How to Get Mental Health Support—on Social Media


I’ve emetophobia, an excessive concern of vomit. I saved this secret from virtually everybody. When I attempted to clarify to shut mates, they usually replied, “I hear you; I can’t stand vomit,” having no concept how concern dominated my life. It felt like I used to be the one particular person on the planet with my dysfunction. For a long time, I didn’t even understand it had a reputation.

From the time I used to be a baby, I might shake with panic every time I felt nauseous. After I turned a guardian, emetophobia seeped into virtually each thought. I analyzed my children’ behaviors like a forensic scientist. Did they contact the grocery belt with naked arms? Was the kid on the monkey bars sick with a abdomen bug? Did anybody look pale? I turned an professional contact tracer, symptom analyzer, and worrier, and it was exhausting.

Then the pandemic occurred. Oddly, whereas my family and friends turned extra anxious, I started to chill out for the primary time in my life. My concern that somebody would catch a abdomen virus subsided. I let my children sleep in the identical mattress. We shared bowls of popcorn. I forgot about vomit for days at a time. Was this how most individuals felt day by day? I puzzled. Then I began to analysis emetophobia in earnest. Until that time, my solely effort to be taught extra concerned Googling “fear of vomit” in faculty and discovering the phrase “emetophobia.” Back then, I read one terrifying account of a person whose therapist forced them to vomit as treatment, and I closed my laptop fast.

Now, I wanted to understand everything about my phobia. Most importantly, I wanted to find treatment so I could hang onto my sense of calm when the world eventually reopened. Through research, I discovered that millions of people have emetophobia, and clinically proven therapies exist. Though the thought of exposure therapy, a critical component of treatment, terrified me, I didn’t rule it out. The problem was, there weren’t many therapists who specialize in emetophobia. Worse, the few I found weren’t local. One wasn’t taking new patients. Another told me I was number 53 on her waitlist. A third didn’t reply.

According to Imogen Rehm, a clinical psychologist and lecturer at Victoria University in Australia, it can be especially difficult for people with poorly understood disorders to find information and professional support. My own search confirmed this.

What I found instead: social media groups. In fact, online forums for mental illnesses are exploding in recognition.

Rehm coauthored a 2021 study on the use of social media for obsessive-compulsive and related disorders in which 90 percent of the admittedly few 54 participants reported having positive experiences. “These groups can be good for connection, reducing the sense of isolation or that you’re alone or abnormal in what you’re feeling,” says Rehm. That was certainly my experience.

While I waited to join with a therapist, I discovered a number of boards catering to individuals with emetophobia: a 14,000-member energetic subreddit, a Twitter hashtag, and TikTookay videos with greater than 100 million views. To my shock, I discovered hundreds of different individuals like me in a non-public Facebook group. I scrolled fortunately, awestruck by my luck. How had I not recognized there have been so many people? When an administrator posted, “Tell me you have emetophobia without saying emetophobia,” I learn replies for an hour.


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