The Ways Depression Affects My Personal Hygiene
One thing about mental health that doesn’t seem to be mentioned a lot is hygiene. So, let’s talk about hygiene!
I haven’t brushed my teeth in at least a month. To most people, that seems disgusting… and it is disgusting. But to me it’s the norm. Not brushing my teeth, not combing my hair, not showering is all completely normal behaviur in my book. Living with a mental illness is a challenge at the best of times, so let’s add personal hygiene into the equation. I wake up every morning thinking the same thing I do every day. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes. Everyday is the same — how can I even get out of bed, let alone take a shower and brush my teeth? It’s like there is a black fog above me, pushing me further and further down into my bed… I cannot get up. I cannot stand in the shower and wash myself. Of course, I know I need to get up and clean myself, but it’s easier said than done. Each simple tasks (to most people) become the most impossible missions, and I’m no Tom Cruise. So I go back to bed.
When this black fog is pushing you further down into your bed, you may start to think, what does it matter if I don’t get dressed? Why do I need to get dressed if I want to kill myself? Why change my underwear if I’m going to stay in bed all day? So you get yourself into this rut. Your mind is racing with all these thoughts that hygiene just doesn’t cut into the top 10. Now I’m not saying everyone with a mental illness has poor hygiene, but it is very common. It is nothing to be ashamed of, it does not make us “lazy” or “dirty.” It makes us human. We are battling an invisible illness, we are battling with our own minds every day, and we just want your understanding, not your judgment.
My mom is the first person to tell me when I need to shower. I will go days without even thinking about it, ignoring that I smell, ignoring that my teeth are yellow, ignoring that my hair is greasy. The last thing I want is people to know I smell. Obviously on the rare occasion that I am going out, I sometimes won’t even shower. I’ll just wash my armpits with makeup wipes or soap. This is very hard for me to admit. But like I said, I am ill. These tasks that people do without even thinking are mountains for me to climb, and sometimes I can’t even climb the first few steps.
There are days in which I do climb that mountain — actually I climb the shit out of that mountain. Those are my good days. I get in the shower, I brush my teeth, I comb my hair. I’m working on making those days more current. It’s a slow process, but I’m slowly getting there.
To anyone who reads this and doesn’t understand… open your mind. Open your mind to the fact that everyone is different and reacts to things differently. People are fighting for there lives every day, and if today is the day you made it to the shower, well done!
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo by grinvalds