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21 'Weird' Things People With Mental Illness Do In the Shower

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If you live with a mental illness, you might know what it’s like to struggle to shower — so much so that you avoid it at any cost. But sometimes, when you actually make it to the shower, you might do some creative (or what some might consider “weird”) things to get through it.

This is something Mighty contributor Krista Reiner wrote about in her piece, “I Got Busted Doing ‘Weird’ Things in the Shower Because of Depression.” She explained how her boyfriend found her lying down while showering, something that later made her realize she had been struggling more than she thought. She said:

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.

If Reiner’s story sounds familiar, it’s important to remember there’s nothing shameful about struggling. If you find yourself doing “weird” things in the shower because of mental illness, you’re not alone.

Maybe you’re like Reiner and you lay down in the shower because everything feels like too much. Maybe you live with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and if you don’t do everything in exactly the “correct” way every time, your anxiety spirals out of control. Or maybe you watch YouTube videos on your water-resistant phone to distract yourself from “bad body thoughts.”

We wanted to know what other “weird” things people with mental illness do in the shower, so we turned to our Mighty community to ask about their experiences.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

1. “After I wash and condition my hair, I increase the heat and sit down for a few minutes. Sometimes I’m just not ready to go back to dealing with the real world.” — Jenny D.

2. “I recreate conversations or even arguments I’ve had in my life. Could be something from first grade or last week. I say what I feel I should have said. I pretend to be stronger than I really was. I practice comebacks to help stop my stuttering.” — Sarah N.

3. “I pretend I have my own YouTube channel. I talk about my day (just mouthing words) and the steps I take in my shower routine like someone cares. Probably because I desperately want someone to care.” — Kristen H.

4. “I always finish the shower on freezing cold for one minute. Reduces the heart rate and has a calming effect (and is good for the skin and hair!).” — Alice B.

5. “I have to do every step in the same order every time or else I just feel off balance for the rest of the morning.” — Jae O.

6. “I take my showers in complete darkness when I get sad or my mind is wearing me down… For some reason the darkness eases my mind and calms me down. I think it lets me focus more on being in the moment and feeling the warm water relax my body. A lot of the time I play my favorite music too. Kinda weird, but oddly therapeutic for me!” — Madison G.

7. “Brush my teeth in the shower because I probably haven’t done that yet and I might as well get it over with while I’m standing already.” — Shayla W.

8. “I have OCD and one of my triggers is hair being all over me, so I pretty much comb through my hair to get excess strands out and plaster them along the walls of the shower so they will get off of me and not around my feet or anything. Every time I see even one strand on my arm or something, I have to put my body wash and everything down just to take care of it.” — Jaye W.

9. “I always have to check the shower before I get in. To make sure no one is in there — even though my shower has a glass door. Sometimes, I have to leave the shower door open, so I can see if someone comes in (again, glass door). I live with my husband and kids — it shouldn’t matter anymore.” — Jami M.

10. “I stand under the water and tilt my head back so it covers my face. It’s like a sensory thing, it blocks out any sounds except for the water.” — Erika K.

11. “I play YouTube on my phone in the background because if it’s too quiet, I start to overthink everything.” — Lynn H.

12. “The weird thing I do with showering is if I wash my hair at least four times a week, I buy something small for myself. It’s so easy to use some dry shampoo or go five days without washing my hair because I don’t have the energy.” — Liz R.

13. “Whenever I get real sad I just sit on the floor of the shower and let the water run over the top of my head so I can give myself time to calm down, but it also takes a lot out of me to get up and shower.” — Alexis T.

14. “I like to pretend I’m a YouTube artist or beauty blogger, because sometimes it’s the only way I can get through basic tasks. Talking quietly to myself as if I were talking to an audience to encourage myself and inspire me to put forward my best.” — Cressa H.

15. “I’ve been known to get into the shower fully clothed during moments of crisis… It sounds peculiar, but eventually I become aware of the coldness/heaviness of my clothes, which is not only grounding, but it also means that eventually the discomfort of the cold/wet clothes gives me something to do (dry off/get dressed/laundry). It creates mundane but essential tasks which help to keep me away from my dark thoughts/feelings for a while (as well as satisfying impulsive/acting out urges in a non-harmful way).” — Charlotte H.

16. “I always shower sitting down, curled up. I’ll uncurl each part as I wash, then stand and grab my towel. I don’t like to be standing and exposed. Sometimes, if I’m dissociating badly that day, I’ll just sit and let the water fall on me and try to really feel it to bring myself back some.” — Laura H.

17. “When I’m feeling really anxious, I focus on my hair routine. I’m a hairdresser so I take extra good care of my hair. Focusing on it helps take my mind off of my anxiety. So I shampoo twice, once with regular shampoo, and once with my colored shampoo to keep my highlights silvery, and then I do my treatment. I put on the treatment mask and leave it for five minutes and shave my legs, then on top of the mask, I spray part two of the treatment and it sits 30 seconds and I rinse. Total hair care time lasts 10 minutes and usually within that amount of time I calm down enough that I don’t feel so anxious when I get out. It helps me focus my mind on something good rather than my anxiety. Thanks to hair care, I can ease my anxiety!” — Meagan F.

18. “I always have to wash the bathtub out with cleaner before I take a bath or shower (even if it doesn’t need to be cleaned). I always check behind the curtain and door and it takes me a good 10 mins for me to get ready to shower. I have a routine on how I wash my hair and my body.” — Anna H.

19. “I have panic disorder and I have a lot of sensory triggers. Sometimes there are too many of them for me to handle, so I’ll take three to four showers a day because the feeling and sound of water calms me down. Sometimes I’ll plug my ears just so I can hear the water’s white noise better.” — Marissa H.

20. “I always make it too hot and I sway back and forth so it covers all of me. The hot water just all around me makes me feel safe and less vulnerable. My anxiety is terrible when I’m naked.” — Erica D.

21. “I bring my phone in the shower so I can set it up on a shelf and watch YouTube, because without something sufficiently engaging to hold my attention showering makes me extremely anxious. Since it requires almost no actual focus to go through the motions of a shower, I have nothing to do in that time but overthink and ruminate on negative, intrusive thoughts. I have a favourite news YouTuber that I watch who puts out daily videos, and I save those videos specifically for showers. Yay for water-resistant phones!” — Samantha C.

As a reminder, there is absolutely no shame in struggling to shower — or doing “weird” things when you do shower. But if showering is affecting your daily functioning or quality of life, reach out to a trusted mental health professional to get the support you need.

Unsplash photo via Valentin Lacoste

Originally published: May 16, 2019
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