Things in life we take for granted. The air. Water. The quality of 94% of Kevin Costner movies. The basics of going to the toilet.
It’s the latter that this Geeks Vs Loneliness is going to zero in on, though. Because it’s such a fundamental assumption that, if you aren’t able to fully control when you go to the toilet, inevitably it can turn life upside down.
It’s often forgotten that the human body is a high maintenance, quite brilliant piece of organic matter. Even the healthiest among us have to take it to the loo several times a day. If you aren’t able to control that, it inevitably presents difficulties. And, depressingly, a level of stigma.
There’s a joke in the midst of the perfectly decent new Goosebumps movie where a character is shopping, and has adult diapers in his trolley. I’ll save you the Google Translate, UK chums. Adult nappies or pads. Anyway, another character does a joke about this, chortle, and we move on.
But the truth is that if you don’t have full control – and this is something that affects people of all ages – that adult pads come in bloody useful. And lots and lots of people use them. In fact, just shy of one in five of us are affected in some way by incontinence, and yet when do you hear it talked about? Furthermore, if someone within your place of work/education/circle of friends were to be open about the fact that they use pads, what do you think the reaction would be? Could everyone be trusted to deal with that information with the sensitivity and understanding it deserves?
I genuinely don’t know the answer to that, but I do think some urgent destigmatising has to happen.
As it stands, what you find is people see the symptoms. An occasional odour, or wet patch. And sadly again, human nature is still some variant of stare and point. Or make a comment. And every one of those comments can feel like another knife going into the back of someone who lives with continence issues on a day to day basis.
This, then, is a simple call for understanding. Accepting there are few things funnier on planet Earth than the breaking of human wind, if you catch a related smell that hasn’t been accompanied by an associated thunderclap, just pause a second. If you see that someone has a bit of dampness, the same. None of these things hurt you or harm you in any way, yet they may be causing all sorts of anxieties for the person affected.
And if you’re living with continence issues day to day, an extra virtual hug for you. It’s a tough one. The last thing most of us want to do, outside of folk dancing, is discuss toilet issues, nor do we have any obligation to do so.
Let’s, between us, see if we can start changing the conversation, growing more understanding, and getting back to those 94% of Kevin Costner films. And you all stay awesome.
Thanks, as always, for reading.