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CBT - did it work for you?

34 replies

schnitzelvoncrum25 · 06/06/2023 15:20

I have anxiety surrounding a certain thing. I won't go into too much detail but basically I have a physical stress response that kicks in when I get anxious. It's gotten worse over the past ten years and now whenever I go anywhere I have obsessive thoughts about it happening which obviously then makes it worse.

To be honest it'll probably make more sense if I just explain the issue - it makes me need the toilet. I understand why. The fight or flight response makes you need to use the toilet so that you are lighter in the face of perceived danger and able to run away quicker. I do also have some mild IBS but I would guess that it's driven 80% by anxiety and stress and 20% by the actual physical nature of IBS.

So basically I obsess over toilets wherever I go. I can't go anywhere without thinking about it. I calculate how much time I have on the school run before I can get back to somewhere where a toilet is. I check motorway routes for services and count down the miles if I go anywhere (which I rarely bother with these days because it's too much stress). I see people camping and walking in the woods and think how are they doing that when there's no toilet nearby? It literally is there in my brain anytime I'm not at home or in a safe place.

I think I need CBT to completely change the way my brain currently works and processes these thoughts. I've tried it before on the NHS on two occasions and neither time it worked for me. I'm wondering at this point if I am actually 'curable' or if this is just how I am now.

It really is affecting my life. I actively avoid places where there are no toilets and when I do go places I am constantly thinking about where they are. I have been in so many panic stricken moments where I genuinely have had to dash to the loo that it's almost programmed in me now.

Has anyone used CBT to conquer this sort of thing? I've also tried anxiety medication but I find that really dulls the issue rather than solving it. I just don't want to think or be this way any more.

OP posts:
schnitzelvoncrum25 · 06/06/2023 17:37

Hopeful bump

OP posts:
MaccyD100 · 06/06/2023 18:16

I actually haven't but I know a bit about it (work in a related field) and I know people who have used it and found it really helpful. I definitely think it would be worth a try.

patsy8005 · 06/06/2023 18:46

I've had it and it has changed my life had health anxiety and an obsession with germs took months and I still have moments where I need to step back and reset but overall I'm so much happier.

MaydinEssex · 06/06/2023 18:48

Didn't do anything for me, but I've a friend who said it really helped her.

redheadcurl · 06/06/2023 18:49

Works differently for different people. You have nothing to lose

Frith2013 · 06/06/2023 18:52


Posh gaslighting.

PJRules · 06/06/2023 18:57

Cbt works well for some situations. Anxiety is a difficult one, Cbt is mainly about following your thoughts to logical/most likely conclusions, planning for these eventualities then accepting other outcomes are outside your control.

It might work, you have nothing to lose and can refer yourself on the NHS.

As usual probably a long wait list, Cbt can sometimes be done quite effectively with a work book, worth a go while you wait.

Good luck with it, deciding to deal with it is the hardest step.

Eyesopenwideawake · 06/06/2023 19:02

Please consider remedial hypnosis. This issue isn't in your conscious/logical mind, it's in your subconscious and CBT won't change that.

Was there an incident when you needed the loo and didn't/nearly didn't make it? (Maybe as a child?). If so what happened is that a part of your subconscious mind set up an alert so that it could never happen again (to avoid the embarrassment and shame of an accident). Now what's happening is that that part has gone into overdrive and is behaving inappropriately, in the mistaken belief that it's protecting you. Remedial hypnosis would allow you to communicate with that part and tell it to dial down the response.

Luckydog7 · 06/06/2023 19:06

Have tried a different method in the meantime? You can buy very compact (the size of a cup) portable toilets. I have bought one for camping. Could something like that take the pressure off as you know its an option? Not a cure of course but reducing the anxiety on a day to day basis might reverse the cascading effect you are getting as the symptoms get worse.

I had lots of uti as a child and so constantly had anxiety about toileting as I felt like I needed the toilet a lot of the time. My parents weren't very sympathetic and didn't believe I needed to go so I had to sit in the car in discomfort a lot.

We got one of these travel toilets in the end, I never used it (the idea was mortifying in front of the family) gut i found it reassuring that we had it which allowed me to relax.

RightWhereYouLeftMe · 06/06/2023 19:10

What NHS CBT did you have? Was it the absolute waste of time online nonsense? Because I don't see how that would help anyone.

But actual CBT, face to face with a trained professional, has pretty good results.

Daffodilsonthewindowsill · 06/06/2023 19:47

I have the exact same issue.
I have had IBS for 25 years, it first occurred when I had a sudden and unexpected need for the loo whilst at work (and didn’t quite make it!), I have never been the same since, physically, emotionally and mentally.
I am absolutely obsessed with my bowels and toilets and can literally bring on the need for the loo with a single thought process, it has become so, so much worse the last few years (the IBS and obsessing about it). It has shaped my life and not for the better.
I have had years of CBT and hypnotherapy but sadly neither has helped me but definitely give it a go as it could really work for you.
I am on a constant quest to find a way out of this and have just started taking Nortriptyline in the hope I can break the gut/brain connection, I am currently under the neuro-gastroenterology department at the University College London hospital and this was their suggestion.
I hope you find some help, people have no idea just how controlling this is.

schnitzelvoncrum25 · 06/06/2023 21:10

Thank you for the comments and @Daffodilsonthewindowsill I am so sorry that you're going through it too. It really is so debilitating and extremely difficult to talk about. I just think to myself...everyone poos so why are other people able to go about life without giving it a second thought but I am literally controlled by it.

Perhaps I did have some sort of traumatic event when I was a kid. I don't really remember anything. But there have been many occasions in my adult life where I've worked myself into such a panic that I've had to dash to the toilet and the fear that you won't make it is absolutely horrific.

OP posts:
Eyesopenwideawake · 06/06/2023 22:24

It's, in essence, no different from people who are terrified of flying and can't understand why others do it without a second thought.

When we focus on something that scares/horrifies us it grows to such a proportion that we can't imagine not being a massive part of our lives. Imagine looking at an insect through a microscope - it's huge and fills the entire screen, yet if you were standing a few feet away you wouldn't be able to see it.

People often get stuck the way they are simply because they don’t perceive change to be possible. Many believe the longer we have an issue the harder it will be to change, and if we have it too long then change no longer becomes an option.

In reality we change every day, mostly without noticing. There are 40 quadrillion active synaptic connections in the average healthy human brain and, thanks to what we now know about neuroplasticity, we know these connections are constantly rewiring and adapting as we learn and grow.

Yes, you do need help in order to change but it is possible.

MissMarplesNiece · 06/06/2023 22:39

I had 12 weeks of CBT with a psychologist (NHS). I found it worked very well for my anxiety which was often bad enough to stop me leaving the house. It wasn't something that I "passively received" - I did all the homework and practice exercises etc. I still use the techniques that I was taught if I am feeling anxious about something, and still occasionally look through my notes & handouts to refresh myself.

I'm not sure if online CBT would work as well.

Ifulikepinacoladas · 06/06/2023 22:43

A member of my family had EMDR therapy for a very similar issue. It was completely successful. That might be worth looking at.

mybestchildismycat · 06/06/2023 22:53

DD developed an utterly crippling phobia as a preteen. CBT (specifically exposure therapy) saved her.

Like a PP says, it isn't something that can be done 'to' you. It took hours of work by her every day over several months. But yes, thanks to neuroplasticity, she was able to significantly change the negative thought patterns.

LacewingOrpington · 06/06/2023 22:59

It’s worth a try, I was advised against it and directed towards EMDR as my issues were childhood trauma/cPTSD so the right professional will be able to steer you towards the type of treatment most likely to be successful for you. It does involve active engagement - you’ve got to want to put the work in to help the change happen. Changed my life so much though. I was getting a catalogue of significant physical illness related to a lifetime of anxiety and hyper-vigilance.

PinkFluffyUnicornsDancingOnRainbows · 06/06/2023 23:03

I've had cbt for anxiety and it didn't really help. But other people have really good results, so it's worth a try.

buttercuplad · 06/06/2023 23:09

I highly recommend considering remedial hypnosis. It's all about the subconscious and conscious mind and working out why your subconscious is behaving in the way it is.

I have recently undergone hypnosis for anxiety and it'a been really affective. It made total sense to me and was very rational and logical in explaining why you feel the way you do. The lady I used I found on here funnily enough. If you search AMA I'm a remodel hypnotist you can see her thread :)

buttercuplad · 06/06/2023 23:12

Haha I've just noticed the lady I spoke with @Eyesopenwideawake has already commented above haha!!!

weirdas · 07/06/2023 05:31

I had severe anxiety. CBT helped because it challenged my thought processes. The therapist also did EMDR as part of it. I also did hypnosis and a mindfulness course. Between the three I got to a much better place.

SummerSimmer · 07/06/2023 05:57

I had 14 sessions for OCD, it both changed and saved my life.

SummerSimmer · 07/06/2023 06:00

It wasn't something that I "passively received" - I did all the homework and practice exercises etc. I still use the techniques that I was taught if I am feeling anxious about something, and still occasionally look through my notes & handouts to refresh myself

This was the same for me.

Proud2care82 · 07/06/2023 06:15

Erp a type of cbt is the gold standard treatment for ocd and actually the only way to cure it. My teenage son is having it via camhs. Starting to see results now.

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