‘Sickness phobia has blighted my life’

A Newmarket woman whose life has been blighted by a fear of being sick hopes she will soon be able to live normally again.

Sarah Dedman, a 32-year-old veterinary dispensary nurse who works at Six Mile Bottom has to carry a sick bag with her in her handbag all the time.

Her condition, known as emetophobia, also extends to a fear of seeing other people being sick. “I find it very hard when I go out in the evening. For instance, if I go into the toilets at a club I have to get a friend to go in first in case someone is being sick in there.”

It would even prevent her from wanting to have a family. “I couldn’t have children in case they were sick,” she said. “I couldn’t help anyone who was being sick.”

Sarah, who lives in Centre Drive, believes her problems started when she was about eight years old, and her cousin was sick over her in a car.

“It’s got worse as I’ve got older,” she says. When she goes to the cinema she has to make sure she sits on the end of a row in case she has to get out in a hurry.

Going on holiday can also be difficult for her. “I panic when I fly, especially if there are children on the flight, in case anyone is sick on the aircraft,” she said.

Now she has turned to a psychological training programme, and said her treatment is helping her to overcome her problems by getting her to change her thinking patterns.

Although she is only part of the way through her course of treatment she says that it is already making a difference to her life. “I try to do things that I would not have done before,” she says. “The other day I saw a girl being sick in Newmarket High Street. Until recently I would have crossed the road to avoid going near her but this time I was able to make myself walk past her on the same side of the road.”

Sarah said a lot of sufferers don’t speak about their condition although it is the fifth most common phobia. Now she is urging other sufferers to seek help.

Hypnotherapist and psychotherapist Kate Patterson, who is treating Sarah, helps phobia sufferers at clinics in Ely and Bury St Edmunds said: “Hundreds of people suffer from phobias but at least now they can get help.

“Sarah has made amazing progress since her treatment started and hopefully she will soon be able to live a normal life.”