DEAR DEIDRE: MY life has been blighted by something that happened when I was a child. It gave me an irrational fear of public toilets that’s stayed with me for the last 50 years.

I was a boy of eight when my mum took me on a day trip to the zoo.

At the end of the day I wanted to go the toilet before we got the bus home. My mum waited while I went in the gents.

A stranger approached me and asked if I needed some help. I can remember the green speckled paint on the walls but I can’t remember what happened in there.

Maybe nothing did but all I know is that I didn’t “go”. The bus journey home was a nightmare. I still needed to go and I felt a bit sick.

My mother asked me why I was so quiet but I couldn’t explain. Since then I can’t use a public toilet without massive stress.

DEIDRE SAYS: I’m glad that you’ve finally reached out for help.

You may never know just what happened or didn’t happen on that day, but you suffered extreme and prolonged anxiety which has affected your life.

Many other people also suffer from paruresis or shy bladder syndrome. Find help at UKPT (

There is no need to feel embarrassed.

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