I have really thought about it a lot, what the cause might be. I tend to think that I subconsciously consider it to be a kind of power-struggle. Taking a dump while others hear it, or peeing next to a friend for me means 'I'm in control', 'I'm "stronger" than the other person.'. I tend to think that everyone has this problem to some level, and even the people who don't, they still consciously think about 'bathroom etiquette', and their behaviour at some level. Somehow, subconsciously, unintentionally, I feel there's no win-win situation here, because if I get rid of my fears and inhibition, it will cause discomfort to someone around me. This stresses me, and it causes me to 'lock up', and not being able to go. It's a vicious cycle too, because when I have a 'misfire', I fear that others find it out, I feel inferior, which escalates the problem further. Also, during periods when I'm successful in other aspects of life, and I'm on a 'winning streak' with the things I'm doing (e.g. social life, work, etc.), then it has a good effect on my bowel problems. So this is my train of thought, these are *my* irrational fears.
Now to the partial success bit. The Breath holding technique! I won't elaborate on this, it's been discussed. In short: You hold your breath, and as your body runs out of oxygen, after 30-60 seconds, your muscles loosen, and you are able to go. This works for me. It's fairly reliable with peeing, and helped me a lot. (If I don't consider the awkwardness of gasping for air while I'm standing there... But at least I have a technique which I can always use as a last resort, and it is reassuring to know.) However with pooping, it's not that simple. I have had some successes. With using the breath holding technique, I have been able to poop without a problem at work while someone was sitting in the very next cubicle, at home while others were almost as close as on the other side of the toilet door, and there was complete silence in the house, etc. However this only works, if I have the 'urge' already, and the only obstacle to overcome is that I can't push it out.
The problem is that it seems like it's not only the fear of failure which is causing the problem. My above described irrational thoughts are still there. I told myself: "Ok, it's simple. When the urge comes, just go to the toilet without a second thought, and use the breath holding technique. Since the technique is reliable, this should work." But now I sometimes find that as soon as I feel the urge to poop is developing, and it's near, I immediately start to freak out. I shut down, and I don't even get to the point where I feel the urge properly. Or if I'm really fast, and I act on it immediately, then I can go, and poop a decent amount easily, but my bladder doesn't fully empty. If this happens, then I usually have to go later on the same day, and it really saddens me.
All in all, I feel I have made some progress, but I'm still far from where I want to be. I want to be in a position, where I just don't have to think about it. I want to go anytime, anywhere. On the other hand, I feel grateful that the level of the problem in my case is still not very severe, and I still can maintain a normal life without *major* issues. By which I mean that I can live in a shared house, I'm able to sleep over at a family member's place etc. I can even go on a holiday if I really want to, although I have been avoiding it.
My plan of action for the present moment is to keep pushing myself into uncomfortable situations deliberately, to keep pressing my limits. Then once I have misfires, then take one step back, get comfortable again, and then repeat. On the other hand, I feel that's it's cliche, and it has only gotten me this far, so it's no magic formula. On the other hand I've just discovered the breath holding technique lately, so that's a new variable in the equation for me. I know I should discuss my problem with someone, that could help, but I can't think of anyone for this. And perhaps I could try and seek professional help, but that would be costly both considering time and money, so I've been reluctant to do that so far.
Any thoughts, advice, questions on the above are welcome!
I'm particularly looking for help and ideas on how to make further progress!
Or if anyone finds what I wrote useful, I'm all happy, and I'm happy to answer any questions.
Thanks for reading.