Emetophobia is part of my health anxiety history. When I was 11, I got sick to my stomach, and my mother gave me some sort of medicine from a cold spoon, and I promptly threw it up. Maybe I wouldn't have reacted as strongly, if she hadn't given me another spoon of medicine a few minutes later, and of course, back up it came. I vowed from that moment that I would never throw up again. I kept my vow for over 12 years, but this vow came with a cost, as it was intertwined with my OCD. If I felt the slightest twinge of stomach discomfort or nausea, I would keep checking the sensations, trying to figure them out, diagnose them, and this would make my stomach even more tense and uncomfortable. Then I would start drinking water, with the idea that I could dilute the toxins with fluid. I'd be up all night, drinking glasses of water and unable to sleep because of my hypervigilance.
Finally, I ate something that was truly toxic, and my body wanted it out, and I threw up at age 23. It sucked. But once it happened, it was over. The phobia is never "over"--it will expand to fit whatever room there is in your life. I feel sad when I read about people with emetophobia who restrict their lives more and more in order to avoid all possibility of getting sick, or of their kids getting sick. The difficult thing is that most people hate throwing up. It's easy for this phobia to slip under the radar, since it seems logical to avoid getting sick. But a phobia will impinge on valuable things in your life. No trips because you might catch something. No parties. No eating out. No leaving the house.
I could never have predicted what made me sick at age 23. This is the sucky thing about being human. We get sick. The world isn't a clean place. Exposure therapy for emetophobia isn't about making someone sick. This is the first thing people think of when imagining treatment. Exposure therapy is about doing those things you are avoiding because you *might* get sick, and not doing rituals like constant sanitizing and hand washing. If your first thought is, "Well, I'll never get treatment, because if I have to take the chance of throwing up, there is no way I will do that"--I encourage you to think about all you are losing to this fear. If you get sick, you will deal with it then. You are stronger than you think.