Emetophobia: What it's like living with an extreme fear of vomit

Amber Stanbridge-Hughes is an emetophobic, meaning she has an extreme fear of vomiting. 

"I would rather die than be sick," she tells The Project.

"Just anything about digestion I panic about because it could end up in me throwing up.

"Trembling, going hot and cold, feeling nauseous, breathing way faster than I normally would - like pretty much having a panic attack."

Everyone has a fear or two, like heights or creepy crawlies. For most people, these fears don't interfere with their day-to-day life.

But for Amber, her phobia is so intense she goes through elaborate daily cleaning rituals to avoid getting sick.

"The kitchen and the bathroom and toilet are where everything needs to be disinfected," she says.

"I will spray everything with disinfectant, I will wipe it down with a cloth, and then I will follow that with disinfectant wipes."

Emetophobia: What it's like living with an extreme fear of vomit.
Photo credit: Getty

She even has a list of safe foods.

"Fries, because they're fried and not touched by human hands," she says.

"Pizza that goes into a pizza oven and is not touched by human hands. Definitely not salad."

She also never eats leftovers.

"If we don't finish what we made for dinner or got for dinner that night, then it goes in the bin."

And to prevent getting sick, Amber sticks to safe places.

"I don't like going to schools, daycare, hospitals, any of those things can trigger a panic attack."

Emetophobia is referenced in the Mental Health Foundation's online resource Understanding Phobias, which offers help to anyone with a phobia or their loved ones.

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