The “simple” task of bathing.

I know this is going to sound strange, (and i know it’s definitely something i shouldn’t put on the internet), but in my life i have this weird battle with bathing… (yes you read that right) let me explain. You see if I’m really particularly depressed i won’t bathe for a long time. I just can’t do it. I know there’s some of you out there who will understand this. I think i can explain why i have this odd relationship with bathing, but I’m more than aware I’ll sound crazy… (or crazier at least).

Okay so my attempt of explaining goes as follows, i get into this slump where i just can’t face doing anything. Decisions are crushing me from every direction. I smell bad, my bed smells bad, my hair is a horror show. All of this adds to my self hate, and my self worth falls through the floor. The bath is my enemy… this is where it gets weird (if it isn’t already).

I am scared to have a bath, because in my head a bath represents the cleaning of my soul, not just my body. I can sit in that bath i feel refreshed, ready to start anew. However after so long of not bathing i fear it. For doing so, stepping in that water means i can’t dwell and hide, and be a coward anymore. I have to push through, clean off this sadness. Feel the life and freshness of the water. Feel positive and at peace.

I just can’t do that when i feel truly down, because i don’t have the mental capacity to deal with what comes after the bath. Styling my hair, finding new clothes, changing my bed sheets. That’s just the immediate future. As for successfully reintegrating into real life and facing the world, in the days to follow. If you aren’t in the right head space, you can’t possibly comprehend undergoing such pressure… nevermind focusing on keeping positive. If I’m not in the right frame of mind, it just gives me more time to hate myself, a free for all for all the bad thoughts to seep into my naked skin. Then it’s too exhausting and i resent the idea all together.

That being said i feel as though there’s no point in leaving my bed and washing. I’ll bathe and sort myself out, but the next day i won’t have the will power or mental strength to do anything productive. It would just be an endless loop of bathe, bed, bathe, bed. In this instance the bathing part would do nothing for me, it would be forced. Which would be completely detrimental, because it’s often one of the only things that can push me back into the light. As i before mentioned, the idea of it washing away the darkness and sins, releases me into a new day and a new way of life. Until of course the next time i get depressed.

So I’ve rationalised that i need to wait until I’m in the correct mindset. Only then can i get myself out of this rut. To be able to follow up on it, and persevere. This way having a bath actually helps thrust me deeper into that positive frame of mind. Until then i don’t feel worthy of bathing. Only when i feel I’m ready to face things and power through can i allow myself too.

The thing is… once I’m in that mind of, “i can do this, life is well, I’m not going to drown”. I can have so many baths. I want them twice a day sometimes! I cannot identify this as normal behaviour, it is however a behaviour that keeps me on track. Every day that i have a bath, I’m still winning. It’s different from before with the forced baths, when I’m sad. In this instance i desire to bathe, because my whole outlook has changed. The implications in doing so have switched, i no longer associate the bath with negative feelings.

I’m sure this whole post appears as ramblings of a mad person. I’m positive its utterly illogical, but i also know what works for me. I know it’s possibly a terrible way of coping and functioning. The key aspect of it all though is, i am somewhat coping, i think. As for functioning, that’s something we all do in our own special way.

So for me, this is a the story of my never ending conflict of emotions regarding my bath. Sometimes it’s my saviour, sometimes it’s my enemy. It sees the real me, the raw me. It sees my truest self. Fancy that, an object knowing me better than any human. I guess that happens pretty often actually, something inanimate knowing our real fears, moreso than humans. For me it realises my setbacks, and propels me into the world again after being in the darkness for so long, and for now I’m okay with that.

18 thoughts on “The “simple” task of bathing.

  1. I shall reassure you that your strange and irrational rationalisation for bathing exists beyond your mind. I to have a strange relationship with the bath and shower and the different baths and showers at different houses. I cannot shower when I am highly anxious as I feel trapped as such, yet I cannot bathe for long either in this state. Similarly, I cannot bathe for long when I am at my best as I feel I am wasting time you could say. Though on my mediocre day’s baths are my haven and I spend around an hour plus each night as it allows me to turn off.
    We are strange creatures aren’t we? I hope this has reassured you of your sanity.
    Ella Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow i didnt think of that. I’ve just realised when im in a good stride its like i just wanna get up and out. I have showers not baths and im in and out super fast. I can relate with you on the baths at different houses part. It took me ages to feel comfortable having a bath round my parents. Like if im really anxious i feel like something awful will happen if i have a bath in a different house with different soap using a towel thats not mine. I got past this eventually. But if im having a really panicky day i find it hard to change my routine. I felt super concious of posting this because i really wasn’t sure if other peoples thoughts ruled their life like this. So thankyou for sharing your story with me it calms my worries some ❤

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      1. It is very strange how our brains work isn’t it. I am glad I have reassured you that our behaviours exist in other people too and that we think we are strange by doing is also normal to someone else. Sending love and strength- Ella Xo

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  2. Don’t be sorry or embarrassed to discuss the psychology behind your decision to bathe or skip bathing. What I find great about WordPress is it can be a place to discuss things that people in real life can relate to or are going through something similar but don’t have anyone to talk it with or might be afraid of speaking about it in-person.

    My experience with baths is a bit different in the sense I haven’t had one in years. The last time I did as a teenager, I felt bad for using up so much water, especially growing up in a household where money was tight. That was the one time I tried the luxury of bath salts. It was nice. I felt a bodily and spiritual cleanse from being submerged in the water. I was somewhat uncomfortable with it as it made me feel quite exposed in the physical and emotional sense. I had regular baths as a kid. My earliest memories are bathing in the same tub as my brother. This stopped when I got a little older, though my mom still ran baths for me and helped me dry off afterwards. I ended up being uncomfortable with her helping me when I became more aware of my own nakedness.

    Then I switched to having showers with my mom. I was still young enough that it wasn’t weird to be naked with my parent but eventually I learned to shower on my own. The teen phase was definitely when I used very hot water, sometimes to the point of scalding. It dried my skin and scalp out terribly but I kept doing it. I would say it was the closest I got to a form of self mutilation in that I wanted to hurt myself without leaving any real evidence of it on myself. I also pulled out my hair at the time.

    I can relate most to the not bathing for days thing. I got into that habit in the past of wearing the same clothes and not washing myself for days. Simply put, I was depressed but was very private about my pain so to my family and also didn’t feel like telling them. They didn’t know what was going on other than my hygiene being very poor. And they pointed it out to me, so I grudgingly started bathing more regularly to give the pretense I was “fine”.

    Now I shower every 2 days but change my undergarments everyday. It’s a very particular schedule for me and I actually feel unsettled if I already showered for one day and have to break from my every 2 days schedule by showering the next day if I got sweaty from exercise or got gunk in my hair. I also feel self-conscious and don’t tell anyone in my personal life that I shower every 2 days because everyone I know usually showers everyday. And there is the mainstream notion in society that people are supposed to shower/bathe everyday or they are considered filthy/unhygienic. 😦

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    1. I completely get that. I know its hard to explain to someone who isnt going through it that you just cannot face getting changed or bathing. Like i know its not even that much effort to brush my teeth and when im feeling great i do it without thinking. But when im down i just. Slip. Nothing matters. Its like even the decision to get up and put tooth paste in a brush is too hard.

      I dont go out. Then like you said it gets to the point where family realise and i get ashamed. So i go through the motions. I switch off usually because its too much. And i sit and stare afterwards. Still feeling as awful but at least others are happy that im no longer wearing the same clothes for the 5th day in row.

      I lose track of when i very first starting missing baths. Its not just that its eating too. Brushing my hair just even putting socks on seems beyond me. It’s bad because i know i could stop it but it honestly feels out of my reach. Most times i feel something bad will happen and most times im also just not prepared for that level of maintenance. I feel terrible saying it but i can go days without people noticing my absence around the house. They’re that used to me hiding away. I think they understand why somtimes my hairs disgusting and they dont really press on the matter im not sure if they understand why i hide away so much. I think theyve learn to just let me deal in my own way if its a few days. Anything more than that they usually check up. Which i like. I think id feel really weird if every time i needed a break i had people checking up on me and bugging ne about not making an effort.

      Sometimes my family remind me that whhen i do out people will notice my poor appearence and hygiene. I understand theyr looking out for me. They dont do it in a mean way just a “youre just around us, theres people outside who dont get this and you” kinda way. And i appreciate that.

      But my friends don’t care. Ive literally met them in a weekold hoodie and old trousers cos i need to get out the house but i cant bring myself to get dressed. Theyre just happy im out. I feel like i let others down more than myself. Ive come to terms with how i am. And i think people can tell when im managing and when im not. I just hate saying “i look bad and i dont smell that good because im that busy fighting the thoughts and voice in my head to care about it.

      The thing is ever when i get into a routine of washing brushing my teeth and hair. Every day i still only feel comfortable leaving the house in a hoodie so even when im clean and doing well. I still wear the same hoodie cos i only feel safe in that. So it kinda defeats the point of me doing all that if i look the same after but. Thats another thing entirely.

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      1. I make spelling errors in comments too, don’t worry about it. 🙂

        I can empathize with the feeling that something bad will happen if I do or don’t do something. It’s an awful sitting there with the feeling of foreboding and being so conscious of every second ticking by as I’m unable to move forward.

        The level of maintenance is a tough one to overcome too. I realized a long time ago how much effort it takes out of me to care for myself. Like, I used to have pets. At my worst, I began to see how neglectful I was of not only myself but my animals. I love animals but I know with the ups and downs with my mental health, I just can’t ever be responsible for an animal like that again.

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      2. I worry about those type of things too. However with me its other responsibilities such as… if i had my own home and i was incharge of maintaining that home, paying bills and keeping it clean and just feeding myself. I’d be okay most times, but if i dropped… well I’d probably end up with nowhere to live.
        I have pets but i live with my nan and grandad so i dont have to look after them alone. I can’t walk them though because my fear of them running off or the idea that I’d panic on my walk and need to run home but couldn’t because of the dog, so i might leave the dog if I’m that scared. All these thoughts go through my head. I can honestly barely keep my cactus going because i worry that i havent watered it enough, or i just cant face doing it so it goes weeks without water. I’m sure my worries are unwarrented. After all my cactus is still going, but i see your point. I never want to make someone else suffer because of my mental health state. Im wary of that a lot of the time.
        Also in time, I’m sure you’ll be able to have pets, you’ll get to a place where you feel ready. And until then just go spend as much time as you can with other people’s pets. That’s what i do. I’m going to do some voluntary work at a farm soon for this specific reason. If you don’t feel that for now you can have animals. Enjoy others animals. Then you still get that feeling of joy and you can look after them still but not have all the responsibility,so its not so overwhelming x

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      3. I can see how running your own household could be scary and challenging. I haven’t had to do that yet but I hope to someday. Mostly, I do not have the financial means yet and I also don’t have a significant other I can move in with.

        It’s great that you have other family members helping to look after your pets. That is the exact opposite of what I had. I felt like my parents allowed me to keep pets but half the time either the sole responsibility fell on me or they tried to care for the animals but they weren’t giving proper care to them while I was not around. A dog running off is a frightening prospect, especially if the dog goes missing and can’t be found. When I had a dog, that was a common fear I had too, particularly since my dog never liked being collared and leashed.

        I would love to work on a farm as well. Being around animals is a lot easier than being around people, lol. I grew up in the city but I’ve always longed for the quiet of the countryside.

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      4. I live don’t live in the countryside but i do live in a rural area. The town i live in is surrounded by a forest. So i find that comforting. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with the huge amount of people in the city. Like the buses here have a few people on most times at best, the shops are rarely full. I feel that helps a lot.
        Plus the animals. Like i can go ten minutes up the road and there deer and just all sorts of animals. Its so cool to just sit and watch them. It calms me down and just makes me aware of my surrounding and take in things that you dont always take in when youre panicky.
        So if i ever did have an animal of my own walking them would be nice. A chance to to get independently but also not completely alone. X


      5. Your home sounds like a dream come true lol. I wish I had that. The neighborhood I live in can be pretty quiet but I don’t like it much because there’s no foresty nature area or a place where buses and cars don’t travel through. There are places to go where I can find a large park setting where there is nature but those places are very selective and requires traveling some distance. It’s frustrating because I can’t just walk there and have to take the subway. And it makes me feel bad for using up my train fare just to go explore a park when I have no financial stability right now. I get caught up thinking about money every time I decide or don’t decide to go out.

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      6. I am the same i try to go places that i can walk to. Then i take pictures or walk with my friend for a day out. I havent much money, so I’m lucky really that theres so much secluded space by me. Just round the corner theres a huge field and i just wander round. I think id struggle if i lived in a busy crowded town. Its not a rich area, but my family and the surroundings make up for that. X


  3. When my depression is really bad, showering falls off the priority list altogether. Eventually I’ll get in the shower when my hair is so greasy and gross that my head itches.

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  4. I can relate completely! I associate bathing in the same manner. You are not crazy or alone in your thinking. Thank you for having the courage to put such a sensitive subject into words. I love your blog! It’s like you’re taking the words right out of my mouth sometimes.

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    1. Im really glad that people can relate, not in a negative way of course. And not just for my own benefit,dont get me wrong knowing I’m not alone in this is great. But for me just putting the words down and admitting my worries is sometimes enough. But when i have people saying they understand and my words help them and they get the struggle. Thats why i write. I want to show everyone that theyre not alone i guess. So even though its scary to face talking about these things i think it helps more people than keeping it inside eating away at you does. Thankyou for being so kind about my writing. It means a lot.

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