Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Rare Phobia You Really Don’t Want While Pregnant

A pregnancy can be such a super magical time – as well as a downright stressful, anxiety inducing rollercoaster of emotions. And that’s when it’s not all happening in 2020.

For Kiwi Jess Wallace – who is 21 weeks along – there’s also a few more little things in the mix. For a start, she now lives in Melbourne (essentially the frontline for Covid-19 in Australia) where she’s far away from her family and has essentially been in lockdown since March. On top of that she was made redundant a little while ago (while pregnant), but potentially her biggest hurdle is that she also suffers from Emetophobia.

Like us, you may be asking, what the heck is that?

Essentially, Emetophobia is an extreme fear of vomiting, being around somebody that’s sick and feeling nauseous. The symptoms are so prominent that it’s diagnosed as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

For Jess it affects everyday aspects of her life, as well as bigger overarching decisions.

“On an everyday scale there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t scrutinize my actions that could lead me to become sick,” she explains. “For example, if I’m chopping vegetables and a piece falls off my chopping board onto the clean bench, it has to go in the bin because it’s left the ‘safe’ board and could have touched a bit of water that came from the dishcloth.”

“Plus, one big thing for me is that I don’t travel to countries where I have a higher risk of getting sick, so I’ve had to turn down friends’ trips and weddings in Bali and Thailand.”

Even travelling on public transport can be anxiety inducing – worrying that she may pick up a bug from sitting too close to someone.

“The slightest hint of nausea causes anxiety and panic attacks, which in turn, make it worse, so I’ve learnt my triggers for anxiety and cut them out of my lifestyle in order to reduce the times I feel nauseous – alcohol, smoking and binge eating.”

Almost six years ago Jess became vegan – after cutting out meat, then eventually all dairy products, which significantly reduced her anxiety. It’s a journey she shared on Instagram, along with her experimentations in the kitchen, which has now gained her a large following online. “It’s been steady, I’ve worked on my Instagram for about six years now but I just keep it very real and it’s my personal Instagram as well, so as much as I upload food and recipes, it’s also my daily life with pregnancy, book recommendations, mental health and running.”

Since opening up about her experiences with Emetophobia, the platform has also connected her with fellow sufferers. “I’d only ever spoken to one other person about it before, so I thought it was very uncommon, but since posting, I had nine people message with words of thanks and other people don’t understand because, ‘well, no one likes spewing!’ I’ve had some great chats with a few people about it and it’s so nice to not feel alone or like a burden.”

Jess says she’s been very lucky to not have had terrible morning sickness during her pregnancy so far. “But the all-day nausea was enough to send me spiralling into anxiety,” she admits. “Eating little and often would take the nausea away – no matter how much I couldn’t tolerate food at the time! Plus, constantly reminding myself that I’m not nauseous from food poisoning or a bug, and just constantly waiting for that 12-week mark because I told myself that’s when it’s ‘supposed’ to get better!”

She says the unexpected silver lining of lockdown has been getting to stay home and stay in bed during the early weeks of her pregnancy when she needed to. “It’s been an awful year, that’s for sure,” she says. “I’m not going to lie, it’s been so hard, but on the other hand, I can see some positives to it. Being made redundant while pregnant is hard, but the positive is I have all this time to relax at home whilst growing a baby, with my partner working from home since March and for the foreseeable future we have all this time together, which is so nice.”

While the time with her partner is wonderful, she’s devasted that it will be quite some time before she can see her family.

“Knowing that I can’t see them while I’m pregnant and that our parents won’t see their first grandchild as a newborn is heartbreaking.”

But Jess is choosing to look at the positives that have come out of 2020. “I’ve learnt to live on less – the essentials, and that not everything revolves around 10-hour days at work! Normalising rest is super important. Life goes on after office hours!”

Inside Jess’s kitchen:

My go-to meals during pregnancy:

“Is watermelon a meal?! I’ve been living off it and I never used to eat it! To be honest I’ve been loving cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches, vegetable lentil soup with toast, and plates of roast vegetables, mash and gravy.”

My all-time favourite recipes:

“I have a Creamy Mushroom & Sundried Tomato pasta recipe in my e-book which is so comforting. I love making nachos (my death row meal!) and my absolute favourite soup recipe is the ‘Best Lentil Soup’ from a website called Cookie & Kate. Try it and add in diced capsicum, zucchini and potato with loads of lemon juice – you won’t regret it!”

The ingredients that are always in my fridge/pantry:

“Cashews, nutritional yeast, penne pasta, white rice, tinned tomatoes and lentils, curry powder, smoked paprika, peanut butter, potatoes, broccoli, tofu, kale, sesame oil and soy sauce!”

Follow Jess on Instagram @jessy.wallace if you like delicious recipes and grocery hauls and need some dinner inspiration!

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