Shy Bladder Syndrome

 paruresis, shy bladder, embarassed peeing, can't urinate in publicBeing unable to urinate in a public lavatory or other places when other people are around is known as paruresis. Often referred to as having a shy bladder, a bashful bladder, being pee shy etc., avoidant paruresis is nothing to be ashamed of and is probably more common than you think.

It is believed that about 4 million people in the UK suffer from this social anxiety disorder.

If you are a man you may have experienced standing at a urinal wanting to go, but you couldn’t. For a woman not wanting to be ‘heard’ may have been an issue. Feeling self-conscious, pressured, embarrassed or anxious can all play a part in restricting this otherwise normal bodily function.

Some people can have brief and isolated episodes when they experience difficulty urinating – usually when other people are in close proximity.

This may have happened to most people on occasions, but for some men and women shy bladder syndrome can become a chronic problem, and has a profound and ongoing effect on that persons life.

Being unable to pee can go beyond simple shyness. A complex array of negative thoughts and feelings can come into play, including embarrassment, feelings of isolation or being different, fear of exposure or even fear of being judged by others for not being able to urinate when they should. There may come a point where a shy bladder can even start to take over and dictate aspects of daily life.

Shy bladder syndrome means some people may find they are unable to urinate as they are fixated on the sounds of their peeing in the quiet of a public or residential toilet. Sufferers may only be able to go alone, in the privacy of their own at home.

Although many paruresis sufferers report they developed the condition during their teens, paruresis and being unable to pee can strike at any age and at any time. Some people can first start to develop the problem when required to produce a urine sample during a medical exam. They ‘lock up’ and find the anticipation and thought of it happening again constricting in the future.

In severe cases individuals may even need to be catheterised.

Severe cases of shy bladder syndrome can have a highly restricting effect on a persons life. Some people cope by deliberately, and often uncomfortably, ‘holding’ themselves for long periods of time. They may refrain from drinking anything when outside the ‘safety’ of their own home, and they may devote large amounts of time and attention locating unoccupied or more private public conveniences. Severe sufferers may not be willing to travel far from their home or be able to form intimate relationships. Some people find they can’t go whilst on a moving vehicle and so long coach, train or plane journeys become a nightmare. Others cannot even urinate in their own home if someone else can be heard to be there.

Hypnosis can be immensely helpful in aiding people to return to a normal life

If you suffer shy bladder syndrome, here are some tips to help you ‘go with the flow’ once again:’

Trust your unconscious mind

Anxiety, anticipation and the resulting conscious focus interrupt and prevent natural physical processes. Relaxation techniques including self-hypnosis and meditation can be extremely helpful to help you both relax and stop worrying.

When people become anxious about going to sleep, consciously trying to sleep can totally prevent them from doing so. Similarly, when a natural function like urinating becomes a conscious effort, then the whole process gets disrupted.

The unconscious mind takes care of so much: breathing, heart beat, blinking, digestion, erections, menstrual cycles, salivation. These and many other processes are best left to the part of you that knows how to operate them: your unconscious mind. As you read this your unconscious mind is keeping you alive!

Also during hypnosis, when the mind is more receptive, useful suggestions are planted deep in the subconscious which can aid and stimulate these automatic processes once again.

You might like to try this simple exercise yourself, bearing in mind that being facilitated through the process by an experienced hypnotherapist is usually more effective:

  • Before going out devote a few minutes to preparation.
    Just close your eyes and relax, then tell your unconscious mind:
    “Today/tonight I am going to relax and not worry, and let you (my subconscious) take care of all those things you do so well, without me even having to think about them.”
    This may sound far fetched but self-suggestion and positive affirmation has worked for many shy bladder sufferers.

Hypnosis taps into the power of the subconscious mind to help resolve a variety of issues.

Mental Rehearsal
Your imagination is a powerful tool. Use it to rehearse success, not failure!
Often we will fixate on failing and worry about making mistakes and getting it wrong. Although we may not realise it we are re-training the mind to expect failure rather than success. Part of the hypnotic process is to visualise a successful result. This is a kind of mental rehearsal harnessing both the power of the imagination and the subconscious mind. Here is an exercise using mental rehearsal you can try at home:

  • When you are actually using the toilet at home, imagine you are in a public toilet feeling relaxed. This will help prepare you for the real thing.
  • Also take the time to sit quietly somewhere with your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths and relax and visualise yourself going into and using a toilet where you have previously had a problem, or been too anxious to use.

‘Mental Rehearsal’ is a powerful technique that an experienced hypnotherapist can take you through.

Practical Rehearsal and Incremental Acclimatisation

When you are feeling a bit more confident you might like to take some of your rehearsal out and into the real world.

You may have noticed that some places feel ‘easier’ than others; perhaps they are less busy.

Categorise and make a list of easy and more convenient conveniences, averagely difficult ones, and harder ones.

Take a week or so to practise.

At first use go out and just use the easier ones.

Whilst using those, imagine you are using the next harder one. Imagine what it looks like and imagine yourself going in and using the toilet feeling calm and relaxed.

When you are in the intermediate place and using it, imagine using the hardest one of all.

Like any rehearsal, this combination of mental and practical’ rehearsal can train the brain in stages and in a less threatening way.

Incremental acclimatisation i.e. getting used to something (potentially anxiety provoking) in easy stages is a common technique used by hypnotherapists for the treatment of phobias. Shy bladder syndrome can be thought of as a kind of phobia. Both mental rehearsal and incremental acclimatisation can be used in an anxiety free context, such as hypnotic trance, in the care of an experienced hypnotherapist.

Positive Recall and Visualisation
Vividly recall those times in the past when you have been relaxed and had no problems peeing. This may be before you suffered from bashful bladder.

When we recall and associate into past memories and events we don’t just remember with the mind – the body remembers too.
For example, if you recall a time when you had a good time and laughed with a friend, the experience you may feel like laughing again now.
Equally if you remember a time when you felt confident and asserted yourself, you may feel more confident and inclined to assert yourself once again.

With your eyes closed, recall times before you had a problem, as a child perhaps, when you were more relaxed using public facilities. Imagine seeing yourself from the outside looking calm and letting your body do what comes naturally. You can probably remember a time at school. Even though this may seem a long time ago this will help recondition your mind and body to the way things were then and should be now.

Doing this exercise regularly will start to make you feel more normal again about peeing in a more public place.

Re-associating into past positive memories and experiences are used a lot in hypnosis and this is an exercise your hypnotherapist can take you through.

Don’t give up! Persevere and you will succeed.

As I said before, trying too hard to overcome an unconscious process can get in the way. But nature and your body both intend for you to urinate regularly when you need to do so.
Use these tips, and take the time to find out more about hypnosis and other therapies that could help you. For a potentially more rapid and pain free result, consult a trained professional.

Remember you are not alone – you might like to find a support group and share your experiences with other people with the same problem.

But most importantly keep going and don’t give up until you succeed.

Don’t delay: get help today!

Request a call back and make an appointment.