Teen With Toilet Phobia Died After Holding It In For Two Months

It’s always really, really bothered me that elementary and high schools put such restrictions on when kids and teenagers can go to the bathroom. Holding in your urine can cause bladder infections, which are no fun, or worse, kidney infections, which can land you in the hospital. But what I’d never considered was the negative consequences of holding in your poop, because frankly, that is not something I have ever been able to do. I’m not saying I have shit my pants, but I’m not saying I haven’t either.

Anyway, I bring all this up not because talking about poop is fun (though it often is), but because I just read the most tragic story that serves as an extreme cautionary tale for why you should listen when nature calls. Emily Titterington, a 16-year-old English girl with mild autism, died two years ago from a heart attack, but just this week an inquest confirmed it was caused by severe constipation from “stool withholding.” Titterington apparently had a terrible phobia of toilets and refused to use the bathroom for two months. Yes, you read that correctly.

Paramedics who responded to the emergency call back in 2013 said the teen’s swelled abdomen was “grossly extended,” her chest cavity was compressed and her “lower ribs had been pushed out further than her pubic bone.” If she had gotten medical attention sooner, she likely would have lived, but Titterington also had serious anxiety around doctors and refused medical treatment. It sounds like she desperately needed mental health services as well. Her mother told the BBC that Emily’s death could have been prevented “if my daughter had been designated a support person, a professional person allocated to herself that she could build a relationship with.” It’s unclear whether such services were available to her before her untimely passing.

This is both so horrifying and heartbreaking all at once. [NY Daily News]