First of all; I cannot recommend the workshop highly enough; no matter your level of anxiety, I can wholeheartedly say this will be the best thing you can do for your condition. If you've come this far, found the forum and perhaps even written a post of your own, the workshop is the next simple step you can take with genuine real-world benefits you can take home with you.
The workshop was a very relaxed and informative three days spent learning to gauge our anxiety, our urgency level and how to deal with both in a safe and understanding environment.
The most important thing I learnt was how to gauge that urgency level, my need to pee. Previously, I was always trying to urinate when there was clearly not enough fluid to pass. Learning the feelings of when the optimal time to actually visit the toilet was, was something of a revelation that helps me in my day to day life.
When I arrived I was in a bad way; I'd never spoke about it to anyone before and even speaking about it out loud was overwhelming, let alone actually trying to tackle the problem.
Luckily, there was a lot of understanding from the group and the leaders whom I could confide in and rid myself of that pent-up shame and embarrassment. Something of a 'catharsis' I guess you could say!
This was a huge step for me, and I feel much less embarrassed now, having just got it off my chest.
Before the workshop I could barely urinate at work or even at home for fear of being 'discovered' by my friends, colleagues or flatmates. I would avoid going too far from home and this impacted my social life.
I am by no means 'cured' and the workshop makes no such promises, but I have left with a better attitude towards my paruresis, and the boost in confidence has led to me urinating quite easily is situations that I could not deal with previously.
I now keep a diary of my trips to the toilet, outlining the conditions and whether if I could manage to go or not, (fires and mis-fires).
The diary keeps me motivated, and reminds me of how far I have come.
Here are some highlights from the last week:
1- Going from the toilet at home, standing, home-alone to using the same toilet standing with my flatmate in the room next door. I can do this almost every time with an urgency level of above 5. I can even do it in the morning when I feel that she's probably waiting for me, a complete no-no previously! There are still mis-fires, but I can cope with them now.
2-Progressing from the 'safe' cubicle on the end in work on a floor far away from the floor I work on, to using the middle cubicle (previously considered 'unsafe') on the same floor I work on at really busy peak times! I went in there and it was very busy; three cubicles all in use. I waited, the middle one came free and it was a colleague. I went in, and quickly started and subsequently finished all naturally and without concern. It was a big tick in my diary that day!
3-Using the toilets at a museum and train station (cubicles again), both busy places I would avoid even entering. These cubicles were not as private as in work, having larger gaps and thinner walls, but again this is becoming manageable.
I now look forward to every chance to challenge myself. There are still situations where I mis-fire, like when in work I was followed to the toilet by a colleague, but I just took my time and waited it out. I was no longer concerned about what they might think, and although that was a mis-fire when they were there, my attitude had changed significantly enough to allow me to not panic and get going in my own time.
Another time, I was followed in by another worker in the building, not a colleague, and we were in adjacent cubicles, both starting and finishing at the same time, no problem, it all felt normal and this in a situation where I would normally not even enter the toilets.
The change in attitude is what you will gain from the workshop, and over time this will help you progress.
I will be taking every opportunity to use the things I learnt at the workshop to progress, and I think anyone at any level of anxiety can benefit from these things too.
Finally a big thank you to the workshop leaders and my fellow attendees, you all made a huge difference in my life and how I perceive the condition. If anyone reading this would like to get in touch please do; you can ask Andrew (email address at top of page) for my email address.
I hope this report answers more questions than it raises, but if there's anything you'd like clarifying just ask.
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