Social Anxiety Day: The Emetophobia Story

Well, it seems having a M-F job doesn’t bode well for posting a blog every Friday. Who’d have guessed? I’ll work on it.

This week, we’re talking about Social Anxiety, and what it has to do with emetophobia and everything else.

WHAT IS SOCIAL ANXIETY?

It’s technically a phobia: A phobia of humiliation. According to Rob Kelly, creator of the Thrive programme for anxiety, social anxiety is one of the main factors that feeds emetophobia, and all other anxieties, and basically all of the unhealthy thoughts that we have on a day to day basis, so it’s definitely something worth ruminating about every now and then.

It isn’t hard, imagining having crippling anxiety in social situations – many of us experience it, at some point or another, in job interviews, first dates, what have you. It’s when lunch with a friend you’ve known forever feels like a job interview that it begins to become unhealthy. Social anxiety shows itself in many unhealthy habits – rehearsing conversations before they happen, dwelling on minor slip-ups for months (or years) afterwards, and experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety in social situations that many would consider not stressful – say, ordering a coffee at Tim Horton’s. Those symptoms could be a raised heart rate, blushing, trembling, etc. This is a huge oversimplification, and there are a number of different opinions on this (one of my favourite people, Susan Cain, describes it as “chronic shyness”). Basically, there’s a lot of literature out there available to anyone who is interested. Here’s a personal favourite:

Story of my life.

Story of my life.

HOW DOES SOCIAL ANXIETY AFFECT EMETOPHOBIA?

I’ll talk about my own experience, rather than reiterating my research (according to Wikipedia, emetos are afraid of vomiting in public, leading to social phobia. I completely disagree – vomiting period is my worst-case scenario, no matter where it happens). For me, growing up, I was experiencing social anxiety, and I had no resources to deal with it. I didn’t even know what it was until I was 18. But as a kid, I would have anxiety attacks on a regular basis, and as neither of my parents have ever experienced one, they weren’t able to help me much. My anxiety attacks were almost all based on social anxiety – a few were more about hypochondria – but every time, I was unable to find a way to explain what I was upset about, because it was all too overwhelming. So I went with the fact that I felt nauseous.

I did feel nauseous. I get nausea from anxiety regularly. But my first experiences of emetophobia overlap with my first experiences of anxiety, and I think the two grew together. Since social anxiety is an extremely hard thing to explain aloud (“I’m panicking because three days ago I pronounced a word wrong and someone pointed it out”), it was easier to just say that I felt sick. It’s difficult to say whether or not I developed emetophobia on its own, or simply because I associated nausea with anxiety attacks. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

To take this another step further, it’s obvious that people who are prone to one type of anxiety will be prone to another. If you fear complete helplessness against your own body (i.e. vomiting, hypochondria), and you are desperate to find ways to control your own health, is it such a far leap to also desperately try to control social situations where you feel helpless against others’ actions and perceptions? The same unhealthy attitudes and thinking styles lead to all types of anxiety. The good news is, if you fight back against one anxiety, you are really fighting them all.

THE PAST TWO WEEKS

I started a new job last Monday. The early part of new work terms is always painful, especially with the burden of social anxiety. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I won’t get much sleep in the first week, and my thoughts will be constantly consumed with rehearsal and reliving the countless mistakes I must have made.

This time, it’s been a little different. While there has certainly been anxiety, nausea, Limited Symptom Attacks on the train, and whatever else I was expecting, there has also been evidence that my efforts have been working.

Let’s take a moment to discuss adult acne. I have adult acne, and have had it ever since I stopped being a teenager. Anyone who has ever had moderate or severe (or even mild) acne can tell you that only one thing is certain: there is no quick fix to acne. There is no way to heal your skin overnight, and anything you try will probably just anger it further. The only way is to take it one day at a time, so slowly that you can’t even see the changes as they come. It’s the same as weight loss (hello, crash dieting) and any other healthy change you might want to make: there is simply nothing healthy about quick fixes. They either don’t work, or don’t stick, or involve sacrifices so great that they consume your life.

I see my phobia, and other anxieties, as basically the same situation. I’m not going to crack this in one shot. And because I’ve had a lot of practice with quick fixes, I know that I don’t want to get anywhere near one this time. Slow and steady is the only way I’m ever going to make it to the finish line. So the fact that I’m starting to notice very slight changes is a really good thing – it means that I’ve taken a couple of steps towards where I want to be, and the steps are surefooted, so it’s not likely that I’m going to start backtracking.

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Steve’s Music Mix:

Been a while, ladies and gents. I am exhausted from my new commute, which is about an hour and a half each way (3 hours of my life every day). More exhausting is meeting the people, learning the ropes, etc. I am so glad this is my last work term. Bring on the permanent jobs!!

Anyway, I’m too tired to come up with my own post, so I’m doing Steve’s Music Mix tonight! It feels like it’s been ages.

Where is your happy place?   

Another One Bites the Dust

Well. That’s morbid. I’m not that heartless!

Where are you now?

My Immortal

No. I’m in my room.

I came very close to posting a link to this instead. My favourite literary work of all time.

What do you mean?

Take Me Out

Huh. What do I mean? Take me out where? To the ball game?

Good night, all.

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And I’ll Cry If I Want To

If I were going to throw a party for myself, I wouldn’t. I hate parties, they’re a huge source of anxiety, and if they’re centered around me they’re even worse.

My party for myself would probably involve no theme, no decorations, and definitely no events. I may invite between 0 and 1 guests. There will be snacks, though. And Netflix. Am I doing my 20’s wrong?

I may need a do-nothing party soon, because I’ve been doing a whole not of not-nothing this week, and as you should know by now, not-nothing is my least favourite thing to do. I had to go down to the city twice this week, once to meet my new coworkers and once to look at a bunch of fish. I also went up north to remember my great grandmother, who passed away this winter at the age of 99 – just a few months short of her 100th birthday.

That is far too much excitement. And there’s no break, because tomorrow I’m starting my new term/job/ridiculous public transit commute. Today is my last day before I spend the rest of my summer as a salmon.

Salmon

Actual Photo of the Train Station
(Source: http://www.livingoceans.org/)

I wonder what kinds of parties salmon would throw. Migrating parties? Swimming upstream parties?

I bet salmon are throwing a “bring back the spring bear hunt” party as we speak. Because bears eat salmon, see? And we’re going to just go and kill them all now? Because our Liberals are the worst at being Liberals of all time and I am going to have to start spoiling ballots now?

This post is all over the place, but I have to go to my favourite store of all time (Wal Mart), so I’ll let you go.

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Conflict Resolution 101, From A True Expert

How do I handle conflict, you ask? I don’t, if I can help it. I wouldn’t touch a conflict with a 10-foot pole.

Even if I had a 10-foot pole, why would I be touching things with it? Wouldn’t it be awkward to handle? Wouldn’t I break a lamp or something? Cliches are so weird.

Sometimes conflict comes to me, and I usually try just falling down and playing dead for a while. If that doesn’t work, or if the person is being so infuriating that I can’t stop my face from responding to them, I usually try the “agree to disagree” method. If that fails, I’ll block them on facebook and pretend I never met them (I’m looking at you, former friends from elementary school and second-cousin-once-removed/MRA).

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What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting

This week’s Writing Challenge asks us to think about our own expectations, but lately, it’s everyone else’s expectations that have been on my mind. 

My life is taking its time reaching a pretty major turning point: graduation. Now, it seems like every day goes by in slow motion. Many of my high school classmates are graduating this year. I see them posting their graduation photos on facebook, sharing their post-grad accomplishments and celebrating their last ever exams. The fact that I am 8 months behind is painful, and it will only get worse when convocation rolls around, and they all go back in June to wear a hat and receive a diploma. In the fall, they will be starting post-graduate work, or getting real jobs. And I’ll be moving back into my student apartment, maybe with a fresh box of pens or something, about to begin my final school term.

What I am trying to get at is this: I am 150% done with undergrad.

And when it’s over, I will have a new battle: Expectations.

My expectations are limited. I know I won’t get my dream job fresh out of school. I know that if I do masters, it will be hard, and I won’t like it any better than I like undergrad. I know I’ll still be living in a sub-par apartment with a leaky drain pipe and bad wifi, probably still using my mom’s old blackberry and the same $7.99 toaster.

But it’s becoming clear to me that my expectations aren’t really that important. The important thing is what everyone else expects of me. In my family, I am the one who gets it right – I went to the right school, I majored in the right subject, I got the right grades, I found the long-term partner who also went to the right school, majored in the right subject, and got the right grades. When my convocation rolls around, what will be expected of me then? Am I supposed to get my dream job immediately, breeze through post-grad, and buy a quaint starter-home in a growing neighbourhood? And then what? Am I supposed to get married, move in with my husband after the honeymoon, and start trying for a baby?

Just how short am I going to fall from the expectations? Because I don’t have plans to do any of those things. I also don’t look forward to the fall from “the good one” to “the one who was promising, but didn’t quite make it”.

The main reason I’m on this topic is the whole “having kids” issue. I’m supposed to have them. I’m supposed to provide the first set of great-grandchildren. I’m supposed to be a wonderful, put-together mother who takes it all in stride and does what’s right even when things get hard. No one ever bothered to ask whether or not I wanted them – apparently, that doesn’t matter – and no one ever bothered to consider whether or not this spastic, emetophobic, anxiety-ridden tight-assed cold-hearted accountant/robot would actually make a good mother.

I might, if my children are investments. But even then. finance was never my strong suit.

But seriously, I don’t want kids. And for some reason, it’s still considered standard for people to just have them. You grow up, you get married, you pop out a few tiny people, and raise them until they can make babies of their own. If you don’t want them, “you’ll change your mind”. What if I do? How do I handle the whole not even liking children thing, then?

I have no idea. I’m just here to give the finger to all the people who expect me to procreate, because I can’t do it in person.

Expectations suck. Stop having them.

PS: Sorry for the unplanned “vacation”, but finals took me away from you for a while. I am back. Stay tuned for Emetophobia Fridays!

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Party Hard – or, you know, don’t: The Emetophobia Story

I bought two bottles of wine yesterday, and drank half of one, so I think it’s time to talk about drinking. I’ve been putting this one off because I’m still not ready to talk about the Incident of December 26, 2013, but… maybe we can work around it.

DOES DRINKING EVEN MATTER?

Probably not. I mean, it’s not good for you, and I’ve always kind of figured that my natural aversion to binge drinking probably does more good than harm to me. Just like how I can never be bulimic, I can never be an alcoholic either. Yay emetophobia!

But seriously, when it comes to my relationship with alcohol, I have yet to find the right balance. In the early years (18-19), I didn’t really know what I was doing or where my limit was, so I stayed well below it. Most of my drinking experiences involved taking a variety of gross shots, having a vodka soda, and then watching the people around me be a total mess and hoping none of them would be sick. From 20-21, I found a way to safely get drunk, which was good because I didn’t have to sit there and watch everyone else do it – some people find it fun, but I find it both annoying and scary. This was mostly because I worked up a taste for wine, which I always figured was kind of safe.

A healthy relationship with drinking, I think, involves doing it because you want to – not because you want everyone else to see you doing it. I also think that it’s better to enjoy what you’re drinking than to strive for drunkenness. I do enjoy a glass of wine, but when I get to the dregs of the bottle, I can’t even taste it anymore, so why am I still drinking it? Well, because I’m looking to get wasted. I don’t know, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. The important thing is that you don’t drink because you feel that you need to in order to deal with something.

Anyway, long story short, last year I started drinking to get around social anxiety on a regular basis, and it didn’t go well.

3 MONTHS SOBER

I haven’t been drunk in 3 months. Again, maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know. I told you I wasn’t ready to talk about this yet! But anyway, my point is that once I find myself filling that third glass (and I don’t fill them to the top – I’m pretentious like that), I start to get sick with anxiety. So I stop. And I go through this period of worrying, from then until the next morning.

The reason why this is on my mind, and I insisted on spitting something out because of it even though my thoughts CLEARLY aren’t gathered, is because I was up half the night yesterday. I wasn’t really sure why. 4 glasses of wine in, my stomach felt fine, and I was having a hard time staying awake. But once I tried to sleep, I felt like I couldn’t close my eyes. It’s moments like this that make me realize all over again that, despite all the progress I’ve made in understanding and dealing with this, I haven’t really gotten very far at all.

The emetophobe hangover situation is the adult version of the “vomiting story” situation for kids. Back in elementary and high school, kids had this HILARIOUS habit of sitting around telling stories of various times they were sick. For what felt like 5 hours. It was probably actually 10 minutes. But everyone has stories like this, and they all think they’re HILARIOUS. And when I was a kid, all I could do was sit there, wait it out, try not to hear. But it’s this attitude. I can’t say I envy it. Maybe I’m just not there yet. But I can say that my life would have been a lot easier, as a kid, if I had been able to laugh about it.

Now, it’s the hangover stories. People LOVE to tell drinking stories, and LOVE to tell hangover stories. Why am I putting so many words in caps? But again, this attitude people have! No one enjoys a hangover, but it’s a staple of the twenty-something to brag for years about their worst ever hangovers, as if it’s some kind of achievement. The longer it lasts, the better. Again, do I envy people who brag about hangovers? No. I think it’s a weird thing to be proud of. But I still think it’s better than what I do.

UPDATE

Quick update, because I need to shower before class. As I said, I’m realizing how far I have to go still. I definitely took a few steps backward throughout the week, mainly because I have end of term stress, and stress always turns to anxiety, which leads to nausea, which leads to anxiety, and so on. But I’m still determined, and now that my classes are over, I can put aside time between studying to work on the projects I’ve been neglecting, such as positive thinking. I guess I can make time for that.

EMETO-CATION OF THE WEEK

Water. The theme is drinking, and water is the ultimate cure for hangover-sickness. Of course, you have to drink it while you’re drinking alcohol. Like, alternately. Having water the next morning doesn’t work, I promise you.

EMETO-CABULARY OF THE WEEK

The Limit. The famous limit. When you’re drinking, your limit is how much you can have before your night goes bad. When you’re an emetophobe, your limit is how much you can have before you start to have anxiety about your night going bad, which is when your night goes bad.

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I’m a Big Nerd

That’s right, I’m a stereotype. Like any good nerd, my worst subject in school was gym.

I’m generally a jack of all trades, academically. I worked my way through Calculus, I got 80s in Science but dropped it out of lack of interest, and I excelled in English. Functions, Geography, History, Law, Accounting, Fine Arts, Religion… piece of cake. Just do NOT ask me to play table tennis or kick a ball or hit a ball or throw a ball… Basically, once you add a ball, I’m done.

Of course, I wasn’t great even without a ball. I don’t run either, and I was too self-conscious for the dance unit, even though I would have been a competitive dancer at the time. I had a C streak in gym, I believe, although I think some teachers pitied me and gave me a B.

In high school, fortunately, I was able to take a fitness class instead, which meant aerobics, yoga, and stuff like that. I still sucked at table tennis, but I can do a Sun Salutation admirably, so I managed to get a good enough grade not to spoil my academic records.

I still don’t understand why gym is required, though. I get that they want to make kids move, but really, is this the best way to do it? For those of us who don’t play sports, it’s absolutely traumatic. You could have just given me a jump rope, and I would have gotten all the exercise and more than I would have had in gym class, and I wouldn’t have hated myself for it either! 

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But All the Time Turners Broke…

So today’s Daily Prompt is almost the same as this week’s Weekly Challenge… Oh well!

If I could turn back time and relive one moment of my life, I wouldn’t. The past is best left in the past, and messing with it can cause all sorts of chain reactions, and I really don’t want to get involved with that. Also, time travel is a lot of work, and very dangerous. I always thought that, if I had a time turner (but they’re all gone now, the Death Eaters smashed them in the Department of Mysteries…) I would use it to redo hours over and over again until I got everything done. I would probably age really fast, though, and I don’t think I want to do that. Is that how that would work?

But why am I nitpicking when I’ve been asked to choose a moment, not discuss whether or not I’d time travel? If I HAD to travel back to a moment to relive it, I would travel back to March 7, 2014, because that was the day I lost my student ID card. I would take it out of my pocket and put it somewhere safe.

That was probably the most boring answer of all time, but I am seriously still focused on that, because NO ONE IS LETTING ME REPLACE MY ID. So losing the original has become the greatest regret of my life. What?

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Finger Lickin’ Good

Today’s Daily Prompt asks, What habit/act drives you crazy? 

Easy. It’s when people lick their fingers.

I don’t even feel like I should have to explain this one. What isn’t wrong with licking your fingers? Between the germs going in, the germs coming out, and anything you have the nerve to touch with your disgusting mouth-fingers, it all just makes me want to gag. I seriously get angry just thinking about it.

And what do I do to prevent it? Usually, I can’t, and I just focus my attention elsewhere until it’s over. I do make a point of having wet naps in my purse, so that I can casually offer them to people who might otherwise lick their fingers.

Writing this post is making me nauseated, so I’m going to stop here.

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As For You, Troy Donahue…

So today, Steve’s Music Mix got Sandra Dee in my head. Apparently this is how we’re starting the week!

Shall we?

What is your best quality?   

I’ll Be – Edwin McCain

… I’ll be WHAT? That was the question. 

How did you meet your best friend?

Get Off of My Cloud – The Rolling Stones

This is actually kind of right, because me and one of my best friends bonded over our shared hatred of other people, and our shared love of complaining. Don’t we sound like lovely people?

What is your favourite childhood memory?

Let’s Fall In Love – Nicole Rayy

I have to say, I never fell in love as a child. Although in my pre-teen years I was as obsessive as every other 12-13 year old, so maybe anime characters and Lord of the Rings characters count…

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