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:'( i can't take this anymore.
I've been to hospitals, councilers, the emerg. plenty of times. And they haven't done anything to help me.

So here it is... I have a phobia of vomit, and I was going threw a phaze where I didn't eat because of my fear of throwing up. I've faced my fear, and I've been trying to eat for the past 3 weeks. But I can only eat little things, fluids (soup), Jellow, some pastries. But when i try to eat to much my stomach starts to hurt. I get sharp pains, and I feel full and sick to my stomach. I get consitpated lots, and I always have heart burn. I burp about 6 times everytime I eat. I can't handel not eating, i have no energy, my heart starts to pound and I get dizzy everytime i even walk, or move to quickly. I need some help. Thanks.

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OK, I sincerely hope it is just a phobia, because this sounds familiar, and a little close to home.

My partner's daughter has had a condition all her life (two in fact, the second being intussusception - when one portion of the bowel slides into the next) called, I believe in part, colitis. I have supported her for seven years, while she has fought for treatment for her daughter, a great deal of which has seen her turned away from hospitals and doctors because her daughter looks 'too well' to be ill.

Finally, in Germany, they recognised her condition, had some pithy things to say about UK healthcare, and wrote a letter for the UK doctors etc. Suffice it to say that her colon/intestine is essentially allergic to almost all kinds of food, resulting in severe blockage - constipation is rather too mild a word - and the medical community is essentially helpless. It is truly heartbreaking to see such a gorgeous bundle of fun destined for a tube (which she already has) and a colostomy bag.

Once the intestine is full and blocked, the stomach of course cannot process any more food, so she is both hungry but obliged to vomit, as the only way to expel excess. You may appreciate why your description sounded familiar, and I sincerely hope that it is coincidence, not fact, as phobia is far easier to deal with.

Obviously, with the above in mind, you may wish to direct your enquiries to a more sympathetic and effective doctor to at least ensure that the condition above is not relevant to you, so that you may at least ease your mind on that score, and focus on the mental (phobia) issue - though I have to question if it is legitimately a phobia, if you are experiencing pains in your stomach, and feel sick, and get constipated: that doesn't sound like phobia (a fear without immediate and direct physical threat) but a series of legitimate medical symptoms.

I think you've been incredibly sensible, frankly, in a difficult situation - another hint that suggests this may not be a phobia, it's difficult to think rationally when you're scared irrationally - and have been essentially giving yourself as close to a liquid or intravenous diet as possible, with minimal residue, so that your body receives nourishment without overloading an already stressed system.

As the bumper sticker says: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

You may not be as irrationally concerned as you think. The issue here is to eliminate properly all possible causes and medical possibilities. Ultimately, constipation is a physical fact, not a phobia, so there is one place to start. We all have constipation occasionally, but to have it as a chronic part of your lifestyle means there is clearly an eating and processing disorder: either habitual (in your lifestyle) or medical (cf: my partner's daughter) - the trouble is, when medicine disregards the rare but real medical issue in favour of the far more common lifestyle issue.

Hint: it's time for you to give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and do a little investigating of your own.

Firstly, let's start with getting 'evidence'. I don't think we need anyone else to witness the constipation, thanks: let's take that as read.

Second, the stomach: if you get sharp pains in your stomach, feel full, press your hand gently against your tummy and see if your hand confirms what your mind is telling you, that it is bloated, full, and cannot take any more. (My partner has on many occasions described her daughter's tummy as feeling 'like a rock'). If it is, approach a rational colleague, adult, friend, and get a second opinion. If they agree with surprise and concern, we make take it as read that you are not imagining that either, and then I shall be sadly inclined to ask you to at least consider the possibility of the medical condition I mentioned earlier; that or similar.

If your stomach is hard, and your bowel constipated, it is simply physically impossible to ingest any 'normal' amount of solid food, and no, you do not then have a phobia, you have a condition that needs expert help.

I am now going to step outside the box, since medicine hasn't helped you so far, and put my other hat on (one of many: I'm a financier, techie, mathematician, healer, spiritualist - none of them a medical professional, this is a general health site with experienced adults offering counsel, not a medical diagnostic with doctors on call, though you may care to contact site administrators for health references if you would like to take this further, in the classical medical scientific way).

There are many resources out there that can do an end-run, I believe it's called (I'm UK) around the medical ignorance - sorry, but true in this case - since they're not limited to what is 'known'. The question is, can they help, how do you find them, and how do you know whether to take them seriously. The simple answer is that like any service, it's down to references and experience, and not handing over your wallet without good cause.

At this point, I belatedly should ask what I meant to ask up front, whether you are over 18, because a lot of this (and the above) assumes that you have the freedom and means to pursue this rationally and to your benefit. If you are under 18, you're pretty much stuck with the medical system, and your parents' whim, but since you don't mention your parents' opinion on the matter, let's proceed as if you were over 18.

Firstly, backing up, I should say that it may be worth doing what as a technician, we'd call a 'sanity check', which no, isn't questioning yours, which frankly sounds fine at the moment, but is an ironic term meaning: let's check we haven't missed anything.

Provided the rational check (hard tummy, constipation) are validated, then there are 'halfway-house' professions that are 'mystical but medically accepted' - aka: hypnotherapy, acupuncture - both of which may be helpful and relevant (though hypnotherapists may resent being called 'mystical', having worked so hard to be accepted!) Anything which deals with the mind (vs the brain) is at least in part mystical, whether medicine likes it or not. In your case, we're going to use its ability to bypass medical ignorance in your favour, then if possible, go back and beat them over the head with it until you get the medical treatment appropriate to your (physical) condition.

I seriously doubt we're talking a mental issue here (phobia), but a hypnotherapy sessoin may prove revealing, either to your medical condition, or to any concerns you have that are affecting your body (medicine at least appreciates that the mind can affect the body, so that's one thing).

I can't advise how to get a good hypnotherapist: I pretty much assume you're in the US. A good place to start any of this is in your local bookstore, reading up on the topics that appeal to you - trust your instinct, metaphysical rule number one. It's far cheaper to buy a $9 book than to be - dare I say - conned out of hundreds of dollars of ineffective therapy.

Hypnosis is a powerful tool of discovery - not simply a means for people to be made fools of on stage, which is the 'hollywood' version.

Read about it, then decide for yourself if it feels appropriate to explore it.

--- Now we're going a bit beyond the fence ---

Here's where you step over the line, but with a little common sense and responsibility there is no risk, to anything except a ribbing from your friends. In fact, you may find some of them already 'there'. I'd like to give you access to that end run, an insight into your condition that may assist, but I can only hint at it, for many reasons, not least the fact that I'm here to offer rational help on a physical health site.

If you look up some of the obvious, accepted, but 'borderline' classes: tai chi, meditation, reiki, you're going to pretty soon find yourself in another world, learning about energy, your mind, how it affects health, etc. Highly relevant. More so, since I have a lot of time for reiki: it's proven, effective, and well worth investigating. When you're investigating that community, pay attention: as I say, your friends may already be going to some of these classes. If you want answers, there are resources that can provide them, if you pay attention.

What you should never do is pay more than $40 approx ($100 absolute max - I don't know the US market) for any class or resource, or repeat (commit to more than one visit) without proven value. Just because there is a great deal of spiritual and metaphysical truth that science is uncomfortable with, doesn't mean that there aren't con artists as well. By going to classes and reading up about it first, you give yourself the best chance - same as with anything, tennis, publishing a book, acting, whatever - of spending your money wisely.

They may not have the 'cure' (believe me, if it was that simple, I'd have resolved my partner's daughter's issue long ago), but you may become better informed - I found out that I'd managed to create a temporary 'stress' allergy to just about every food, except turkey and champagne - how? by working 80 hour weeks in finance. Why turkey and champagne as the exception? because they were the only foods you eat when celebrating. Everything else I ate my body learned it must be poison, I felt so bad - interesting mind body dynamic.

One month of detox and I was bouncing, full of life and energy, and all thanks to a simple observation from a resource I trusted.

A long post, but you have a legitimate concern, and I believe you've shown too much rationality (and described disturbingly 'physical' symptoms) for this to be dismissed as a phobia (if it were, hypnotherapy would be the obvious answer, that or NLP, and this would have been a much shorter post!)
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