Mary is notably one of our biggest supporters having dedicatedly overcome her fear of being sick last year. After 75 years, Mary decided enough was enough and that it was time to do something about it. After researching about her fear of being sick and discovering Cure Your Emetophobia & Thrive, Mary decided to put all her energies into taking back control of her panic and anxiety symptoms.
Since then, Mary has gone on to many things (including sitting and being interviewed for a National Newspaper!) from relearning to drive, taking up new hobbies and meeting new people (including a Guest Appearance at our Thrive Annual Conference in which we were honoured). Mary’s new drive for life is only possible down to the amount of effort and work she put in herself to stopping her phobia. Mary wanted to get better and she made sure nothing prevented her from getting to that goal. Each time Mary needed the motivation and clarity to continue, she looked inside herself and sought a new way to create it. This alone makes her one of the most knowledgeable people in overcoming emetophobia (or any phobia for that matter).
The Thrive Programme helped Mary get to a place where she believed that she was creating her fear and instilled dedicated techniques with which to help herself overcome it. When things didn’t go well, she did not let that dishearten her, she got on with it, set her attitude to Thrive, and helped herself in ways she’d never have foreseen. Mary shows that if you put in the work, be kind to yourself, and manage your thinking anything is possible. Even at 81 years old!
You can read the whole article here. And full article below.
And here is Mary herself sharing her experience. What a gal!
The woman terrified of vomit: Teacher refuses to have children and even shuns chemotherapy due to fear of being sick
- Mary Steward, 81, suffered from emetophobia – fear sick or being sick
- Limited her diet so that she didn’t eat foods that could make her vomit
- Quit her job as a teacher in case the children caught stomach bugs
- Was cured by therapy that helps people control their thoughts
A teacher was so terrified of being sick that she chose not to have children and refused chemotherapy – for fear it would make her vomit.
Mary Steward, 81, had such extreme emetophobia – fear sick or being sick – she deprived herself of the opportunity of motherhood – a choice she now regrets.
She also turned down chemotherapy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1981, but thankfully still beat the disease.
Mrs Steward even quit her job as a teacher because she was so worried that the children could be sick near her at any moment.
Mary Steward, 81, had extreme emetophobia – fear sick or being sick – for nearly 75 years. She was finally cured using a therapy programme by Rob Kelly (pictured) which teaches people to control their thoughts
Mrs Steward, pictured with her late husband Edgar, refused to have children or chemotherapy due to her phobia – as she was scared these things could make her vomit
Despite suffering with emetophobia for nearly 75 years, last year she finally tackled her fear with the support of a therapist.
Mrs Steward, from Braintree in Essex, said: ‘I had been scared of sick for as long as I could remember. If I felt sick or anyone around me did, I would be absolutely terrified.
‘Having children wasn’t even an option because I couldn’t bear the thought of morning sickness – thankfully my husband didn’t mind that.
‘And when I had cancer, again there was not even a possibility of having chemo, I was just too scared to be sick.
‘Now that I’m free of the phobia, I do feel ridiculous for all the years of suffering I went through – particularly as I haven’t actually been sick since I was 11.’
Mrs Steward first remembers experiencing emetophobia at boarding school at the age of six.
She was so frightened of feeling sick, she limited her diet as much as possible, until her parents worried she was anorexic.
Mrs Steward said: ‘Anything to do with sick completely finished me off, but I never told anybody about it.
WHAT IS EMETOPHOBIA?
Emetophobia is a condition in which the fear of vomit is so terrifying it causes intense panic and even obsessive behaviour, which in extreme cases leads to starvation and agoraphobia.
The condition is not widely diagnosed, even though it is a fairly common anxiety disorder. It is thought to affect more women than men.
Emetophobia varies enormously in how it effects a sufferers – most worry excessively about being sick even though they are less likely than the general population to be ill because of all the steps they take to avoid being infected.
Some sufferers may be unable to leave home if there are any tummy bugs going around and they will avoid family and friends who have an illness.
They may also fear the feeling of being out of control while they are being sick or fear being sick in public which can trigger avoidance behaviours.
This can present problems for mothers who can experience extreme panic if their child is ill and will feel terrified if they are actually sick.
Many sufferers will also have a strict diet which is free from anything that might cause a stomach upset and some will avoid medications which list nausea as a side-effect.
Many women will also dread the thought of being pregnant because of concerns about coping with ‘morning-sickness’.
Treatment usually involves various forms of therapy – sometimes exposure therapy – as well as antidepressants.
‘I thought nobody would understand, so I kept quiet, even when doctors told my parents that I anorexia.
‘Aged 11, still at boarding school, I was sick once in the dormitory in the middle of the night.
‘The head girl told me to clear it up, but I couldn’t because I was too scared to even look at it.
‘Part of the fear was about vomiting in public or having people see me do it.’
In her late teenage years, she started taking a little bag whenever she went out, containing antacid, a bottle of water, a cup and a teaspoon.
‘I wouldn’t go anywhere without it, so that I could drink it if I felt sick,’ she said.
‘I woke up every single morning, without fail, worrying whether or not I was going to feel sick that day. It really was all-consuming.’
After finishing school, Mrs Steward trained as a teacher, but after a year in the role, she realised she couldn’t handle the number children suffering with stomach bugs.
She moved to Harlow, Essex, in her early 30s, where she met husband Edgar.
Mrs Steward said: ‘I kept seeing a charming man in the lift of my apartment block. We would make polite conversation and finally he asked me out to lunch.
‘I always thought I wasn’t going to get married, because I wasn’t going to have children, but I knew straight away I wanted to marry Edgar.
‘He was a lovely man and I wouldn’t have swapped him for anybody in the world.
‘We married in 1970, but I told him beforehand about my phobia.
‘It was the first time I’d ever told anyone about it, but I had to because I could see we were getting serious. I said that I wouldn’t have children and he accepted it.’
While most honeymoon couples like to go on lavish holidays, Mr and Mrs Steward had caravan holidays in Devon and Norfolk every year, so that she didn’t have to worry about travel sickness going abroad.
Though her phobia was as present as ever, she managed it as best she could, carrying her medicine bag with her wherever she went.
She tried countless different forms of therapy to cure her phobia, including counselling, hypnosis, Freudian dream analysis, and hundreds’ of self-help books – all without success.
Mrs Steward, pictured with husband Edgar, even had to quit her job as a teacher due to her phobia, as she was terrified children may vomit around her
Mrs Steward tried countless different forms of therapy to cure her phobia, including counselling, hypnosis, Freudian dream analysis, and hundreds’ of self-help books – all without success
But, in 1981, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and faced another terrifying dilemma.
Mrs Steward said: ‘I’d started to get very tired, even after hoovering. Then one night I woke up with an awful pain like appendicitis.
‘Once it was diagnosed as ovarian cancer, I was taken to a top cancer hospital in London, where they tried to get me to agree to chemotherapy.
‘In those days, chemo was quite something. I would have had to go in for three days, every month for a year, so I flat-out refused.
‘They said in all probability I would die without chemotherapy. I apologised to Edgar for the way I was, but his reply was “you’re worth it, Mary”. He completely supported my decision.
‘In the end, I beat the cancer with a one-off “experiment” which involved an implant in my abdominal cavity.
‘They said it wouldn’t make me feel sick – which was a complete lie. I spent six hours lay in bed retching, which made my phobia even worse.’
A second diagnosis in 1999 – of breast cancer – could thankfully be treated with just a lumpectomy and radiotherapy.
But it was after Edgar lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 2012 that Mrs Steward finally decided to tackle her phobia.
She said: ‘After Edgar was diagnosed, he went downhill fairly quickly as there was no cure. He ended up in a hospice and died when I was 79.
‘Edgar was fabulous company and made my life for me, despite my fear.
When she was young, her parents believed she was anorexic as she limited her diet to prevent sickness
I came home and realised I was too old too work but no longer had a husband to look after.
‘I felt pathetic but realised that I might have another ten years to live so I might as well try and cure myself.’
Mrs Steward came across a book online called Cure Your Emetophobia & Thrive: The Research-backed Self-help Programme to Overcome Your Fear of Being Sick.
Following the steps in the workbook, she contacted author Rob Kelly to say that although she found it helpful, she’d hit a brick wall.
She said: ‘The biggest thing for me was realising that other people also suffered with it. I’d had no idea. The book had really started to help, teaching me to have control over my own thoughts.
‘At the end of last year, Rob phoned me out of the blue to see how I was getting on. He arranged to come from Cambridge to my house for a consultation.
‘It’s not called therapy because with Thrive, the patient cures themselves.
‘As I got better, I realised that one day I would probably wake up and think “eureka!” I thought that if I was sick, I would enjoy it after all this time – though a friend soon corrected me on that one.
It’s difficult to say that I’m cured because I haven’t been sick since my treatment, so I still don’t know how I feel about it.
‘I only wish I’d done something about it sooner, so I wouldn’t have spent 75 years worrying unnecessarily about something. I could have even had children and grandchildren – life would have been very different.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3117996/The-woman-terrified-vomit-Teacher-refuses-children-shuns-chemotherapy-fear-sick.html#ixzz3cgbk7BPX
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