A Woman’s View – IPA Virtual Workshop
[Julia attended our Virtual Workshop on August 12, 2023, led by IPA President Dan Rocker. She shared these thoughts prior to the workshop, and kindly followed-up with her post-workshop reaction. If you are considering attending any IPA workshop, you’ll find her comments valuable.]
Hi everyone, I’m Julia and I live in Connecticut in the USA.
To be honest I don’t know exactly when paruresis started for me, but it was likely around the age of 15 or 16, if not a bit before. I’m now 40. There was no particular time that I can remember when I suddenly found it difficult to urinate in the presence of others being nearby, or when I felt hurried by time pressure; paruresis just sort of appeared in my life during my teenage years and has been a part of my life ever since. However, from the time when I was a young child through some of my adolescent years, I had a few I guess you would call them unpleasant experiences, relating to toilets, bathrooms, urinating etc. I’m not sure if any of these specifically contributed to my paruresis or if it was a combination of these events. Or even something else entirely.
I grew up in England and I emigrated to the United States with my family when I was 16. A few years after moving I did some hypnotherapy to try to resolve my paruresis but it didn’t provide me with the solution I needed. I should have continued searching for help then but I didn’t. I only really sought professional help again within the last year. Although my parents knew about this particular challenge I was facing back then, I think I hid the extent of my difficulty with it very well.
There have been times over the years when I’ve been able to manage and get by okay, but there have also been many times when I’ve felt defeated, angry and frustrated – like struggling to do drug tests for new jobs, navigating bathroom life at university before I had my own apartment and bathroom – when I had to go scouting around to find toilets I knew were going to be rarely occupied, or had to use communal facilities at odd hours so I wasn’t in the restroom with other women. I even missed a flight once because of trying to plan my bathroom needs. It can almost feel like a full time job navigating it all, and the pre-planning that often ensues when there’s events to attend, or just to make the day more manageable, as it was in those university days, takes up so much space in my head, that to be honest, it can be quite tiring.
Paruresis has taken over my life in so many ways. If I’m invited out for a meal or to hang out with friends, thoughts and questions immediately enter my mind. Instead of the excitement of being together, it’s the dread about the likelihood of needing to pee while I’m out, needing to limit my fluid intake, not being able to fully relax etc. To avoid any discomfort or embarrassment I often just say no and not go if it’s something I can easily get out of, even though I may really want to go. I know I don’t deserve to live like this and instead be able to enjoy a life where bathrooms aren’t the main focus.
Since around the beginning of this year, although it hasn’t always been consistent, I’ve started to do some gradual exposure work with the support of my mom (she has never had paruresis), and there has been some improvement. I know I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m looking forward to seeing the positive steps continue and the wonderful opportunities arise that I’ll no longer need to turn down.
Post Workshop Reflection:
Initially I had been extremely hesitant to sign up for this event. I’d seen it advertised for months before but I kept resisting and avoiding taking the next step forward. Now in hindsight, I see that attending was the best thing I could do for myself and my challenge of paruresis. I feel like I’m truly recovering and heading toward a brighter future, where I can live the life I want to live without the restriction of paruresis.
One of the most important things I gained from my participation in the workshop was more confidence. This confidence came about primarily in the form of the kindness and support I received from my pee buddy/buddies during the breakout sessions, where I worked through varying degrees of difficulty pertaining to different bathroom scenarios. I wasn’t sure how I would do but actually surprised myself with what I was able to achieve during these sessions. Knowing that I had these folks routing for me each step of the way, my confidence received a much needed boost. With each new challenge I set myself, and each time I conquered that challenge, I proved to myself that situations I once thought to have been near impossible, were actually indeed possible.
The workshop was also a great way to learn from each other too. You never know what someone else may share that could help make your recovery that bit easier.
I have since had a big breakthrough in my comfort level in using a nearby public local restroom. Sometimes I can hardly believe that I am now actually able to go into the stall, relax and “go” when there are people about. If you’d have asked me prior to the workshop when I saw this happening, I probably wouldn’t have had an answer for you. But just like in those breakout sessions, given time, patience, and practice, I’m confident I’ll get to that same level of ease with so many different bathroom situations.
It’s not easy to take such a big step in overcoming our fears. In fact, it takes a whole heap of courage. Sometimes it’s those chances that we almost pass on but end up taking that have the biggest impact on our lives. I am so grateful to the IPA for orchestrating such a brilliant event, for providing a safe and supportive space where we could share our stories and thoughts freely, and for the guidance that was shared. It truly was a great learning experience for me at the online workshop, and one that I hope I never forget.
INTERNATIONAL PARURESIS ASSOCIATION
P.O. Box 21237
Catonsville, MD 21228
You Are Not Alone.
There Is Help For You!
Shy Bladder, Bashful Bladder, Pee Shy
IPA OFFICE HOURS
Monday - Friday
10:00am - 6:00pm (ET)
This website is NOT a substitute for medical or legal advice and does not constitute the practice of law, medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work, or any other mental health profession. If you are having trouble urinating, you should always contact a physician since difficulty with voiding can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. We are a group of professional people and people who have suffered with paruresis. We have assembled a board and a board of advisors to help people cope with urinary dysfunction that has a psychological or social origin. On this website, we are NOT practicing medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession. You should have your doctor evaluate your condition before diagnosing yourself, and seek the appropriate necessary mental health counseling if warranted. IPA, Inc. disclaims any and all legal liability whatsoever.