Thank you for this wonderful site which kept me up until 2am last night because I could not bear to tear myself away. I feel so relived to know I am not the only one who suffers because of my erratic bowels and fear of embarrassment by going away from home.
A little about me - I am not really called Katie and I have never posted into any type of forum before, so my just being here probably speaks volumes. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and I don't remember when it happened, but at some stage panic attacks started to bring with them IBS type symptoms and then I'd worry about going away from home in case I had an attack and needed to use the toilet. I'd never realised that my refusal to use public toilets for number twos was a problem before as I'd always had a good deal of control over when I went, but being stuck somewhere where you know everyone with imminent diarrhea and only those nasty public toilets with gaps under the doors to use certainly creates problems very quickly! I have given up a job I loved because of this and am now self employed on quite low pay as a way of avoiding having to go to a public work place and be out of the house all day with no nice toilet facilities. I give up chances to go out and have started to develop anxiety around seeing my new boyfriend because his house is really small. I love eating out but sometimes get panic attacks when I do so (probably because my tummy feels full) and I am frequently late for things because I run obsessively to the loo to try to make sure I am totally empty before arriving at whatever destination I need to be at.
I try to keep going out to a minimum and the reason I am writing is because this is all starting to take over my life in an unhealthy way. I find myself wondering what people like Kate Middleton do who are very refined and can't be left on their own, but who have to be away from home for long periods of time. I want to go on nice days out, but am put off in case I feel anxious and then need the loo. When I'm out I'm sure I bring on my own attacks by worrying about the toilet situations. I don't like sharing bedrooms with en suite bathrooms because of it or staying over at anyone's house. I think to be honest I declined going to university because of this as well - I didn't want to share communal facilities. At a very conservative estimate it has probably cost me around £60,000 in recent years because of all the jobs I have not taken which I am intellectually more than capable of doing, but am too afraid to get. I have been reasonably settled this last year or so and so haven't worried as much about toilets because there haven't been as many panic attacks, but for a few weeks I have had a bad flare up and I fear it might cost me my lovely new relationship (which has done me a lot of good re my anxiety and I don't want to lose). I feel anxious even just writing all of this on a public forum and certainly haven't used my real name!
What I'd like to know, please, is this: do you think it is acceptable for people like us to use disabled toilets if we find ourselves desperate to go but too afraid to go in a cubicle? I know you're really not supposed to use disabled toilets in case people in wheelchairs need to, but I am almost certain when I've used them in the past there have been no disabled people around and I would never go in if it were going to inconvenience someone. I feel really bad going in disabled toilets, but they are so much more private than usual ones and I also feel bad when I have to dash away from nice places that everyone else was enjoying in order to get to a safe toilet. I am becoming increasingly afraid that I'll be desperate to hold it in for fear of embarrassing myself in a public loo and will actually make a mess of myself and end up socially finished and suicidal with embarrassment instead. What are people's views on here about whether it is OK to use a disabled toilet in an emergency? I mean not all disabilities are physical ones, right, and if I am almost housebound by this problem and unable to work because of it, does it rank as a sort of disability? Don't get me wrong, disabled ones are still bad because I feel like if I'm seen coming out I'll be judged and everyone will either think I'm a bad person or know why I went in, but the extra privacy can sometimes allow me to go and this in turn can end the nasty panic attack and allow me to continue my day out or whatever without irritating my companions and making me very uncomfortable and upset.
Please can you share your thoughts with me?