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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 09:51 GMT
Toilet phobia makes life hard
Pete Nunes
Pete says a childhood experience may have been key
Pete Nunes has had a problem with going to the toilet since he was just six years old.

He struggles from obsessive compulsive disorder and constantly worries about dirt, germs and contamination issues.

Pete lived in Jamaica until he was 11 and thinks his earliest experience of contamination issues was connected with a cousin who used to pull out his milk teeth for him.

He remembers becoming very anxious about dirt and germs when she did this after combing a woman's hair.

It has had a massive impact on my life
Pete Nunes

Toilets are a particular problem for Pete. He always makes sure he uses the toilet at home before he goes out in order to minimise any need he might have to use a toilet away from home.

He will never sit on the seat of a toilet or allow his children to.

After he has used the toilet he will only touch taps and door handles if he uses paper towels. If there are no paper towels available he will use his elbows or even his feet.

Under control

If Pete, who is now 40 and lives in Manchester, has to use a public toilet whilst out this will result in him being unable to eat afterwards because fear of contamination is too strong.

He simply won't use a public toilet at all if he feels it is too dirty.

He also worries about other people's standards of hygiene.

In food shops and takeaways he often finds himself thinking about what the assistants may have been doing before serving the food.

However, he believes he has at least started to get to grips with his condition since he started running an anxiety disorders self-help group 12 years ago.

"It has had a massive impact on my life. When I was younger most of my friends would never ask me to do anything at all because they thought I was quite strange," he said.

"Now I know it is still there, and I still have anxiety, and ritual behaviour, but I feel it is under much, much better control, I can desensitise myself to certain situations."

Pete said the key was for people to admit they had a problem - and to seek help.

"A lot of people suffer in isolation with this problem, and until they speak to others who can give support and understanding they never move forward," he said.

Millions 'hit by toilet phobia'
10 Nov 06 |  Health

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