How to stop incontinence affecting your mentality
At HARTMANN Direct, we are interested in understanding the impact of incontinence on the mind as well as the body. We are aware that issues of bladder and bowel control can be physically draining, especially for the elderly.
However, what is less well addressed is the emotional impact of incontinence. The worry and concern of what is happening with your body combine with the embarrassment and shame of the “accidents” when they occur.
Therefore, we feel it is vital to focus on maintaining a positive mentality, even when struggling with control over trips to the bathroom.
How might incontinence affect your mental health?
What we want to avoid is extreme. This extreme is when your incontinence begins to create significant psychological problems.
You could start to feel socially isolated and develop issues with your body. It is possible that any broken relationship could lead to a conclusion that you have been rejected because you are not normal or are embarrassing to know. You may feel a loss of control over your life.
Research suggests that you are unlikely to ask for help if you struggle with incontinence. You may deny it is happening or try to hide it from those you love. This will, in turn, exacerbate feelings of isolation.
How can you maintain a positive mentality?
First, you need to accept that this change has happened to your body.
One of the most destructive emotions for our attitude is denial. By not seeking help, by telling yourself it is not happening, you leave yourself vulnerable to accidents and the condition getting worse. Most cases of bladder and bowel incontinence are quickly resolved with the right diet, exercises or medication. Therefore, the best way to maintain a positive mentality is to seek control over the condition by asking for help.
Second, you may feel anxious due to a lack of control over bodily functions.
This is to be expected, as you do not want your private and personal activity to become public. This should not limit the life you lead. You should not stop yourself from taking part in social activities, isolating yourself, as you feel you need to be near a bathroom.
One way to reduce this anxiety is with careful planning. You can monitor the intake of food and drink when approaching a social activity. Alternatively, you can use products, such as pads, which allow you to continue with regular activity without worry.
It is also possible that you feel angry and a certain amount of grief at a body that is no longer in its prime. This can lead to depression if not addressed. It is best to be open about these feelings and to talk these through with those close to you, or a professional if necessary. The sense of loss you feel has likely become disproportionate. There are also strategies you can use that will keep your mind from drifting to this negative, such as mindfulness and meditation.
Ultimately, we are at our most positive when we are active. If we allow circumstances to drift, it becomes easier to fall victim to conditions such as incontinence. Therefore, you need to seek ways of helping your condition and your approach to your health.
You may want to begin by adapting your diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising your pelvic floor muscles. You may want to consider seeing the GP and talking through the positives and negatives of medication. You can give up smoking, caffeine and alcohol, all of which will leave you feeling unhealthier and could worsen your symptoms.
Managing sleep could be a huge help to your mentality. If your incontinence is affecting your sleep, then you will start to feel low from exhaustion. Taking steps to maintain healthy sleeping habits could make all the difference.
Ultimately, you maintain a positive attitude with incontinence by taking back your control in all the ways you still can.