For the average American the public bathroom is gross. For an Emetophobe it is a nightmare. Emetophobia is the fear of vomit and vomiting. It is a phobia that creeps into every aspect of your life, from taking a walk to the grocery store to going to the mall.
One of the hardest things for people to grasp about emetophobia is how much it takes over ones life. On the surface you would think being afraid of vomit and vomiting would not be an everyday problem, how often are you actually around anyone who vomits. The fact people often miss is that the threat of vomiting is the real reason everyone with emetophobia lives on edge, and in all honesty, sitting around worrying that someone will throw up at any given moment is probably worse then the panic attacks.
With Emetophobia going to a public bathroom in the mall is a difficult task. In fact I spent year avoiding going out just so I wouldn't have to use a public restroom.
When I walk into a restroom I don't see a restroom. I see a bathroom where other people have been, and those people could have been sick. What if I go to the stall and the person before me had the stomach flu. Will I pick up the stomach flu, will I vomit?
For someone with emetophobia the concept of an immune system is lost, everything is a disease waiting to happen.
I do not, under any circumstance touch any of the handles in the restroom. Who knows what illness the person before me has had? I even go so far as to only use my shirt sleeve or a towel to open and close the door of the actual stall.
I am afraid of the sink. I am afraid that the person who washed their hands before me did it after vomiting half their lunch. I am afraid they left germs behind and I will touch these germs, touch my face and it is just all over.
I am afraid that I will be in a bathroom stall, especially in a bar or restaurant, and someone will run in and throw up in the stall right next to me. This has never happened, but it could.
Believe it or not I do go out. I have restroom rituals, such as the sleeve/paper towel game. I only use a toilet that I have put tons of toilet paper on the seat, and I do use my hand to turn on the water faucet to wash my hand, but once they are washed, I use my elbow to turn it off.