There are a few types of anxiety that come under the umbrella of toilet phobia.
1. A fear of certain types of toilets/germs associated with toilets – a specific phobia/OCD.
2. A fear of toileting where you can be heard aka paruresis/parcopresis – a social anxiety manifestation.
3. A fear of losing control of your bladder/bowels (one or both) when out and not near a toilet - an agoraphobic manifestation.
Personally, ever since I can remember, I have had the agoraphobic manifestation. I have a fear of losing control of my bladder (not bowels) which has affected my life in a big way.
I remember being 10 and not being able to go pick a hamster as a pet because the 20 minute car journey into town was too risky.
I remember at the last year of primary school a voice in my mind told me I had to go to the toilet at 2pm every day or I’d lose control.
I remember every time I left the house I would continuously tense my pelvic muscles because I didn’t trust that they were strong enough.
The toilet phobia was the reason for my isolation in the family ‘home’ before the emetophobia came along and joined it at age 11.
Then I had the both of them to contend with. PLUS ‘pure’ social phobia. Safe to say I was a ball of nerves.
Aged 11 I was wearing sanitary towels believing they would act like a nappy should I have an accident outside.
Aged 11 I was praying to my internal mum alter every time I left the house: “please don’t make me be sick or need the toilet whilst I’m out – ill do it when I get back I promise”.
Aged 11 I paid £8 for entrance into a museum just to use their toilets.
Aged 11 I was home alone whilst my family went out to visit relatives who lived 10 minutes away.
Aged 11 (and onwards) I declined every single social event with friends.
Aged 11 (and onwards) I severely restricted my fluid intake often leading to dehydration.
The word ‘picnic’ makes me sweat.
The word ‘walk’ makes me panic.
The word ‘travel’ makes me hide.
Then to top it all off an added element was thrown in. I became phobic of letting anyone know I needed the toilet. I had to rely on my mother needing to go and then tagging along.
I have a distinct memory and I have no idea how old I am but I think it’s less than 11. I was (very unusually) at a theatre with family and I managed to tell my dad that I needed the toilet but he wouldn’t let me go. We got to the station to train ride it home and I told him again. He became exasperated and dragged me by the arm up over the platform yelling at me that if I make him miss the train there will be hell to pay. I have no idea how this situation ended. I didn’t even need to go. It was just anxiety.
The toilet phobia still restricts me now though I’m a bit more rational and trust myself a bit more.
But to highlight how it is still a problem for me the first time I saw Cat, my therapist, I had to very shamefully get her to show me where the toilets were, and told her to assume without me asking that after every single session I will be going in there. When I do go in there I (younger parts of me) cry; every single time.
To top THIS all off (and I think I’ve earnt another courageous confessional award for this post) I have a 2 year old alter who when he fully switches into the body will not let us use the toilet. He gets triggered by people being in the bathroom so we can’t get in there. Or by being stuck in a room emotionally unable to get out. (Happens to us often when I am in a re-traumatised state).
I really want to come to understand the origins of this fear. I think it is very significant. But at the moment all I can see is symptoms. Not causes. I want to find the cause. Maybe then we will be free of this toileting fear/obsession. (Never before has fear and obsession seemed so linked before).
Anxiety UK has a very good PDF booklet on toilet phobia which you can read here: http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/wp-content/custom/legacy-docs/TP_booklet.pdf