Silenced by shame: My journey with Emetophobia And OCD

I’ve always been extremely strict about keeping schedules, and needed that schedule to remain the same as long as humanly possible. My mum tells me that every day, I’d ask her what was coming the next day and the days following.

I was 3 at the time. Not long after, I started getting inexplainable urges to do odd things, like constantly smelling and licking my hands. I’ve seen videos of me and my peers from kindergarten, where you could see me smelling my hands all of a sudden. I remember not knowing why I needed to do this, but I knew that I HAD to do it. There was no other choice, even if I was incredibly embarrassed about it.

Things remained the same up until I went to school and my Emetophobia (fear of vomit) really started kicking in. It fed into my OCD in tremendous amounts and my rituals and compulsions became worse. Blinking my eyes very deeply was one of them. That is a compulsion I still have today. This is also when I started to understand that nobody else does this. Nobody else blinks their eyes and feels an intense need to scream. That is where the shame started. I actually didn’t tell people what my compulsions were until late last year, over a decade from when the embarrassment began. I did all I possibly could to hide my OCD and what I was doing.

I suffered from it a lot, and I honestly didn’t have a clue what I was experiencing. My dad has Asperger’s, so I assumed it was that until the age of 13-14 or so. I didn’t know how to tell anybody. I wanted it to stop, because a classmate had pointed out that I kept looking at the roof, and I felt like dying. I can’t recall what intrusive thoughts or rituals I had then, since I’ve had different rituals for my entire life. But it hurt me. More and more by each passing day of suffering in silence and fearing people would think I’m crazy. 

One day, I was forced to tell the truth. It was December 2017, and I had just started intensive outpatient treatment for my anxiety, phobia, and depression. At this point, I knew this is where I’d get help if I asked for it. It was terrible, but I told my doctor what my compulsions were. There were hundreds of them: rituals, counting, turning light switches off three, five or ten times, locking the door in the same pattern, deleting things I’ve written only to rewrite it the same amount of times again,  opening and closing the door. I spilled the whole truth about my OCD and got my diagnosis. I am now much more vocal about my OCD, hell, here I am typing out and admitting a handful of my compulsions! If that’s not proof that telling someone helps, I don’t know what is.

I am now in CBT for my Emetophobia and my OCD, and I’m making huge progress . I’ve learned to manage anxiety so much better, through breathing techniques, relaxation exercises, and things I enjoy doing, like writing music, playing instruments, and painting. 
OCD is hell, but it doesn’t have to be forever. And telling someone is the first step to recovery. 


Tyler Cygnel (@fightingemetophobia).


Tyler is a 16-year-old from Finland who lives for music in the forms of playing the ukulele, piano, violin and writing music. They also love art and enjoy painting during their free time. Other than that, they just like to spend my time with their beautiful pets! 

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Sophie Nation