Recently I realized that I have severe pee anxiety. A doctor has yet to officially diagnose me, but I’m sure that this would be the conclusion he reached. It occurred to me when I was complaining to my co-worker about how I feel like I’m doing a variation of the walk of shame when I go to the bathroom at work. It’s important to remember that pee anxiety is not the same as poop anxiety (that’s a separate issue completely); however, they are definitely in the same family of pointlessly silly, but very real, issues that one comes face to face with 5-35 times a day (depending on how much coffee you drink. ) There are three types of this that I will discuss at length after the jump.
The reason why I feel so thoroughly judged when I go to pee at work is that the bathroom is directly across from one man’s office, we’ll call him Timothy. And because this is already blurring the details, I’ll pretend we’re great friends and that I’ve taken to calling him The Tim-Meister Flex ’cause we’re chill like that. We also enjoy high fiving a lot and fist bumping. Anyway, Tim is positioned directly in front of the bathroom, and he sits right in front of the door, so we always make this weird and awkward eye contact when I’m headed into the bathroom. Despite our bond of bonds, this silent and uncomfortable exchange results in many strained smiles from me or a marked effort to avoid the eye contact completely. I know that he knows that I’m about to do my business, and I don’t like that he knows. Because if I take too long peeing and then stop to fix my hair and makeup in the mirror, he might get the wrong idea and think I’m pooping. Girls don’t poop, so he would be dangerously mistaken, and it hurts my soul for him to get the wrong impression.
I also always have to go pretty much the same time every day since I usually come after lunch and I drink a lot of water and/or tea cooler when this lunching occurs. If he’s anything like me, he probably has a running joke with himself about me. Silently highfiving his inner Tim-Meister Flex every time he accurately bets on when I’ll be entering the bathroom. I can tell by his blank expression that he’s a smug bastard that takes pride in winning fake bets that only exist within himself. My only solution so far has been to switch up the times. So even though he might be judging me for using the bathroom at least once a day, he can’t accuse me of being predictable.
On my floor there is one bathroom. I share this bathroom with six guys and one girl. Well, actually it’s five guys now, but that’s like saying six bombs went off, oh wait, it was actually five. It’s still a huge problem and a lot of damage has been done. Many terrible things have happened in this bathroom to contribute to my anxiety.
- There are almost always ants on our floor, and I don’t know why. I don’t understand why ants would be drawn to pee, for the love of god, I don’t. Every day of my life I try to solve the mystery of these fucking ants that surround the toilet. Anyway, I always wear flip-flops into the bathroom for obvious reasons, but I still don’t like to pee while ants are crawling around by my feet. It makes me very nervous and uncomfortable, and I am very suspicious that one will somehow crawl on me and give a new reality to the term “ants in your pants”, and I am having none of it.
- There is a mystery person who never flushes the toilet. And his pee is really gross looking because he simply does not drink enough water. Just saying. Though ever since boy #6 left, there’s been less of an issue. Culprit discovered, I guess.
- Once a huge chunk of our toilet seat was snapped off. No one knows how this happened, but I’ve never felt safe in my bathroom again. Apparently it’s a place of violence now, not safety.
It smells eternally like awful.
So I started using the girls’ bathroom on the floor below me. You would think the problem has now been largely solved, but then I realized that the girls I live with can sense when I walk into the bathroom. Any time I enter the bathroom, sure as rain, someone else will enter almost immediately after me. Like they’re punishing me. And then I am too aware of their presence. I can’t start peeing. The longer I wait to pee, the more I wonder if they’re wondering if I’m pooping. I refuse to allow them to think that I’m the only girl in the world who poops. Then, once I do start peeing, I worry that now they’re thinking that it took me an absurdly long time to start peeing, and then they’ll know that they’re making me uncomfortable.
What’s even worse than that is when they sit down in the stall right next to me. And then we start peeing together. I can’t. I can’t even begin to handle how much I hate peeing at the same time as someone else, like a horribly in sync Backstreet Boys song. My roommate and I just had a really deep heart to heart about this, and she brought up an excellent point: what if you sit down to pee first, and then the person who starts peeing after you LEAVES FIRST??? I just don’t know. Or worse, when if you leave at the same time? And then you have to make conversation or eye contact or some other awful human connection thing. My pee time is private time, sacred time. I don’t want to share it with another individual. Sweet Jesus, I don’t.
Sometimes I have to pee during class, or sometimes I’m just really bored in class and need to leave. Everyone pretty much has an understanding that bathroom time is just a way to ease the pain of a terrible class, or they just don’t even notice me leaving nor do they care. Also, I know that that they know that there’s a good chance I’m not actually peeing, and that if I stay away longer than necessary they probably won’t even think I was pooping, because they understand the truth.
What I don’t like is when I leave to actually pee, and someone else from my class leaves pretty soon after, and then they find out that I’m actually peeing and then I come out of the bathroom and we have to say something to each other while I wash my hands. Like I don’t want to do this. Really. I don’t like talking to someone when they know I was just doing my business, it’s weird. You just heard me pee, I have nothing to say to you in this public bathroom.
But that isn’t even the worst of it. One time I had to pee badly, like really really badly, like a baby was dancing on my bladder. I get up to leave. At the exact same time, a boy from the class stood up, and we began walking towards the door in this awful, endless moment where neither of us knew what to do. We exchanged looks, but it was too late to go back. It looked like we were having an affair. It looked planned. My professor stopped the class and made jokes. It was awful. I actually had to pee. I had to so so badly and then that happened and I didn’t want jokes made about this. I didn’t want attention drawn to me. That kind of shame is unbearable and traumatic. It is upsetting me just writing about it, but I know it’s the only way I can heal.
My only hope is that one day I can reach a sort of equilibrium with my anxiety. I can be the one to control it, not let it control me. My life is mine to live, and I won’t let pee anxiety stop me anymore.