Whether you’ve been following this blog for a while now, or you’ve just found us, chances are you or someone close to you suffers from incontinence. Therefore, it’s likely you know the emotional toll incontinence can take on a person.
Apart from the physical distress, incontinence causes people to feel depressed, ashamed, and withdrawn. In face, in a recent NAFC survey about urinary incontinence, 90% of patients reported feeling either isolated, depressed, or hopeless as a result of their condition.
Part of this is because of the social stigma surrounding incontinence. People are so nervous about being “found out” or having an accident in public that it reduces their ability and willingness to participate in everyday activities. This just makes their emotional situation worse, since retreating from friends, family, and activities they once loved can create a very unhappy existence.
But, while it’s easy to fall into the negative trap of incontinence, there are ways to build your confidence back up, stare incontinence in the face, and move past it to live a full and happy life. Incontinence is just another health condition, after all, and there’s no shame in being human.
Here are 5 ways to get past the emotional burden of incontinence
Find your best protection.
First and foremost, you’ll never feel confident enough to get back out there with confidence if you’re still experiencing leaks. Don’t be ashamed to explore absorbent products to protect yourself and stay dry. Absorbent products have come a long way and many people find that no one even knows they’re wearing them.
Finding the right absorbent product may take some work – there are many different types and different levels of absorbency – but exploring different brands, finding your best fit, and knowing the type that works best with your lifestyle is worth the effort. You’ll feel more protected, and ready to step outside your comfort zone confident that even if you have an accident, no one has to know.
Take action toward a long-term treatment.
Are you someone who has been living with incontinence for a while now? Do you know you have a problem, but are too embarrassed or ashamed to seek help from a doctor? Or maybe you’ve brushed off your problem for so long that you’re only just now realize that it actually is a problem.
You’re not alone – most people wait an average of 7 years before talking to a doctor. But the thing is, taking action and seeking treatment – beyond absorbents – can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. Nothing gives us more of a confidence boost that knowing we’re actually doing something about our problem.
So make an appointment to talk to your doctor to talk about incontinence as soon as possible. Trust us, you won’t be the first person that’s come to them with a bladder leakage condition. And, your doctor will be able to tell you about lots of treatment options that are available that can make a real difference in your quality of life.
Confide in a close friend, family member, or even a stranger on our message boards.
Ok, we know this one sounds kind of scary. After all, talking to your friends and family about something that is so private and embarrassing to you is probably what you’ve been trying to avoid in the first place.
But we’re not asking you to shout from the rooftops that you’re incontinent, or send out a company email that you have a leaky bladder. Just pick one person – your spouse maybe, a sibling, your oldest friend. Someone that you know you can trust and that can serve as a sounding board to your troubles. Many people find such a tremendous relief in finally opening up about their condition, and by sharing your secret with someone else and actually saying it out loud, it actually loses its power over you.
Still too scared to open up to someone you know? Join the NAFC message boards. This is a welcoming online community that is open, supportive and encouraging, and is filled with stories that are probably similar to your own. You can post anonymously, read others struggles, and chime in as much or as little as you’d like. It’s a great way to find a community of support without exposing your secret to anyone you know in the real world. (Click here to explore the NAFC message boards.)
Practice gratitude daily.
You’ve probably heard this one a lot lately – daily gratitude is all the rage, but for good reason. By focusing on the positives in our lives, it shows us how much we have to be grateful for and gives much less importance to something like incontinence.
Putting this into a daily practice can be as simple as keeping a notebook and writing down 3 things you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Expand on this as much or as little as you like – the important thing is to recognize that we all have things in our life that we are grateful for. Sometimes it just takes a bit of effort to notice them.
Take up a new hobby.
Want to really show incontinence whose boss? After you’ve done all of the above and are well on your way to a long-term treatment, try taking up something new. It could be an art class, playing a musical instrument, starting a walking group, tap dancing, gardening, cooking – the sky’s the limit! Just choose something you have an interest in and go for it.
By showing yourself that you’re able to conquer new goals and acquire new skills, you’ll give yourself a huge confidence boost. Best of all, that feeling will spread into other areas of your life, showing you that it truly is possible to live a life without leaks.
Got any more tips for getting past the emotional burden of incontinence? Share them with us in the comments below!