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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.
Just shower. The rest will come. I know you can do it.
Until next time,