We've all been there.
Since she lives so close to where she works, my friend Jean is the envy of all her co-workers. No, it's not because she has a short commute or that she can go home for lunch — it's that she can go home to poop.
For some people, having to go to the bathroom is all about location, location, location — and they will do almost anything not to go number two at work.
We think about pooping all the time, but the thought of having to poop at work absolutely terrifies some people and they'll only go to the bathroom to avoid a horrible accident at their desk. It's because they're so confident and task-oriented, they can simply strut into the bathroom and do the deed.
Like the children's book Everybody Poops, everybody does poop, and that includes your boss, your boss's boss — even the CEO of your company. Pooping at work doesn't make you less professional, as the most successful people poop at work.
But for a lot of people, pooping at work certainly isn't their cup of tea. And drinking tea instead of coffee would probably help you avoid your anxiety about pooping in the first place. But since most of us make coffee a part of our morning ritual, it's no wonder we can't prevent pooping at work.
We all know that coffee is a diuretic, and it makes sense. A study found that "... Coffee may induce a 'gastrocolonic response' by acting on epithelial receptors in the stomach or small bowel ... Coffee has been shown to promote release of Gastrin which can increase colonic spike and motor activity."
So, no, it's not all in your head that you feel the need to poop after a nice cup of coffee. Coffee, indeed, makes you poop.
There are many sufferers of pooping-at-work-anxiety, and you may be one of them. But if you want to get ahead in your career, you'll need to face those fears and conquer them.
Start by asking yourself these important questions:
- Do you sit in the stall until you're sure you're the only one in the restroom before you do your business?
- Have you ever walked into the bathroom after someone has pooped and wanted to tell the next five people who came in after you that it wasn't you?
- Do you wish that every bathroom stall was outfitted with toilet seat covers, toilet paper, a waste-basket, and air freshener?
- Have you ever cursed the lock manufacturer while you tried to poop and hold the stall door closed with your foot?
- Do you feel judged by the amount of time you spend on the toilet at work?
- Will you go up three floors and use the restroom, hoping you won't see anyone you work with directly, and still pray that it doesn't get back to your supervisor that you were pooping in the Human Resources bathroom?
- Did you switch from coffee to green tea, not because it's good for you but because tea doesn't put the BM in motion?
- Have you ever tried to disguise the sounds of your pooping by pretending you're on your cell phone?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could have pooping-at-work anxiety.
You can try to hold in your poop until you make it home, but that might have long-term medical consequences. Studies have shown that not pooping can lead to colorectal cancer. But that's not the only negative consequence of holding it in.
Dr. Anish Sheth, a gastroenterologist, says that chronically holding in your poop can lead to pelvic floor dyssynergia: "The muscles that are involved in going to the bathroom basically become uncoordinated. They begin to lose the ability to function normally."
Sheth says this is a disorder that affects women who have given birth, as well as adolescent girls who are afraid and embarrassed to use the bathroom at school.
And just like these girls, you're also too scared to use the restroom at work! Constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain really do seem like a high price to pay for not pooping, just so nobody at work will gossip about you.
So, here are some tips to help you conquer your pooping-at-work anxiety, and successfully poop at work. Once you start pooping like a boss, you might even get a promotion to go along with your new found confidence:
- Discourage gossiping in the bathroom. No one needs an audio audience to your intestinal symphony. Besides, why do you think there's a break room anyway? It's for all that smack talk about Ted in Accounting.
- Toilets aren't for texting. You're not in the stall for your personal texts/calls, but for your personal business. Do you think the movers and shakers at your company use the bathroom for text time? No, they don't. Your stall game plan should be to get in and out, in a timely manner.
- Suggest scents for every stall. Cover ups aren't good in politics, but they're very helpful in making the bathroom a non-hostile environment. If your suggestion is vetoed, carry a small can of air freshener in your purse.
- Keep an eye on bathroom cleanliness. There are probably employees whose tasks include bathroom maintenance, but that doesn't mean the rest of the staff can treat the restroom like it's the only working bathroom at a Frat house.
Your boss, the CFO, and even your work rival all poop, and they're not going to think any less of you if you poop at work. If you poop your pants because you're trying to wait until after work, or until lunch when everyone leaves the office, your employer might consider giving you a psych evaluation.
So, if you have to go, just do it. Go ahead and poop. There's nothing to be ashamed of. Even the most successful people poop. Hell, the CEO of your company is probably doing the same thing in their private bathroom ... you just don't know about it.