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Showering is a Big Deal When You Have Mental Illness

Little things in life give me inspiration. It might be the metaphor of some imagery in the latest book that I am listening to, a glimpse of a memory from the past, or a mere feeling of an intuition. All of these elements end up in my poetry, which I write to inspire women and to provide advocacy for mental health awareness, as well as writing for myself.

Stereotyping Mental Illness

There are some things I have little tolerance and emotional bandwidth for. One of those things is in regards to people who have bought into the negative stereotypes of mental illness. Unfortunately, some of my family members fall into that category. As a result, I am not close to them. Some people will accept you as you are, and those are the people to gravitate towards. Others see you only as your illness and hold your past actions against you indefinitely. Rather than focusing on their lack of respect for you as a person, you keep in mind their limited ability for taking a different perspective and you stay away from them. There are only so many battles you can fight.

Fight For Yourself

When you do find a worthy cause to fight for, you stick to it fiercely like glue. Sometimes that worthy cause can involve making yourself a nice, healthy, and balanced meal. Sometimes that worthy cause can be finding other ways to be nice to yourself, like not looking up triggering articles about suicide or anorexia online. Instead, distract yourself in healthy ways.

The Challenges

Bringing myself around to taking a shower is often still a challenge. I don’t really know what it is which defines my mental aversion from the activity. Perhaps it is the idea of getting wet, the idea of which is uncomfortable to me. Perhaps it is the idea of seeing my body in the mirror by the shower area. But really, whatever it was before, now it’s kind of just a bad habit. Maybe I won’t even label it as “bad,” such as the fact that anger is not a “bad” emotion. It’s just an emotion and emotions are there to inform us.

When the showering was much more of an issue in my life, to where I needed to have conversations with my therapist about it, my therapist would ask me if it didn’t feel good to have the warm water draping itself over my body (that’s my own poetic interpretation.) I really didn’t have anything to say in response to that other than, “No, it does feel good,” meaning it doesn’t feel not good.

From there on I cannot recall to which direction the conversation would migrate, but that was pretty much the end of that discussion: showering isn’t so bad after all. Instead, it is the stories about it which I make up in my mind and which pervade my being which keeps me from wanting to do what most humans do: bathe themselves.

A Compromise

There is one fabulous thing which I have discovered, and that is dry shampoo. I cannot believe I have been living my entire life without its existence. My roommate recently introduced it to me. I really don’t want to make the purchase myself because I like to put my money where my mouth is. It is my understanding that aerosol products are not ideal for the health of the environment and for mother earth. In order to resolve what would otherwise be a guilty feeling, I resort to borrowing my roommate’s spray bottle on occasion.

In Loving Myself

You see, there are all of these things I care about. My mind is an intricate maze of interesting thoughts and wild to mild emotions. It’s really a fascinating place to be, and as such, I wouldn’t want to be in any other place. It’s just that my emotions get in the way at times, in letting me live my life to the fullest.

Intrusive memories from my past appear and during those times the safest thing for me to do is to stay at home on my corner of the L-shaped, earthy-green, suede couch with my legs criss-crossed and my white blanket on my lap topped off with a 12 pound, and apparently slightly chubby therapy dog. Nestled into my familiar surroundings is where I recover from the day in order to gather my strength for the next day ahead.

Showering is a Big Deal When You Have Mental Illness

Anjuli Nunn

Anjuli Nunn identifies as a writer and is based out of San Diego, California. She is a mental health advocate. When she is not composing poetry, she likes to study psychology and philosophy. She also enjoys spending time with her mixed breed 12-pound dog named Samuel, whom she rescued in 2017.


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APA Reference
Nunn, A. (2018). Showering is a Big Deal When You Have Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 18, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-recovery/2018/04/showering-is-a-big-deal-when-you-have-mental-illness/

 

Last updated: 15 Apr 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Apr 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.