Overcoming Catheter Related Anxiety
Mental Health Awareness week falls in May and, the theme this year, is anxiety. Being told you need to catheterise or be fitted with a catheter can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Here we look at some ways in which you overcome and limit catheter related anxiety.
Take Ownership of your Situation
Whilst you can’t do anything to change the fact that you have a catheter, or need to catheterise, by taking ownership of the situation and being in control can help minimise the anxiety you feel. Write down any numbers of use so that you can find them in a hurry; contact numbers for your District Nurses, Carers, local Urology unit and the pharmacy/DAC that you get your supplies from are all useful to have to hand.
Take stock of what products you are using, note how often you use them and work out when you will need to order more. This way you will have confidence that you won’t be caught short and run out of supplies.
Does the thought of going out for the day give you the fear? Don’t let your catheter keep you a prisoner in your own home, just prepare for the “What Ifs”. What if the public toilets are not the cleanest? Pack some anti bac wipes and hand gel to keep your area as clean as possible. What if the the toilets are locked? Get a Radar Key which can unlock disabled toilets across the UK. What if I have a leak? Take a change of clothes and extra drainage bags/catheters. If you prepare as much as you can you’ll find that your anxiety will be less as, again, you’ll be more in control. Plus the more you get used to doing it, the more second nature it’ll become.
Anxiety Fueled by Isolation
When you are suffering from a chronic health condition it might feel that no one in your family or social circle gets what you are going through. This can give way to feelings of isolation which is detrimental to a persons mental wellbeing. In order to feel less isolated it is important that you reach out and find support groups, so you can learn from others experiences; people who know what is like to be in your shoes. Such groups can be found online on social media sites such as Facebook. There is a whole community of people on Instagram that document living with various chronic illnesses and/or living with a catheter. Just search hashtags such as #catheterlife, #Spoonie, #InvisibleIllness or #ChronicIllness and open the doors to an online community of like minded individuals.
Find the Right Products
Finding the right continence products for you will be game changing and really improve your quality of life. If you are a male and you currently use pads, you might want to consider a sheath system for greater dignity and discretion. If you have an indwelling catheter but have suitable bladder tone and capacity, a catheter valve is a much more discreet option for drainage. Have to use a leg bag? Why not try a three chambered design? It will balloon less so won’t be as obvious under clothes.
One of the biggest worries as a catheter user is the fear of the dreaded Catheter Associated Urinary Tract infection! But there are steps you can take to help reduce the risk of infection.