The Talk: How To Tell Others About Your Incontinence

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This post is sponsored by Depend® Brand. All opinions and statements are my own.

Two girls chatting and sitting at a table with water glassesLet’s be honest, it can be really difficult to talk about incontinence. And while it’s hard enough for us to talk with ourselves about our incontinence, it is even more difficult when you have to tell someone else. 

I think that most of us are used to discussing medical issues with our medical professionals. They are used to this stuff! It’s just another day at the office for them, so it’s not as big a deal to us. Diabetes, leg cramps, asthma, incontinence – it’s all the same thing to medical professionals. 

There are other people in our lives, though, that we feel should know about our bladder leakage. People who aren’t in the medical profession and mean more to us than our doctors. Which makes that conversation even more difficult. 

There are ways to have this discussion, but it is in your hands to set yourself up for success. Here are some things to consider while planning to let someone in. 

Is This Someone Who Needs to Know? 

Just because you’ve decided that you need to tell people, doesn’t mean that they need to know. Incontinence is a very common problem and not something to be overly embarrassed about, but we all know that a stigma exists, and we are most likely sensitive to it. So really ask yourself, what benefit is there to this person knowing about your incontinence? 

The babysitter who watches your kids may come across your Depend® FIT-FLEX® in the bathroom, but why would it benefit you or them to have any further information? It wouldn’t. Leave that one alone. 

Your child’s teacher who has seen you excuse yourself from a performance likely didn’t notice, and the librarian from whom you borrowed the bathroom key twice in a half hour doesn’t care. They are dealing with all kinds of things that don’t involve you, so don’t bother. 

Your spouse or someone you’re seriously dating? That is a different story. While they may not need to know every single detail, it is important to be transparent with the people with whom you are most intimately involved. 

It’s All About the Timing

Now that you have decided who you might want to share this information with, you need to think a bit about the timing. You are not telling anyone that you have a lethal diagnosis or that you are running away to be married, so it’s not necessary to call a meeting or create a dramatic moment. This is a fairly common medical diagnosis that you’re sharing; nothing more, nothing less. 

For this type of discussion with a friend or family member, you need to go with your gut. If you and your best friend share things in passing at your baseball game each week, that may be the time to throw out the information. No biggie, I’m dealing with this, it sucks, and it’s time to go up to bat. 

If you and your partner have a “catch up” time on Thursday evenings where you get to spill about the last few days, that might be your moment. Feel it out with each person to find the time that feels the most right to you. 

Drop Some Clues

There are some people in our lives who we believe need to know about our bladder leakage, but we are too nervous to just come out and say it. People we are dating and think it may become serious, friends that may also have incontinence but we are nervous to talk to, or even family members that we want to tell, but might not need to. 

This is where clues come in handy. You don’t have to give up the whole shebang in one conversation. It is totally appropriate for you to lay a little groundwork if you are nervous. 

Maybe you and the other person are having a random conversation about health. They haven’t been sleeping well or their back hurts. This would be the moment for you to say, “Yeah, I’ve been dealing with a few health issues as well. I’m in touch with my doctor, so we’ll see! I’m sure it’ll all be fine.” Make sure that you don’t say anything they are going to worry about, but you’ve now let just a little bit slip. 

Next time you see them (or whenever feels comfortable), you can continue the conversation by saying, “Remember those health issues I mentioned? Yeah, I’m dealing with some incontinence. It’s really frustrating, have you ever had anything like that?” Chances are they’ll give you a story about someone they know (we ALL know someone dealing with bladder leakage!) or even a story about themselves. 

And if you’re looking for a place to practice having that conversation, check out The Incontinence Community on Facebook. It’s a closed Facebook group for people who experience incontinence, and you’ll find many people who can relate to what you’re going through.

Watch Your Energy

The most important piece in telling anyone about your incontinence is the energy you bring to it. If you are nervous, you are going to make them nervous. If you are scared, they will be scared. 

Before you tell someone, take a breath. If you are calm, they will feel your energy. It might sound funny, but it’s very true. You will pass whatever feelings you have about bladder leakage on to the person you are telling, so it is up to you to keep things together. Keep the conversation light. In the same manner with which you talk about your favorite sport being done for the season or the movie you can’t watch at home until it is out of theaters, speak about your bladder leakage. 

It’s annoying, bladder leakage. It is! It is okay to feel that way. That is a very normal, healthy response. But it doesn’t have to change your world or the relationships you have with other people. Telling someone about your medical issues can be intimidating, but you will feel better for having done it. Hiding things from those we love takes a lot more energy than being honest. Have some faith in yourself and those who love you. You can do this. 

One Comment

  1. I agree that proper timing is also important to look into when planning to talk about urinary incontinence. I plan to find a good incontinence treatment soon because I’ve been having a lot of trouble with that lately. I don’t want to wear adult diapers any time soon.

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