‘RHOBH’: Denise Richards Left the ‘American Idol’ Finale Because of a Phobia

Former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Denise Richards says she has a phobia that sometimes interferes with her life. One time this phobia got so bad, it even kept her from attending an American Idol taping.

Denise Richards’ phobia started as a child

Denise Richards | Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Denise Richards | Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

In her book, The Real Girl Next Door, Richards reveals she has emetophobia, which is a fear of vomiting. She says the phobia was triggered during childhood. This presented a challenge later in life when she became pregnant with her daughters and when she had to tend to sick children. Her late mother explained how she got to the point where she became anxious around vomit.

“I was in my early twenties before my mom explained that as a little girl, I followed my dad into the bathroom while he was sick and saw him puke,” wrote Richards. “I thought he was dying, she said, and it affected the rest of my life. It pisses me off that something I don’t even remember has had such an impact on me, but it has, and my phobia, formally known as emetophobia, presented a unique challenge during my first trimester.”

Denise Richards had to leave the ‘American Idol’ finale

Richards says she was going through a tough time in her life, so her friends thought she needed a distraction. They suggested attending the American Idol finale. Richards’ mother was dying from cancer and she was going through a difficult divorce from Charlie Sheen, so she agreed to spend time with them.

They wanted to see the American Idol finale if possible, so I called Ryan Seacrest, who kindly arranged for amazing seats for us at the Kodak Theatre. On the way to the theater, though, I was hit by a wave of nausea.

As I went through security at the theater, my fear of throwing up became an embarrassing reality. My hand went over my mouth and I turned bug-eyed. A guard asked if I was OK. I shook my head no, ran past him, and found a trash can in the corner of the lobby and threw up!

Denise Richards, The Real Girl Next Door
Denise Richards | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic
Denise Richards | Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Richards says she was embarrassed. A nurse on the set assisted her, and she says she vomited once more. She tried to sit through the American Idol finale, but before the show started, she decided to go home.

I said hello to the Idol judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson. I also waved to Ryan. However, soon after the show started, I began to feel anxious again. The queasiness returned to my stomach. Then I panicked.

What if I threw up on live TV? Since they often panned to celebrities in the audience, I knew there was a chance, however remote, of something dreadful being witnessed by thirty million people, and that slim possibility was enough for me to bid a hasty good-bye to my girlfriends and go home.

Denise Richards, The Real Girl Next Door

Denise Richards thinks stress might have contributed to her nausea at ‘American Idol’

Richards says she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. A friend suggested her nausea was due to stress. Richards says she likely reached a point where her body just couldn’t take it anymore and it was looking for a release.

“I couldn’t figure out why I was sick,” wrote Richards. “I didn’t feel as if I had the flu or even food poisoning. My friends insisted it was stress. ‘I have never thrown up from stress,’ I said. My friend said, ‘You have never had to deal with your mom dying of cancer.’ She was right. After keeping everything from Charlie to Richie to my custody fight and my mom’s cancer locked up inside me, I reached my limit. It exploded out of me.”

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