Why Don’t We Want to Shower When We’re Sick?

I know this seems like an odd question, but I was considering it this morning (in my shower). It is a common problem for people with a mental illness. I have a tendency to avoid showering (really) and I know of others with a mental illness have gone weeks without showing.

So, if all we’re talking about is standing in some warm water, why don’t we want to shower?

I think there is a tetrad of reasons, experienced according to mood: fatigue, crazy, self-hatred and pain.

Too Tired to Shower

If you’ve been seriously ill, mentally or physically, you know energy is in short supply. Sometimes it takes the effort of a thousand men just to open your eyes and get out of bed in the morning. Every muscle flex, joint bend, or even a thought is overwhelmingly exhausting.

And if you only have enough energy to accomplish two small goals that day, you might pick eating and paying the power bill. Both of these things are more important than showering. (And of course, you might not be lucky enough to have even that much energy.)

Too Crazy to Shower

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Hypomania (mania) is the fastest time on planet earth. Nothing holds my attention long enough to do it and I’m vastly annoyed at how slowly everything moves. I end up finding myself watching TV while doing yoga and writing the first scene of a book in my head. And then I look at the clock. Five minutes have gone by, but in my brain they’ve felt like 60.

And due to my extreme inattention and annoyance at single-threaded slowness, a shower sounds like the most boring thing in the world. Ever. It wouldn’t even occur to me to bother with one.


Too Hateful to Shower

Those first two I think are obvious, but I think this one is more subconscious and insidious. I sometimes find I don’t want to shower because I hate my bodymy existence) and therefore don’t want to be naked – rather a requirement for taking a shower. It’s not a conscious lack of self-care, or purposeful denial of pleasure, or low self-esteem, or any other therapy-esque interpretation you’re likely to find. It’s just that me, my body, feels really grimy and I don’t want any further proof of its existence. I want to pretend it’s not there. It hurts less to pretend it, myself, doesn’t exist. (I suspect this is an aspect of dissociation. I’m a dissociator from way back.)

But Showers Feel Good

Ah, spoken like a normal person. No, they really don’t. I mean, sometimes they do, sure. Warm water, citrus bodywash, what’s not to like?

It’s complicated.

When I’m in pain I want to put up additional barriers between me and the world. Some subconscious part of me is thinking extra clothes and blankets over my head will save me from my brain. Being naked removes barriers. And I can’t have that.

And I’m not exactly sure how to explain it other than to say the water is painful. It feels like an attack. It feels like I’m in so much pain already that a breeze grazing my skin makes me want to cry.

And I’m really, really trying hard not to think about that pain. That’s the stuff of death. So the last thing I need is to have shards of water splitting through my skin. I don’t want to shower; I’m in enough pain already.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter or at the Bipolar Burble, her blog.

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196 Responses to Why Don’t We Want to Shower When We’re Sick?

  1. AndiEM says:

    I can’t stop my thoughts when I’m sick. They go so fast and furiously that it feels like climbing a mountain for me to shower. All of these points are things that I can relate with. When I’m that sick and in the shower I always end up arguing with myself, lying in the tub sobbing or battling with myself not to cut. Its a triggery place for me. I have really short hair now so I don’t need to shower if I’m feeling really sick.

  2. Debi says:

    I avoided showers at the height of a manic state as it seemed to be the place I would have full blown anxiety attacks….I would cry to the point of hyperventilating, unable to stop crying and i would find it so hard to breathe, however no one knew as the sound of water and loud music would drowned most of my vocal anguish …………….tho a good cry is always great therapy this total loss of mind and body control scared me so much…..and when at my lowest I would just not have the energy to put myself through something as simple and necessary as self care……

  3. marilyn says:

    I am so happy to find more information on it, after my 3 breakdowns in three or so years ten years later I still hate to take a shower I can only make myself do it every other day and start dreading the next shower the moment I step from the one I have just taken

  4. Jennifer says:

    I can no longer shower with hot water. I would get panic attacks. I just shower with warm water now.

  5. MMM says:

    WOW! I’ve never seen this topic discussed! I ran across it from Natasha Tracy’s bipolar burble blog. (Love ya Natasha!) I think that’s why so many chimed in because we recognized it in ourselves and/or loved ones and always wondered WHY we do this. It seems like such a small thing, but yet, we struggle. And it’s next to impossible to explain why we can’t do it.

    Before bipolar disorder came in and wrecked my life, I was OCD about looking my very best everyday. I would spend from about 1- 1 1/2hrs daily on my routine. EVERYDAY without fail. I’d get up way early to ensure that it was done before I would go to work, or anywhere else, or nowhere. I’d heard the phrase somewhere in my life and it stuck, “You only have one time to make good first impression”. It was my mantra. I did not want to be caught “not ready” for that opportunity.

    Then my major breakdown happened. I started not reaching goals at work which in turn, caused me to get laid off after 12 years of perfect performance. After that I became increasingly anxious and irritable. Diagnosis? Severe manic episode due to bipolar disorder. That was my first trip to the hospital.

    Since then (this was over 5 years ago), I just don’t care. For a lot of the reasons you have all described: I pulled away from absolutely everyone I know or they turned their backs on me, I felt hopeless and severely depressed, I felt unclean (because of past trauma) and EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING exhausted me. And when I do shower, I usually don’t wash my hair because that is just too much and I just wear the same icky hat everyday. And like some of you said too, I have absolutely no place to go so why bother?

    My husband HATES this. For a long time, he refused to even try to understand. It was just laziness. I just wanted to scream, “If this were the case, then why do I feel so guilty for NOT doing it”? I would sit there all damned day on my couch and try to psych myself up to do it. And I’d feel worse and worse about myself as the day went on, and then still not do it. That’s REALLY hard to explain to someone who has no information about mental illness at all. So he would resent me so much that I could physically FEEL his barbs. He has gotten better, but it’s still a battle. Whether I’m depressed or manic or both. I’m a rapid cycler and am not fully stable so I feel out of control and/or deathly depressed.

    Anyway, I seriously rambled. Sorry about that. But yes, I can totally relate with everyone here.

  6. Deirdre Oliver says:

    Sounds pretty normal to me. Who says we have to shower every day? Or ever? Why is it bad to just give yourself a once over when you start to itch, or when people say you smell bad? (Anyway, judicious use of deodorants takes care of that. Or live somewhere where everyone smells the same). Maybe a visit to a river, lake, dam or beach is a better option anyway. After all, a walk in the fresh air, exercise and the contemplation of nature can distract from the dwelling/ruminations of how awful it all is, is a therapeutic tool that beats a shower any day. If we can force ourselves out of bed go to the toilet we can do anything, like maybe going outside on a sunny day and standing under a sprinkler, clothes and all. That way, you get less smelly and itchy and wash your clothes at the same time (another horrible thought when you’re down). Remember the French thought it was disgusting to bathe every day, and the Americans though it was disgusting to NOT bathe everyday, so we can adjust our beliefs ans expectations to suit ourselves, no right or wrong, just, whatever we need at the time. We really shouldn’t use not having a shower to beat ourselves up and neither should anyone else. There’s enough around that’s worth feeling guilty about already. RELAX – stand in the rain!
    (And don’t dare say I wouldn’t understand – 13 years of drugs and Electroshock says “Oh, yes I do”)

  7. Laura says:

    When I’m manic & also when I’m depressed I tend to go to bed really late (a good sign that I’m manic or depressed!) and just can’t be bothered having a shower so late at night (it also wakes up my husband) I always have one in the morning though. When I’m on top of things I’ll even have a shower as soon as I’m home from work… it does feel good and refreshes and revitalizes me too.

  8. Marianne says:

    MMM, I can totally relate! I got to this post by a search for “Symptoms don’t want to shower or leave the house.”

    I’ve been on antidepressants for many years and I don’t FEEL depressed but I’m isolating — I avoid leaving the house because interaction with other people is a chore. For the past several years I shower and brush my teeth only when absolutely necessary to avoid embarrassment.

    UGH –– I’m just so tired of being so tired!

  9. Lmw says:

    It’s been 8 day’s now without showering ..I sit all day to try to psych myself up&get up enough energy.I am struggling here.. I look and feel horrible so whats the use of it(what I try to convince myself when at the end of the night I once again haven’t showered)I am on antidepressants and I don’t think they’re working. It’s a struggle and I seriously mean STRUGGLE to eat and get 5 feet out of bed to the toilet. Some nights I realized I hadn’t eaten.I bought some ensures and suffice with sipping one. I also isolate.. It’s been 7 days since I’ve had any contact (face to face) contact with any one/thing outside of myself. I live alone. If I go to the hospital it’ll be a waste of time I’ll just do the same thing there and be annoyed with the presence of people. So what to do? I don’t REALLYYYY think the issue here is about showering or lack of.But rather we need to probe deeper to find answers.. Why and what can we do to start living instead of merely existing. Not showering lack of motivation etc.are all signs and signal’s of something far more profound than simple depression..

  10. Ellyn says:

    I’m with Deirdre. Seriously. I have major depression (Mdd), PTSD, & Borderline personality disorder… I have actually gone as far as showering twice in one year before when I was agoraphobic. Now I shower about once or twice every couple of months. I have never heard ir really explained so well before, the reasons why but yes yes yes to this entry. Spot on. Folks isolating: l did the same for years… and now and again still do… it’s not good. I got way worse since I was untreated and became psychotic. (Now MDD w psychotic features.)
    Good luck all!

  11. missy says:

    I am PTSD, bipolar, border personality disorder, and agoraphobia. I finally opted to look up why I don’t want to shower, brush my teeth; I wear the same clothes 3 days in a row (cause they’re not dirty, I didn’t go anywhere and get sweaty and/ or dirty). I spent 4 1/2 years in the hospital from nervous breakdown due to extreme child abuse. I used to be quite festidious about my appearance, hair, wear cologne, shave my body in a regular basis. I haven’t been this bad in years. I take 3 different medications to manage my symptoms but lately I’m not noticing any difference. I moved to 5 acres and “discarded” my friends because they hated me and my decisions. (I thought.) I’ve had suicidal thoughts go through my head but I have too many obligations to carry it out. My first husband committed suicide New Years Eve a long time ago but we had two children with him and am reminded every year and I feel responsible for his death. The constant crying and laying in bed and thoughts running amuck alternated with bursts of happy clean the house, rearrange the furniture, fix the roof on the chicken coupe is leaving me exhausted. I wish I had an answer to all of this and I can’t go back to hospital because I have a family.

  12. Summer says:

    Thank you for this. THESE are the kinds of personal things that need talked about regarding mental illness. I can so relate; self-loathing, feeling the need to protect a body that I hate by keeping my clothes on- you’ll never feel more naked than when you ARE naked. Just…thank you.

  13. Michele says:

    I was so relieved to read this. I used garden dressed to the t. I was physically fit and looked put together. Since a few breakdowns that has all changed. Showering is exhausting or so annoying because my mind is on the run. I feel so guilty because I’m not the person I was.

  14. Polly says:

    I know on my days off I rarely shower for one reason. I don’t want to go anywhere!!
    When you are home, you don’t need to shower, but to go out in public you do. so if I don’t shower I have an excuse to not go anywhere. And when I do have to go somewhere (dr, bank, grocery shopping, work) I wait until the very last minute before I should leave. Then I feel like such a looser because I knew I had to go but put if off. I run like a, pardon the work, crazy person and have to apologize for being late.

  15. Joan says:

    ~ this topic was one of the first I saw when I ‘found’ my online group & saw discussions about MI. I was thrilled to hear that it was a real ‘thing’ & that I wasn’t alone~! This is the best explanation that fits MY thoughts on..why… I’ve never heard it expressed better, or more nearly in my voice ~ thanks so much

  16. sue says:

    thanks to the person who started this blog.

  17. Chuck says:

    I have just found this post and have read most of the responses in tears. I hate my body. I am embarrassed by it. Showering is a major chore. Once I take one I have to nap from the exhaustion. I am manic. My bi-polar self has led me to be agoraphobic. PTSD, OCD, you name the initials and I have been diagnoses with it. I hate having such a multitude of mental maladies that I can’t stand myself, let alone what I look like. I have had several people tell me how ugly I am … from people at church to my own grandchildren. I get dressed in the dark. I need the comfort of staying covered and not having the reminders that my life truly sucks. I could talk all day and still not convince myself that life is worth living or I am worthy of life. Meanwhile, I’ll get up in the morning and quickly dress and not hit the showers again.

  18. R says:

    I used to feel that way too, for about 3 solid years. I’d to come home from work and by 6 PM flake out on a bare mattress in my work clothes. I was too tired to make up my bed or change my clothes. I’d pull my hair back in a pony tail and was lucky if a had a shower once a week. My weekends were mostly spent sleeping. I was too tired to even THINK of doing anything else. I rarely went anywhere and was embarrassed and ashamed to invite anyone over to my messy apartment.

    Then I got on the right cocktail of meds and some CBT under my belt and gradually my life started to improve but I had to constantly push myself to get better. Incrementally it does get better (3 steps forward and 2 steps back) if you just hang in there and don’t give up.

    I still have a ways to go but things are alot better than they used to be. I have a schedule now that I try to adhere to and I try my best to eat right and get a little exercise

  19. lesley cains says:

    I have mild intermittent depression and I know it’s leaving the day I wake up and feel like a shower. I had never thought about it before I read this article. I have no idea why I avoid showering other than can’t get the motivation. Nice to know its a usual behaviour.

  20. greg says:

    thank you for this post…I use to shower and go to work daily…took pride in how I looked..after a work place injury which lead to depression which I have had three re-occurrences off I find it so hard to shower, often its weeks before I do. When I do it feels nice and I tell myself “I should make this weekly” but it never happens…why after 5yrs can I not still do this basic task and why does no one seem to understand?

  21. Rob says:

    I’m so happy to finally see this talked about! For me, showers and panic attacks go together many times. Honestly, I’m afraid I’ll die naked and be found that way. Sounds stupid but I don’t like my body so the idea of strangers finding me that way just terrifies me! If I have something scheduled during the day, I put off showering until the last minute and that just increases my anxiety, of course – making it worse! I used to grow my hair out and style it, but for the past couple of years I keep it as short as possible so I can go out w/o showering and “without bedhead” if I don’t want to shower. I’m officially “stable” on mood stabilizers, and have been for a decade (I’m dx primarily w/Bipolar I w/mixed state-mania, also panic disorder). In fact, I moved about 4 months ago from a place I lived for fifteen years, and at first, no problem showering. But lately, it’s a problem unless I’ve taken all my anti-anxiety meds at once, or have been drinking (like so many of people dx with mental illness, I also struggle with addiction – alcohol in my case normally). I brush my teeth watching tv, shave w/an electric razor at any time of day, and anything else I can do to limit how long I am in the bathroom showering and all that.

  22. Shannon says:

    Since October I’ve been slowly spiraling down. I feel my depression, borderline personality disorder and ptsd have been getting worse. A fight with a stomach flu in late October threw me off all my meds and since then, it’s been this slow spiral down. Getting to the shower is the last thing on my mind, I will go weeks at a time with no regard for how I look. Who cares? I go out very little anymore (I have VERY little family and only a couple of friends who I see little of – almost all of my social interaction is online). I wear the same clothes for days on end, I spend more time sleeping than awake, I don’t eat too much anymore and when I do eat, it’s all junk. I haven’t consistently taken my meds since mid-November. I live with family who all suffer from depression themselves. I just feel like a few of them just seem to don’t care that I have become like this. I keeping hearing “just get over it,” “stop living in the past,” “you just need to stop dwelling on everything.” I just feel like who cares so why try anymore?

  23. SG says:

    For years I’ve struggled with this and just thought it was par for the course with severe depression and anxiety. Especially as I read the comments I feel like we are all family in our shared experience. I must share with you all what I’ve learned in hopes that some of you might read it and find relief. We are all dealing with at minimum an inflammatory immune response in part due to lacking vital essential nutrients. I have found huge relief through diet, essential oils, and whole food nutritional supplements. Please look into this. This is the first time I’ve found this site so not sure what’s allowed but I do recommend looking into micronutrient deficiency and there are credible essential oil companies that create products for internal use. I would mention the name of what I use but the FDA does not allow me to ( their drug monopoly is threatened) and I do sell them and don’t want that to color your opinion of them by feeling like I am trying to make money. There are oils that help with body image and self love especially bergamot and grapefruit. You don’t have to be stuck there. It is crucial to find someone in your life that you can be open with that is willing to help you because as you all know this illness is often too debilitating to care enough about ourselves to be consistent in our own healing. I don’t pretend to be symptom free but life is so much better and I am not on any toxic medications. Prayers for all of us. You are worthy of happiness. You are a child of God. Don’t despair, you are not alone.

  24. Yvonne says:

    I used to be terrified to shower! I envied people who could shower with no panic attacks and lead normal lives as I was agoraphobic and could only watch from my window. To get in the shower to me meant vulnerability and loss of control. I was also a practicing alcoholic at the time. Shower equalled panic. What if I have a heart attack? What if I need to run away but I’m naked? Oh yes I know it all to well! I used to have to wear my clothes to bed and sleep on the couch close to the front door incase I had to run out.

  25. Bobbie says:

    I have not showered in a year and all I have to do is think of it like now and I start shaking. The panic attacks feel like I’m dying and the shame I feel is even worse. I’m bi polar 2 also and when I’m in mania I shower every day but this depression has lasted for years and I can count on one hand the showers I’ve had in the last eight years. Only when I had to have medical procedures at the hospital. It’s my not so secret secret and a big reason I isolate myself but I can’t seem to do anything about it.I’ve never felt so betrayed by my own brain and I’ve done things during my forty five years dealing with my bi polar that bring me great shame. I was diagnosed at twenty four but started with symptoms at fourteen. It’s hell with this disease especially since no meds help for long but this no showering thing is awful

  26. Nvralone says:

    I didn’t know how to search this topic so I typed in I’m clean but I don’t want to shower. You all showed up and yes I too have bipolar type 2 and add, and most Meds don’t work great and when I am feeling better, usually it’s depression for me, I have so much to catch up I have a little energy for that and nothing else. I always take a “bird bath” you know wash up the important areas so I do stay clean but what happened? I have always had to motivate myself for everything but never showers and I’ve been much much more depressed. Lately I’m doing much better and showers just seem so much time and effort. I always put it off and say I’ll do it when I have the most energy and then it’s bedtime and repeat. I don’t want to have to find inspiration or drink a bunch of coffee to get myself in the shower. I hope this is a phase. I took a shower today and I do feel better. Especially because I don’t have the guilt and the loop of “when are going to take your shower today” annoying me in every moment. Taking a shower is easier, although I find it hard, it’s still easier than the repetition thinking about how I need to take a shower. The difficulty I have in just hoping in the shower like I use to is something I am curious about as well as very serious about overcoming. Just as I have found Meds work about 30% the rest is up to me. This is up to me. I have to recreate the daily habit and I think learn how to make them quick. I use to have a speaker for my phone and listen to fun podcasts and as I write this I think this has been going on since the speaker broke. Just like I exercise and sit in front of a sunlamp, take supplements and read inspirational text, I shower every morning. That’s how it has to be. I take Meds I hate taking daily because I feel terrible if I miss a dose. I’ve been doing that for most of my life. It has to be like that. I have to just do it. Thanks for all of your posts and incredible honesty.

  27. PricklyPam says:

    To me, taking a shower means I’m going out. And I absolutely hate going out. Therefore I hate showering. But, boy oh boy, I sure love sleeping.

    I have a part time job because it forces me to go out. I actually love the job. But I spend half of my week dreading going out to work. The dread starts as soon as I finish my last shift of the week.

    I’ve also always had a problem with being late. Reading all these comments convinces me that I’m late because I put off getting ready until the last possible time. And then it’s really later than the last possible minute, and then I’m late.

    I’m so very glad I found you guys!!

  28. D.E. says:

    I was browsing the posts, and just wanted to let all know, that everyone has the ability to change. Just take baby steps in the beginning. Then work on more baby steps very day. To all that hate there body`s, and there looks, remember even good looking thin people feel hate there looks! Life is complicated, don’t sell yourselves short. Your all loving great individuals. Take your medication, and make small changes! Im living proof it can be accomplished. I love all of you!

  29. Ashley says:

    At the height of my illness I have gone over a month withough showering. Sad to admit but important to share. That was when I was as sick as could possibly be though. Partly for the body shame reason the author mentions, but mostly because I could not stand the feeling or even the thought of water touching my skin. Just thinking about showering would make me nauseous. The thought of water on my skin was like nails on a chalk board. Not sure why. I still feel like that most of the time and only shower about 2 times a week but I’m trying to get better.

  30. Bella says:

    The reason I wouldn’t shower as often was because in the depth of my illness I could not find a good reason to do ANYTHING. The world seemed futile and living in it was useless. Taking a bath, eating, cleaning the house, washing the clothes……people who look forward to a future do these things. I didn’t want a future. I wondered why I was alive. So why even get up. Why hope? Why bathe?

  31. Dara says:

    All I can say is, Thanks SO much for this blog!!!

  32. heather says:

    I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. Thank you for posting this.

  33. Mandala says:

    I’m so glad to read that I’m not the only one. I felt pretty gross for a while but I’m learning it’s part of the illness. Lack of desire to do ANYTHING. Baby steps.

  34. Melinda says:

    Thank you for posting this blog. How Brave! Thank you all who commented. I’ve always felt alone about this topic. I don’t know the exact cause but I’m sure it’s rooted somewhere as a symptom of having bipolar disorder, PTSD and bulimia, which are much better than first diagnosis in 2002 (lots of therapy, meds, etc.). I even work full time again. I’m having a harder time more recently with the shower issue and other symptoms. I could relate to bits and pieces of most everyone’s stories. I’m glad to know others know what it’s like and are being supportive with the comments. I brought it up with my therapist and will explore. Please take care of yourselves – the struggle is real

  35. Josh says:

    It’s difficult for me to shower because it always seems like such a huge task and I end up putting it off for so long that by the time I do get around to showering it takes a ton of effort and energy to get clean because it has been so long. I hate this cycle. Just thinking about having to shower makes me tired and gives me anxiety. Seeing the dirt and oils coming off of my skin disgusts me and it’s difficult not to start panicking and frantically scrubbing my body trying to get out of there as quickly as possible.

  36. Melissa says:

    I’m sitting here trying to talk myself into taking a shower. It’s been harder lately because on top of normal issues (a history of abuse that I got away from, body image issues stemming from scars, etc.) I have developed a frozen left shoulder. Showering is a huge chore and I have to inflict serious pain to even wash under my arm. You can imagine the panic shaving causes. Moreover, spacing out means that I feel like I blink and it’s been 20 minutes in the shower already. I’ve thought a million thoughts inside my head, maybe even come up with great ideas and solutions, but my conscious actions have stopped. I’ve been “just standing there.” It’s a very disconcerting feeling.

    I do feel lucky that I can talk myself into it 99% of the time since it’s so hot and humid here, and I do need to shower to make my tiny office tolerable to both myself and my office mate (and he’s a guy, which makes it even more awkward). I recognize that there are some folks who simply do not win that internal battle or have given up waging one at all.

    Anyhow, I hadn’t seen you guys talk about spacing out in the shower, so I wanted to add that. Now to face the shower and leap into bed.

  37. Helen Robb says:

    I never thought I would feel like this again. Silly since I have been treated for depression and eating disorder since I was 16. Hospitalised at 21 The only time I was well was when I was pregnant I am now 61 haven’t showered or brushed my teeth or changed my clothes in days I don’t want to die but can’t go on living (I have a brilliant husband and family who I know love me )but selfishly this doesn’t help

  38. Kimani says:

    I like this post. The story says alot about shower phobia in sickness

  39. Rose says:

    I know it sounds cliche but I always felt so alone … I really felt like I was disgusting because of my showering habits. I have cancer, bone disease and chronic pain. Like my Dr says I have plenty to be depressed about … I just wish I didn’t experience such anxiety when trying to take a simple shower. Anyway, thanks to all for posting your stories ..
    I’m going to borrow some of your words to express myself.


  40. Jacqueline says:

    I feel everyone’s pain here…i don’t remember if i even had a struggle to shower b4 i got sick as bipolar…all i feel is the struggle 2 get in n just get over w n done w, but i can’t even do that no matter how hard i try n motivate myself. But by reading wat everyone has been going through it seems like I’m just gona get in the shower clothes n all if i have 2 not caring wat n e body says besides i gota nip this sickness somehow or another. Nobody seems 2 really understand wat we go through these silent embarrassing struggles we face w these damn mental psychotic issues/ side effects of our illness. Wat i wouldn’t give 2 b w/o these mental issues don’t wish on no one. All i keep hearing z “don’t give up” idk wat this truly means while being in my mental situation but i pass it on 2 every1 here. Much love 2 every1.

  41. Jamie says:

    I can relate to everybody. I haven’t washed my hair in 4 months. I haven’t showered in about 3 months. Sometimes I think I don’t want to water to hit my skin either because I’m feeling hypersensitive and start crying. I don’t want to cry. I cry in the mornings, because I have morning anxiety. I clean my feet sometimes, but I don’t even want to do that. I have to force myself to clean any part of my body. When I think of the shower and how long it will take to clean myself, I think it’s going to take too long so I don’t take a shower. I feel dirty about myself, so when I don’t take a shower I show the world how I am really feeling on the inside. I guess I am crying out for help in a visible way, hoping someone will hear me. I don’t feel so alone now that I have read this blog. Somehow, I think I am hiding by not taking a shower. If I take a shower, that means I will have to face the world and start doing “normal” things and “live”. If I take a shower, I’m a “hypocrite” because, I think why are you taking a shower? You’re dirty. This is how I feel, dirty.

  42. Emily says:

    Great article! I found the biggest problem for me was always justifying the time spent in the shower when there are so many other things I could be doing. A week or two will pass and I suddenly realise I haven’t showered at all or changed my clothes which are starting to get a bit crusty. The whole time I’m in there is spent planning out a bunch of different activities or what I will do next year or the year after. I generally lose a lot of time in there and it makes me frustrated. However on the other side of the spectrum, when I am depressed I just do not have the energy for it, I don’t like seeing my body and the scars and stretch marks and it just makes me feel like such a disgrace.

  43. Christine says:

    How To Learn To Love Baths Again

    Not wanting to bathe is typical for those of us with mental illness. No one can say exactly why, but it is. I have gone from seldom bathing to bathing almost (gasp) every day. It took time to get to this point, but that is not something to worry about doing yet. These steps helped me, maybe you will find them or your own varient of them to help you. Please excuse spelling errors. 1) wash a very small load of clothes and a towel. SMALL load only. 2) fold a shirt, bottoms, underwear, socks and a towel and stack them together. 3) put the stack in the bathroom. Every time you use the toilet, gaze at them and imagine how good they will feel on your warm, clean body. Tell yourself, 15min is all it would take to shower. 4) you may need to repeat step 3 for a few days. Imagine a clean, warm body in only 15 min time. 5) the next time you use the toilet, “ambush” yourself and strip down. Hey, you’re half undressed all ready, right!? 6) turn on shower to comfortable warm, hop (or wobble) in and quickly wash your hair, under arms, and important parts. Do it in 15 min. time, you don’t want to lie to yourself next time. 7) while you are washing, think about how good it feels. Okay, you can lie to yourself about that one. 8) finish, dry, and feel proud of yourself. 9) you need to get dressed eventually, go ahead and do that. Unless you want to brush your hair and teeth butt naked first. 10) go get some rest now. You did it!!

    Make a goal to do this every other week, preferably on the same day if you can. Don’t make it hard, keep it simple. In, out, and done. As you get used to feeling wonderfully clean and proud of yourself for doing it, you will soon find yourself motivated to add a day, then two. You will begin to FEEL the difference of clean vs icky. But before you get there, just keep doing it. One step at a time, one day at a time

  44. Sherry says:

    It’s so nice to finally feel like I’m not alone in this. I have bipolar and anxiety and when I’m feeling good, I’ll take a shower every other day. But when I’m depressed, and my meds aren’t working, I can go for a week to three weeks of not taking a shower. I stay home when I’m depressed and don’t see the need for one. I just have absolutely no energy when I’m down to get anything done. Thanks for the post.

  45. Blitter says:

    I went from three years ago showering every night to about once a week. Now I don’t care. I hate the shower. I hate seeing my naked body, I loathe myself and in my naked state I can see the raw me, every inch of my being that makes up the sum total of who I am. I look at my body, I am not fat, but I look at my body and my mind does not recognize it. I used to love the sensation of warm water against my skin, or having clean hair. Now I do not want to have my head wet at all. Am I punishing my body, I don’t know. I just don’t have the energy. It is a meh whatever, not important, some other time when I feel better. When I can smell myself I can put on more deodorant, or only then will I have a shower. Two weeks can go by with no clothe changes. I will have a good day and then do everything, shower, shave, clean the house, washing. Wake up and not even want to breathe. It takes half the day to open the blinds. My morning meds get taken about lunchtime because I can’t be bothered getting out of bed. If it were not for my dog, I would not walk each day, even if it is just to take her to the toilet.

    Showering. I hate the water on my skin. I don’t know why. I hate seeing myself naked and the sum total of who I am. For me showering has become like taking my medication, it is something I resent having to do. And I don’t really understand why. OCD and showering, it doesn’t make sense. But if the energy is not there, then it’s easier to shut your eyes and ignore everything than deal with it, and most days shutting your eyes is the only way of surviving.

  46. Sam says:

    I have not bathed or showered in over 18 months, and I’m OK with it. I wipe my face with a hot wet cloth in the mornings and I wash my hands many times each day. I decided today to do a Google search on people who don’t bathe, and I’ve found several people who claim it’s unnecessary, which has made me feel a lot better. I also found this site and have read all the posts on this subject and I can relate well. I have been diagnosed twice with paranoid schizophrenia, once with manic depressive illness, and twice with generalized anxiety disorder. I have also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse since the age of 13. I am now 60 years of age. I have been fortunate to have been prescribed the right combination and dosages of medications to enable me to function as a relatively normal person, with limitations.

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