Having a leaky bladder may seem like a physical issue, but it also impacts our mental health. On top of the usual stressors—work, family, finances, keeping up with social media, etc.—experiencing incontinence can add an extra edge of uncertainty and angst to our day-to-day lives. It can affect decisions we make about where we go, what we wear, how we relate to the people around us and how we feel.
While feelings are trickier to measure than physical symptoms, they are just as important to acknowledge and treat. Taking care of our minds as well as our bodies can go a long way toward building our confidence about dealing with bladder leaks.
So what should you do if you’re feeling sad (or lonely, anxious, frustrated, angry, uninterested, overwhelmed—all the emoticons) about having a leaky bladder? The first line of action, of course, is talking honestly to a physician or mental health professional and following their recommendations for treatment. There’s no substitute for help from a trained expert. But there are some things you can try on your own to help improve your outlook and overall quality of life, too.
You might not feel ready or comfortable enough to disclose or discuss your incontinence with close friends or family members. Perfectly understandable. You don’t have to talk about it, but there are lots of places you can go if you need to talk about your experiences and feelings. Thanks to the internet, you can easily seek out support and advice from websites (like ours!), social media groups and online chat rooms. You might find it more helpful to join a group that meets in person, so talk to your doctor or mental health specialist for recommendations.
Talking is powerful. Start (or just listen to) conversations with like-minded women who share your situation. If you’re a new mom, for example, look for a group that’s chatting about post-partum incontinence. There’s nothing more comforting—or informative—than hearing the stories of women who can empathize with what you’re going through, whether it’s peeing when you pick up the baby or leaking every time you laugh.
When it comes to minding your mental health, know what else is powerful? A strong social life. People are social by nature, so being engaged and active is good for your mental health—and for your friendships, romantic relationships and family ties.
Join friends for a walk, try that trendy new restaurant or take a salsa dancing class. Like physical exercise, staying emotionally connected with the people and experiences you enjoy is actually therapeutic. Sure, you may have to adapt and employ some new leak-protection strategies when you go out, but we’re here to help you do just that.
Finally, consider developing some new interests and habits that help alleviate your anxiety about incontinence. In general, look for activities that calm your mind and help you focus on positive emotions. Spend time in nature. Start keeping a journal. Practice meditation. Get creative. Whatever interests you is something you should try. Engaging in activities that support self-careis always important, but never more so than when you face challenges.