When someone's fighting depression, then it's really, really common for them to struggle to shower. In many cases, this can lead to deep feelings of shame and worthlessness - and, what can make these feelings of shame and worthlessness even more intense is when other people call them lazy for having not showered.
However, the reason people with depression commonly struggle to shower is not because they're lazy!
The Real Reasons People With Depression May Struggle To Shower (That Are Not Due To Laziness)
As opposed to being due to laziness, there are many, many reasons why people with depression may struggle to shower. In particular, these include:
- Depression has made it impossible to focus on anything beyond survival;
- Showering can trigger body dysmorphia (to quote one of The Depression Project's community members: "I can't even take showers, I bathe once a week just because of my body dysphoria. Seeing myself just makes me break down and start crying so much, I feel so depressed to the point I start banging my head against the wall.");
- Like we just touched upon, body image issues can be triggered by looking in the mirror and/or taking clothes off;
- The water may feel like it's adding even more weight to your body when it's already fatigued and exhausted;
- Showering difficulties can trigger negative thoughts - such as, for example "I'm so hopeless for finding it so difficult to shower", "I'm so pathetic", "I'm such a loser" etcetera;
- When you're so "depression tired" that even getting out of bed for example can feel like climbing a mountain, then getting undressed, starting the shower, washing yourself, towelling yourself off, deciding what to wear and then getting changed again can feel completely and utterly beyond your capacity (as our community members often mention, showering can feel extremely, extremely overwhelming when you're deep in a depressive episode);
- Depression can completely cripple your motivation, and make it difficult to see the point in doing anything (including showering);
- It can be difficult to distract yourself from your suffering when you're having a shower (as compared to, for example, when you're watching television, scrolling social media or playing with a pet);
- Depression can make you feel so sensitised that the water on your skin may genuinely be physically painful;
- When you have depression and are struggling with feelings of worthlessness and not being good enough, it's common to not feel worthy of being clean.
If you can relate, then please know that you are not alone, and that given everything you're going through when you're fighting depression, finding it difficult to shower is completely understandable.
And, if you don't have depression yourself but you know someone who does that's finding it difficult to shower, then rather than criticising them for it and calling them lazy, please offer them support and compassion instead.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.
P.S. Because struggling to look after your personal hygiene when you're feeling "depression tired" is so, so common, we've created a cognitive behavioural therapy-based journal, in order to:
- Share with you a variety of strategies to make it easier and less overwhelming for you to look after your personal hygiene when you feel “depression tired”;
- Help you let go of any shame you may feel on the occasions when you don’t manage to look after your personal hygiene.