My 17 years of living with shy bladder. From the first blockage to my recovery.

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3...2...1...go ahead Guillaume, publish this article!

I've been wanting to talk about my personal experience with paruresis (shy bladder) for at least 2 years, but it's hard.

How can I admit to the world a secret I kept for 17 years?

Unable to urinate in public's embarrassing.

But today, I chose to speak up and help others who are going through what I went through. 

If you have a shy bladder, you will probably recognize yourself in my story. If not, you'll discover what a nightmare it can be to go to the bathroom.

My encounter with paruresis

My first memory of blocking dates back to high school in 1999, when I was 16.

I was in a big high school with about 700/800 students, so being alone in the bathroom was rare. I blocked once, twice, three times, and then I stopped counting and started wondering what was happening to me.

What the hell? I was in perfect health, never sick and very fit. What was wrong with me?

It would take me almost 17 years to find the answers to these questions.

My life with paruresis

Guillaume : Aquarius rising shy bladder medium 

Little by little, I had to face the facts. I had an irrational problem: I had no problem at my parents' house or when I was alone, but as soon as there was someone there it was just not possible.

Fortunately for me, if I could hide in the privacy of a stall, I could urinate at 80%.

I identified the following things:

  • The stalls are cool, it allows me to get there, but there are not many of them. And waiting in front of a booth is "shameful",
  • The alcohol helped me to unblock,
  • The loud music that covers the sound of the urine in the urinal helped me sometimes (nightclub for example)
  • If in my unconscious other people do not represent a threat to my ego* (children, brothers, family, girlfriend…) I can do it.
  • The sensation of being or being able to be seen blocks me completely.
  • The muscles that control my bladder contract on their own just before I open the valves (sometimes even during!),
  • Even alone in the bathroom, just hearing a noise in the hallway would block me,
  • Apparently, I am the only one in the world,
  • If I find the **** who invented the urinals, I'll break his legs,

All of this corresponds to the signs of average paruresis. Except that at that point in my life I didn't know it had a name, let alone that other people suffered from it. I thought I was the only one in the world (or even the universe!) to have this thing.

*This notion of threat is difficult to explain, but basically it is the notion of feeling inferior.

My years at school

In my high school years, I developed the habit of never going to the bathroom at the same time as my friends. I always went later because "no, I don't feel like it now", while I could fill up an Olympic-sized pool. That earned me some reflections like: 

"Guillaume, why don't you ever come to the bathroom at the same time as us?"

The high school years are the years when you start drinking alcohol and, fortunately for me, it helped me a lot outside of school. And, magically, alcohol loosen us up, and it unblocks the bladder!

The problem is that I am quite resistant to alcohol and the paruresis was also tough, so I had to drink...a lot...too much! 

Fortunately for me, we didn't go to bars too much (or not for too long) which allowed me to be less confronted with blockages with "these people I don't know" around me.

Paris, its bars and nights out

After my studies, at the age of 24, I moved to Paris with my girlfriend at the time.

I really enjoyed my years in Paris. You can go out everywhere...but that means difficulties to urinate: concerts, bars, restaurants, friends with small apartments and toilets too close to the living room became a challenge.

I would begin to assess how many people were in the bathroom by analyzing the flow in and out. The goal was to choose the right moment to try my luck

Guillaume // Former Paruretic

Fortunately, I had my friend alcohol, who saved my ass more than once. Nevertheless, I couldn't always use it. It worked during a night out with friends, but I couldn't drink too much when I was with my girlfriend, for example.

That's where I developed my "super spy" skills. When I entered a place, I would immediately locate the toilet and choose my seat to keep an eye on this strategic place.

When I felt the urge to do so, I would begin to assess how many people were in the bathroom by analyzing the flow in and out. The goal was to choose the right moment to try my luck.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes I miscalculated. So I would wash my hands or stand in front of a urinal...stare at a spot...wait a few seconds...flush the toilet...still nothing...well let's wash my hands and pretend it went fine.

I went back to where I came from, but with a frustration tinted with shame that wouldn't leave me alone until I manage to release myself.

If you have never experienced this, just know that it is horrible. We are with our friends/family without really being present or enjoying the moment because we have:

  1. A bladder that is always full,
  2. Anxiety, frustration, shame,
  3. A mind that can only think of one thing: PISS,
  4. And during all this, we have to act as if nothing had happened with the people we are with,
  5. The anticipation of the next attempt increases the stress

In other words: we are no longer the ones living with the shy bladder. It's paruresis that runs our lives.

My expat years

My dream was to be an expatriate, and I realized this dream at 26 years old. I went to the Middle East.

This involved flying for hours on end. Fortunately for me, I was able to pee, because on the plane there is a lot of noise that covers what is happening in the bathroom. However, I had a hard time more than once, especially when I knew that there was someone waiting right behind me.

At work, I was very lucky to have an almost private bathroom (shared by 2 or 3 people).

Also, in the Middle East, I have found that restrooms in public places are more friendly. There are always a lot of stalls, and even the urinals are more spaced out and with separations. Well, the separation doesn't help much when you're paruretic, but it's always a plus. 

All in all these 4 years went rather well, except for the few times in the trendy bars with a lot of people.

Kenya and the lack of intimacy

I then lived in Kenya for 3 years. There it was not the standard of Qatar in terms of toilets.

Especially in the local bars, there were often troughs with only 1 stall and sometimes the door did not close! The nightmare of anyone with a shy bladder (and surely of those who don't have one too)!

Trough Urinal : incarnation of evil for the paruretics. Whoever invented this had no heart.

This is where my "super spy" powers developed in the past saved my ass more than once. But in my favorite bar, which could accommodate 200 to 300 people on weekends, there was 1 stall and 2 urinals only in the men's room!

A real nightmare, the number of times I tried the urinals and didn't succeed, while my bladder was ready to explode, it was horrible. I usually took it upon myself to try again 15 minutes later and waited for the cubicle.

It was stressful, because there was often, on big nights, a "toilet attendant" in the bathroom. His job is to stand there and press the soap and give the paper to the people washing their hands, and of course clean the toilet if needed.

This means that even when there are no customers, there is always this guy who "looks at us" if we try the urinal and "listens to us" if we take the stall.

The fear to talk about shy bladder

Alone in this world

Strangely enough, I never googled about toilet blockages. I would surely have quickly seen that it had a name, but more importantly that I was not alone. I've Googled everything since 2001, but I've never, ever searched for paruresis.

The result?

I always thought I was the only one in the world who had this thing. That out of 7 billion people, I was the ONLY one who couldn't pee in peace.

I was wrong.

Even if it is very difficult to estimate, 5-7% of the population would be affected by shy bladder without discrimination of country or social background.

The problem with thinking you're the only one is that you don't dare talking about it. The reasoning is simple. If I am the only one, then nobody knows the problem. Therefore, nobody can help me, so I don't talk about it.

And then it's an embarrassing subject, I always imagined that I would tell someone about it, and they would laugh at me like Nelson in the Simpsons!

The reaction I was expecting if I was to tell anyone about my shy bladder

Or worse, going to the doctor and him telling me "well mate, you have to de-stress, that will be €25 please". Or that he wants to put me on drugs that I don't need, that don't deal with the causes, and that will give me side effects.

In short, I was like many people with free bladder: unable to talk about it to anyone.

The sphincter muscles were no longer contracting to block everything. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like my brain was disconnected from the muscles that control my bladder.

Guillaume // Former Paruretic

Bali and the confession

Until one day in Bali, on a small island where I was with my girlfriend (now my wife), and in a moment of well-being and freedom on the beach, I chose to open up to her and tell her. I was secretly hoping that it would set me free and go away on its own.

But 3 things happened instead:

  • She was understanding and that was cool,
  • The paruresis didn't go away.
  • We were now two people who knew about it

I was resigned to living the rest of my life this way 🙁

How I overcame my paruresis

While I was still living in Kenya, I was reading a book and stumbled upon EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).

The technique, at first glance very simple, promises that with tapping and phrases that we repeat we can free ourselves from problems we have.

Curious, I did some research on the internet and scientific data, and it seemed conclusive. But for me the only truth is that of personal experimentation.

The most important 70 minutes of my life

One day I had a flash and decided to try this on myself and my paruresis.

I lay down in bed and started. Not knowing where my shy bladder came from, I started with my earliest memory of the remarks in high school.

One thing led to another and other things came up, I applied the method for 70min straight. I don't remember the whole process, but I just remember that the last memory was me as a kid on a walk with my grandparents and my parents, and while peeing behind a tree my grandfather said something to me (which I had no memory of) that stuck with me.

What happened next? Nothing. I mean, it's not like I had a vision and an angel who came and touched me in a halo of white light. Nothing, I felt relaxed, but I didn't have an epiphany.

The test

One or 2 days later, I found myself in my favorite bar (the one with only 1 booth and 2 urinals!). I often went there in the afternoon with my PC, because there was a good Wi-Fi and continuous power (there was regular power outage in Kenya).

I remember going to the bathroom, all alone, cool, I try the urinal and there, a guy enters. Normally, it was over for me, direct blocking, flushing to pretend and ciao. But this time, poof, it came out by itself.

I put it on the count of luck. Except, I tried 2, 3, 4 times...SAME. The sphincter muscles were no longer contracting to block everything. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like my brain was disconnected from the muscles that control my bladder.

What I wanted to shout to the world when I overcame paruresis :

I am finally FREE

I WAS FREE. A 17 years nightmare gone in 70min!! Unbelievable !

If you're reading this, and you have paruresis, I wish you to live this moment. It must be like winning an Olympic gold medal or getting out of prison after dozens behind bars. The sword of Damocles is disappearing from above our heads. It's magical.

EFT is NOT magic

This experience left such an impression on me that I decided to become an EFT practitioner.

But here's the thing!

On the internet, you will find people telling you that it is miraculous and that in a few minutes you can solve a problem. It can happen, however, most of the time it requires more work on yourself.

Without going into detail here, to overcome paruresis you have to take responsibility and work on yourself. Without it, it will control you for the rest of your life.


In conclusion, I want to tell you that you are not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I hope this article gave you hope and that you recognized yourself in my story.

I've conquered my fear of talking about it publicly. Feel free to share your opinion and experiences in comments, it will warm my heart!

About the Author : Guillaume

I'm a man who lived 17 years with a shy bladder.

Today, it's part of my past, but I've decided to help others free themselves from this nightmare that greatly affects the quality of life.

I've lived abroad many years and consider myself a citizen of the world, but I can't do anything for being born in France, so forgive my accent in the videos 😀

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