And now, a few words on a subject bipolar people don’t like to talk about: our reluctance to shower.
I honestly don’t know what it is about performing personal hygiene that’s so hard, but it’s a real phenomenon among many of us, especially when we’re depressed. It just seems like too much of a bother. We’re not afraid of the shower, we simply lack the energy to care for ourselves, and that extends to getting dressed, caring for our hair, even brushing our teeth. And as for actually bathing away the funk, well…let’s just say that it’s the last thing on our minds when we can barely get out of bed.
Look, we know we stink. But it doesn’t matter when we’re wading through the mud of depression. My daughter’s roommate, who suffers badly from it, will literally go months without a shower. And as much as I hate to admit it, I myself have been known to go as long as a week, although one of the reasons was a legitimate one: the bathtub showers in our old house were slippery and dangerous, and having a textured bottom didn’t allow for rubber mats or gripper strips. The sides were also high, which made getting in and out dicey at best, and I lived in fear of falling and having the paramedics see me naked. So that made a great excuse for failing to shower…in my mind at least.
Now I don’t have that excuse, seeing as how my son and son-in-law’s house has a beautiful walk-in shower. It also helps that I’m NOT depressed. Guess what, I’ve showered four times in the week that we’ve been here, and I’m going to take another one tonight. I’ve even come to enjoy it again like I used to years ago, before bipolar disorder took over my life for awhile. I love the feeling of being clean and smelling nice. Showering also makes me feel better about myself—a win/win situation all around. Such a simple thing…but one I no longer take for granted.
When I’m in a bad way, I’m very fortunate in that my husband will leave me gentle hints about my needing to bathe by putting clean underwear in the bathroom for me, rather than going “Ewww, you reek!!” He knows I would never put clean underwear on a filthy body, so while I may neglect myself from time to time I’m not stupid. That’s when I’ll drag my sorry butt into the shower and git-r-done, no matter how lousy I feel or how scared I am of climbing into the tub. Thank God I no longer have to worry about the latter.
Anyway, that’s a little bit about bipolars and showers (or the lack thereof). We don’t like to acknowledge this uncivilized behavior as part of our illness, but for many of us it is. I just hope the next time I get depressed that I’ll remember how much better I feel when I don’t smell like a goat. LOL