Saturday, 25 February 2023

The Days I Can’t Shower

quote [ When I talk about depression, others often confuse it with sadness. But it isn’t sadness that paralyzes me. Depression isn’t sadness on steroids. It’s apathy taken to new extremes. ]

Slowly getting better, it's a work in progress.


Steam clouds the bathroom mirror.

I sit on the toilet seat and watch the shower spray for what feels like hours. It’s minutes. Days have gone by since I last bathed, though how many days I cannot remember. My memory and I are not friends.

I see dirt beneath my nails, on the fingers which still have any nail I haven’t torn down to the pink base. The skin is inflamed from anxious tearing. Some of the dirt under the nails, I realize, is blood.

Grease coats the fine roots of my hair. Acne dots my skin like freckles. My breath smells. I like brushing my teeth — the minty feeling of a fresh mouth — but I do not know when I last did.

I have work in an hour yet I can’t move. I want to shower. I need to shower. Yet it is as if my bones are lead. My legs will not lift.

I longingly stare into the shower for a while before I shut the water off. I can’t today. Maybe tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow, I say. I know tomorrow I’ll say again that I have tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

This is the reality of my depression.

Photo by M.T ElGassier/Unsplash
I celebrate the days I manage to clean up.

It’s funny, really. When I finally get in that shower and feel the grime of days’ past wash off me, I cannot imagine a day I’ll never want to shower again. There is comfort in the heated water, like the envelopment of a warm blanket or of comforting arms.

Yet it happens again. And again. And again.

I struggle to find the motivation. That nagging darkness in my head tells me, “What does it matter?”

It even replies to itself, saying, “It doesn’t.”

Nothing matters, I’m convinced. What if my hair is nasty? What if my nails are broken and bleeding and dirty? What if my teeth ache and my breath stinks?

“None of it matters,” that demon says. “Because you don’t matter.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1 (800) 273–8255

When I talk about depression, others often confuse it with sadness. But it isn’t sadness that paralyzes me. Depression isn’t sadness on steroids. It’s apathy taken to new extremes.

Sadness is triggered by some sort of happenings — an event in your life, perhaps. A sad moment. Something makes you sad. And as that trigger passes, sadness too can pass. You still maintain the ability to feel joy.

Depression saps out the capability to feel happiness; often, to feel anything at all. I do not feel happy and I do not feel sad. It’s emptiness.

That emptiness rolls over into my hygiene. And as much as I want to be clean, I want to take care of myself, the darkness says again, “None of it matters.”

I begin to shame myself. I become repulsed and disgusted. This digs me into a further hole, where I begin to think, “If I am so gross and disgusting, I’ve proven to myself that I really don’t matter.” It’s not true, and we still matter, clean or not. But depression makes it hard to convince yourself of that.

I lose the motivation and energy to do something as simple as combing my hair. Fatigue tires out my body. It’s a neverending tiredness, one sleep won’t cure.

I will lay in bed right up until I only have minutes to leave for work — and by then, it’s too late to shower.

But there’s always tomorrow, I say.

Photo by Sasha Freemind/Unsplash
I don’t have a magic cure for fixing the issue of hygiene and depression. It’s a battle I fight every day. The only real “help” with depression is seeking it from a professional — be it your doctor or therapist, or both.

I’m on medication now but my battle rages on. But there are a few tips to get through those harder days.

Dry shampoo. I can’t say it enough. I have fine hair greasy by the end of the day, even when I have showered. Dry shampoo can be sprayed on and combed out. Baby powder is another alternative. I also often wear a hat to hide my hair.
Mouthwash. Although it can’t replace the cleanliness that comes with brushing, sloshing some mouthwash can still help with those bad breath days. Chewing gum can also go a long way.
Shower seats. Sometimes standing in the shower is alone too much effort. A seat makes it easier to sit beneath the shower spray and let the water do all the work for you. Other times, I’ll sit at the bottom of the tub while the shower runs. Depression exhausts the body.
Combining tasks. Seeing how much you need to do at once can be overwhelming. Do tasks together. I’ll brush my teeth at the same time as I shower— two birds, one stone.
Set an alarm. Often, I don’t perform many hygiene rituals because I simply forget. Forgetfulness isn’t uncommon with depression. You can set an alarm on your phone to tell you when to brush your teeth, shower, pick out tomorrow’s work outfit. It can make the task feel more like an obligation and not something to ignore.
Baby wipes. You can use these to wipe down your most “sweaty” places. It might not fully replace a shower, but it’s a step toward being cleaner. You can also try cleaning down with a sponge or damp rag.
Put on some music. Sometimes I’ll make a shower playlist and let my phone sit in the sink while I shower. I put my focus on the music instead of on myself. It makes the shower go by faster and I’ll forget the effort I’m putting in just to shower at all.
Do it differently. When I can’t manage to get my entire body in the shower, I’ll kneel beside the tub and put just my head in to clean my hair and face. You can also change the scenery by using a kitchen sink to wash off in. If you’re used to showers, try taking baths. If you do baths, try showers. A little change can help.
Build a routine. If showering every day or every other day is too much, try to set a routine. Choose a day you will clip or clean your nails. A day to focus on your teeth or to focus on your hair. Monday can be shower day, Tuesday teeth day, Wednesday nail day — you get the picture.
Ask for help. It’s not shameful to ask for help, be it from family, friends, or your significant other. It can be as simple as them running a warm bath for you or helping set up your toothbrush. Friends can also help motivate you from afar, be it with positive talk or reminders to care for yourself.
In the end, don’t try to do everything at once. It’s too easy to become overwhelmed and give up.

Don’t be ashamed if you can’t manage any of these tips. Depression is not something to be shameful of. Depression is an uphill battle, but a battle we must fight and battle we will win.

I have to trust in that. I want you to trust in it, too. We’ve got this. Together.
[SFW] [health] [+6 Insightful]
[by mechavolt@7:39pmGMT]


Hugh E. said @ 6:37am GMT on 26th Feb
I don't remember writing that article, but its content says I did. Oh well.

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