I have a strange relationship with cleanliness, though I expect that it’s a similar one to that which anyone who has had serious depressive episodes or a physically limiting chronic illness has. I have, at my most depressed and at my most fatigued (which have crossed over, one causing the other) spent days in bed, worn clothes that I haven’t washed in weeks and reused underwear by way more than I should have done.
I like processes, I like routines. The Korean skincare routine that I follow actually forms some sort of treatment to my Depression. It’s not just about the fact that feeling and smelling clean is a genuine boost to my mood, but also that following a routine comforts and calms my Anxiety – which I think is a worse problem than my Depression since it often triggers my Fatigue. The thing I like about it is I can vary how much of it I do, when I’m tired it’s just the basics but I usually manage to wash each day because there’s a variation to it. Showers, because they involve standing don’t always happen daily but it’s been some time since I went weeks without one.
At my most Depressed even doing what I’ve heard referred to as a ‘whore’s bath’ and a ‘VAW’ (Vital Area Wash) can be too tiring because the Depression just rolls up with the Fatigue until they are this hideous mass of exhaustion. But feeling clean provokes endorphins or something and so if I can keep up the process of cleaning and of being clean it combats the Depression.
I really hate the way that Depression is such a cyclical thing, that if you give in to one aspect of it then the rest just jumps on you until you realise that you’ve been late to work everyday for a month and spent whole weekends in bed without enjoying it. Doing the ten step process, having multiple products and ways of doing things is a way of gaming my brain into following a routine until I’m getting the endorphins. The Fatigue makes it seriously difficult to do that though, which is frankly, just unfair.
Being clean, having skin that’s been moisturised and isn’t exploding with eczema, that really helps my mood.