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 Marcia Purse

Just Take a Shower

By June 26, 2010

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Coping with depression idea - just take a showerSometimes when you're in a serious depressive episode it's hard to get up out of a chair or off the couch - or even get out of bed - and do the simplest things. Over the last few weeks I've challenged my readers who are in a bipolar depression to find a 5-15 minute task each day and do that. My hope - and my own experience - is that finishing that task does at least two things: (1) it gives you a positive feeling about yourself that you did something, and (2) it shows you that you can focus on something other than your depression for a few minutes. Do something worthwhile, whether it's rinsing out a single pot, taking a 5-minute walk, cleaning the cat's litter box (for which your cat will thank you), or something that takes more effort like washing as many dishes as possible in 15 minutes or doing push-ups - and then be proud of yourself.

Some people have had trouble choosing goals, though, so let's try something new for coping with depression. Often personal care is one of the things that gets thrown aside first when you're depressed. So today - just take a shower. This idea came from Corrie, one of the people who is participating in the daily challenge on the About Bipolar Disorder Facebook page, and right away I knew it was a great task for me. Thus it became yesterday's task on Facebook, and is today's task here. I did take a shower yesterday - the first in awhile - and came out of it feeling a great deal better than when I went in, both emotionally and physically.

Nothing says you can't set yourself more than one task or goal in a day! Just make sure you don't overload yourself - if you ask yourself to do too much, you risk adding to your depression when you can't finish it. And if your depression is so deep and overwhelming that you feel you can't do a think - take a shower.

I want to hear from you. Leave comments about today's challenge. Was it hard to get yourself in the shower? Once you were in, did you focus on the experience and come out refreshed, even for a short time? Did you remember to be proud of yourself for doing it?

Or leave comments about how you are applying the daily challenge concept. The best suggestions will appear in future blogs.

Photo: Stockbyte/Getty Images

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June 29, 2010 at 8:40 am
(1) Trish says:

Just take a shower is a great daily challenge for me. It’s great to hear that other people have trouble with just the most basic things. Before this latest depression set in-I was meticulous about showering/brushing my teeth etc.. So, I first, challenged myself to brush my teeth and floss every day. I have been doing very well. Now, the shower challenge comes at a great time. I’ll see how it goes/come back to comment.

June 29, 2010 at 9:24 am
(2) Anniem says:

There have been times in my life when trying to take that shower was just too much. So, I found two things I could do that takes less effort, but can get me to the point to take that shower. GO INTO ANOTHER ROOM than the one you’ve been staying in. And, OPEN YOUR FRONT DOOR and look out at the world. That can often lift one enough to take that shower if you couldn’t do it before. To some these may sound very simple, but I know that when I was severely depressed they really did take effort, and they really did help!

June 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm
(3) Leslie says:

Today I feel okay, but when I fall into ‘heavy depression’ and don’t want to get out of bed, I try to clear my thoughts and simply ask myself, “What is the next right thing to do?”

Sometimes the “next right thing” might be drawing/sketching, reading something inspirational –or just getting dressed (being out of pajamas reduces a lot of guilt).

If I can actually get out of house, it always surprises me how much better I feel. I’ll go to a library (free), bookstore/coffee shops, a funny matinee movie — anywhere that gives me a shot of joy.

If there’s a free local bi-polar/depression support group, I can go there, as it doesn’t matter how I look or feel. I don’t have to say anything unless I want to and it’s anonymous. Just being around others who go through similar feelings helps me feel ‘part of’ rather than a freak alone in the world.

I also stay away from drugs /alcohol, as that ultimately deepens the depression. AA and NA support groups have been a great source of help. To be a member, all I needed was the desire to stop drinking/using. There is also Alanon which is good if you live or deal with someone who’s an alcoholic or addict. I find those types of relationships are very toxic for my mental health. If I can’t be away from those people (parents, spouse…) I can at least talk out my feeling with others who understand.

These are just some things have helped me. I look forward to hearing new ideas/what works for others. Thanks.

June 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm
(4) ja'lisa says:

wow, i didnt no there were others that really felt the same exact way i do from time to time. i mean i figured there were others with bipolar but it wasnt clear to me that the symptoms was so universal . im glad i found this site and to be able to comment is a challenge for me because its hard for me to talk about my disorder. i guess im in denial about it all or maybe depressed even .

June 30, 2010 at 2:35 am
(5) Dennis Teel says:

i take a shower each day as a must..a shower relaxes me so much (and stress is a big part of bipolar)that i recently put a chair in the tub and i now sit under the relaxing hot water for as long as i want to and i get so relaxed i totally melt..then i get out and have to face the world again,but in a much more relaxed and positive way.

June 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm
(6) Jill says:

When I am depressed I go for days without washing, and (whisper it) start to smell. I know I should have a shower or bath, know it will make me feel better, but can’t get started.

What works for me now is to wait for the ten seconds of motivation I get now and then, and then run for the shower before I can change my mind!

And of course I feel quite a lot better afterward… I knew I would!

July 7, 2010 at 3:08 pm
(7) Janet says:

I have the exact same problem. I’ve been depressed for a year now and I have tremendous problems going to go take a shower. It’s really weird. I know it makes me feel better, I just can’t! I sometimes walk back and forth to the bathroom for hours trying to start getting ready. I’m glad im not alone

September 23, 2010 at 5:33 pm
(8) JustMe says:

I finally took a shower today. It’s amazing how that one small thing can take so much effort some days.

October 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm
(9) Tania says:

I am currently dealing with trying to get myself to take care of me! I haven’t shower in like 2-3 weeks. Im hoping my family isn’t counting. My laundry is piling up and I can barely keep up with my everyday activities.. every time I try to do something to help myself it fails.. what makes me mad is that I know I’m better then this.. I’ve done better.. its good to know I am not the only person going thru this and there are solutions.

October 13, 2010 at 1:22 am
(10) Amber says:

I found this website because I constantly feel this way about showers.. the only thing is that I am not bipolar.

Many times I think that I am depressed and have anxiety because I am extremely self-conscious and I am always worried about how others feel about me. I feel like I am always walking on egg shells with everyone around me.

It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even express simple emotions anymore. I used to be very open and was in drama classes but I’ve turned very introverted and I don’t have many friends. I don’t tell them personal things anymore. I don’t talk to anyone anymore. I never feel like I have enough time to do anything – take a shower, homework, get ready for work, cleaning, going to the store.

I just don’t know what to do and this is the closest thing I’ve found that I can relate to.

I feel disgusting right now.. and I still think that I probably won’t take a shower. Hopefully tomorrow.

February 7, 2011 at 8:52 am
(11) Jeannette says:

I also to have been struggling to take showers. I battle not only with depression, but anxiety/panic attacks also. Its embarrassing but I shower only once a week. I have to keep going into the bathroom and try so hard and then I come back out making excuses. I have strong Faith in Jesus Christ and keep praying that He gives me the strength to over come this because this is silly (about me only). I pray for the rest of you also. I know what your feeling. It hurts so much. Plus, its embarrassing in front of my husband when I look pale, hair greasy and (shhhhh) little stinky. So, for all of you that are suffering…try prayer (I need prayer the most) because Jesus will not give up on us no matter how stubborn(that would be me) I am.
Hang in there everyone. I will to.

February 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm
(12) Katrina says:

I am so glad I saw this post. I have had trouble making myself take a shower for over a year now. I finally quit trying to make myself, because I was beating myself up about it so much every day that I didn’t do it, but kept telling myself to. I have gotten to the point I just check in to see if I can, and if I can I do, and if it feels too overwhelming I just don’t. I have no problem (now) doing other self cares, like teeth, hair, laundry..it is sometimes a struggle tho to cook food or to get dressed, unless I absolutely have to go somewhere (like the docs). Anyway, this post helped me feel not so alone and not so weak.

October 18, 2012 at 11:06 pm
(13) James says:

I have schizoaffective disorder, which is bipolar plus some symptoms of schizophrenia (paranoia and delusional thinking for me). Anyway, before I became disabled I showered daily, brushed at least twice a day, and kept up with my laundry.

But, for the last 2-3 years I have rarely showered, or brushed my teeth; and sometimes (I’m ashamed to say this) wear the same pair of underwear for days. I wear the same clothes and rarely wash laundry. I feel so ashamed and like such a bum. I often cover-up when I have to go outside with cologne and an extra layer of deodorant–just in case…

Luckily, I usually don’t have bad body odor, and I have a very understanding, patient wife. So, I’m going to try Jill’s method of waiting for those precious few moments of energy and motivation to quickly jump in the shower before it passes. The last few days I’ve been able to brush my teeth, so hopefully that’ll improve too.

Thanks for sharing your stories, so that I don’t feel so alone. I wasn’t going to comment out of lack of motivation, but you all left messages and they helped me, so I hope my words can help others too.

November 17, 2012 at 4:48 pm
(14) Grace says:

I have Panic Attack Disorder. When I have to, I can do all these things – though it begins to wear me down after a couple weeks. When I don’t have to go anywhere or I’m not around family/friends, it is difficult for me to feel the energy to bath, brush my teeth, cook, clean, and do laundry – especially to get ready for the day (makeup/hair/outfit). My longest is 2 weeks. Right now I’ve been able to every couple of days. I focus on how I feel once in, turn off all thought, go on auto-pilot, and do it. Once in I wonder why I ever forget how much I love to. But I do – every time. To get other things done I have to do the same – turn off emotions, be outside myself, just do the things w/o much processing – then done. It’s getting less. & less taxing – each time it takes less emotional toll. Don’t judge yourselves. Have grace for yourselves and think of all the positive ways you contribute to the world. Just do your best. Shower/chores doesn’t have to equal perfect self or home – just a little cleaner is all.

December 26, 2012 at 1:46 am
(15) Nicki says:

I have bipolar disorder 1. I’m going through a very depressed stage, all I do is lay in bed for most of the day. I shower once a week because I hate the way I look not to mention I feel is a big effort to shave my legs/underarms and shampoo my hair. Before my depression I would shower everyday, do my hair, makeup and dressup. I am so ashame of myself. I have a daughter (22 years old) that lives with me and she calls me lazy which makes me feel worst. When she is home she goes to her room and doesn’t even talk to me. I feel alone and scared because I am useless.

February 4, 2013 at 11:24 pm
(16) C says:

As far as I know, no one in my family is bi-polar, (atleast not diagnosed). But I have a “Shower Theory”. I’ve noticed, and after asking others, have found to be true that if we go more than a few days without a shower, we start to get extremely depressed, and everything seems to go wrong, like we’re attracting negative energy, or it could be that we feel less empowered to deal with hard situations. But if my friends seem to be getting depressed, I always suggest they take a shower or hot bath immediately and scrub down, and they agree. It really does make a difference, and they feel much better. I’m sure there’s probably a scientific explanation for it, like washing off the dead skin cells and negativity, or dirt and pollution from our skin, with clean and pure water, helps change our own energy more positively. Or our body just feels healthier. But whatever the reason, if you find yourself stressing out, feeling negative, or having a hard time coping, ask yourself when the last time you showered was, and if it’s been more than a day, shower immediately and see if it helps. Just thought I’d try to offer some advice from experience. :)

February 8, 2013 at 10:27 am
(17) deb says:

Today I want so badly to go get a haircut, maybe a manicure and possibly buy a new outfit. Im excited about this because I usually do not have the money to do these things but I have a job interview next week and need to start looking and feeling better. Problem is, the shower is not as daunting as putting on makeup and finding something to wear and getting dressed. Every aspect of that is so depressing to me. I think its been over a year since I bought a pair of shoes or clothes. I’ve been broke for quite some time. I am not looking forward-looking to the disappointment of putting on crappy clothes or crappy makeup. Although I do look forward to getting sometimes new things, it is overwhelming to go shopping because one new outfit isnt going to do the trick. I need everything. I feel like I am going to be even more depressed because I cant get everything I need. I guess ultimately I dont feel like I deserve to feel better.

March 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm
(18) shower says:

buy some really good smelling body wash and maybe that will help.

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