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 the first step to finding a solution. Here’s what you should know about combating the nuisance surrounding the fear of outhouses.
Want to know more about the fear of outhouses? You’ve come to the right place!
What Is the Fear of Outhouses?
Paruresis, or portaphobia, is the fear of using public toilets like Porta-Potty, especially when others are around. People suffering from paruresis or the fear of outhouses may have very difficult times even stepping into an outhouse much less taking care of business in one. It might be the small space, the smell, or the combination.
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. Paruresis is impartial. It affects people of all ages and genders, and it’s believed to be the second most common type of social phobia.
Is Portaphobia a Phobia of Fear or Disgust?
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 portable toilets and you have an anxiety-filled disaster on your hand. Do snakes get in a Porta-Potty? It’s a question that haunts 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 may be irrational, but it is real. Don’t dismiss it.
People with paruresis will resort to everything from holding in their pee/poop to “challenging” themselves to use the public restroom. So it begs the question: Is paruresis a social anxiety? After all, it triggers a feeling of dread and dejectedness at 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’ve developed from watching outhouse pranks on the internet?
Paruresis can be diagnosed by keeping an eye out for the known symptoms, both psychological and physical.
Is paruresis a mental disorder? If you’ve wondered that, the answer is no. Paruresis is not a mental illness. It does have psychological undertones, which is why it’s 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, 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 start by helping yourself.
Ask yourself what causes your bathroom anxiety. 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 healthcare professional 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 take effect, as you’re not only dealing with a physical problem here but a psychological one.
You can also 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 train your brain to create 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 it.
The good news is, it may be possible to manage this fear all on your own. Or if the symptoms are severe, a therapist can help you 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.