When people think of depression, people usually picture someone laying in bed, sleeping too much, too little, not eating, or socializing. But what people don’t know if that their personal hygiene can suffer as well.
I know, because this has been a major struggle of mine since I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 2006. It didn’t help that I was also working full time during the day and taking college courses at night so my days could be as long as 16 hours, 4 days out of the week. My hygiene and diet were the first to suffer.
I would go an entire week without showering. This was especially noticeable because my hair is extremely fine, and oily. After the second day without a wash, I could bake biscuits with the oil on my scalp. My solution – tying it up in a tight bun.
I would also come after college classes at 11pm at night, eat a snickers bar for dinner and then go to bed without brushing my teeth. Boy that was a huge mistake that I paid very dearly for to the tune of multiple cavities in a short time and then years after leading to 2 root canals. Ouch. BRUSH YOUR TEETH KIDS!!!!
As more years passed, I just couldn’t force myself to shower more than once a week or at most every 4 days. I was married at the time and prone to chronic urinary tract infections which in turn lead to damage to my bladder wall in the form of interstitial cystitis. IC, as it’s abbreviated to, is the irritation of the bladder wall that when it is irritated can make you have all the symptoms of a UTI, pain, burning, frequency, drops of acidic pee coming out, but when you go to the doctor and pee in a cup, you have zero infection present. No cure, just cut back on acidic drinks and caffeine.
So along with dealing with severe mental illness, dealing with horrible cavities, dentist visits and being in constant bladder plain was the icing on the hygiene challenged cake.
So people that knew my struggles would just say, “Just take a shower and brush your teeth”. They wouldn’t understand when I said, “That’s easier said than done”.
As the years passed, I graduated college, got a job in my field, got divorced, lost my job of 10 years and the poor hygiene monster reared it’s ugly, smelly head. It had never really gotten much better but then it went to only showering once a month. I was pretty decent on brushing my teeth because dentistry is expensive and painful. Since I no longer had health insurance all teeth and body expenses were on me. Good ol USA!
After losing my job, my marriage, and everything I had worked my whole life for, my bipolar kicked up so bad that I could no longer work a job. I couldn’t get out of bed and wanted to commit suicide every day I had to go to work. Showers are not high on my priority list still, unfortunately. The longest I’ve gone is a month and a half without a shower. I just took one last night and scrubbed every nook and crannie of my body, degreased my hair and VOILA! I felt fantanstic. I really dont know why I don’t do it more often. Oh wait, mental illness, I remember now.
Adult cleansing cloths have gotten my through times when I’ve needed to go out and couldn’t bring myself to shower but I will clean myself up thoroughly with those and reapply my deodorant. No matter how long I go in between showering, I will NEVER smell. That is important to me. I can be the greasy girl, but never the greasy, SMELLY girl.
I love these!!!!
So whenver I see or hear someone talking about the oh so trendy “SELF CARE” thing that has become so popular, I roll my eyes, HARD. Women talking about doing their “self care” as taking a bubble bath, making time for reading, taking a walk, eating chocolate, or doing a face mask. To ME, “self care” is eating regular meals, trying to drink enough water so that you don’t have to be hospitalized for dehydration, taking a shower once a month to clean the bacteria off my skin, tending to any cuts or skin sores that might have arisen, or just brushing my teeth and surviving day to day.
No, I’m not bitter to healthier people who just need a bubble bath, but just remember there are always others out there struggling more than you, who are just trying to stay alive.
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National Suicide Prevention hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 1-800-273-8255