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.
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.)
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!
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.