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Trying to Escape a Chokehold and All the Other Times It’s Okay to Shit Yourself

We should pretty much always give people a get-out-of-shit-free card

Unless you’re a scatophiliac or a legit jerk, chances are you’ve never wanted anything less than to shit yourself in public or private or anywhere other than a private restroom, and if you do, this experience will go down in your personal history (and that of anyone who bore witness) as one of the single most excruciatingly unforgettable events of your life. That said, there are unfortunate times and circumstances where shitting yourself is pretty much written into the cards.

Let’s make one thing very clear: If you’re letting it loose in the back end, it’s overwhelmingly because you had few other options. These shit-worthy life moments underscore the age-old adage that shit happens, and why we should give nearly all shitters a huge break.

You’re a Baby

Babies, if they’re doing it right, shit themselves about one to eight times a day. That is what they do. In a way, you could say that aside from cosmically testing your limits as a decent human, it’s one of their main jobs. They literally have no control over their bowels or bladders until they’re around 2 years old. Not shitting themselves would indicate a medical problem, so it’s perfectly healthy and necessary and good for them to shit all day long, directly into a poop basket we’ve invented called a diaper. Dealing with that poop is part of the social contract, so (hu)man up and handle that shit.

You’re Having a Baby

Long story short, when you give birth to a baby (who is going to shit all day), you’re going to shit while doing it. It’s because you’re pushing out a baby with the same muscles used to push out your shit, and there’s also a (comparatively) giant pressurized force pushing down on your rectum and colon. Try to enjoy this all-day poop pass; it comes around once in a lifetime, or really any time you decide to deliver a baby. All witnesses of vaginal delivery shitting should never speak of it unless it’s with great admiration and praise.

You’re a Marathon Runner

Called the “runners’ trots,” crapping it out while going the distance happens because of a combination of factors: maybe dehydration, definitely intestinal jostling, maybe because blood flow is routed away from the intestines. But enough so that one survey found that 83 percent of marathon runners said it had happened to them during a big endurance run. This is the price one pays for athletic greatness; poop it up and offer no apologies. For everyone else, having to see this and know this is just the price of admission to the big race. Cheer on the poop!

Food Poisoning

If you have food poisoning or any diarrhea, which is literally your body immediately expelling all bad things as soon as possible to save your life, you may shit yourself with impunity if you can’t get to a bathroom. This is because — and this is critical — loss of bowel control during gastroenteritis (stomach flu, traveler’s diarrhea, and so on) is involuntary. That means you literally have no choice. Sucks, but not your fault.

You Just Died

Obviously, if you’re dead, your brain is no longer controlling voluntary or involuntary movements. Your muscles “spontaneously contract,” according to Medical Daily. Plus there’s a lot of gas that has to expel itself. The bad news here is you did shit yourself, but the good news is embarrassment, like life, is only for the living.

You Almost Died

Or in any instance where you’re very afraid, very anxious or even very excited. You could shit yourself because you won the lottery, or got in a car accident, (you can also experience post-traumatic constipation), or went skydiving, or fought in a war, or really any instance that activates the fight or flight syndrome. For some reason, your body musters an acute stress response in these fantastically terrifying situations that involves relaxing the bowel and bladder muscles in a such a way that the body stops digesting and just cleans house. So you can, in fact, be scared shitless.

You’re an MMA Fighter

News that Russian kickboxer Justine Kish crapped herself while in a choke-out recently is interesting but not unique in the slightest, and is sometimes referred to as being inducted into the Hall of Brown. It’s not entirely clear what’s going on: A choke-out involves a temporary loss of consciousness, and while going unconscious does not necessarily cause a bowel movement, strangulation does. Since we know from above that panic could cause the involuntary defecation, and that other fighters have crapped after being kneed or taking a body blow.

What is most likely, according to a UFC fighter MEL spoke with, is that it’s a byproduct of the intense straining that goes on when trying to remove yourself from a choke-out (weight lifters have been known to crap themselves while straining to bench-press, too). He told us that it is probably also from cutting weight the day before a fight—basically, dropping weight quickly to maintain the weight goal can really fuck up your stomach. UFC fighters know this, and some fighters wear only dark-colored gi during a fight to hide this possible outcome. At least here it’s somewhat accepted as a Thing That Happens. So far, hasn’t seem to reduce interest in the sport.

General Fecal Incontinence

There are any number of reasons that adults can lose control of their bowel movements, according to the Mayo Clinic: aging, having given birth, as well as muscle or nerve damage, rectal prolapse, dementia or other physical disabilities. All of which must be managed, and for which there is a great deal of stigma and shame, which reveals how hard it is for us to deal with the problem of our own shit.

All this is to say that a variety of types of shits make being alive dicey as fuck for some people, either in a crazy moment, for a period of time, or all their lives. Shitting yourself involves the logistical problem of needing a bathroom faster than one is humanly possible. This is a serious societal design flaw.

If you’re in the need of an emergency shit and tried to find a bathroom, you know. If you are the parent of any child, you know. If you manage a chronic condition like Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or even anxiety, you know. Even if you, God forbid, simply chose to live in a city where finding a bathroom in a pinch is an exercise in human folly, you know. This is why a handful of apps, like Bathroom Scout, Flush and Sit or Squat, exist entirely for help finding a bathroom in an emergency situation.

This is also why legislation has recently been introduced, and passed in several states, called the Restroom Access Act, that give those with a medical disability in need of a safe place to shit access to a restroom, even those that might otherwise be off-limits to the public. This is quite literally the difference between dignity and relief and utter mortification of the soiliest degree. Currently, only about 14 states have passed it.

Until the rest do, and until we can design a more shit-friendly universe, let’s continue to destigmatize shitting in all forms. All of us, as humans, must come together in one universal truth of human acceptance about the fact of our shits.

Shit we will, shit we do, shit we shall, shit we must, and often whether we mean to or not. Those of us with shit privilege may spend most of our lives shitting where and when we like on your own terms — (“I Shit It My Way” is literally my best joke here; thank you) — but the universe has every one of our numbers and one day, yours is up. Let’s get our shit together.