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Emotophobia

Hi sam,

I have a huge phobia of vomit. Next month I have a trip with my school to a different counrty. It will take 10 hours to get there and were getting a coach. Im really nervous that someone will be sick and ill be trapped. Should I go or not¿

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Sam

Hi there,

A phobia is a strong fear of something that most people around you are not scared of. This can make it difficult to do certain things, especially if you’re trying to avoid the thing you’re scared of. You can have a phobia about anything – some are more common than others but every phobia is valid, no matter what it is.

If you’re worried about being sick or about seeing or smelling vomit it might make you want to avoid situations where it can happen, like travelling. It’s important to get support when a phobia affects your day-to-day life or stops you from doing things you want to do. You could talk to an adult you trust, like your parent, carer, teacher or doctor or contact a counsellor at Childline to talk about how you’re feeling.

Making a decision about taking a trip might depend on what support you’ll have and how confident you feel about ways you can cope. Telling a teacher who will be travelling with you and a few close friends who you trust will mean that you have people who can help if you’re anxious or upset. Ask your teacher if they could move you to a different seat if someone close by is unwell and let your friends know that you’d like them to help distract you if someone is sick on the coach.

If you decide to go, there are lots of things you can do when you’re feeling nervous about what might happen. It can help to practise breathing exercises which can help you to feel calmer. Take slow deep breaths and count slowly from 1 to 4 as you breathe in and count backwards from 4 to 1 as you breathe out. You can distract yourself from anxious thoughts by thinking about positive memories, playing a game like i-spy with your friends, listen to music or you could look out of the window as you’re travelling and watch the scenery.

You could sit by a window so that it’s harder to see if someone else is sick and take mints to suck that will make it harder to smell any vomit. You could also take something calming that has a smell you like.

There are ways to try to prevent travel sickness and there are some anti-sickness medications too, so speak to your doctor or pharmacist to see if they can suggest something that’s suitable for you.

I hope this advice has helped. Remember you can have a look at what other young people are saying about coping with a phobia on our message boards.

Thank you for your letter.

Take care,

Sam

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