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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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Twisted_Knife Offline
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Unhappy Bodily Functions Anxiety: Anybody Have Something Similar? Serious Answers Only Please... - November 11th 2010, 06:39 AM

Okay, so I was recommended by HelpLink to post something about my anxiety on here to see if I could get any feedback. I'm kinda nervous about it for the fact that I believe a majority of you may not take it seriously. But I've had enough of being afraid of things beyond my control. So I'm reaching out to the teenhelp community to see if anyone out there has anything similar to my problem. If you do, PLEASE feel free to write something. It'll help out lots, trust me.

Basically, I, personally, am very, VERY uncomfortable with bodily functions (ex. - deficating, urinating, passing gas), to the point it gives me physical discomfort. I KNOW very well that they are all normal processes that we go through everyday and that there is nothing to be ashamed of, but the fact that I know this does not help that I have a very unhealthy relationship with this fact of life. I can barely face it socially, let alone talk about, without some form of either physical or emotional discomfort. It varies day by day. Some days, I can handle it quite well and quite normally, while on other days I just can't stand it. If you've noticed so far, I can't even comfortably type the usual words used for bodily functions. I prefer using "scientific" terms to ease the anxiety. I'd even come home on a good day, and have my mood shattered just because something of that subject came up and got me thinking about it. Now-a-days, I worry about when it'll be brought up again and how I'll react to it. Will I react normally? Or will I do something irrational and run away without an explanation? And at random times, the subject of bodily functions will come up into my head. I'll try to shut it out, but in a way try not to, as if I'm "preparing" for the worst or something. I'll imagine a situation and try to think of the best way to approach it without feeling how I usually do.

Most of the time, when the topic is brought up in conversation, I'll back off a little, but contribute a few words out of fear of standing out. If it's joked about in a crude manner, I surely won't be around to enjoy the humor, mostly because I just can't. I've tried COUNTLESS times to see the humor in bodily functions, because as most say, they were just MEANT to be funny. (sarcasm) So I'd force myself to laugh, but it would only make it worse on me, knowing that I don't fit in. And it's not like I can just simply tell people why I don't laugh just to make them feel bad or what not. It doesn't work that way, and thus things are complicated. So I just back off and avoid it altogether when I can. When I can't, I tune it out the best I can, trying not to let it upset me. The only time I don't feel discomfort is when I'm alone with animals, who seem to lack an obvious response to defication and the like. If it's a social situation, I'll know what to do, but I feel lost in it all. THe last thing I want to be told is to "get over it" or that I'm a prude, because I'm really not. I FULLY accept bodily functions for what they are, even if they can be sort of gross. It hasn't gotten in the way of my ability to go to the bathroom myself, or to clean up after my pets. (thank goodness)

I have a reason for why I feel this way, and I'm 90% sure this is why. When I was younger, around 4, I had this babysitter who was undeniably uncomfortable with bodily functions herself. I was naive then and didn't say anything, simply because I was frightened of her. But for the few years that I spent with her, day in and day out, she'd react in such strong ways to natural, occuring things that I started to feel negative toward them. She'd overreact to changing a diaper by hacking and running out the room, sounding like she was throwing up, or getting mad at us and yelling when we had accidents. And when we asked her if we could go to the bathroom, she'd always get upset at us for asking. We couldn't talk about it, or mention it. She'd point at us and say, "That's disgusting! I don't talk about that. It's dirty! It's wrong!" I knew she wasn't right, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong whenever I encountered things of that nature. I remember it being so bad that I'd have crying fits when my mom talked about it with humor, or we'd have to walk out of a theater in the middle of a movie just because it had toliet humor. I'd literally be squirming in my seat because of how disturbing it was to me. Mom couldn't figure out why I acted like that towards bodily functions, when most kids at that age loved it. Now, of course, it's not nearly that bad, but I don't want it to return to that state ever again. The worst I've had currently was when I'm by myself. Recently, I had tried "flooding", aka forcing myself to watch and hear situations where bodily functions are involved (Youtube as the main contributor), as a method of overcoming my anxiety. I found out the hard way that this only made things worse, and I'd end up on my bed crying about how sad it was that I couldn't even handle things like that. Today, I just avoid doing that altogether.

Oddly enough, my worst anxieties come from the whole . . . . uh . . . passing gas situation. Now take it, I don't tell people off when it happens. We all do it, I do it too, so there's no need for me to get so upset right? Well, apparently my emotions don't think so! It's beyond me why I actually cringe when I hear gas sounds. It's not that I hate them, it's just that the sound bothers me in a way I can't understand. Most people, when hearing them, naturally start to giggle and laugh. I, 1, feel like running out the room to be by myself, 2, my heart beat quickens, 3, my face grows uncomfortably hot (blush), 4, the muscles in my legs and groin tense up, and 5, my emotions go haywire, as if something terrible had happened. All this from just those noises? It's sad! I can't take it! I don't understand it one bit! It's constantly a hassle, knowing that I may not react normally. Lucklily for the person who's near me, I do my best not to show any of this and I just kinda smile and shrug. I don't say anything else except "It's okay, it's normal." Then I leave it alone. It's all I feel I can do without freaking someone out.

I just started seeing a therapist about all this, and I had my first session ever. It went pretty well, but I have doubts about whether someone will actually understand how badly this affects me, or whether they'll find it more laughable than anything. I'm terribly afraid of being looked at in a way that says "What's wrong with you?" It's bad enough that I ask myself that all the time. I'm definitely afraid of pursuing romantic relationships as well. I'd hate for my partner to find out that I had anxiety about bodily functions, when it's just one of the things you encounter while you date.

I know that what my babysitter did is not my fault, but I can't help but to feel that some of it is my fault. That there was something I should have done to make it better. Simply, I'd just like to overcome this anxiety as much as possible because it really brings me down. I've only told one of my best friends and my mom about it to full detail. Nobody else knows, except for those of you who are reading this. I can't even tell the rest of my family. I'm deathly afraid of it all, and I don't know what to do. For now, I'll continue the therapy, but I only hope that it will help at least a little bit.

I'm sorry this was so long, but I felt the need to just let it all go. I don't know what you're thinking right now, but I'd like to know. Please comment, but be honest and constructive on your criticism. I have a hard time with my anxiety and take it very seriously, as do most of us who are dealing with something.
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Re: Bodily Functions Anxiety: Anybody Have Something Similar? Serious Answers Only Please... - November 13th 2010, 10:50 AM

Hi there,
I may not share your special brand of anxiety,but I can definitely relate to what it feels like to have a phobia which everyone else seems to think riddiculous. I'm extremely phobic of crucifixes, which are - unfortunately - one of the major cultural symbols used in the place I live... people just don't get why I'm anxious when one of the bloody things is around somewhere or why I never enter Catholic churches.... It's extremely embarrassing and I usually try to cover for it somehow, but it's terrible for me.
I hope your therapy will help and please accept all my best wishes.
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Re: Bodily Functions Anxiety: Anybody Have Something Similar? Serious Answers Only Please... - November 13th 2010, 11:32 AM

You may have multiple phobias (i.e. urophobia for fear of urination) or possibly GAD. For phobias, most of them are dealt with by systematic desensitization, which involves first getting you to learn relaxation methods, then gradually expose you to the least fearful of the phobias. This could be thinking of it to making fake fart sounds to hearing recordings of farts. As the name suggests, you get desensitized to them so it is no longer fearful and during the exposures, if you get fearful, you apply the relaxation techniques.

If you leave the area when someone farts, you're enhancing the phobia because you've learned to avoid that thing, and each time you do, it feels better since you're no longer in that anxiety, fear-provoking area. So, if you want to try to reduce the phobias, when someone farts or does something else you're fearful of, don't leave the area. You don't have to like or joke about it but just staying there helps break the cycle. You may never come to like or joke about it but you can have it no longer cause fear in you. Once the least fearful or weakest phobia is addressed, the next one is addressed until all them are addressed. Through this, you'll have the therapist do modeling, which is having you learn more appropriate methods of reacting to the fearful things.

Flooding isn't a great therapeutic method although sometimes it is used because it often makes the patient extremely uncomfortable and make may them resistant to future, different therapies. It's a common-sense idea but it often doesn't work that well and many therapists refuse to do it for this reason. It also can bring about symptoms of panic attacks, creating another issue to address, making the therapy for the phobia harder, which you do seem to be displaying. To note, I'm not saying you're having an actual panic attack because they are sudden and not due to something in the environment causing it.

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Re: Bodily Functions Anxiety: Anybody Have Something Similar? Serious Answers Only Please... - November 13th 2010, 04:36 PM

Thanks guys.

I have been told before that my problem may be a series of phobias, though I don't really feel "afraid" of what I'm facing. It mostly stresses me out and makes me fearful of the social reaction that comes afterward.

But I'll take your advice. I've been okay so far about staying around situations, but sometimes I just have to leave. I'll work on that some more as well. I just hope, if my friends and family find out about this, they can accept that this is how I feel and that I choose to not join their folly in it.

Thanks again. I'll see where the therapy takes me.
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