Reply: Disabled toilets

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Topic History of: Disabled toilets

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  • Jean

As you know, Ann, I also have paruresis and often use disabled toilets. I have only been challenged twice, once when on coming out of the toilet a woman in a wheelchair who was waiting shouted at me ‘you are not even disabled’’, and once in a motorway service station when, as I approached the disabled toilet a woman called out ‘ours is over here, dear’. Notices on toilet doors saying not every disability is visible are helpful. But, as has been said, we are entitled to use them and shouldn’t worry about it.

  • ann

I think your sense of guilt at using disabled toilets will be very familiar to other women experiencing paruresis Kay. We do know we have an entitlement, but it is often drowned out by our misplaced anxiety.

A small number of women with paruresis are in contact with each other via email and also by occasional Skype calls - you would be most welcome to join us, Kay, if you would like to. Feel free to drop me an email if you'd like to know more - no pressure This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Kay

I think anyone who finds that suffering from chronic paruresis will find normal life very difficult. The condition is disabling for the sufferer and they should be able to make use of these toilets with a sense of entitlement. The problem for me is however that I feel a sense of guilt in doing so and that I may be confronted if anyone has to wait. This creates anxiety and the sense of pressure prevents me from being able to go when I have done so. Keeping in mind the thought that they are not entirely for disabled people may help anyone with a sense of wrongdoing.

  • andrew

Its worth remember that disabled toilets are not exclusively for disabled people. They are public toilets adapted so disabled people can use them, along with "able" people. So just as women often have to queue to use an "able" person's toilet, so a disabled person may have to queue for a disabled toilet, because you are in it.

  • ann

Lots of women with paruresis find disabled toilets much easier to use than standard toilet cubicles.

The disabled cubicles are usually bigger with solid doors and walls so there is less chance of being overheard.
There is less likelihood of queues of people outside, reducing the feeling of time pressure.
There are usually hand washing facilities in a disabled cubicle and plenty of space if you need to maybe use a catheter.

Some women with paruresis report feeling guilty that they are taking up facilities which are provided for people with "real" (as they see it) disabilities. It's a tricky issue but, whether you regard paruresis as a type of disability or not, it's important to remember that not all disabilities are visible, and disabled toilets are provided for people who cannot use standard toilet cubicles - that may just be you; and that's fine. Hold your head high and do what you need to do.

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