It’s very difficult for me to take a shower.
Well, it’s not that difficult on paper. I have access to running water, a physical shower, body wash, and even a loofa. I have soft, recently laundered towels to dry off with.
What’s difficult for me is mustering up the energy to walk to the bathroom. Or convincing myself that wallowing in my own filth is unhealthy for me. Or putting a muzzle on that voice in my head telling me I don’t deserve to be clean because I’m a piece of shit. That’s the hardest part.
When one wrestles with the demon known as depression, common tasks, even habitual ones, become nearly impossible burdens. It is much easier to wrap oneself in a duvet and give the stench permeating one’s pores a nice environment to stew and simmer and steep.
After about four days, I can tell I’m ready for a shower. My scalp becomes itchy. The rosacea around my nose flares up, giving me a pseudo-gin blossom. My ears flake and scab over from dry, cracked skin. I catch a whiff of my B.O. when I reach up for something. It’s gross.
I’ve been lucky enough to not have other people point my lack of hygiene out to me. Maybe they’re too nice. Maybe they don’t care.
I withstand the filth for as long as I can, sometimes going weeks at a time. But there does come a time when I do beat back that voice in my head and decide to shower. If I don’t act on my decision immediately, my motivation disappears.
But oh, is it amazing once I get in and feel the hot water cascade off me. Instantly, my mood improves. As the body wash suds build on my skin, I feel them collect all my dirt, my worries, my insecurities, and transport them to the shower floor to be disposed of down the drain.
It takes quite a bit of effort for me to shower. I’m 6’3″, and well over 300 pounds, so it’s tough to find a shower I comfortably fit in. I’m also very clumsy, and every shower instills the fear of falling and busting my skull on the tub edge. All of that withstanding, the effort is worthwhile in the long run.
Rinsing off is almost transcendental sometimes. I would equate it to a baptism, except this water is cleansing my vessel, not my soul. My mind slowly eases; the voice in my head gets quiet. A sigh of relief accompanies my reaching for a towel.
Drying myself sometimes feels like a comforting hug, embracing me after the trauma I’ve suffered for so long. And when I wipe the steam from the mirror, I see the face I haven’t seen in a long time. A clean face. A a relaxed face. A calm face. A face devoid of as much stress and anxiety as it is flaky skin and clogged pores. It’s my face.
Showers are important. I highly recommend taking one whenever you can.