Call it “bashful bladder syndrome” (BBS), pee-phobia, bashful kidneys, or dub yourself a “paruretic”, but if you have a fear of going to the bathroom in public or being unable to pee in a public restroom or someone else’s home, you may be suffering from a psychological disorder called “Paruresis”.
Paruresis is the clinical term used for a condition where people are unable to urinate in public no matter how hard they try, and are only comfortable using their own restrooms at home. The person who suffers from this disorder fears being criticized by others while urinating publicly, worrying about the length of time that they pee, how fast the stream is, volume, and the like, and the social fear of “performing” in a public place causes their bladder to constrict and become very difficult to release urine.
It’s a condition that afflicts many, and can make life difficult. Paruretics fear going out in public and having to pee where they are not in their own restroom, and can actually take measures to not drink beverages while they are in public, or plan a route to rush home to pee if they have to. I know- I’m this way, and can only use a public restroom if there is only one stall, and have to sit for 5 minutes before a tiny stream will even begin to trinkle out, and it takes me so long to relieve myself I panic that people outside the bathroom are wondering what I am REALLY doing in there. By the time I actually leave the restroom, my face is beet red in embarrassment as I am positive everyone around me knows I just peed in there (and likely think I just took a huge dump) and I rush out to the car as quickly as I can, heart pounding. Sometimes I cry, I’m so frustrated and humiliated, when all I did was use a restroom. Nobody cares but me, but when you have a fear of peeing in public, it can be the worst feeling in the world to relieve yourself around strangers.
Some people who suffer from Paruresis won’t even urinate in their own home if they have company. If I have to pee when family is over, I will excuse myself to the bathroom “to get a tissue”, then run the tub water until I have finished urinating. If other people can “hear” me pee I just go nutty.
There are treatments for this particular phobia, and it requires mental thought. Constantly reminding yourself that everybody pees and it’s normal, that there is no requirement for how you pee, how much you pee, or how long you inhabit a bathroom space, and recognizing that no one can smell your pee or is really listening to you pee (my biggest fears, I don’t know why) are simple methods to helping to ease pee-phobia in public.
Many people who are already phobic about being in public (like I am) have issues with urinating in public. They are already overly conscious of strangers around them “judging” them, so doing a personal act such as peeing in public can easily be a debilitating experience. It’s the first thing I think of when I leave the house- what if I have to pee? And is the main reason I’m dreading my fiance and I’s week-long trip to visit his brother (whom I’ve never met)- I simply can’t hold my pee that long.
If you just can’t pee in public, try for at least 2 minutes, then stand and wait for the urinating feeling to come back, then try again. Eventually, unless you’re really bad, the urine WILL come out, as it’s just a natural occurrence. I try to relax as much as possible and hum to myself (weird, I know) to make myself feel alone even in a crowded bathroom. If I just plain cannot go, I will wait on the pot until the room is empty and then try again. While it’s an embarrassing situation, if you gotta pee, you gotta pee, and humiliating or not, you will eventually just go, and perhaps over time with reminding yourself that there’s nothing wrong with peeing the fear will begin to subside.
For more information about this common phobia and how to deal with it, visit paruresis.org