Nanny Admissions: I'm an Emetophobe

One of the things you deal with as a nanny is sickness. Specifically, vomit. And I’m someone who doesn’t deal well with vomit at all. In fact, I’m emetophobic, and it goes beyond being grossed out or not liking vomit (who honestly likes vomit?). Emetophobia can be a debilitating phobia that has at times incapacitated me mentally. It stems from a childhood incident that I’ve subconsciously never forgotten, and has made an impression on me my entire life.

The fear of vomit – that’s what emetophobia means. But it’s not that I’m “scared” of vomit itself. Vomit is vomit. It’s gross and it’s smelly and it’s unpleasant, but whatever. It’s the fear of vomiting, and the fear of contracting whatever germ causes the vomit that makes up my emetophobia. Phobias are considered a form of OCD, and mine does take on some of those characteristics. I am very vigilant about handwashing. I refuse to come over if anyone has been sick to their stomach in the last two days. I have trouble using bathrooms that sick people have used or might use. I was terrified of taking the subway for awhile since tons of sick people take it every day. I get irrationally angry at family and friends when they get sick or vomit. It’s horrible, and it’s not fun, and I can’t control it. I’m sure my friends and family also hate this, because it must be extremely annoying to have to deal with someone who is always worried about something like this, and gives no sympathy to sick people!

I’ve gotten help for it, and I can control my reactions to the point of not panicking anymore if someone vomits or talks about vomit. And that goes back to nannying. How, you’re probably asking, can you deal with children getting sick and vomiting without losing it? Should you even be a nanny? Maybe you’re too crazy to be one!

First of all, I’m really against that idea – that someone is too “crazy” to do their job. Secondly, I deal with children getting sick because me panicking is going to do nothing whatsoever to help the situation. You need to stay calm, clean up the mess, and make the child feel better. That’s the only thing to do. Your feelings cannot matter in this – because the child can’t grow up to have traumatic feelings about something that all humans do at least once in their lives. I do my best to put my feelings aside, even if inside I might feel panicky.

There are ways to deal with traumatic situations, and I do that by breathing deeply, putting things into perspective, and trying not to catastrophize. I also avoid going to anywhere where I know someone is sick (and all my families know that I “don’t do vomit”, lol, for this reason) and am careful about good hygiene after diaper-changing and helping a child use the bathroom. You can’t avoid sickness totally, but you can cut down on your exposure to it.

I hate being emetophobic. It really is the one thing I would give anything to change. It has led to insomnia, chronic anxiety, fear of any sickness, inability to eat certain foods or at certain places, and a constant niggling in the back of my mind. But it is part of me, so I do my best to focus on not transferring my own issues to the children I work for.

Do you have any phobias? What are they?

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