Help me focus away from nauseating thoughts
May 24, 2015 8:39 PM   Subscribe

I ate something that is against my beliefs, for the first time in my entire life (due to a miscommunication). I feel very nauseated - my thoughts focus on my body and wanting to throw up (I tried but am unable to?). Can I refocus thought away from the thing inside me? Or you know any help for nausea that is just psychosomatic? I know I did not do this on purpose, it's that I can't escape my thoughts about the physical act of chewing and swallowing it and about the animal dying for it.
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You had no intent to eat it, you have no blame. Please forgive yourself for this accident. You did not eat poison, you ate something you have an ethical opposition to. This will not cause you to be sick unless you obsess upon guity feelings. Love yourself and let it go.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:46 PM on May 24, 2015 [11 favorites]

Benadryl or Dramamine are anti-emetics and pretty good for garden variety nausea caused by inner-ear or motion nausea. They also make most people very dopey-sleepy and it is difficult to hyperfocus on much of anything. It's essentially a sedative.

Some people feel better drinking extra water, sort of following the idea of dilution, but don't overdo it or you're going to feel worse.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:46 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

If the thing that you ate is meat, then it's possible that your nausea is a physical reaction. People who aren't used to eating meat sometimes get sick when they eat it. Just treat it like you would any other upset stomach: fluids and rest will probably take care of it.

Please don't beat yourself up over this. It was a mistake, and it's not your fault.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:58 PM on May 24, 2015 [8 favorites]

You need a ritual cleansing. If you were Catholic of a few decades ago and had mistakenly eaten meat on a fast day, you could confess it to a priest who would absolve you, perhaps giving you a few Hail Marys as a penance. If you were Jewish and had mistakenly eaten pork, your rabbi could help you cleanse yourself. If your were Lutheran, you'd get on your knees and pray to God, who would directly forgive you with no need for a priest.

But if you're none of those, you need to devise your own ritual. You feel like this: You are not at fault. It was a miscommunication. Yet, nevertheless, you ate it and you feel nauseated. You need absolution. Can you create a cleansing ritual which makes sense to you? A donation? A penance? A few hours working in a homeless shelter?
posted by mono blanco at 9:00 PM on May 24, 2015 [23 favorites]

Oh, sweetie. I agree with mono blanco that you need some form of ritual to both assuage your own guilt (which, while not warranted, is still very painful, I'm sure) and to symbolically close this incident (it's basically you telling your brain "hey, this happened, and we addressed it, so no driving me nuts over it, 'kay?"). This is the reason why we have weddings and funerals and confession - as humans, we NEED rituals to address big stuff in life, whether happy or sad.

I'm not sure of your particular beliefs, but if I were you, I'd probably donate a little money to the animal shelter of my choice, then say a few words (either a prayer or just, you know... words) to commemorate the animal's life, maybe while making some small gesture to help animals (putting a seed bell outside, or a salt lick, or something like that).

It's not your fault. But you may need to take a few little steps like this to really REINFORCE that to yourself.
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:11 PM on May 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you ate an animal on accident, then maybe think about the things the animal ate that made up the animal, like grass or oats or fruit or whatever. Think of it more as having eaten those vegs through the animal, rather than the animal itself.
posted by Toddles at 9:55 PM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

This may be off-topic, but your predicament reminded me strongly of a Zen kaon about a monk who carries a woman across a river. The premise is that sometimes you do something that is outside of your beliefs, but that act should be left behind.

Things happen. I hope that you can give yourself the permission to move forward well.
posted by qwip at 12:28 AM on May 25, 2015 [8 favorites]

The ASPCA does a lot of work trying to better the lives of farm animals. Would it help if you made a donation or volunteered for them in memory of the animal you ate? I ask because I make a point to eat only meat that's been humanely raised and slaughtered (here in France it's possible to know both), and that sort of thing can help.

Psychosomatic nausea treatment: sit, close your eyes, breathe, relax as best you can. Think of all the people who love animals and are doing their best to treat them as fellow living beings on this planet as opposed to objects [that Zen koan is not a good example since it also teaches non-empathy for fellow human beings merely because they happen to present as women, sigh. Spiritual awareness at the expense of empathy is egoist, not spiritual.].

Mint and ginger also have anti-nausea properties. When I first started scuba diving, our monitor told us that's why they're called "Fisherman's Friend". He always had a pack on him to give any seasick passengers.
posted by fraula at 1:10 AM on May 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Every now and then you're going to do something by accident that you'd rather not have done. That's just life. It's the same for everybody. Doesn't matter how hyper-vigilant we are; at some point we will be distracted at a critical moment and end up tracking dog shit all over our host's shag pile carpet.

Something has come into intimate contact with your body that you'd much rather hadn't. That's the whole thing. That's all this is. So go and have a long hot bath, and clean up your skin, and while you're doing that send cleansing wishes to your insides as well, and let them get on with doing their thing.

This too shall pass.
posted by flabdablet at 1:26 AM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree with the suggestion to perform some kind of ritual - nothing punitive or self-flagellatory, just something that you feel appropriately honors what happened.

In the meantime, for the physical sensations, ginger can help (if you have some fresh or dried, you can make a tea out of it and sip that with a little sugar or sweetener), as well as dramamine/Benadryl. Many people also find mindfulness meditation helpful for difficult physical sensations, like pain or nausea. If that's something you want to try, there's a guided meditation linked here ( under "Meditation for Working with Difficulties" that I've used before.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:44 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

I feel you as a long time vegetarian. There are a few ways to get out of this.

First one is to remember that the animal that sacrificed its life is still dead, no matter how badly I feel. I can't bring it back regardless. And my suffering does nothing to make the universe a more joyful place, so I knock it off.

The second way is I yell at myself, 'FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS MUCH?!" and remember that there are a lot of starving people in the world, and if accidentally eating food I'm trying to avoid is my biggest problem, I need to shut up and move on with my life. When I consider the perspective that people are DYING from hunger, it helps me get over myself.
posted by kinetic at 4:42 AM on May 25, 2015 [9 favorites]

One of my uncles was Inuit, and when he went hunting, he prayed to the spirit of the animal that he had killed, and thanked it. I think a simple prayer is a nice idea. It's too late now for this to be relevant, but I don't think throwing up is the answer- better for the animal's life not to be wasted.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:49 AM on May 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

When I find I've eaten meat (something I avoid for various ethical, moral, religious and physical reasons) I thank the animal.
I didn't want to eat it, but I did and now it's part of me and will nourish me, whether I want it to or not. So I thank it.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:06 AM on May 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

In addition to ginger, peppermint has a reputation for soothing nausea. If you want something easy off the shelf, Yogi Stomach Ease tea has been helpful for me in the past. (Also delicious.)
posted by BrashTech at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2015

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