Incontinence, whether it’s light leakage here and there or full on bladder leaks every day, can be a hard to pill to swallow. Many people with incontinence feel ashamed, embarrassed, and even depressed because of their condition. These are all normal emotions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Often, the pain we feel from incontinence can be overcome by addressing the root of the problem.
Our advice? Dig deep within yourself to find out what’s really going on. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, annoying, and embarrassing to experience bladder leaks. But it’s not the end of the world, and there are products that can help keep you dry and treatments that can help prevent leaks all together for many people.
Here are three questions to ask yourself when you’re learning to cope with incontinence.
How is my life different now that I have incontinence, and what do I miss about the way things used to be?
You’ve likely made a lot of adjustments to deal with your incontinence. Maybe you’re now wearing absorbent products every day or carrying around an extra set of clothing, just in case you have an accident. Or you might even be forgoing certain events with friends, family or work colleagues, due to the fear that you’ll have a leak.
By thinking about how your life has changed, and identifying the things you feel you have lost, you can work towards gaining some of that back. Feel like you’ve lost the freedom you used to have? Experiment with different types of absorbent products that might make you feel more protected. Tired of missing out on social events you used to enjoy? Talk to your doctor about treatment options that might lessen your leaks and allow you to feel more comfortable being out and about.
You may always have to deal with bladder leaks, but by making some adjustments, you may find that your life doesn’t have to change all that much and you can still enjoy the things you once did.
What is making me feel ashamed?
There’s a huge stigma surrounding bladder control in the US. And that translates to people feeling embarrassed and ashamed of their condition. But the truth is, incontinence is a real medical condition, and just like any other health issue, it deserves to be taken seriously and is nothing to be ashamed of.
This feeling is hard to fight, but by reframing your mindset and recognizing that you’re only human, you can learn to see that incontinence is just a condition and shouldn’t define who you are. After all, there’s no shame in feeling human.
What is the one thing that frustrates me the most about having incontinence?
We’re sure there is a lot that you don’t like about experiencing bladder leaks. But pick out the most frustrating thing, and see if there is a way to combat that.
Hate having to change the sheets every morning because of leaks? Experiment with different overnight absorbent underwear or invest in a waterproof pad to help catch any leaks. Embarrassed by odors that may accompany incontinence? Look for products with odor control included. Hate feeling like you can no longer meet up with your running group because it causes you to leak? Try starting a walking group instead, or take up another, less intense exercise. Wish you could still travel like you use to? Learn about tips to make traveling a bit easier when you have incontinence.
Learning how to cope with incontinence can feel overwhelming and challenging, but by talking with your doctor, finding treatment options and products that work specifically for you, and reframing your “new normal”, you can learn to live a full and happy life.
Do you have a best practice for how to cope with having incontinence? Share it with us in the comments below!