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Pilgrims with mental health issues?

Hi guys!

I have a slight case of OCD and major Generalized anxiety disorder (very claustrophobic and panic attacks in certain situations).

I am fully functional and friendly and everything else any ordinary person would be, but will be needing some little extra help in some situations:

1. Washrooms and showers.

My need is: someone to watch the door for me, as I do not want to lock the doors (cannot do that due to anxiety/claustrophobia) and also being in an unknown/unfamiliar place (causes a lot of anxiety when on my own), will need somebody that can help me during showering times (preferably my partner or someone of my same gender) that can watch the door for me and talk to me if I get overly nervous in the shower stall (just holla at me from the door so I know I am not alone).

Does anybody have any advice on this?

As I said, I AM fully functional, but just need some little support here and there. I never hesitate to extend a hand in help to someone who may need it also, but wonder if the albergues are OK with people with mental health issues and their special needs?

Cheers and thanks for reading!

:)
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
Most albergues have no issues at all with mental health issues. I daresay a large number of your fellow pilgrims will be dealing with some mental challenge or problem or anguish as they walk.

But if you "need extra support" in the bathroom, you may need to bring your own. Walk with someone you know, who knows your needs in advance. Perhaps a family member or friend can be persuaded to come along? Or maybe you will bond with another pilgrim who can help you out. Or maybe you can afford a hostal or hotel with a full-size bathtub and fewer space-sharing issues. Albergues can be rather crowded places, and I find the lower bunk in a packed-out pilgrim hostel even more cramped than a shower stall! (I get mild claustrophobia myself sometimes.)

The hospitalero can´t be expected to watch doors for you or talk with you while you shower, especially if he is a she! Forgive me if I am being presumptuous, but maybe this is your opportunity to work through this issue. By the time you walk 20+ kilometers in the hot sun, your physical exhaustion and longing for a cool, clean shower might be more powerful than your fear.
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Hi, I would think that a lot of the time if you ask someone to stand outside the shower door you will be fine, in general other pilgrims are helpful. If you suffer from Claustrophobia, some of the dorms may feel overwhelming, there is little room in some. You may do better to stay in Private Albergues, where there are fewer people to a room. Be sure you have your anxiety management strategy ( relaxation exercise, breating, paper bag etc )in place, so if you have a panic attack you know how to help yourself through it. Perhaps have a set of written instructions in several languages, you can pull out, so others know how to assist you if something happens. I am a bit OCD re cleanliness and worried about that before starting my walk, I carried Jandals to wear in the shower and ended up ditching them as I did not want to carry them. I do confess to standing on my heels in a few showers as I did not want the whole of my foot to touch the shower bottom. In France I had no problems. Now I have Crocs Cleo Sandals as my second footwear, which if necessary I can wear in a shower if it looks gross.
Hope this helps, Gitti
 

Busybee

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (March/April 2012)
Personally I think you will be fine - go for it!

Almost everyone I met on my Camino would have helped you in the ways you need if you had asked them and explained. You will have a Camino family in no time that will look out for you.

I had a foster child live with me for a while with OCD and panic attacks. It was very hard for him, every day was a struggle, so I think you are very brave, and I think you will love the Camino.

Would love to hear how it all goes for you :D

Buen Camino!
 

duncan pm

Member
I am sure that the support will be there and readily forthcoming.
I have depression which has changed my life beyond measure. My O.C.D is a matter I live with within certain clear limitations. I too have great issues with doors - stemming from times when the handles were on one side only. Aversion to touching surfaces, handles and other such is a real problem for me whilst away from my house - public bathrooms/washrooms are anathema. Anxiety has been helped or to some degree mitigated by psychotherapy - I readily commend it.
In these ways the camino does not differ as far as one may fear from daily life so I entirely and warmly encourage you - both in your daily living and on your journey towards Santiago.
Wishing you the very best,
Duncan.
 
Hi everyone and thanks to you all for your comments! :)

I will not be walking alone, for sure. I am going with my partner, who is well aware of my issues, which will be quite helpful, as always when we do something together :)

I am not concerned about the hike itself, just the minor moments like showering and stuff you have to do indoors and such. I think my main issues are the doors and having anybody close the door on me and so on, but I am sure we can solve it somehow!

Thanks so much for all of your comments again, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your kind words and encouragement!!!

Hugs to you all!!
 

Sagalouts

RIP 2015
Hi
as 1 in 4 of us will suffer a mental issue in our lifetime,and in my experience on the Camino that figure could be doubled, so you will not be on your own,also not too many doors to lock on the shower stalls-quite a lot have just curtains a lot are mixed sexed and it is very rare to be in there on your own-once a French lady introduced herself to me both of us oblivious to the fact that we were both naked
don't know if a pair of swimming trunks would help you.
I do not want to belittle your condition by any means,but not for nothing do the Spanish describe the Camino as the mad house-so please try not to worry,you will be among friends
Ian
 
Aww thanks Ian, how sweet of you! I had actually not thought about the fact that you could have mixed sexes showering...wow, I may have to actually look up a bathing suit!!!

Thanks for the comment!

<3 to all!
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
sagalouts said:
Hi
as 1 in 4 of us will suffer a mental issue in our lifetime,and in my experience on the Camino that figure could be doubled, so you will not be on your own,also not too many doors to lock on the shower stalls-quite a lot have just curtains a lot are mixed sexed and it is very rare to be in there on your own-once a French lady introduced herself to me both of us oblivious to the fact that we were both naked
don't know if a pair of swimming trunks would help you.
I do not want to belittle your condition by any means,but not for nothing do the Spanish describe the Camino as the mad house-so please try not to worry,you will be among friends
Ian
Excellent advice. I don't suffer from OCD (although I have my bridge-crossing panic attacks) but I think trunks in the shower are a good idea for everyone in some places you stay. Buen Camino!
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
There is no need to shower every day. Daily showering is over-rated.
Inspect the shower before you undress...Spare yourself the agony by not showering if you don't feel comfortable with the situation. Every couple of days (up to once a week maybe) you could get a private room in a modest hotel and shower to your heart's content with the shower door open to your room.

The Camino is a metaphor for life. Every pilgrim on the Camino experiences issues, big or small, that they must deal with. In my case, the issues followed me there from home. While I walked, I had lots of time to reflect on my feelings and reactions to the situations. People at home have commented on how I have changed. Everyone's experience is different.

People who say "Go for it" and "Everything will be all right" may be overly optimistic.
I would suggest, like others have, that many many pilgrims bring personal baggage. How they deal with it is up to them.

I don't think I've got out exactly what I want to say, but anymore will only confuse things further.
Buen Camino
David, Victoria, Canada.
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
Well said David, yes our baggage follows us, our Camino's gives us an opportunity to deal with them if we want too!

& yes we do change, a better perspective on things/life :)

David
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
David: I am just before our vegetarian albergue, and the site of your conquest of the Dragonte route. THAT was a real high! The albergue is closed for reasons unknown.

Greetings to you and Fran from Don and me.

Tom
 

Abbeydore

Veteran Member
falcon269 said:
David: I am just before our vegetarian albergue, and the site of your conquest of the Dragonte route. THAT was a real high! The albergue is closed for reasons unknown.

Greetings to you and Fran from Don and me.

Tom
Hi Tom & Don,
Does Don need some more compeed :lol: , or are his new boots holding up!
Yes I drank to much that night!
They maybe in Barcelona?
Buen Camino or is that Camino Buen

David
 

Priscillian

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Hey PotterHead!

From my own professional point of view: Before you leave.. consider hypnotherapy, in particular with CBT. There are a number of very affective techniques within this field and related ones (EMDR and FET for example) which can get you over the blockages you have been experiencing. (I "invited" them in to my own therapy practice before I gave it up as a profession earlier this year. The reduction in time spent with individual clients was extraordinary.)

TS
 

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