Disclaimer: This post talks about a rather embarrassing part of mental illness, one that a lot of people hide because society tells them they should be ashamed of it. If you know someone like this, encourage them instead. 

Clinical depression takes away your desire and concern about life. It doesn’t care about niceties like social norms, and after a few weeks of straining to act like you give a damn, you won’t either.

It can cause you to do (or not do) some important things. Like cleaning your house, or taking a shower. If you’ve been playing the depression game for a long time, you know how to compensate for this. No one else might know you aren’t showering, but you know.

Sometimes depression is triggered all at once, and you feel yourself plunge all at once into it like a dive off of a high board. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about when depression sneaks up on you. What I’m talking about is when you wake up surrounded by the carnage of your Netflix binge, brush the potato chip crumbs off your shirt, and try to determine the date of your last shower.

No amount of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps advice” is going to help here. Usually because the person giving it is trying to make you feel ashamed, and you don’t really need any assistance with that. You’re already ashamed ; in fact, you feel like the potato chip bag: crumpled, greasy, and empty.

What can we do when it gets this bad? Nothing really. Nothing, that is, besides taking a shower.

Being smelly is a viscous cycle of its own. You smell because you are depressed and you’re depressed because you smell.

Stop it. Force yourself in the shower.

I KNOW it feels like walking over hot coals. You just feel like if you can rest for long enough you will start to feel better. Depression is lying to you: you will never feel rested enough for your motivation levels to get you there.

Part of the reason we can’t get there is that we tell ourselves if we shower then we are also committing to a dozen other useful things we are supposed to be doing but can’t find the energy for. Tell you what: your reward for showering is that you can go right back to your depression cave.  Or buy something that smells amazing so you can get that instant gratification.

You will feel like you conquered the world.

Once you’ve showered you might even convince yourself to start on something else insurmountable.

Like checking voicemail.

Like responding to that email you’ve been avoiding.

Or not.

Just shower. The rest will come. I know you can do it.

Until next time,

René

12 thoughts on “Depression Plays Dirty

  1. Oh man, I just forced myself into the shower last week (have made it daily since) after a few weeks of avoidance. It’s partially a sensory thing for me too. I hate getting out and being wet and cold. So I try to make it a good experience. Nice soaps and oils and stuff, music, and maybe even bribe myself with the chocolate hidden in the freezer.

    1. People have no idea the mental torture we go through for something that is considered a normal part of the daily routine. I agree totally with the sensory issue, it is just dreadful.

  2. You’re ahead of the game…you’re TALKING about it. A huge component of depression is that one’s well can be so empty and so deep, that others couldn’t possibly know the depth of their pain…and even worse…their numbness and apathy. Your words are like the pebbles thrown at the bottom of others’ wells, so that they can gradually ascend this ‘play-dirty’ demon. Keep tossin’… 🙂

    1. You know I’m on it, Mr. Felton! Boy am I glad to see you here!

      I agree with you completely (as usual). I really believe that a large part of what keeps us bound by depression is our very silence. We have to “find our tribe” so to speak and get with people who will love. Love can transcend anything, even a lack of understanding.

  3. Do you think your depression comes from not being able to control your ADHD symptoms? I struggle with that. “Is it “real” depression or “ADHD depression?” I ask myself. But I think that most of the time, because it comes along so suddenly that it’s “real” depression. (Side note: please don’t think that Im saying that depression from ADHD is not real. I just said it like that because I didn’t know any other way to explain it.)

    1. That is a really valid question, and one that we debate often in ADHD circles. When I feel depressed, I often have to filter through those feelings to separate what is causing them in order to determine what is situational depression, or ADHD depression ( I think of depression caused by ADHD issues as a separate problem too) or is it just my dysthymia? Dysthymia is a form of depression lasting two years, it is chronic and persistent. So it can REALLY get complicated sometimes.

      It is VITAL to be in tune with your feelings and emotions, and watch the patterns of your mood, so you can identify what is normal for you and what is not.

  4. This is a great post Rene, spot on!!! I use some great smelling Bath and Body products as an incentive. Sometimes taking a shower when I am depressed is my only accomplishment for the day but I still recognize it as an accomplishment.

  5. Oh my heavens do I relate. Having PTSD, the depression can swallow me more on some days than others. Some days it’s crying, some days it’s not showering with Netflix and chip bags. Thanks so much for putting this out there!

    By the way, I feel like we could be such great friends in real life. Keep writing, because I’ll keep reading.

    1. I am so sorry you have to deal with this too! It always feels so good when we find someone who can relate though. Thank you for sharing your story with me!

      I bet we would be great friends in real life! Feel free to send me a friend request on FB! Let’s keep in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *