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I Got Busted Doing ‘Weird’ Things in the Shower Because of Depression

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

One of the most horrifying realizations that my “high-functioning” depression was no longer in check was when I got busted doing weird things in the shower.

“Umm… what are you doing?” My boyfriend said as he walked in on my awkward showering situation.

“Oh, ha… I was just about to shave my legs,” I chuckled shamefully as I quickly stood up and tried to look natural, like I had just been “testing” if I could fit my giant 5-foot-8-inch body on the entire floor of our tiny shower stall.

“You know we have a bathroom with a bathtub, right?” he laughed and walked out.

For a brief moment, I felt relieved. He must not have seen I was curled up in the fetal position like a strange, oversized child in some kind of weird shower-crib fantasy. He also didn’t mention it was a Tuesday, at 9:30 a.m., and I was late for work, again. Yay, me! My shame was safe another day.

Only it wasn’t. That embarrassing episode made me realize the sad truth I had been ignoring: I had either sat in the shower or was curled up in the fetal position while in the shower nearly every day for the past six months. I couldn’t even take a shower like a “normal” person. I was clearly either very lazy or an alien. I couldn’t let my dark secret out. My near exposure meant I either had to work harder at hiding my shameful “failure” or do something I didn’t want to do — stand up while I showered.

So, each time I begrudgingly “showered” after that, I would tell myself I was only going to sit down today because I was extra tired and would just do it for a hot minute. I told myself I’d stand tomorrow for sure. Then tomorrow came and I didn’t.

After a few months of this spineless, ineffectual thinking, I started to worry I would never be able to stand in the shower again like an ordinary human being. Most people don’t even know sitting is an option. They just stand there naked like it’s easy.

But not me. I had discovered it was a great way to delay doing things I didn’t want to do or feeling things I didn’t want to feel, so I just kept doing it. This led to an obsession on how I could keep doing it without getting caught.

I decided I needed to fiercely hide my shameful secret. No one could know sitting in the shower was a magical power where only the drain, water and me lived. Sitting in the shower was a superpower. It made feelings and responsibilities vanish.

Perhaps of all my various symptoms, sitting in the shower might be the most embarrassing and shameful. Truth is, some days, I barely have the strength to sit. On those days, like the one when I was first caught, I would turn the shower into a “bath” so I could take a nap while the water filled up the basin. I’d lie down in the fetal position after hastily soaping up. I’d make sure my hips and thighs covered the drain, and I’d attempt to sleep until water spilled onto the floor. I’d do this because I wanted to postpone being awake, postpone the feelings that would inevitably wash over me and told me being asleep was almost like being dead. And dead is where I really wanted to be. These shower naps brought the false comfort of death while still technically being alive.

When I took these shower naps, the water would cool slightly before hitting my body, just the right amount so that I could tolerate the high heat while the water rushed over me. When you constantly operate on a three and a half, the simplest tasks are freaking hard. A four-year-old could stand in the shower, but somehow something so simple and natural for most people was painfully difficult for me. Chronic, low-grade depression does that to a person. It feels like you’re walking around with a 100-pound weight in your brain that you never really adjust to — you can still move but you suck at everything.

I believed I could hide my shameful secret for as long as I needed. After all, I could get up to the standing position the second I heard someone walking in. Turns out when you leave the door open and the fan on, your stealth evaporates and you fail.

And fail I did. He caught me again, except this time, he saw me full fetal.

“Babe… are you OK?” he said with worry.

I panicked. OMG!! What do I say? Clearly my depression was trying to rat me out.

“Um… yeah,” I laughed as I shot up to my feet like I had been busted masturbating or checking out what my vagina looked like when smothered by my thighs.

“I was just a little tired and my stomach hurt, so I was just lying down for a sec,” I said, which technically wasn’t a lie.

“Sorry, honey. Can I get you something?” he replied.

“That’s OK — I think I feel better now,” I lied.

When he left, I stood there totally outraged, pissed that I was now forced to stand and even angrier that I was not the superwoman of hiding her shame like I was supposed to be. Instead, I was a piece-of-shit human being whose secret was nearly exposed. Adding fuel to the fire was that I was no longer able to get those undisturbed moments lying down to gather the energy I needed to get dressed.

It didn’t occur to me to be livid at my depression, or that he didn’t recognize it for what it really was. Cause you know, I am the failure, not my brain chemistry. While I hadn’t yet mastered the art of dodging shower shame, I had mastered hiding my depression from most of the world. Behind my bubbly, friendly, positive personality and successful career, nearly no one knew about my illness. The few times I would open up, I was virtually always met with shock and painful disbelief. The disbelief was the worst. It made me feel like I sucked at depression along with everything else in my life. Like, if people didn’t even believe I had depression then clearly my feelings were all in my head. I must just be too lazy and weak of a person to live life “normally” — or to shower correctly.

Fortunately, it turns out that someone discovering you just lying there in the shower is a somewhat effective motivational technique. The next day, I made sure to lock the door. And every time I showered when someone else was in the house after that, I’d stand if I couldn’t lock the door. I’d just pretend I was Beyoncé and that I stood in the shower all the time. Like, what kind of “weirdo” sits or lies down in the shower? Not Beyoncé!

Not me. I certainly wasn’t a loser-shower-sitter-sleeper. Except I was and I still am — only now, it’s different.

While I’m mostly in remission after some seriously near-lethal days over the past three years led me to my first intensive inpatient treatment, I still find myself sitting in the shower. It’s a habit now. Thankfully, on days like today when I actually stood the entire time, I know it’s OK to sit or lie down if I need to. I’m no longer ashamed. If someone walks in on me now, I would tell him or her the truth: I have depression and sometimes my symptoms are weird, but that doesn’t make me a weirdo loser girl. I’m just a human with a sometimes life-threatening neurological illness, who still wants to be clean just like everyone else.

Originally published: April 5, 2019
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