A message of encouragement

Ed here, 31yo male. I was encouraged to share my story by Andrew, so here goes:

I'm a long time moderate AP sufferer starting in teenage years. It got worse from early teenage years, and prevented me doing all sorts of activities I would have loved to take part in. I was a classic avoider, operating on weird timetables to be able to pee, dehydrating myself so I didn't have to pee all day. I remember once holding it in on a bus for about 6 hours to the point where I was in intense pain. My bladder hurt for a day or two afterwards, so I must have done some damage. I was abroad at the time, and refused to go to the doctor for fear of shame. As a side note, I also suffered from sexual performance related anxiety, as the stress of being 'expected' to perform suppresses any sort of arousal. I was in short relationships with a string of women who in hindsight, were just awful to me, and through their comments made me feel that I was unmanly and inhuman. Together with this, my AP, and general levels of anxiety, I reached a point where I felt utterly hopeless as a human being - not able to perform the most basic functions of human existence. These thoughts led me down a dark path - I hated myself so much, self harm occurred, and even suicide was never far from my thoughts.

After my bus incident, I hit the web. One search later, I found UKPT and suddenly found out I was not alone. I remember being so utterly relieved to discover this. I cried with joy. I took the advice on the website, told my parents, and my Dad said "Oh yes I get that." I told one of my best friends, he said "Yes I had noticed that in you - I have the same thing." I reluctantly booked on a workshop, nervous about who would be there and what it would be like. I had little money at the time, so Andrew kindly waived the workshop fee (don't be afraid to ask). When I went to the workshop, my relief continued - discovering these other people with the same problem was unbelievably comforting. These were normal people! Bosses of large organisations, people with families, young, old, homosexual, heterosexual. That weekend set me on the right path. That path has been very difficult, and has had ups and downs. I have lost relationships, lost friends, had panic attacks, cried a lot, but with help from great friends and developing a bit of a fighting spirit, I have managed to get to a level which I am comfortable with. I have not cured my AP, but ten years later I have managed to get to levels I wouldn't have thought possible. There are many scenarios which I am entirely comfortable with, which is a marked change and relief from my teenage years / early 20s. There are also many scenarios in which I am still uncomfortable with, but I have learned to forgive myself for that.

I personally believe a lot of the confidence building process is about learning to accept who you are and forgive yourself, and this can come from ways other than directly trying to tackle your AP. I firmly believe that learning to forgive and accept yourself is one of the hardest things to do in life but one of the most rewarding. I was categorically unable to do this in my early 20s, and constantly compared myself to others, to the detriment of my mental health. Nowadays I work in an office environment which caters quite well for less severe AP (all the toilets are cubicles). I am a bit avoidant, but I'm ok with that. I have my ups and downs, but I'm ok with that.

I have learned bit by bit to control my AP over the years. A top tip I have discovered for myself that I thought I would share is that if I ever find myself in an uncomfortable spot, I can distract my mind (up to a point of course) by finding any word written on the wall and converting it in my head in the NATO alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie etc)…e.g. twyfords (a common word on urinals) would be tango whisky yankee fox oscar romeo delta sierra. I’m quite good at that one amongst others as it comes up alot, so sometimes I do it backwards or pick every other letter to translate. It has worked well for me as a minor distraction technique so I thought I would share. It doesn't work in every scenario of course, but that's OK.

I have never forgotten about the workshop that I attended in Manchester on that weekend. People say that events change their lives all the time, so the expression has sort of lost its sincerity. But in hindsight I truly mean that it changed my life. As I mentioned, the comfort I took from knowing I wasn’t alone, as well as the techniques offered really, really helped. I never forgot that the kindness showed to me in waiving the workshop fee, and I have since repaid it.

All I can offer is my words of encouragement. I am happy to talk to anyone about my story. By all means message me if you would like. I would encourage you to be kind to yourself, talk to people - in person, over the internet, however you want. Don't suffer in silence - somebody will listen. You'd be surprised how many people have AP and have never spoken about it. If you're reading this post, then you're on this forum, which means you've already taken one of the most difficult steps to helping yourself - and you should take encouragement in your bravery up to this point.

Wishing you all the best,
Ed :)

#242 by Ed

Hi Ed read your message and I can really relate to it,especially the sexual problems but I was lucky as I found a very patient and understanding woman to help me.I was interested in your diversionary tactics ,must try it.In the last few months I have been trying the flomax tablets available over the counter and have found to help relax the muscles around the sphincter ,which in my case has helped with hesitancy and flow rate,one bonus I found is it also helps arousal on the sexual side.Unfortunately this tablet is not the panacea for the pararesis we all suffer from as I still suffer lockup’s when stood next to another person,but hey every little helps.

#243 by Anonymous

Thank you for sharing such a heart felt story. It's an inspiration to show the impact of that awakening that you are not alone and that there is help.

#254 by anonymous
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