North Salem resident Jaime Roche publishes children’s book


Jaime Roche, a children’s book author and therapist has launched her first book about a girl named Gretchen and her journey through dealing with anxiety and learning to conquer her fear of throwing up. Learn more about how Roche’s own life experiences had a lot of influence on the story and characters in the book:

What is the book about?

The book is about a little girl named Gretchen, who has a bad experience in the cafeteria on pizza day. She has a stomach virus and throws up in the cafeteria. After this happens, Gretchen develops an irrational fear of going back into the cafeteria, with the chances of throwing up again. In the book she learns to navigate through this fear and anxiety and gets help from her school counselor to cope with her phobia.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

The idea came from an experience I had with my daughter when she was around four-and-a-half. She developed a fear of throwing up, also referred to as emetophobia, after having a strep infection. The strep wasn't detected, so what we thought was a stomach virus was actually a form of strep. She was treated, but the fear of throwing up never left. We put her into treatment and she saw a therapist for anxiety. We were using a lot of breathing techniques with her. What’s difficult for her is that anxiety makes you nauseous, which feeds her specific anxiety, so it’s a constant loop that feeds into itself and creates a hard cycle to break. She was referred to children's books on anxiety but there were no books about her actual fear. We thought about writing one, but I never put those thoughts into action until I had the idea that that would be great content for a book. The story isn't her story, but I thought it would be a story that a lot of kids could relate to. Most people who have emetophobia are not diagnosed. I hope to get the information out there so children can be diagnosed and treated earlier.

What do you hope children learn from reading this book?

I hope children feel supported and understood because that is most important when it comes to overcoming a mental health disorder. Having my daughter be able to share with the adults around her was most helpful for her. I hope kids know that they are not alone, and that there's help available for them. I hope they gain skills from this book, like the breathing technique acronym, GRIP, that’s in the book.

When children can find a physical way that they can take control of their anxiety and break that cycle, they no longer feel like the anxiety is taking over. I hope it gives them a sense of power back. When my daughter, Sedona, realized that anxiety wasn't bigger than she was, she was able to start doing things again that she had been too scared to do. 

How do you hope this book is received by parents?

I hope that parents of children with all types of anxieties will pick up this book and benefit from it. I run a Facebook group for parents of kids with anxiety and have seen that kids can sometimes feel a sense of shame or fault. I hope this book removes some of those feelings. There's nothing to be ashamed about. Sometimes we don't get our kids the help they need because we’re ashamed that they're struggling so much, but so many kids and adults struggle with this and it’s no one’s fault. I hope the book helps parents to understand that this happens to children and we just need to help them the best we can when they are experiencing it.

What was the hardest part of the writing process?

The writing process was very easy; I wrote this book in two hours. There was some editing when it was required. The hardest part was finding a publisher who wanted to publish a book like this. It's a bit of an unusual topic. No other publisher wanted this book. It doesn’t happen very often. Magination Press is associated with the American Psychological Association, so I think they wanted a book like this to help kids who may be struggling with this issue or with similar fears. Emetophobia is a common issue among children and they wanted to acquire this book as a resource for children that were struggling.

What did you most enjoy about the process of publishing this book?

How much input my daughter had. Once the book was acquired and the editing process started, she was able to have a ton of input on wording and how the book would look. There was a page with a picture of Gretchen throwing up and as we we’re going through the book, she said, “you’ve got to take that picture out. I don’t want to see that,” since this book is for children struggling with the fear of throwing up, like she was, we agreed that it might be triggering to some children and could cause them to put the book down. The editor listened and took it out. My daughter really does feel like it is her book. I dedicated it to her. She was a huge part of the process and Magination was open to her ideas because she is the target audience. When I hired the illustrator, Doruntina Beqiraj, I sent her a picture of Sedona and she modeled the main character after her.

Do you have any events happening to celebrate the publishing of your book?

I had an event at the Barnes and Noble in the Danbury Mall, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. on June 24. We had story time and a book signing. It’s funny, everything that happened around this book fell into place. I went to the Barnes and Noble in Danbury to see if they would be stocking my book and as I approached the counter, one employee said to another, “do you know any authors who’d want to do events or book signings here?” The universe really wanted this book in the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention about the book?

There's a reader's note done by Pequenakonck Elementary School school psychologist Don Merriman. He worked closely with Sedona when she was struggling with anxiety and he was actually the first person to read the manuscript.

Is there anything interesting you learned in the writing process of this book?

19 million people in the world are living with emetophobia. Emetophobia is the third most searched phobia on Google. It’s crazy how many people this affects and how very few people know about this. From what I’ve observed through Sedona’s experience and researched for the book, consistent exposure is the best therapy for this anxiety; the brain gets more accustomed to it. There are triggers for it, but once you get past the triggers, the phobia goes away. I think it's a hard one to treat because it’s inside of you. Books like this are important to make people aware of what emetophobia is and how it can be treated.

Here is the link to the Magination Press page. Check out Jaime Roche’s new book “Tummy Troubles” today!

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