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For most of us, there’s nothing better than a catch up with friends over lunch, or maybe an evening meal at the new restaurant that everyone’s been talking about. For others, like Krissy, though, there is nothing more paralyzing.
Krissy suffers from a rare phobia called Deipnophobia – a fear of dining and dinner conversations and, like any phobia, it is very real and very difficult. Krissy recalls spending her dinner catch-up in the bathroom, sweating and struggling to catch her breath at the dread of the environment and atmosphere.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Deipnophobia manifests itself as either a type of anxiety or a specific phobia. If the situation becomes unbearable because of fear of being judged by others in a negative way, then this can be considered a social anxiety disorder. Otherwise, if it manifests as a fear of an object or a situation itself, then it would be classified as a phobia.
For Krissy, the deipnophobia did not start after experiencing a traumatizing moment, but it eas rather made by an accumulation of different experiences.
She started experiencing these episodes at the age of ten. Firstly in her parents’ car after having dinner at a restaurant she felt nauseous and like she couldn’t breathe. Another night, after having a dinner at a friends house she started feeling ill again. Even though the symptoms were the same, because these episodes happened months apart, her parents didn’t suspect anything and assumed it was just bad indigestion.
These situations kept occurring throughout her childhood, she would always felt nauseous even after eating a few bites at school lunches or during school trips. But when she was at home or in the dorms surrounded by only a couple of people, she could eat just fine.
At 17 she started going to therapy, but her initial diagnosed were unhelpful and the prescriptions were making her stomach worse. After more than a decade of fighting by herself, she told her family and friends about everything she was experiencing. And the most surprising thing happened, her mum confessed that she had deipnophobia too!
Now they are both trying to deal with the symptoms of their phobia hands on. Instead of avoiding it, Krissy is making small steps, going into dining situations with preparation and moral support, as she believes that being the most prepared you can be is the key to managing her symptoms.