Bonnie Sparks Writes

…fiction and discusses editing, writing, mental illness, chronic conditions, bunnies, food, fitness, and geeky topics.

My History with Choking Phobia: Adulthood

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Fucked up FridayIt’s Fucked up Friday time! It’s a chance for me to share health based posts, circling around life with M.E., Type 1 Diabetes, General Anxiety Disorder, Social Phobia, Panic Disorder, Obsessive and Disordered Thoughts, Choking Phobia, Depression, Paranoia, Pulmonary Embolism recovery and getting my life back on track. I always feel like I’ve missed something there, but how many issues can you have? Seriously? Bah!

As you can see, Fucked up Friday isn’t in the title. I don’t want to offend anyone. However, Fucked up Friday has a certain ring to it and it’s me having a bit of fun with the kaleidoscope of health issues I have. I feel it’s best not to dwell too seriously on these issues. Take them seriously, yes, but don’t dwell negatively and let them take over your life. Henceforth, this will be the last use of the term Fucked up Friday in this post. Huzzah!

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I have news regarding my choking phobia progress, but I thought before I shared it I would fill you all in on my history with choking phobia. Just to give you a bit of an idea of where I’m coming from and why I’m feeling so pleased with myself over something so supposedly ordinary. Part one was about my childhood and the origins of my phobia if you’re not up to date.

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During my early teens, my choking phobia took over my life, and ruled me for three years. My diet consisted mainly of soft foods and liquids until I was threatened with a feeding tube and a prolonged stay in hospital. I went home and started eating crackers, but even then it took me an hour to eat six.

I was having issues with swallowing to begin with, but the choking phobia didn’t take over until, one day at home, I was eating toast and it went down the wrong way. If I try to analyse this event and why it led to three years of a liquid diet, all I can come up with is it was a combination of elements to force me down a certain road. I was depressed, I was socially phobic, I was anxious, I was smoking marijuana, I’d come out to my friends that year, several of my friendships were disrupted, and I was feeling very trapped. The last was due to developing a sneaking suspicion not everyone was abused and badly treated. I had been so since I began school though, and the idea of abuse, and women being treated like objects was the norm, had been programmed into my brain. It’s a hard thing to fight against (the beginnings of that history is what inspired my horror novel).

After extensive therapy sessions and medication, I finally began eating solids again, but each bite was infused with a sense of trepidation. I remember the first time I considered eating something solid and then the first time I went ahead and did it. I was tired. I was tired of fearing food and what could happen if I ate it. So I thought to myself if I die then so be it. This has been my mantra each time I’ve eaten when overcoming an extreme low-point.

I didn’t develop another problem with choking phobia again until I came down with ME. Sure the fear was still present, but I ate very well and happily. It was only the odd moment when the phobia would spring on me and my thoughts would be irrational, but I’d turn it around again.

With the ME, it wasn’t related to my choking phobia to begin with. ME does horrible things to your system. I’d go from eating just fine, to being only able to stomach liquids, to eating solids and liquids, and then to living only on Sustagen (Boost in the US). It was an issue with my body, not an issue with my mental state. I’d be nauseous, have stomach issues, and my throat muscles would refuse to co-operate.

Even though it was the ME and not choking phobia present, it affected me a great deal. Another problem I have, when stress and depression become too much, is obsessive and disordered thoughts. This issue reared its ugly head after fighting with the ME for a few years.

Most of my OD thoughts, and most of the time, don’t manifest physically. Some do and I don’t have to be falling into a hole for them to come about. I’ll organise drawers, I’ll round numbers up (like the time – if you ask me and the time is 3:49 then I will say it’s 4pm), I don’t like things finishing in certain numbers, and I don’t like things to be out of order. It doesn’t sound so obsessive, but I can become fixated.

When my obsessive and disordered thoughts manifest physically at high levels of stress I’ll do things like count stairs, count my steps, become irritated when something ends in an odd number or not at intervals of five, become so fixated with drawers I will make sure they stay organised each day and get angry when anything is out of place, and then I’ll have to check certain things.

The reason I bring up the OD thoughts, is because it gets to a point where it ties in with my choking phobia. Some of the things I have to check is if there’s something in my drink and making sure what’s going into my mouth is what I think it is. At the height of my last bout with choking phobia, I got to the point where I was scared of swallowing water. I’d check my food, I’d check my drinks, and then I started to check my throat. This consisted of me staring into the mirror with a book light shining on the back of my throat and trying to determine if I could see anything.

To make matters worse, I would involve others in my obsession with things in my throat. Notice how I use the word things and not food. It didn’t necessarily need to be food, it could have been anything, and I have no idea what! Anyway, I’d follow my mum to get her to look in my mouth and then started hassling my partner.

Using the word check makes it sound far less exhaustive than it was. I’d investigate, several times, and not be happy with the answer. I ended up driving myself so insane with it, I’d not believe what people were telling me. I thought everyone was lying to me just to shut me up and I went from thought, to physical, to verbal fixation on something being in my throat, or the what if of swallowing. I’d compulsively look at my throat in the mirror, think I was satisfied, and then need to look again. This could last for quite some time. It woke me up and kept me up at night.

So the last time, the worst time, manifested during my ME and I believe from it. I have been working to over come all of this since January. I made attempts earlier, but I wasn’t really committing myself. Now I am, continuously, but I’ll share my progress next time.

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Author: Bonnie

Between a blogging addiction, hosting reading challenges, reviewing, writing novels, and overcoming a neuro-immune disease, Bonnie attempts to do as many awesome things as she can and has a good dose of daily bunny cuddles. She resides in Western Sydney with her rabbit, Winston.

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