I'm Just Running To the Bathroom!

It’s a day about the same as any other day BUT - I have somewhere to be! I actually don’t have to go anywhere. I just have a 15 minute Zoom interview that I can do right in my bedroom. Still, from beyond my faint memories of before the quarantine, a familiar feeling creeps in. The nagging worry that I will have to run to the bathroom in the middle of it appears out of the fog to rear its ugly head. I take a deep breath and reassure myself that I can go in 15 minutes if I still need to. Spoiler - I didn’t.

Bathroom anxiety

I’ve always had bathroom anxiety before anything that takes away my control over when and where I can go. Before choir concerts in high school I would probably go at least five times in the 15 minutes before we had to go perform. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to have conversations with myself about how I will not ruin my pants if I don’t run to the bathroom for the umpteenth time; as a precaution.

This has led to my body developing a line of defense and a compromise between my stomach and GI tract - if you are not hungry two hours before we have to do something important, then we won’t make you feel like crap. Sounds good, right? Yeah, sure.

Sounds good to me (tummy rumble)!

For example, when I had a full-time job, I sometimes wouldn’t eat until 1 pm out of fear I would have to go while I was the only employee in the building. I would make an excuse like “going to clean the bathroom” or leave a sign that said, “Just grabbing a couple things from the back!” Being the only employee allowed me to step away for a few minutes to perform work duties.

Having to sneak away from my coworkers then became this all new level of stress that I hadn’t been prepared for. There’s only so many times you can say “I’m going to check the paper towels” - for twenty minutes - every twenty minutes - all day. Finding myself making all these excuses to people is something I am NOT looking forward to again. That’s another layer of stress! Stress about where to go, when to go, how to go (how as in how to sneak away, not how to physically go).

Developing an eating schedule

Quarantine has helped alleviate some of that anxiety. There’s really nowhere to be - you can eat when you want, sleep when you want, go when you want/need. A win for me was that I was able to develop an eating schedule that best suits my body’s needs and gives me a consistency I can rely on. It’s one of the best things you can do for IBS and other GI issues - consistency and predictability make things so much easier. But what happens when complete control over the schedule is no longer there? When we come out of quarantine and we’re, yet again, servants to the time, schedules and deadlines?

If only it wasn’t such a taboo thing to talk about. If only we could say, “I’ve gotta go number two,” rather than cheerfully going under the guise that it’s a number one and then trying to go as fast as you. Then it becomes a game, it’s a race! Who can come in as number with the number two?! Only the fittest will survive!

Does it get easier? I’m sure there are strategies and methods I haven’t explored. Our intestines are a fickle friend. Until I find what really works for me, I’ll take a deep breath and tell myself I’ll make it.

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