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Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Printable Version

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Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 10-27-2008 01:15 PM

Ok, No it isn't a Water Phobia.
This is a Fear of taking a shower or bath ONLY in my own home. Oops
I can go away on vacation and have No Problem
taking one in any Motel or a relatives home.
It never ever bothered me until I was losing my baby in 1992.
Now, during Stress, Trauma, Crisis etc:
my nerves go crazy ( I have Panic/Anxiety/PTSD ) and
it comes back out of the blue :roll:Any ideas? ssad

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - LaurLuv86 - 10-31-2008 02:00 AM

I am not an expert but there must be something emotional tied in with the bath tub in your home. You said it happened after you lost your baby which is very hard. I am so sorry to hear that. You might remember something symbolic between the bath tub and the sad event that occured. I go to a psychologist that does desensitization techniques with me to help eliviate my fear. You should look it up. They teach you relaxation and in VERY little steps expose you to your fear until eventually you aren't as afraid anymore. I must say it does work. I used to pass out in a particular restaurant my old friends loved to go to. I would get so nervous, go to the bathroom , and pass out. Through going through desensitization techniques I am now able to sit in there and eat a meal. Even though I may feel a bit anxious when Im there. It is NOTHING compared to the fear I used to experience. I hope this helps some. If you ever want to chat, I am on here everyday now. Big Grin

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 10-31-2008 04:35 AM

Thank you so much for this.
It wasn't after the loss it was during the time that I was losing it ( during the time I was sick in bed but knowing I HAD to make the decision ) so I think maybe your right that it is in connection with that. I have been trying desensitization on my own through books for 17 years and so far no good and like I said especially if I am under Stress or Tension at all it gets so much worse.
I went through CBT ( helped some ) but, now I am desperate to get over this Hell. I suffer from Panic/Anxiety and have since childhood but, didn't know what a Panic Attack was until 1980 ( as a child how could I know right ). Childhood VERY dysfunctional so, things happened back then too that horrified me ( 4-9 years old ).
I will talk to my Dr about this and maybe get back into it with help. I noticed I was cleaning the bathroom the other day and I stepped into the tub to clean the shower, tub etc: and it wasn't until after I was done I realized " uh hello, you just were in there cleaning away and NEVER once thought of Anxiety or Phobia ".
This is at best a strange disorder.
Thanks again hon I appreciate your advice more than you know
Have a wonderful, Peaceful day

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - LaurLuv86 - 10-31-2008 05:40 AM

I stepped into the tub to clean the shower, tub etc: and it wasn't until after I was done I realized " uh hello, you just were in there cleaning away and NEVER once thought of Anxiety or Phobia ".

I love when that happens ! I have OCD and one time I noticed I didn't do a ritual and I was like whoa !!! Hey I didn't do that and I survived !! It was a great moment ! I hope all of the best for you.

~*~ Lauren

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 10-31-2008 10:33 AM

Thanks hon now if only I could make that work daily :cry:

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - LaurLuv86 - 10-31-2008 12:02 PM

Hey , You never know !! I can eat at Eat N Park now . haha. :laugh:

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Mr Ian - 10-31-2008 12:42 PM

Hi Ravin,

I'll throw in some thoughts too if that's ok to add onto the discussion. Take what makes sense to you and discard the rest.

You don't mention whether the bath/shower was of significance during your dysfunctional childhood but without wanting to pry too deeply, it seems you are aware of the fear starting around the time of losing your baby. To associate this to the loss of your child is thus a reasonable deduction.

Firstly, and if the child loss is the fundamental reason for your fear, I'd consider the bath/shower issue to be isolated from your other PTSD and anxiety issues.

Any dysfunctional childhood, as you indicated you experienced, can make us feel more determined to make sure our own children have a better life than we did. I have no doubt the decision you had to make was painful and made more so by the fact you wanted everything to be so much 'better' yet had to start out with the toughest decision in the world.

However, I have also no doubt that you made the right decision at the time it was needed and that you made your decision not just for yourself but also for the unborn child. Having said that - it doesn't mean you're resolved with that decision. More on that below.

I wonder about the significance of the bath/shower as your trigger place for anxiety and how this came about.

My 'guess' would be that as a sickly pregnant woman you were in there a fair bit and this is a place of quiet and solitude - but also a place to do all that unwanted but necessary thinking. If this is the case then perhaps you have some unresolved grief issues to put to rest?

What follows depends much on whether my assumption on the bath/shower theory is right.

It might sound weird but perhaps you need to make reconciliation not only with your lost child - but also with the bath and shower?

If these were your places of solitude but where hard decisions were thought through or made then they are going to be significant to what they represent to you. They are not just a bath or shower - they are places where many deep and passionate emotions were felt; a place where you wouldn't want to go through that again.

It's like remembering a place where you break up with your first love or something and not being able to go there again.
Sometimes the pain of not being able to feel the joy is too much.

Curious, but are you in the same house still? Even if you are - I wouldn't suggest moving as being an answer.

I think the desensitisation has failed to work because it's not what you want. I mean this in the most sincerest of ways.

With desensitisation, you are in essence trying to take away the emotion of experiencing something; in this case - child loss - and that is perhaps why you can't desensitise. Why should you? Why would you want to forget? This is not something you want to wipe from your memory because your unborn child was important to you.

I think you would benefit from being able to accept it perhaps in normal grieving terms - this is what we do with grief and loss; not numb it like it didn't happen.

As for stepping into the bath and not realising, this is the indication that it is possible to overcome. Therapies call it retraining your mind but really that's just psychobabble speak for 'coming to terms with things'.

Your PTSD, stress and anxiety are significant to how you come to terms with things because they influence mood and thought processes. But I would still suggest that the bath/shower and the loss of your child are separate issues to your PTSD - tho of course they are a part of who you are.

If I might make a suggestions - and take this or leave it as you will - rather than hold the bath/shower as a place of pain - make it a place of reconciliation and remembrance.
I seriously suggest candles and bubbles and a glass of wine and a quiet moment to yourself (with soft music to your taste) to reflect on those times; to remember the loss and to know that this was a tough time for you.
I suggest doing this on a set evening once a week.
It may be weird or even difficult to feel comfortable doing it to begin, but in time the feeling will ease as you learn to realise you are in control and why you are doing what you're doing.
You can also learn to control the emotional outlet this way - reminding yourself that you have one night a week to be emotional in the bath/shower and the rest of the time - it's just a bath or shower.
This is not being disrespectful of your lost child. This is coming to terms with the decisions you had to make at that time and learning that the bath/shower is not your enemy.

You don't say whether you have children now or how your life progressed - but I would also suggest you reflect on your life progress since then and how you've grown and matured - things you've achieved despite the pain and anguish.

Rather than the bath/shower being your enemy where bad decisions happen - it should be your friendly place of solitude and relaxation - and it can also be your sanctity where you make contact with your own emotions and sift them through, resolving ups and downs in your head with a nice wine and soothing music, thinking about life and the universe (or shopping and shoes - as some women prefer!).

If you want a place to call the enemy - try a journal and write down the bad thoughts/feelings there. You can do this as part of your bath ritual - before you set it up, write down the bad things you want to think about - then close the book and put it away until after your bath. Use your bath time as time just for reflecting and daydreaming - not to resolve your problems.

After 3 months of doing this weekly - begin to do this every two weeks. Then another 3 months later - do it monthly.
Keep the same ritual - candles, music, wine - whatever you decide upon.
(note - you can still bath whenever you want - just not with all the trimmings!)
Of course you can make your own time plan but don't rush this to 'get it finished'. Or you could even keep it as a weekly ritual - it's entirely up to you as to what you're comfortable with.
Just take your time and be in control.

Hope this makes sense. As said, take what does make sense and discard the rest.

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 11-01-2008 01:32 AM

Hi Mr Ian
It is early morning here , my worst time of day outside shower time. I know " the dreaded morning feeling " is normal with Panic/Anxiety ( Dr Clare Weekes book Hope and help for You Nerves ).
I can't believe how your post makes so much sense BUT also brought back 'flashbacks' of another, what I believe to be a contributing factor here.
Please forgive the length of this if I get long winded but, I feel the need now to explain EVERYTHING that I remember now about my bathroom.
Before 1992 ( loss of baby ) there was a time in 1983-1988 after my husband then's Mother passed away with ( God this is a hard word for me to say I am also Phobic of it ) Colon cancer. It was Immediantly after that, that ( Ok an embarrasing admittance here ) I started checking EVERYDAY my other 2 children's bowel movements AND my own for Blood in THAT bathroom. This went on for several years as my young son ( then ) was in 1st grade and my daughter was in 6th grade. This was an Obsession with me as my son had and still has IBS ( runs in my family ) a harmless condition usually do to nreves/ anxiety/stress etc: My son's was then induced byy a school phobia and every morning he would go to the bathroom 5-6 times , crying and begging me to make it stop. I was helpless to help him. All I could do was reassure him that it would be ok and then the embarrasment on him ( only a child ) to have to leave class to run to the bathroom at school. I worried all day , on the days I didn't have to go get him. I finally put him on Independant Study at home after a particular humiliating event at school in his 6th grade year ( a bathroom trip where he was made fun of by the teacher ) I was Furious!
So with all of that also happining back then, my own Phobias as a child , yes I remembered them too , thanks Mom & Dad, horrified of getting Appendicitis ( I don't remember it but my oldest sister told me my best friend from birth died of a ruptured appendic when we were 4 years old ), afraid of the taste buds ( bumps ) on the back of my tounge, just so many things I was terrified of but of course not knowing what to call those fears back then ( 1957,58.59 etc: ). I stuttered badly, made only strange noises in my throat, all " nervous ticks " was what the Dr then told my Mom. I finally started covering them ( as I was told to " shut up " and then hit ) I just quit talkig and when I was told " say something " I lashed out with Vile words that should never cross a child's mouth much less mind.
I was also a " Silent Co-Dependant " for the alcoholism of Dad and told " don't you ever breath a word of what goes on in this house " You know, your ' normal ' dysfunctional family life ' I saw all the Blood & Guts splattered all over, heads opened up from a beer can thrown at one or the other parent, stab wounds to each other, then the trips to the ER to get them bandaged up, casted up, stiched up, all the 'good' junk.
I was afraid of everything and what I wasn't I fought with words. The words again that came from the mouth of an Angelic looking little blond girl of age 4-9. My fierce anger ran deep and still did up to a year ago when I finally got control of that at least.
I got so off I am so sorry.
Back to MY bathroom, are these, can they really be the cause of my horror of this room today? Do I associate all of that with what happened in there? Is this ALL part of the PTSD? It all makes perfect sense to me now.
Your sugesstions are wonderful and I don't know how but somehow, I will try what you say. Do I also reflect on that time when my kids were small and what I did in there also? I loved my Mother-In-law and her loss was so horrible to me. Did I truly do all of this to myself? More importantly, can I undo it now? Is there a ' best time ' of the day to take a shower?
It is strange but, I feel Anxious yet maybe relieved in some way also.
Again Mr Ian Thank You so much.

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Mr Ian - 11-01-2008 02:57 PM

Hi Ravin,

It's sad to hear of the awful experiences you had as a child. *hugs*

Firstly we don't apologise for being who we are and for writing as much as we write. If it's relevant and important to you - tell it how it is. As it happens I appreciate you sharing your story here because hopefully it will help others too.

I'm glad you got something out of my reply - but it seems that was only a small portion of the issues you've had to deal with and there's plenty there for me to fully understand your anxieties and phobias. I could ask - having read more on your past - why haven't you got more problems?!

All of those things you wrote about are relevant. They are also perhaps important issues for you to reflect on in looking at where you've been, who you've become - and perhaps where you want to be as a person.

It seems like the bathroom has been the source of many issues for you. Was it a place of safety when you were a child with your violent parents?
Again, and silly as it sounds - you may benefit from making peace with your bathroom for all those times badness and sadness dwelled there.

I'm glad you liked the bathroom suggestion and hope you manage to give it a go. Only thing I would say is, when you decide on how you want to do it - remember you're not doing what I say because I said it - you're doing it because someone gave you advice that you like and you choose to do it. Take control of these choices right from the start and own your recovery. None of us, or anyone else, will 'cure' you - we'll be there every step of the way; somehow, somewhere - but it all comes from within you.

What to reflect on in the bath? If you want to think about the kids - do so. It's all your time; your need. If there are painful memories - don't ignore them; embrace them and feel them for what they are. If they are too painful, then you have the option of writing them down before your bath/shower.

Did you do this to yourself? You did nothing to yourself. You've had your fair share and more of pain and you didn't ask for any of it nor go looking for it. It just seems to have come to you.

Can you undo it? It can be undone - but it takes time and care to undo it. What I can suggest tho is that it can ease over time as you come to accept yourself more and understand more about the connections between past experiences and present circumstances. But I wouldn't suggest you need to get deep and heavy into it. The mind and body are great self-repairers and given time I think it ok to expect your soul to heal itself.
Instead of "deep and meaningful" (expensive) therapy, I would suggest accepting you for being who you are would benefit you most. There's been lots of psychology stuff on 'mindfulness' which is not about curing the underlying problem - but about learning to live with ourselves for who we are. While you're doing that - I think your recovery will take it's own course.

Best time to take a shower?
Whenever you choose to ssmile

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 11-01-2008 11:47 PM

"I would suggest accepting you for being who you are"

Hi Mr Ian
Again, Thank You so much for your very wonderful advice.
It is so ironic how I would read your post this morning ( my worst time of the day ) and your quote above really made me smile ( hard to do in the morning for me ) and here is why.
I went to my 1st and last counseling appt yesterday morning with a new counselor. He told me I knew all there was to know about getting over this and he had no more sugesstions for me ( I KNEW I went into Psychology for a reason, to help others more than he ever could ). I then went, through High Anxiety over to where I used to practice, I really don't know what led me that way but, a friend of mine there ( counslor ) is now EMDR trained. I'm sure you know what this is and if not I will follow this post with the information so maybe it can help others also.
When I came home I called my daughter, cousins and a friend ( they all live with me ) together to " make MY speech ".
Now here is where your sentence up there comes in.
I told everyone in my home that if they see me going into the bathroom/shower with things that they have never seen me with before to just know, It is for ME and do not ask " what are you doing "? Just because they have never seen me taking certain things in with me does not make it their buisness! It is MY buisness who I am and how I choose to deal with ME.
Like a broken leg needs a cast and crutches for weeks to heal, so do I at times and no one should question MY healing things. "Just because you can't see my " broken leg " doesn't make it any less than any one elses pain!!" Might even make it worse as I hide mine and feel weak and wimpy if I do anything to make " it " easier on myself. I've been " the rock " since age 4 and, I AM DONE!
Well I tore that Big Red S off my chest and told them, take care of their own problems, I am NOT the only adult in this house, don't expect me to save them or the entire world anymore! If they think it strange then that is THEIR problem , not mine!
Amazingly they looked at me and told me, it's about time and your not and never have been a wimp, weak or any of what your saying. Guess it was ME who thought I was and assumed that if everyone didn't see the Rock the world would stop turning. Boy, talk about an eye opener.
A rock since age 4 and I don't have to be any longer. I can take care of me, nurture me, take care of me and most of all, be gentle with me doing it. It won't happen overnight but, I have hope it will happen.
So I start today to grab that proverbial Bull by the horns and go for it. Whatever 'it' may be I will do my best to be gentle with me, and allow myself to faulter now and then without beating myself to a pulp mentally. I am Human too. I shall now act as one and leave the other " stuff " to Superwoman. * smiles *
Again, your words give me that small, gentle push I need and you will truly never know how I appreciate them.
Don't stop now, we are on a roll ( said with a prayer )
May this day bring you Peace and many Smiles
With Hope for better Days and
with so very much Respect

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - savannah - 11-01-2008 11:56 PM

hello ravin
i havent read this whole post, but just wanted to say....
i have the same fear, and it is also resukted from a hard childhood, so your not alone Smile
i dont know if i can help, but just letting you know, your not alone


Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 11-02-2008 12:17 AM

Hi savannah
Thanks so much for taking time to post to me.
It makes this so much easier to know I am not alone in this.
Most Phobias are mainly specific phobias but, I just had never heard of anyone else having this one. It is so good to know I am not crazy and yet I am so sorry you too have to endure this hell. I know it can be beaten, I also know it didn't happen overnight so it will take time and patience to get over it.
Again, thanks so much hon just for letting me know someone shares my fears and for being caring enough to post before reading it all. I hope it helps you too in what has already been posted.
Mr Ian has been such a help and is appreciated so much.
Have a wonderful day and please, if you have any sugesstions, I am ALL ears ssmile
Many Hugs & Much Hope

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - savannah - 11-02-2008 12:21 AM

as soon as i find something that helps i will let you know !!!!!!
i felt good reading this, i was too assamed to make my own post about it because i too thought i was crzy and that no one else would have this. it defently does help to know there is someone else who understands

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - Ravin - 11-02-2008 12:42 AM

Big Hugs hon
No, we are not alone and NEVER be ashamed of who YOU are Wave

Re: Fear of Taking a Shower or bath - savannah - 11-02-2008 12:44 AM

i'm slowly starting to be proud of who i am, very slowly, but there is progress Smile and that is what counts