the fastest, meanest rides in the place, Joe decided to decorate one of the gardens with his stomach contents. To my immense and inappropriate glee, I was totally fine with the incident and petted him on the back ("a little patronisingly," he critiqued afterwards) the whole time.

Fast-forward to Sunday, when I came down with some sort of Mystery Bug that masqueraded as a cold until about 3am, when I woke up from feverish dreams of Katamari Damacy with a strong suspicion that tonight was the night I would Face My Fears. Equipped with a bucket (I kept thinking of the Lolrus, which made it more fun) I went downstairs to spare my flatmates the potential sounds. I lay on the cold tiles out of habit and the cats surrounded me, cheering me on... though that last part might not have happened, I was still a wee bit feverish. I opened the door to allow a cool night breeze in and felt that there was some ceremony about it all.

And then I threw up, repeatedly! This I will leave to your imagination, but it was effective, mess-free and there was a minimum of fuss and bother: it was a damn fine vomit. After some tidying and tooth-brushing I returned to bed, tapped Joe on the shoulder and proudly announced, "I threw up! A lot!" And he was all worried and stuff. Aww. But no concern was needed, for I am a vomiting champion! And with that, I believe I have laid the old phobia to rest.

Now if that's not looking on the bright side, I don't know what the hell is. :D

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Tania Walker

August 2008

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