For most people, using a toilet away from home is something done with, at worst, irritation – we all cringe when we come across dirty, damaged facilities; yet for a surprisingly large group of people, to use any toilet away from home causes anything from mild anxiety to full-blown panic, no matter what state of cleanliness and upkeep…and that’s if they can even manage to “go” when they get there.
It is estimated that in the region of 30% of the population will find this happening to them at one time or another, but it can also become a long-term problem. For some people trying to urinate when others are present, or just nearby, can stop them being able to urinate at all and others may be unable to urinate at home even, if others are present.
For some sufferers the sight of another person in close proximity will hinder urination (say at a urinal,) for others, the sound made by their urine, and the possibility of this being heard by others is the trigger for stress and inability to urinate.
There is growing recognition of the condition by the NHS and Government. The condition is catered for in the rules for mandatory urine testing for drugs in UK prisons, and UK incapacity benefit tribunals also recognise it. It is scheduled to be included in the NHS on-line directory of conditions and disorders and is now reported to have been accepted as a valid reason for jury service excusal
This problem falls into two categories, firstly those for whom stress is brought on by being in a strange environment, at a strange loo for example. The second category of sufferer may have a phobia known as Shy Bladder or Shy Pee.
Shy Bladder Syndrome is also known as Avoidant Paruresis, it is a social phobia and involves difficulty or inability to urinate when in the presence of others (or when others are thought to be nearby.) It stems from a fear of being judged, of being “on the spot.”
Sufferers will often go to great lengths to identify “safe” toilets, say in workplaces or social settings, working out the route to these toilets and perhaps including contingency plans for an “emergency” situation. This preoccupation and the resultant anxiety can affect every part of their work, family and social life.
Physical harm may result from not emptying a full bladder – and yet the sufferer wants to urinate, knows they should, but is physically unable to do so. This is not someone “holding it in” until they find a better environment, a cleaner loo for example (although this case might be the early stages of the condition.)
Restricting liquid intake is often used as a way to avoid the problem, as is the use of catheters, however neither solution is healthy as a long-term solution, and they completely avoid the source of the anxiety.
Whilst some sufferers report feeling no particular symptoms of anxiety whilst being unable to urinate, others report physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, faintness and shaking.
From 1st August 2005, the guidance on the rules relating to the testing of those on probation in the UK, explicitly cites paruresis as a valid reason for inability to produce a sample (which is not to be construed as a refusal.)
Sue, thank you very much for your help. I feel so much calmer and happier in myself. Therapy really helped with my issues and restored my self esteem. I feel so much more positive about the future and feel much stronger in myself. 29/10/19
Thank you - 5 months on Hi Sue! Long time no speak- I hope you are well! Just wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve done- I’m at my happiest I’ve been in years / comfortable in myself and I’m so grateful for everything! Work is going great now, taking on my responsibilities- and I’m loving it. But yes just thought I’d send you a message, everyone has said what a change they’ve seen in me and I think of you every time :-) so thank you!
Reporter Hayley O’Keeffe writes about how hypnosis saved her from a lifetime of catching the bus.
I failed my driving test six times, there I said it.
Aged 28 this was not a good thing for me, learning to drive was something I felt I should have done a lot, lot sooner, but as circumstances dictated it just never quite happened. I’ve had plenty of lessons mind you, and whenever I had any spare money would spend it on intensive courses to try and get myself that illusive pink card. But to no avail, when it came down to actually doing the test I was just so nervous. I’ve had tests where the examiner has grabbed the steering wheel, where I’ve travelled in second gear down Bedford’s London Road, and where I’ve (almost) gone the wrong way around a roundabout. If I’ve ever cut you up I’m very sorry, I was just nervous! I’ve had some great tuition too, from the ever patient Gerard Doyle of Drive Johnsons, he has had to put up with a lot I can tell you. Part of it must be to do with my age, the 17-year-olds just hop in and get going, but I think it was predominantly my mindset. I’ve always been the passenger in the car, and have never really been interested in motoring, super cars and especially not Top Gear! Being behind the wheel seemed like an alien world and was more than a little scary. So that’s where Sue Wilson came in.
Sue works at Bedford Health in St Cuthbert’s Street and is a hypnotherapy practitioner, what's more she offers a special pre-driving test session to help candidates get over their nerves and achieve focus. I booked my seventh driving test, and after much deliberation a session with Sue, would this help me pass my test once and for all? The fateful day arrived and I headed to Bedford Health for the hour long session.
Part of me thought that this would be just the ticket, another hoped that I wouldn’t come out of the treatment room quacking like a duck! But hypnotherapy is nothing like the myths. In a consultation Sue asked me just how anxious I felt about the test, what I was most concerned about and what I wanted to feel like when I was doing the test. And after the hour, which was very relaxing indeed, I came out feeling focused and ready for the test, in a way I have never felt before. And do you know what? Later that afternoon, when the examiner turned to me and said you’ve passed I was so excited, because hypnotherapy, and a little perseverance really does work! To find out more visit www.bedfordhealth.co.uk
By Hayley O’Keeffe email@example.com @misshokTC
I came to Sue with a best man speech to perform and a debilitating fear of public speaking, I left with a new found confidence and outlook on life. Sue was welcoming and reassuring from the start, making it enjoyable for me to attend sessions. She not only taught me the strategies needed to overcome my fear, but lessons for all aspects of my life as well. I couldn’t recommend Sue highly enough.
Sue, feeling great as I have now lost a total of 10lbs
I’ve lost 10lbs in the last 4 weeks and I’ve had no problems, I’ve listened to the CD once a day. The Relaxed Eating Programme is very easy to follow; I’ve had no cravings, and I feel great. I now naturally make the right food choices that are good for me without giving it any thought, and I manage my food portions, listening to my body and know when I have had enough to eat and do not feel I have to finish what is on the plate, just because its there
I certainly feel the sessions have been of great benefit and I am feeling more able to cope with the IBS. I will certainly recommend you to many others
Thanks Sue ... The Relaxed Childbirth Programme helped me stay calm and enjoy the birth, which I really did, and I have been very happy and have coped very well upon returning home. Everyone commented on how well I looked and I was out and about the next day doing my shopping!
I've lost 23.5lb since starting! Now weight 8st 9lb
Hi sue thank you again for my treatment it’s been nearly two weeks now. I am settling into being a non smoker really well. I wonder why I ever smoked in the first place it just seems so pointless. I have been filling my time up easily planning new ideas for my business. I feel like I spend more quality time with my son as I’m not constantly thinking about when I can sneak out for a fag! I have been to the gym much more as I know my drive there and back won’t involve a fag stop! I feel fitter, healthier and better already. Every now and then I think about smoking but I use the tools you gave me and the thought disappears within seconds. Thank you again for helping me become a non smoker.
I just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for helping me stop smoking. It was my one month 'anniversary' on friday and since our session I have not looked back. It's funny - sometimes I forget I ever even smoked at all! Thanks again!
Sue has really helped my 9 year old son Archie, he was struggling to fall asleep at night on his own and never slept through the night without waking up. We only saw her for three sessions and it that time Archie is so much better, he falls asleep on his own now and sleeps through the night a lot more than he used to. Thanks so much Sue we are so much more relaxed as a family and sleep time has become a pleasure rather than a chore. 4/11/19
Just to let you know I went to my dental appointment this morning and had to have 4 injections in my mouth, at first I was slightly worried because I didn’t have time to imagine my ‘safe place’, but by the time he put the next needle in I was completely fine and calm. It definitely was not as traumatic and painful as I used to believe it was. I’m just emailing to say how grateful and appreciative I am, it really has helped me so much!
Hi Sue, I'm 12st 3 and still dropping! I have now lost 3 stone which is kind of unbelievable! Thank you so much
I feel more relaxed, calm, more at ease, you gave me that push. I had to take in my favourite pair of trousers by a couple of inches. I've stopped picking and am thinking about food differently.
Hi Sue. You asked me to get in touch after a month. Well it's four weeks today and I haven't smoked at all. It's been a hard month as I've not been sleeping well, up at ridiculous times and a couple of personal things that have been very trying. However, I really didn't want a cigarette at all. It did cross my mind a few early morning's, but the thought didn't linger. Had I have tried to do this myself I would definitely have given in. I have really surprised myself and my family. THANK YOU SO MUCH. You should be hearing from my hairdresser XXX at some point, probably after the festive season. My daughter XXX may well be in touch at some point, I am keeping out of it and letting her decide for herself. Thanks again, regards Pat 13/11/19
I'm very impressed ... I haven't given in! I feel better in myself and for the baby ... I would recommend it to other mothers who smoke.
I have now lost 1.5 stone, which I am truly delighted with! Thank you for all your help
Hi Sue I got hypnotised from you over two years ago for stop smoking and have not smoked since.