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Coping with Paruresis as a Student

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Student life promises many things—and most of them exciting. For many young people, it marks their first venture into the adult world and all that entails, from living away from your family, to shopping for food, doing your own laundry and, hopefully, enjoying an exciting new social life.

But if you're a sufferer of paruresis aka shy bladder syndrome, uni or college life holds other challenges, and they can feel insurmountable. Paruresis is the inability to urinate in the presence, real or perceived, of others and affects both men and women. For someone who is leaving home for the first time, the prospect of living in halls or a shared flat can bring that fear to the fore.

While sufferers of paruresis may well have faced situations where their issue caused them stress, it is likely to have been less of a problem in the relative safety of the home. Living somewhere else, however, brings new routines and new people. Discussing the topic with strangers is hard to do, and yet you might find yourself in the position where you have little other choice.

Avoiding socialising

People who experience shy bladder syndrome often put in place routines and structures to avoid having to go to the toilet in the presence of other people. These can range from not drinking enough liquid to turning down nights out. Presenting a 'normal' face to people can be difficult and exhausting, not to mention its effects on your social life and friendships.

If you are always turning down invites because you don't want to be in a place where you do not know what the toilets will be like (and therefore if you'll be able to use them or not), then you run the risk of missing out. And avoiding drinking enough liquids can be dangerous. Hydration is important. If you're studying, your brain needs plenty of water to keep it happy and fully charged for all the new concepts and ideas it's going to encounter at college or university.

For some people, leaving home to move into halls or other shared accommodation might be the trigger for paruresis. Living with strangers is a challenge. If you've come from a family unit, then the idea of peeing in the proximity of people you don't know can be enough to make your bladder decide it doesn't want to co-operate.

Cognitive therapy

There may be no 100 percent cure for paruresis, but there are steps you can take to make it less of an issue. Techniques of cognitive therapy can be useful as it helps you to change the way you think and behave, and the UK Paruresis Trust (UKPT) runs regular workshops where participants are taught some of the techniques. The UKPT also has a forum where you can discuss the subject with others. There will be people on there who went to college and university and they might be willing to share their stories and offer advice.

Finally, we believe it's good to talk. Your new friends at college or university probably won't judge you if you tell them you suffer from shy bladder syndrome—and if they do, then are they the right mates for you anyway? You might find others admit to the same issue too. In addition, most colleges and universities run mental health services for students and you should be able to find free services to help you deal with the issue.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice and does not constitute the practice of medicine, psychiatry, clinical psychology, clinical social work or any other mental health profession. If you are having trouble urinating, you should always contact a G.P. because difficulty with emptying the bladder can be a symptom of a serious physical medical condition.

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Friday, 20 September 2019

The United Kingdom Paruresis Trust

PO Box 182, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 9AE

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