Fear of Using an Outhouse, An Inconvenient Fear
Do you find yourself on edge just thinking about making a trip to the outhouse?
Does the idea of using a porta-potty trigger your paruresis?
Living a life driven by fear can be exhausting, especially if it involves your bladder. And how do you get the help you need if you’re too embarrassed to talk about it?
Fear of outhouses, paruresis, and portaphobia are all terms for silent fears. Living in fear is never the answer, especially when you have access to resources that can help you combat it. While it may seem like an embarrassing topic to discuss, recognition and acceptance is always the first step to finding a solution. Here’s what you should know about combating the nuisance surrounding the fear of outhouses.
What Is The Fear of Outhouses All About?
Fear of outhouses, paruresis, or portaphobia is the fear of using public toilets like porta-potties, especially when others are around.
Fear of paruresis, also called shy bladder syndrome, affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States alone. So, you’re not “the socially awkward/weird” person you may have thought you are. The fear of paruresis is impartial to people of all ages and gender, and it’s believed to be the second most common type of social phobia.
You’d think holding your pee in would offer a temporary solution, right? Nope, it doesn’t. It may actually cause long-lasting medical complications. If paruresis is causing a hindrance in your day-to-day life, it may even lead to social anxiety disorders.
Pair this with hearing stories about people finding snakes in porta-potties and you have an anxiety-filled disaster on your hand. Do snakes get in porta potty is a question that bugs most people experiencing the fear of outhouses.
Even after a thorough inspection, you’ll still be anxious, because what if the snake was in the toilet bowl waiting for the right moment to strike? Your fear is not irrational; it’s as real as it can get. Don’t dismiss it.
Symptoms of Paruresis and Porta-Potties, the Fear of Outhouses
People with paruresis will resort to everything from holding their pee/poop in to “challenging” themselves to use the public restroom. So it begs the question, ‘Is paruresis social anxiety?’ After all, it triggers a feeling of dread and dejectedness from just the mere thought of peeing in a public restroom.
So how do you know that you have a fear of outhouses? How do you know it’s not just a defense mechanism you developed from watching porta-potty pranks on the internet?
Paruresis can be diagnosed by keeping an eye out for the known symptoms, both psychological and physical.
If you’re wondering, “is paruresis a mental disorder?”, the answer is no. Paruresis is not a mental illness. It does have psychological undertones, which is why it gets difficult to find a distinction between the two.
That said, keep a lookout for these psychological symptoms:
● Avoiding social situations where you might need to visit the public restroom.
● Feeling stressed and anxious at the thought of using an outhouse to relieve yourself.
● Avoiding traveling or working in a traditional office system, opting for jobs where you work from home instead.
● Social anxiety disorders.
● Needing complete privacy when visiting the restroom for fear that others will hear you pee.
● Restricting drinks to reduce the possibility of urination.
● Excessive sweating/shaking
● Increased heart rate
If you experience these symptoms and feel like it has made a drastic impact on your life, you should consider visiting a doctor before it grows into a full-blown health problem.
What Can I Do To Help Myself?
Understandably, people shy away from talking about living with paruresis for fear of critical judgment and embarrassment. So, if you don’t talk about it, how do you overcome paruresis?
The good news is, you can help yourself.
Ask yourself what causes bathroom anxiety in you. It could be anything from someone disturbing you while you do your business, past experience or trauma, or family history, among other possible causes. Locating the cause can help you form a plan to tackle the issue.
Here are some ways you can help yourself overcome the fear of outhouses:
● Try relaxation techniques. As this is mostly a psychological problem, tackling anxiety may help you overcome the fear altogether.
● Change the way you think and behave about your phobia. Don’t talk yourself down when you can’t use a public restroom. Learn what triggers your phobia and actively work towards treating it.
● Start small. If you fear others can hear your pee hit the toilet, go to a quiet, secluded restroom and make as much noise as possible while urinating. Slowly progress to more crowded restrooms.
● Open a conversation. Talk to a friend or a family member and include them in your treatment process.
In some instances, paruresis is linked to a medical condition. If you suspect a health issue, it would be better to visit a doctor who can locate the root cause and prescribe treatments accordingly.
Seeking Professional Help
If you find yourself unable to tackle your fear of outhouses, it doesn’t mean you have to live with it forever. Seeking professional help is always recommended.
The most common form of treatment for tackling issues surrounding public toilets is gradual exposure therapy. As the name goes, you’ll be slowly and gradually introduced to a fearful scenario. Having a pee-partner by your side, to look out for you, can greatly speed up your treatment process.
Because your brain already sees it coming, you’ll experience a lower anxiety response. The treatment may take some time to show effects, as you’re not only dealing with a physical problem here but a psychological one as well.
You can talk to your doctor about alternative forms of treatment like hypnotherapy and self-catheterization.
Tips To Avoid The Issue
What if we tell you you can avoid this phobia altogether? Self-help and professional help go a long way, but you know what else does? Meditation.
With mindfulness and meditation, you can trick your brain into creating more positive emotions, energy, and focus with less distraction and anxiety. And when your anxiety is significantly reduced, there’s nothing stopping you from using a public restroom.
Another technique is to practice breathing. Do a body scan to reground yourself, and most importantly, cultivate compassion for both yourself and the fear you live with. Once you locate the cause and target it, you won’t be limited by your fear of outhouses.
Fear of outhouses is not an uncommon phobia. Chances are, you may already know someone who’s living with this fear but doesn’t know of it, because the fear of portaphobia is seldom taken seriously by those not affected by it.
The good news is, you can overcome this fear all on your own. Or if the symptoms are severe, a therapist can help you find the root cause, identify the causes, and prescribe a treatment.
Take this time to open a conversation with your loved ones; you don’t have to live a life full of fear. Not alone, anyway.