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Showering With Bipolar Disorder

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I have a confession to make: I don’t always shower every day. Sometimes, I don’t even shower for four or five days at a time. Once in a blue moon, I don’t shower for more than a week. But, then there are times where I do shower every single day.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

When I was younger, I hated when it was bath time. Soap would always get in my eyes, I was petrified of going down the drain when the water was let out (thanks to a book I read about a little girl going down the drain), I didn’t like getting wet, and it hurt when my mom would comb out the huge tangles that would accumulate throughout the day.

By the time I was old enough to start taking showers by myself, I was getting good with excuses on how to at least prolong the time before getting into the shower. My favorite was that I just flushed the toilet so I have to wait for the water to warm back up.

When I was in high school, I came to the realization that it wasn’t cool amongst my peers if I didn’t take a shower every day, but I was able to at least get myself on an every-other-day schedule that seemed to work for me.

As an adult my shower schedule is completely random, and but at least I’ve heard it’s better for my hair if I don’t wash it every day.

I realized today (ironically while I was in the shower) that my self-care habits and schedule correlate significantly to what bipolar disorder cycle I’m in. They change drastically when I’m hypomanic and when I’m depressed.

When I’m hypomanic I have very grandiose thoughts that make me want to play the part of the most beautiful woman in the room. I take the time to get frequent manicures and pedicures, my eyebrows are waxed every two weeks, I increase my amount of exercise, I cook healthy meals, I brush and floss my teeth at least twice daily, I put on more makeup, I wear clothes that are more stylish, and I shower every day and wash my hair every other day so it’s perfectly styled.

When I go into a depression, this all changes. I no longer get manicures and pedicures, and my nails are all different lengths. I never take the time to wax anything. Exercise goes out the window. I order pizzas and get takeout more than cooking at home. I’m lucky if I brush my teeth, let alone floss. I wear barely any makeup, and if I do it’s because I’m going to work and I don’t want to scare off my customers. I tend to wear the most comfortable clothing I can get away with at work, and I immediately put on my pajamas when I get home. I only shower when my hair looks greasy, and when I do wash it, I hardly ever blow dry and straighten it. Instead I just let it air-dry in hopes it will at least somewhat curl and not become a frizzy mess.

I’m not proud when I lack in my self-care, but at least I’m not ashamed by it any longer.  I thought I was the only one who was like this when they’re depressed, but it’s comforting to know I’m not.

What’s ironic to me is that I always feel better after I take a shower and do my hair and makeup, yet I can’t always muster up the energy to actually do it. I guess that’s just part of my normal of my bipolar roller coaster.

Thinkstock photo by eldinhoid

Originally published: December 23, 2016
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