When You Have Mental Illness, Sometimes Self-Care IS A Shower

Because everything else feels impossible.

Gone was the joy for my work that I loved, and I took to spending most of my time in bed while my kids were at school.

Yet, somehow, it still didn’t click for me that I was depressed. Because anxiety was my familiar enemy. With depression, I just felt — tired and unmotivated.

Yet, during my depression, it was all I could do to stay OUT of my bed. That’s when I realized I might have something more serious going on.

It was in that year that I realized that depression is often the companion to anxiety, and my medication that had worked so great for my anxiety for three years couldn’t touch what was going on with my depression.

Simple daily tasks felt like a mountain to climb. They would leave me exhausted at the end of the day when before I felt rejuvenated by checking things off my list.

I wrote a post a few days ago about self-care and how important it was to not count basic human needs as self-care. And it was a comment in the comments section that struck me — that’s all fine and good if you’re not depressed. Because when you’re depressed, then sometimes a shower is self-care.

Self-care most certainly looks different to everyone.

I think of the single mom that is doing it all alone — work, school, raising kids, and has no one to hand them off to at the end of the day. To that mom, self-care might absolutely look like a hot bath at the end of the day with a good book. Would she like something more than that? Of course, but she chooses to relish in what she has and what is available to her.

The point is this — self-care has to bring us joy, and make us feel renewed.

If a bath at the end of the day does that for you, then it can absolutely be your self-care. But, women often tend to call something self-care that doesn’t actually do that for them.

When you suffer from mental illness like I do, there will definitely be seasons of your life when your measuring stick for self-care gets adjusted.

Perhaps a shower not only feels like self-care, but it feels downright luxurious. And, the joy and happy part might come from the simple satisfaction that you climbed that mountain when you really, really didn’t want to.

Self-care is not the same for everyone, but it should be prescriptive in whatever your life’s circumstances are.

Prescriptive meaning self-care should help treat whatever ails you in the moment. Maybe it’s ice cream straight from the carton after a bad break-up or maybe it’s a girls’ trip to Hawaii. And, frankly, it can be anything in between.

Meredith Ethington, Author - Mom Life: Perfection Pending, Blogger at Perfectionpending.net and Editor in Chief of Filterfreeparents.com

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