For all of my adult life and some of my child life I have been uneasy about using public restrooms. The first time I can consciously remember it being a problem was from Junior school, I have a memory of trying to use the toilet and becoming aware that someone else had come in. I went through high school either holding it in or if I got really desperate asking to be exscused from class as I knew there was more chance no one would be in the bathrooms - and I'd still have to use a cubicle. I even had problems going at home when people were around (which I don't anymore). I also used to hold it in for whole college days and when I got to uni I tried to make sure I could go before anyone else reached the bathrooms, though I got better towards the end of university. I have been trying to overcome it more than ever recently and have become a lot more relaxed about using public restrooms and have even been able to do it when other people were in there. I still doubt I could do it at a concert, in fact the last time I was at a concert I had a cubicle but there were lots of people talking etc. and I couldnt do it.
Recently when I was at the doctors I asked to be referred to a psychologist, I already have bipolar and while I was with the psychologist I mentioned that I struggled to go in public. It seemed to go in one ear and out of the other of the psychologist who was talking to me, especially once I admitted that I have been able to go in some situations, she said I was coping with it and didn't need the help. This was a one of psychologist meeting to see if I needed a psychologist. Well maybe she is partly correct, I mean I can go on trains and planes which I have seen people discuss before. I haven't tried the holding breath thing but I am not at pubs/nightclubs very often which is where I struggle. I do go out to pubs to play music some weeks though and have tried to go with mixed results, sometimes I can, sometimes I can't but at least I can chose when to leave if it starts to feel really bad - I can generally cope holding it for this amount of time though. I have avoided nightlife a lot in my life mainly because of the worry that I wouldn't be able to go - however the last time I went out I was quite successful but also lucky to have either a.) empty bathrooms or b.) a cubicle that I felt safe in. I feel I have probably lost a lot of friends through this and even more if you count the potential friends I might have made if I was at ease with public restrooms and all these years I have been searching for a name of it and last night I discovered while reading a book on overcoming shyness that this is a phobia and it has a name - Paruresis.
Well I am hoping I can finally kick this condition to the curb, it's been something that has really had a hold on me for such a long time.