Going to therapy also helped me accept myself as the unique individual that I am.
My anxiety about farting started when I was at a birthday dinner for my friend Jocelyn, and I ripped out a small fart when I was eating mushroom ravioli. No one heard it, but I feared if someone did, I’d be laughed at. That event started my roller-coaster of anxiety about farting in high school.
The worst times that my fear of farting would come was when I was in class and my teacher would be lecturing. In my English Honors class in sophomore year, I remember feeling like I was underwater and that when the teacher spoke it reminded me of Charlie Brown’s teacher, Wonk, Wonk, Wonk. I wanted to do well in class, but it was difficult when my brain space was taken up by anxiety instead of listening to the teacher. The fear of farting was like a broken record that wouldn’t stop playing no matter how much I tried to destroy it.
I told my friends I feared farting-some understood while others looked at me as if I was freak. My friends who comforted me would tell me their experiences with farting or call me and say that they just farted in public. The sentiments were funny and made me forget about my anxiety temporarily. Despite the good words that my friends had, I felt isolated. Why was I the only one to have this irrational fear? It was getting to the point that I dreaded going to school because my fear of farting was taking over my life. I was getting headaches and would often massage my temples to decrease the soreness.
I begged my parents to go to therapy, but they didn’t want me to go. In the Asian culture, you keep your problems within the family. Seeing a therapist was seen as an embarrassment. I told my mom my anxiety, but since it was the same thing over and over again, she said I was needy and that she didn’t want to hear of it. Furthermore, she bought me over the counter medications that relieved gas problems, which decreased my anxiety for a little awhile until I realized it didn’t stop farting completely. My dad would tease me about my anxiety, which didn’t help at all. I felt more distressed and uncomfortable.
Finally, I went into therapy when I told the school counselor about my anxiety, and he called my parents to recommend them that I should attend. It was a relief when I went to therapy because it introduced me to anxiety decreasing exercises. One of these exercises included stiffening every little body part slowly until I stopped focusing on my anxiety. I still do that exercise when I feel an uncomfortable thought coming up. Going to therapy also helped me accept myself as the unique individual that I am.