When I started my plan my usual bathroom habit was to make for an empty stall, preferably one with nobody occupying the one beside. I'd take a sitting position and I would usually be able to urinate. If someone was in the stall beside me I would find it much harder especially if they were particularly quiet because then I'd feel that they were listening to me (and by extension judging me). In those circumstances I'd often try to make noises like I was trying to take a #2 to cover my concern that they were judging me for using the stall just to urinate.
What a tangled web.
The first plan was to get back to standing up, in a stall with the door closed (but not locked). I considered going with a locked door but decided I could do it with just the door closed. I had to aim for the water to make as much noise as possible : "Judge this suckers!"
In the event, I managed that pretty easily. This was exciting, I felt I was taking tiny steps to get my life back. At least I was standing up like a man again!
My second plan involved staying in the stalls but moving to the stall closest to the urinals and leaving the door ajar slightly.
That time didn't go as smoothly, mostly because I didn't stick to my plan and so didn't feel I could graduate to a harder test although I found that I could urinate with the bathroom door left wide open which was more progress than I expected. I spent another week at this stage, not really focused enough on my treatment to move ahead.
Looking back I'm now happy that I kept a diary of my progress because it allows me to see that I had some early success and then plateaud for three weeks, not really progressing but not falling back either. If I see this pattern again I will know that it doesn't mean the end of my progress, it's just a plateau. Perhaps I should have challenged myself more but I wasn't ready to make the leap from the stall to the urinal yet.
It wasn't until Progress Report #5, nearly a month after starting my original plan that I faced the fact that I'd have to move to the urinal to progress.
I made up some new rules to help myself succeed :
1. Use the urinal while someone else is at a urinal.
2. If someone is in a stall and nobody is at the urinal, leave and come back later.
3. If the bathroom is empty, wait at the urinal until someone comes in.
That experience ended in near total failure. Moving to the urinals was as difficult as I feared it would be. First I allowed myself to fall back on avoidant habits and run to the safety of the stalls. Next I was only able to push out a tiny stream when someone else was at the urinal.
This was very dissapointing at the time but I learned a few things about myself in those attempts. First, I did manage a small stream which was more than I'd managed in that situation for some years, second other people had hesitancy at the urinal and that it was OK.
I'm glad I stuck with it because the very next day I had my first real success. I was able to walk up to a urinal while someone else was using another and pee. Not a strong performance considering my urgency of 11/10 but progress!
Three days later I had a breakthrough. In one day I seem to go from one weak success to using the urinal at will. I'm asking myself how this happened, am I cured? Of course, I know I'm not, this is just one battle in a war of attrition I'm fighting with this condition but what a day!
It takes exactly 1 week to bring me back down to earth. I have an early failure to perform in a situation I managed before and it knocks my confidence. Then I allow my Avoidant Behaviour to run the show and it drags me down again. It's pretty depressing but I do manage at least one success in the week.
I ask myself, what changed? And I realize that sometimes you're just going to have a good day when you seem to break through but that doesn't mean you can't drop back down again. The important thing is how far down you drop, so long as you're always making progress, however small, you are winning.
My guess is that I'm at the plateau again. I need to keep working at it until that breakthrough day is everyday.
I know I'm winning because already I know that I can go in a stall standing up with the door wide open. I know that I can go at a urinal if I'm the only one in the bathroom - I'm not plagued by anxiety that I won't be able to go if someone comes in because I just spent a week training myself to WAIT until someone comes in before I would go. I also know that I can go at the urinal if others are in the bathroom (even close by) but are not at the urinal.
All the same, I'll be happy when I can stop drinking 100oz of water a day and just use the bathroom at-will like most other people.
Further reading :
Read how things went from here in Progress Report #9.