Editor's Note: I get anxiety from work and overwhelming social plans, but in this blog post, Cazey toes the line of taboo and explains his daily struggle with a specific type of anxiety. Enjoy!
Today I want to talk about a little known disorder that afflicts some average Americans like myself. I suffer from ABS, otherwise known as Anxious Bladder Syndrome, first described by yours truly in 2013. The primary symptom is inability to urinate when people are around.
Common treatment includes telling your friend they can’t go to the restroom at the same time as you. Repeating you’re dead serious, yeah, it might sound like a good idea to go to the bathroom before the movie begins/food gets here/your drink arrives, but it was my idea first, and I can’t pee if you join, so stay in your seat.
Alternatively, one can seek a toilet in the far, deserted corners of the building. My life consists of walking into bathrooms, seeing occupied urinals and/or feet beneath stalls, and U-turning – whiplash notwithstanding. Gosh forbid someone sees me walk in. Once, I needlessly washed my hands before hunting for a vacant restroom. What a waste of water.
Thankfully, I work and attend grad school in a 24-story office building. This means I have 23 anonymous restrooms to choose from, because obviously I don’t use my own floor’s restroom. That’s playing Russian roulette. Once, someone decided to brush their teeth and floss while, hello, I’m trying to pee here. Worse, my floor’s restroom doesn’t get LTE, so my phone struggles to load Instagram while I wait for my distended bladder to do something about itself.
By law of parsimony, I go down one floor in my building to use the bathroom. All summer this has been my urinary sanctuary. The lights flick on when you enter. No one visits, not even the janitor. I know because of the stall against the wall: A janitor needs to visit. Here, I can find relief without tensing that someone may walk in and, consequently, drying up like a spilled Slurpee in a Target parking lot during a heat wave in August. Of course, all good things must come to an end. This oasis was always indefinite: Eventually, someone on this floor would recognize me as the frequent visitor with no other purpose than urinating – and maybe a stop at the water fountain.
But I didn’t expect it to end how it did.
I had been double-fisting water and iced coffee all morning. For my kidneys’ health, I had to pee. On the way to my safe haven, I hear a familiar voice – my professor’s: “What are you doing down here?”
I lie, “The bathroom upstairs is full, and I have to go.”
Professor proceeds to lead us into the bathroom where he tells me that this is the best bathroom in the whole building. Don’t I know it. “Only two men work on this floor, so no one’s ever in here.” Except you, sir; you’re in here right now.
I lock myself in a stall. Professor selects a urinal and begins his business. Without hesitation. I fake text, ruffle with the toilet paper, bite my lip – everything, but pee. I can’t even squeeze out a drop. Finally, Professor zips up. The silence from my stall SCREAMS, even over the sound of him washing his hands.
You’d think I could go once he leaves, but I have lost the urge. The anxiety of this encounter will carry over into every future visit to this bathroom.
ABS 1, me 0.