The Anxiety of Using the Toilet in Other People’s Homes

Last updated: April 2022

I used to experience so much anxiety when I needed to use the toilet away from home. Whether it was when I was at work, out shopping, or in a restaurant. I was embarrassed about the smell and the noise!

It got easier over time, as I gathered more tips from the community for covering odours and noise in public restrooms. Still, I was never completely comfortable!

Noises and smells with a stoma

I have a stoma now, so the only noise I need to think about is the undoing of the Velcro outlet. I imagine it's still odd for anyone hearing me, because it's obviously not a noise that you generally associate with going to the toilet. If they know, they know. If they don't, they probably think I am wearing a pretty odd outfit!

Of course, the smell remains a problem. Carrying mini odour eliminators is standard practice for me now. I actually feel a sense of relief if I enter a public bathroom and someone has already made a smell in it!

I do feel a little less uncomfortable these days. The lack of bellowing farts helps! I also constantly tell myself that there are only 2 reasons ANYBODY goes in there. It's expected, and I'm certain everyone has done it!

Whilst my public restroom anxiety has decreased, using personal toilets, in people's homes, has not. I absolutely hate it.

Using a toilet that isn't mine

There are very few places I feel comfortable. I can use my mum's bathroom without a second thought. I grew up there. It basically feels like my toilet. Then, there are people with IBD. I know they get it. I know they’re in there themselves more frequently than they'd like to be.

I am very honest with everyone I know. How can I not be when I post so much about my IBD journey publicly online? I've been talking poo since 2014, so people know the ins and outs. People know I have an ileostomy, and people know sh*t stinks. I truly do know that they aren't judging me if there’s a smell left behind in their bathroom. The friends I have chosen aren't like that. But I'm very aware of it. I almost feel guilty about it.

Why, when it's not my fault? When I have no control over it? Your guess is as good as mine. Human nature, maybe?

Oh, the fun of having IBD

I have taken to opening the window when I enter the bathroom and closing it before I leave. I obviously always have my trusty odour eliminator, too. Sometimes, I even pop peppermint capsules into my bag if I think about it in advance. It does help mask the smell a bit, but it certainly doesn’t eliminate it!

I saw a friend recently. It was the first time I'd been to her new house. Imagine my distress when I realised that the door of the toilet was about 3 feet from the living room in which we were sitting. I thought about whether I could go past that one and upstairs, but her partner was up there with his friends...

I had hoped I could wait until I got home, but I couldn’t. Imagine the further horror when my: "I’m just going to pop to the loo." Was met with the words: "The door might not close properly." ?

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