The Struggle with Staying Clean during Depression

Some days I wish was normal, but most days, I just ask God for the strength to be me ~Stella B

I am a fighter and an overcomer when it comes to plowing through layers and layers of mental health issues. With God, I am always victorious and just elated when I’ve made it to the other side!

Except… when it comes to taking a shower.

I’ve tried pinning one issue, but there’s so much of it. Between being a rape victim and struggling in marriage, it becomes a full on war trying to get clean. And the last thing  I want to see is a body that’s been broken, rejected, and abused. It only makes me feel sick.

There are two ways this goes.

When I’m experiencing trauma triggers, I find this belief that showers can clean what’s been done to me or wash away the hands that have touched me.

On those days, I’m in the shower 2-3 times a day. Sometimes, I sit in the tub until my fingers and toes are unrecognizable. This is all usually accompanied by fits of rage, hyperventilation, and crying.

Then I realized, when I got out of the shower, my skin felt the same. The hands that hurt me were still very much present and all of that showering did nothing for the memories I couldn’t bury.

So what could be the next possible solution?

Not showering, of couse.

I spent a long time unable to deal with the abuse I endured. All of the physical hurt I’ve seen made me believe that I was not even worth being cleaned. I felt dirty, ugly, and disgusted by my body. Nothing could change the internal scars I wore and a shower was far from an option. What’s worse was the longer I went without a shower, the more disgusted I felt by my body.

Normally, when I trade my trauma for depression, it gets extremely difficult to shower. On top of all the trauma, when I’m depressed, I just don’t have the energy to shower. Being clean isn’t a priority and most of the time, I wallow so much, the time just rolls by and I don’t even notice that days have gone by me.

When a combination of depression, anxiety and trauma start melting into my head, I get in the shower and end up alone in my own head. I have flashbacks of traumatic memories and end up trapped there. Sometimes, I’m overthinking a situation and completely disregard the reason I was standing there in the first place.

However, like all symptoms of depression, this one is also defeatable. It takes great will and prayer, but it is possible.

Accountability!

This will sound like madness, but go with me on this. Find an alarm to shower. A human alarm, a phone alarm. Something that goes off DAILY or every other day (daily gets predictable for me so I tend to ignore that).

If alarms go off and you’re still not up for that shower, get a human alarm. Have a friend give you a call or a family member.

There are some rules with this one.

Rule number one, make sure its someone you can trust about your mental health. If they are only going to dog you and make you feel worse about your condition, then that’s not who you need. If it’s someone who is supportive, loving, non-judgmental, or, my favorite, going through it too, then you’re in good hands.

Rule number two, enforcement. The person who is in charge of your showers need to provide either positive or negative reinforcement. If It’s only been a couple of days, my sister uses positive reinforcement to get me in the shower.

“Hey, I noticed it’s been a couple of days. Wouldn’t you like to jump in real quick to get clean and jump right out? It’ll be quick and easy. I’ll pick out your clothes too while you shower”. My sister goes on and on like this to get me in the bathroom and she ensures I get that shower in.

The negative works when it’s really been a while. With my permission, my sister goes off on me! Nothing mentally harmful of course, but things  like “omg you haven’t showered! Girl get up! You’ve got people to see and you can’t see them funky!” It’s kind of silly because I can’t take her seriously, but even that laughing helps and I get up and shower. Just do what works for you with your partner in grime. (You liked that… you know you did.)

Baths instead!

Instead of showers, I’m a huge fan of baths. A few times a week, I get my mom to hang out with my kids and I make a whole date for myself. I bring in my laptop with my favorite t.v. show on and I fill the bath with Aromatherapy from bath and body works. I sit in there and since I’m watching my TV show, there’s no thinking. I sit in there for the duration of the show, get clean, rinse off, and that’s it. It’s over before I know it! And what’s wonderful, I enjoyed the bath! The scents and the t.v. show is always enough and makes the bath more interesting.

Sing it out!

This is absolutely lame, but I’m lame and that’s ok haha! When I know I need to be somewhere important and need to get clean quickly, I have to shower. But to make it less painful, I bring music in with me. They make some really cool shower, Bluetooth speakers that just stick to your wall! You can just sing along with that while you shower. It keeps me from thinking about anyone or anything. I get as loud as I can get over the voices in my head and it helps. Be lame and sing!

You don’t have to stand!

People are sometimes under the impression that showers involve standing only and it’s the only way to get clean. That’s so far from the truth! You can lay down like a bath or sit. Explore those alternatives and see which one makes you more comfortable. Above all, never ever feel the need to apologize for having to sit or lay to shower. If someone sees you in that position, tell them to go away. Or tell them they should be bored with showering standing up and you’re totally changing things up! HAHA!

Make plans!

It helps when I have something going on or when I’m going to work. I remind myself that I’m around tons of funky teens at school as it is and I could not add to that funk! Sometimes that works, but sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, I make plans with a good friend. Someone who I try to impress or that I sincerely care for and want to look good for. I make a whole date with my friend and tell myself dressing up is required. I doll myself up and definitely shower at that point, usually while singing. But I shower!

What are some things that help you get into the shower during depression or anxiety? Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to chat about it!

NOTE: I am not a licensed mental health counselor. I am simply a survivor sharing her story and what worked for me. If you are in need of counseling, please go to www.betterhelp.com or find a local counselor.

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This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Great tips for anyone going through challenging times. I have found neuropsychotherpist helps work through trauma and help the brain heal so the struggles are less.

  2. This is an excellent blog post! So helpful for anyone who is going through depression at the moment (I can relate!).

    – Nyxie

    http://www.nyxiesnook.com

    1. I appreciate it! I hope it helps those in need!

  3. I have experienced both severe depression and sexual assault. My hat is off to you for sharing you story, since it helps others not feel so alone. I love the different bath and shower ideas. I don’t treat myself to a nice aromatherapy bath as often as I would like, but I always find them healing. Much love to you as you move forward in the healing process! ❤️

    1. I appreciate your honesty about what you’ve been through! It’s been a long road to healing, but I’m getting better each day! I will be praying for your strength!

  4. Sorry about what you had to go through. And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience! It can be life-changing to many people! I love the “sing it out” part 🙂

  5. Depression can make so many things difficult to do in our lives! Thank you for sharing your struggles and your advice for helping in those times of need!

    1. I hope it helps someone find their way through! Thanks Holly for stopping by to comment!

  6. Another example of how trauma presents itself if unique ways! Thanks for talking about this <3

    1. I appreciate your support Caitlin!

  7. This is a great, honest post. By sharing this, you are helping more people than you know,

  8. This is eye-opening for me, I really appreciate your honesty and sharing your story. I am very sorry that you had to go through this. This is not how your life is going to be for the rest of your time here on Earth. Hang on to Jesus and He will see you through. This season in your life will pass. Speak to your body and tell it how beautiful it is, God created it perfect, and even though that body was hurt, God can use it for His glory and through your message God can touch and restore many lives. You were a rape victim but the blood of Jesus has made you clean and now you are God’s beautiful girl with a bright future ahead of you. Don’t let your past keep you from your future. Keep sharing your story, keep encouraging women, keep pushing forward! You got this!

    1. Thank you so much for your support and your kind words of encouragement. I hope I can continue to help others with my story and prove that healing is possible!

  9. Your positivity is up lifting. I know it must be difficult to share such personal information but you’re able to do it with grace and humor. Thank you for being courageous and sharing.

  10. I don’t think people realize that when someone is symptomatic, it can be very difficult to shower. Hygiene is something that is evaluated during a mental health assessment for a real reason. We just recently had a woman come into our center who had not showered in over a year. This a great list and I printed it off for work.

    1. People are just not educated on this matter as far as hygiene is concerned. People are not seeing the connection to mental health. I hope this helps the ones that need it! Please email me if I can help in anyway. StellaB@LifewithStellaB.co

  11. Powerful post thank you so much for sharing. So many women can relate!

  12. Oh! My goodness! I cried. I’m a survivor and I am not shower adverse, but do not enjoy them. I think you gave me some insight. I’ve had a lot of good years and a lot of good people who have helped with healing. I don’t hate my body any more and the flashbacks are smoother around the edges. I am so happy to hear about your self insight and your support system. Good job!!!!

  13. Thank you for sharing your experience and tips. This will be much help. I especially love the idea of not needing to stand in the shower and singing out loud.

  14. So many little things become hard when depression rears its head into lives. For so many showering is just a no-biggie, but depression can make something so menial seem like too much. I’m glad that you have found strategies to help you and are sharing them with others!

  15. You are a brave lady, pushing thorugh the hard times and finding a way to make it work. Thank you for being so open in your struggles!

  16. I have family who suffer from depression, and while I can’t truly understand what they go through, I certainly understand how real it is for them and how hard the day-to-day things (like showering) can be. I admire your strength and your willingness to share your experience to help others!

  17. Depression and trauma make life difficult in ways we can’t explain. Thanks for sharing your story and tips to make it a little easier.

  18. I really appreciate how brave you are to be so honest and vulnerable in your blog. While I haven’t experienced your trauma, I have areas of life where I get stuck as well. Your recommendations are great for many of these scenarios! Thank you for sharing.

  19. I found this to be true just in life. I think these are great tips and will help anyone get through tough times.

  20. Thanks for sharing your story. Often we have no idea what others are going through or how hard tasks like showering can be. I understand the whys. Cheering you on, as you journey!

  21. Strength to you! Love that you are open about this and spreading knowledge to others!

  22. This is so very interesting. Thank You for sharing your story as I know that there are so many people who are facing the same challenge. Talking about it is such a positive step! I love your ideas for working on ways to making it a positive experience. and it sounds like you have a faithful sister!

    1. My sister is pretty amazing! She also struggles so we help each other where possible. Thank you for your support and I hope it helps someone!

  23. This was a pretty impactful post. Great tips to share and your honesty adds a genuine touch to the topic. Thank you for sharing.

  24. You’re one strong lady and sharing your story will help so many people, keep writing and sharing and never stop!!! 🤗🤗🤗

    1. thank you!

  25. When reading this, a song by Mandisa “Overcomer” came to mind. God really is incredible when He has a chance to work through our trauma, He really does shine. The best part is He makes us shine bright too. I am a survivor of rape myself, so I truly resonate with your struggles. I commend you for writing about it, and sharing it with strangers. I hope you know how strong you are, and what an inspiring you are to others! Keep shinning!

    1. So honored that you’ve shared your story with me. I hope this reaches the people who need it!

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