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Woman unable to hold toddler while she was ill due to aggressive phobia of being sick

Woman unable to hold toddler while she was ill due to aggressive phobia of being sick

Mum Maddie was unable to hold her daughter's hand when she was poorly.

A mum has told how she was unable to hold her toddler’s hand for a week because she has a severe phobia of being unwell.

Maddie Blockley, 28, was diagnosed with emetophobia, an extreme fear of vomiting, in May 2019 after suffering with a fear of being sick.

“When my little girl was ill I couldn’t hold her hand or be in the room for long with her,” the mental health nurse from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said.

“I felt awful as she said to me: ‘Do you not love me because I’m poorly?’” Maddie recounted her three-year-old daughter Amelie Smout asking her.

Maddie was left heartbroken after being unable to hold her daughter's hand.

“It broke my heart and the last thing I wanted to do was impose my fear on her or make her think I didn’t love her," Maddie added.

The mum-of-one - who now lives with her partner Jack Smout, 29 - used to examine her dinner under a bedroom lamp as a child and now she avoids eating dairy or meat products to make sure she avoids becoming unwell.

Maddie now opts for dry and ‘best before’ items and even throws freshly opened food if it doesn’t ‘smell quite right’.

“My phobia of sick is so bad that when I was young I would say I would choose to die over throwing up,” she said.

She believes her emetophobia symptoms developed when she was in primary school, but it progressed after she had a bout of food poisoning at the age of nine.

Maddie has emetophobia.

“I was hospitalised because of it and really poorly and from then on I started avoiding things that could make me ill,” she said.

“I became a really picky when it came to eating - dipping in and out of being a vegetarian because I didn’t want to eat meat.

“I would take my food up to my room and inspect it under my bedroom lamp and any I didn’t like the look of I would throw down the toilet.

“I was washing my hands so much I would scald them as the water was too hot. I was determined not to pick up any sickness bugs.

“But in my mind that was the way to get rid of germs.”

Her worried parents thought she was developing an eating disorder and they sent Maddie to the GP and put her under a mental health service. She said she felt ‘so misunderstood’ by the therapists she saw at the time.

“My parents didn’t get why I wouldn’t want to do things like other children - like go on rollercoasters,” she said.

“I would often and still do say I just didn’t like something rather than saying it was because was worried I’d be ill.

“There is this shame and worry that you’ll be judged for it.”

After being in and out of the care of mental health services since childhood, emetophobia was only mentioned to her in May 2019.

Maddie said she 'couldn't be in the same room for long' with Amelie when she was poorly.

“I knew I was scared of sick, but I could never piece together why or what was actually wrong with me," she said.

“Since knowing I have emetophobia it’s helped start managing and looking at ways I can help it.”

Maddie’s emetophobia has been more manageable over the years, including during her pregnancy during which she was anxious about having morning sickness.

“I was in a good place to have my daughter,” she said.

“My phobia comes in waves but at that point I was in a place where I could think about having a child and not worry too much about the morning sickness.

"I was really lucky when I was pregnant and I didn't have one day of sickness.

"I felt sick on a lot of days which made me really anxious but I used sea sick bands and took Gaviscon.

"Even now, I have an emergency bag around with me which has mints and Gaviscon with me."

Maddie has been receiving Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy to treat her phobia in the last year.

"The feeling of fear for being sick is like a trauma,” she explained.

"I just hope I can begin to manage it more."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Parenting, Life, Real Life, Health