Toilet Phobia

For my first post here and, as I welcome you to this blog, I’d like to try and go back to my childhood to talk about something that plagued me for several years; eating away at my social confidence while possibly giving birth to the anxieties that would later go on to plague my every day life.

This post concerns a form of ‘Toilet Phobia‘.

I’m not really sure how to write this or where to start because, there isn’t one moment in my mind of when the first event of its kind occurred.

I do remember very well, being in a nativity play at the local church, dressed as a shepherd. I must’ve been about five-years-old at the time. It’s certain that I was nervous about being up infront of all those people (including family and friends). There weren’t any spoken lines to my role, or anything like that. For all I can think of now, I basically had to stand to one side while Mary and Joseph and co. took centre stage… Anyway, I wasn’t up in the spotlight for very long before my bladder finally gave way, a warm but wet feeling passed down both of my legs and I was dragged away to reveal a large, dark stain on the holy(?) blue church carpet!

Whoever attended to me was very good though. I can vaguely recall passing through another room of younger kids (one was even a friend); my face flooded with tears, as we hurried to the toilet to change. I was used to wearing underpants from the lost property department at school but, as the church probably didn’t have such an available supply of spare clothes, I had to walk home with nothing to keep my dark, nylon trousers away from my soft skin (not to mention the threat of ‘the zip’ – women may not get this!).

There were many other occasions at school and, even, while spending times at a friend’s house, where I would fight to hold everything in, with a terrifying fear of standing in front of or sitting on the loo. I really don’t remember what I was afraid of and, while I could frequently wet myself in any social situation, it’s fair to say that I had my share of ‘other accidents’ in my early years as well.

Sometimes, I would take a potty in to the front room so that I didn’t have to miss anything on TV. Other times, I would literally go behind a settee and pee on the back of it (like a drunk, trying to write his name on the wall). What was the message that I was trying to write? I even did this once when a friend was with me. He saw me, alerted my parents and I think that was the last such occasion. I can vaguely remember weeing on my train set, possibly inside or over some of the trains and, rather bizarrely, inside (it was blocked) the chimney of my sister’s doll house!

I hated using the toilets at school and, in fact, any in a public place where I could be ‘seen’ and ‘exposed’ (not that there’s ever been anything physically wrong below my waistline). I’m not sure why I couldn’t go at home or, how and why I eventually got past this.

My problems urinating did seem to almost disappear by the time I was halfway through primary school. But, I lived with my other phobia (number twos!) right up until and including the duration of Year 5; between the ages of 9 and 10).

Again, I would regularly mess myself in class and that is how I would come to familiarise myself with the lost property bin and all those pairs of new-old underpants that soon ended up in my bedroom sock drawer! I think there was the odd pair of worn trousers, too.

I’m still not sure how other people reacted. I was bullied and called names for unrelated things (perhaps I’ll explain that in a future post) but no-one ever seemed to pick on me for this. I guess they were as afraid as I was. Thinking back, I would’ve been an easy target to the eyes of some but, the worst I ever received were jokes about my uncontrollable, audible roars of broken wind during school assemblies! Again, due to holding everything in. This all lead to complications and issues of constipation, for which I received medication (which did help, when I wanted to go) but also, I had the fear of explaining to my friends why I was consuming several spoonfuls of Manevac (Ha! I still remember the name!) at frequent times during the day. “Tummy ache medicine“, was the best I could conjure up but still, no-one really commented (was it in my mind? – Anxiety; the Fear!).

There’s one occasion at a friend’s house that I’ve always remembered. I think it was close to the ‘turning point’ where, in my mind, I realised that I needed to force a change of my habits. I’d spent the day quite happy with my friends and my mum was there, ready to take me home. My stomach must’ve been grumbling for some time because I can remember, as she was chatting away when I was ready to leave (shoes on and everything), something ‘gave’ and, well, let’s just say I suddenly felt something poking in to the back of my trousers! Someone else must’ve noticed?! But, I sat on it (literally!) for the short drive home.

I never really suffered fromย diarrhea (why isn’t this word recognised by Google Chrome’s spellchecker???). It was always ‘solid’, without wishing to go in to detail!!

There’s another story from a few years prior to this, which actually has a little humour to it! I can’t recall the event but, apparently, I was staying with my Grandma down in Weymouth one summer. She noticed I was walking awkwardly; as if I’d injured my hip or something and phoned my mum as she was quite concerned. A few hours later, I was walking and running freely again, as if I had been ‘cured’, miraculously… Then, grandma found my potty outside, with an enormous log sitting up out of it!! Apparently, it was half the length of one of my arms or something. These days, I imagine it’s the sort of thing that some techno-savvy grandparents may wish to share on Facebook! ๐Ÿ˜›

I feel like I’m finally coming to the end of this post and I’m grateful to anyone who’s stayed with me the whole way. I’m a lot better these days, even though I do have the common fears of using a public loo (can someone hear me? Will they see me? etc.). There’s nothing these days that stops me from going although, I sometimes wish we had more than two cubicles between us at work.

I do wish I could recall how I got through all of this… Maybe the medication and a slight change of diet (switching white bread for brown and eating more fibre) did help with myย constipation. Apparently, my fears were quite common at a young age; something to do with a fear of ‘letting go from within‘. My mum used to work in a children’s hospital and she says they had a ward especially for people like this. It’s only since I began counselling though, that I remembered all of this. I think that goes to show that, however much you’re suffering now, you will get through it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Counselling sessions have been interested recently… We’ve realised, through looking at childhood photographs, that I was happy, confident and almost fearless at times. What happened to that boy? Maybe I was stronger then than I may now care to realise? Though, I also understand many of the anxieties and fears we face so early on don’t always hit us before we reach adulthood.

Thank you for reading this first post and I hope you’ll stick around for future thoughts and experiences. If you’ve found this interesting then, I’d like to recommend that you take a look at Maxi’s blog, Me and Anxiety, where she blogs about her regular struggles with a similar condition; how it affects her life and the inspirational steps she takes to overcome her worst fears.

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15 comments on “Toilet Phobia

  1. E says:

    Welcome to WordPress! You write very well, I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  2. I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘The psychology of the bathroom’ by Nick Haslam and psychoanalysts would probably have a lot to say about your toilet phobia. There is actually more research on poo than there is on pee for some reason. It might be a book you would be interested in.
    xx

  3. You raise some interesting issues in your post about how we can develop fears around seemingly innocuous things. I don’t think I ever feared using the toilet as such but I did have an accident in my first grade (age 6) classroom during reading time. It was quite humiliating for me to have peed as it was a large puddle from holding it in so long. I was trying to wait until the end of the story but the teacher took forever! LOL Anyhow, I went home the rest of the day from humiliation. The next day nobody said a thing about it so either they were excellent children or the teacher had talked with them before hand. Either way it took me awhile to get over that incident.

    Thanks for your candor. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • This is what I love about blogging; we can all relate to and share our own experiences with considerable ease.

      How did sufferers manage in years before the internet?! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I imagine that most adults would react quite differently to kids.

  4. meandanxiety says:

    Hey Brandon!

    Welcome to the blogosphere… ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the shout out and I’m glad you’ve got somewhere to share your thoughts! I’m sorry that your toilet phobia was so traumatic especially in your younger years, how are you with it now? Maxi x

    • Hi Maxi, nice to hear from you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s a lot better these days and it was actually something I’d forgotten about until recently (it does slip my mind but, I see that as a positive thing). I still have some fears of using public toilets but I see them only as ‘common’ fears and they don’t really stop me from going. I certainly haven’t had any serious accidents like the ones I described for many years now.

      I’ll catch up with your blog in a moment to see how you’re doing. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • meandanxiety says:

        Hello!

        That’s great,yes it’s definitely good that it slips your mind! ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, honestly I think that that’s something that a lot of people have. I only use public toilets if I really HAVE to, because they’re usually so disgusting!

        I’m glad to hear you haven’t had any accidents! Mine is a little different because I have the fear of needing to go to the toilet while I’m somewhere I can’t go. For example, I’ll worry about possibly needing the toilet in like 5 hours time, it’s crazy! I wish I could not think about it, then just worry about finding a toilet if I ever need to go! Sometimes I even worry about other people needing the toilet. It’s ridiculous!

        Anyways, glad to see you’re getting into the swing of things! x

      • I must admit though, that this persistent ‘fear’ of using one of only TWO cubicles at work has affected my eating a bit. I try not to eat many large meals in the evenings in case I then have to go during the next day. Some nights (and, this has been quite frequent, in the past month), I don’t eat any meals at all (except for an apple, perhaps). It’s mostly on a Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and sometimes also a Wednesday.

        I do feel slightly more tired some mornings (I start at 7am, leaving less time for digestion) but it’s rare that I actually feel hungry in an evening and want the food. Maybe that’s also related to anxiety and fear?

        There is another toilet-related issue that I’ve lived with for over ten-years. It’s more of a ‘male thing’ and I know from several visits that the NHS won’t lift a finger to help me. I should see if I can go private or something but, I also need to write a post on that (I’ll add warnings for TMI! :-D).

        Your condition sounds a bit complicated but you’ve always struck me as a strong person with a good general awareness of your emotions and space. I’m sure that you can and will get through it and you always have my support if you need to talk. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • meandanxiety says:

        Yes I completely hear you on that one. I HATE hate hate anywhere that only has one toilet, it makes me panic just as much as there being no toilet. Very strange indeed.

        I know what you mean, I tend to combat mine with basically not eating much at all! My brain thinks… nothing going in, nothing to come out! haha, which I think seems quite similar. However, FYI, a banana might actually be better for you than an apple, as apples are quite acidic and can actually irritate the stomach. I don’t eat them because of my IBS.

        It could be related to the anxiety yes. I never feel hungry when I’m anxious. It might be worth you actually having some gastro tests done, as that’s what I did and I got diagnosed with IBS and was able to figure out which foods caused me the most grief!

        Oh hmm, that sounds complicated! Again, I probably won’t know too much about that (for obvious reasons ๐Ÿ˜› ) but you never know!

        Thanks so much, yes I’m doing my best! For example, I went to the cinema last night and we were sat in the middle (I hate this because I feel trapped) and I spent pretty much the whole film feeling like I needed to go (I’m sure I didn’t) but I tried to ignore it and I managed to make it all the way through and then home. Pretty proud of that. Wasn’t particularly enjoyable though ๐Ÿ˜›

        Same to you!

  5. […] first post on this site was one where I explained my experiences throughout life with one form of Toilet Phobia. While I am now far and beyond the majority of the problems and complications I suffered with this […]

  6. Summer Moon says:

    Welcome to the blogging world, Brandon! ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a great first post and a great way to hit the ground running. I enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to following you and reading future ones. I thank you for visiting and following my blog. I appreciate the interest. I’m so glad you found me, ’cause now I got to meet you and your blog too.

    This phobia had to be so difficult for you as a child. I’m sorry you had to deal with it. I’m glad that it has gotten better for you, though. I had issues in the area of the bathroom too growing up (not to the same extent, but bad enough), and it’s always been hard for me to talk about. It was embarrassing, especially when it happened at school. Most kids didn’t notice, I don’t think, but a few did and that just made their bullying worse than it already was. But, thankfully, I got through that problem. Although, like you, I don’t remember how it happened exactly. You make a good point in your post when you state that many of our childhood anxieties just don’t really show their effects until adulthood. Through therapy, I have learned that I had quite a bit of anxiety as a child, but I just didn’t realize it until I was old enough to see its effects on my adult life.

    Well, I hope you enjoy your experience here in the blogosphere. Personally, I have found it to be such a wonderful experience, and I hope you find it to be the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Welcome to my blog and thank you for following me! I’m glad you enjoyed my first post. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m sorry to hear that you also suffered through your childhood. People often referred to those days as being the best days of your life but, it’s never easy and it doesn’t always feel that way when you’re faced with something like this. Being able to open up to a counsellor about things is one step. But, finding a whole online community of ‘friends’ who understand and share, well, it’s truly beautiful. A wonderful thing and I’m so glad to be involved, having often felt as though I don’t always fit in with other people. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. kizzylee says:

    you certainly have more courage than me, i couldn’t bring myself to talk about my childhood i may mention the odd incident here and there but most of it i simply don’t have the courage to talk about, i admire your immense courage it took to talk and to share this, thank you for being a stronger person than i am for i did take something from reading this though that’s as far as i have the guts to mention, you have my respect and my admiration, thank you for becoming my friend and i hope your life is successful, have a great evening ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kizzy,

      Thank you for your words, for following me and for being a friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I find it quite easy to open up to ‘strangers’ on the internet. From reading other blogs in recent months, I’ve realised how kind and understanding the ‘community’ is here, in the world of blogging. I wouldn’t know where to find people like this in the real world and writing has always come naturally to me. I’ve been in counselling for about six weeks but still, I find some of these issues more difficult to talk about in person and there are issues I feel I need to go in to (I am only afraid that they are the ones that will hurt most; the ones that may well lead me to cracking and bursting in to tears).

      We’re all capable of learning from our past and understanding our emotions and reactions in certain situations. We are strong together as a support community and as friends, if not on our own.

      I’ve just had a slice of a walnut and coffee cake and I hope you’re evening is as ‘delicious’! ๐Ÿ™‚

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