If you are reading this, you likely experience some level of shower avoidance or know someone that does. If you’ve battled your brain’s jerkish thought patterns for some time now and/or are exceptional at covering up how much you’re suffering, please leave your tips and tricks in the comments! I can only speak to my experiences and I’m an odd duck (with the lips to match) so others’ best practices are always welcome.
I have depression and I rarely cry. People without depression are vaguely familiar with common symptoms when asked to list them, but they very rarely see any of the signs as easily as they see crying. For me, the biggest indicator that I’ve begun a depressive episode is when I notice a decline in showering. In college no one showered, so it was easy to blend in. But once I got to grad school showing up to class in the same pajama pants I wore the day before with unbrushed hair wasn’t really a thing I could do anymore. I have since become a master of deception that can turn five minutes of effort in the morning look (and smell) like I put time into my appearance.
Step One: Be Not Depressed
Just kidding. In all seriousness, a lot of mental health hacks involve legwork when you’re not under duress so you can counter the squishy jerk inside your skull when it throws a curveball. If you are currently battling a moderate to severe depressive episode, I want to say two things:
- Hang in there and know that even if you feel you’re not doing your best, you’re still great.
- Skate right on past this and revisit it when you’re less distressed. I trust that you have contacted the correct mental health professionals to help you through this and if you havent… well…
Presuming you are at least a high functioning depresso like me, let’s get started! I have the luxury of smelling terrible on a regular basis thanks to roller derby. Over the seasons, I have played in many tournaments where I sometimes had two games in one day. Doesn’t really make sense to hop in the shower between games, so I learned to improvise lest a stiff breeze cross my path and bring the fermented Fritos funk inside my delicate nostrils. I’ve also stupidly invited people I’m interested in sleeping with to bouts only to remember my pungent odor is less impressive than my physicality. I might be ok I guess at roller derby, but practice really did make perfect when it comes to post-bout defunkification.
Take the opportunity to experiment with various dry showering options in your everyday life. Want to grab a bite to eat after an arduous and sweaty hike? Take a depression shower! Decided to go home with someone from the bar but you lowkey don’t feel fresh? Take a depression shower! You get a depression shower! And YOU get a depre– sorry. I got carried away. But you get my point. Cultivate the practice before you need it so you can fall back on it.
Step Two: Figure Out Your Face
My roommate is a licensed aesthetician, which has done wonders for my depression shower game. To curb her horror at my hygiene habits and the anxiety caused by alarming chemicals in my facial care products, we went through every single item I own that falls under her jurisdiction. Did you know that not all face wipes were created equal? I did not know this, but dang it all to heck if Kier didn’t make sure I knew the difference and I’m going to pass it on to you.
- DO NOT purchase wipes labeled Makeup Remover. This is apparently important.
- DO purchase wipes that explicitly state Facial Cleansing Cloths or something similar because the facial cleansing formula is good for your skin and actually washes you.
- DO NOT and I mean DO NOT let me sniff a single whiff of artificial fragrance on that face wipe. Fragrance on the face is a bad time. Let’s just leave it at that.
Facial wipes that are exclusively for removing makeup are harsh and say mean things about your mother so it’s best to avoid those entirely. Once you pick out your face wipe, pair it with a moisturizer that works best for your skin type. You should also invest in some intimate wipes to give yourself a sponge bath. Toddler wipes or the fancy Charmin work well.
Step Three: Hair
Hair is honestly the biggest reason I have a difficult time showering when the depression is rougher than usual. It’s just… a lot. I have a lot of it and it takes a lot of time to dry. My hair is so porous, you see. Whatever your reason is for skipping showers for days on end, please know that my hair is mine. Sometimes I’ll pile it high in a plop atop my head and still shower, but that’s a better than average day.
Dry shampoo is standard for depression showers but half the time it makes my hair worse so I skip this step. If you have unlocked the magic of dry shampoo you have more things to teach me than I can teach you about that topic. But argan oil? I can tell you that this is the real savior of the depression shower. If you’re skipping this step you’re wrong. A single drop evenly distributed across your palms and lightly massaged into the tips of your hair as if you are poorly imitating a harpist absorbed in their work is all you need. Avoid your roots at all cost. Get in, get out. That said, I defer to your expertise regarding your own hair care because we’re all working with different conditions. Every day I battle hair that want to simultaneously wave and straighten with incongruous placement. Bottom line, whichever oil or serum works best with your hair type will be pivotal in fooling people into thinking you’re clean. Stale hair is the biggest giveaway. After that, style your hair in your best set it and forget fashion and get out the door to greet the unending tedium that is your day.
Step Four: It Puts the Lotion on It’s Skin
The most glaring faux-pas when it comes to blending in with the showered masses is perfume. First of all, how do you not know you are causing other people migraines with your abundance of perfume? It’s rude. Don’t do it. Second of all, lotion is where it’s at because the scent lingers all day and is just potent enough to cover your stench without triggering an epic migraine for someone else. In case I didn’t make it clear, don’t wear perfume. Just say no.
I’m partial to Bath & Body Works lotions. I featured my two favorite above. I once purchased three tubes of Snowflakes and Cashmere because they only sell it when the blood moon takes the sky. I am depressed whenever the mood strikes, not whenever a corporation feels like selling me a limited time product. My depression does not care if the holiday BOGO sale isn’t for another few months. What else could I do but stock up? This is the type of thought and advanced prep I’m talking about when combatting depression. Lotion hoarding. You see why I suggested you not do this while experiencing an active depressive episode? A luxurious depression shower is only possible with some necessary frontloading.
To apply the lotion, squirt a robust dollop into your hand and coat both palms evenly. Quickly smack your shoulders, pat your stomach, and wipe the rest into your quads. Double back and rub the bulk of the lotion from your shoulders along your collarbone and over your biceps. Fight the temptation to add any more. You smell fine, I promise. I get compliments on how I smell all the time when I have skipped several days’ worth of showers. I’ve got it down to a science. Any more and it smells like you’re covering something up. Which you are, but the people in your life don’t need to know that.
Step Five: Go Shopping
The final step of a depression shower is slipping into a convenient outfit that feels as close to pajamas as your dress code allows. You are depressed, after all. You can figure out steps 2-4 in an afternoon, testing the products together to make sure the smell combination is light and pleasant rather than overwhelming, but your clothing requires more prep. Your hard work setting yourself up for future depression showers will only pay off if you pull the look together with a nice outfit.
My stepmother and I bond the best over retail therapy. The ominously accurate Facebook targeted ads have selected clothing for me I did not know I needed until it mysteriously appeared in my feed. My closet is deep and varied. I recognize that advantage I have over people that hate shopping, so I’m going to give you some quick pointers allowing you to get in and get out of the store or narrow down your next Amazon purchases. Unfortunately, my experience is best suited to advising people that wear dresses, so you do you if that’s not your thing. I’m partial to lounge pants and a jersey knit top that doesn’t look like a tee shirt (but totally is) when I’m not feeling dresses.
- Jersey. Knit. Jersey knit dresses in black are absolutely essential. These dresses can be stitched to flatter every figure yet are so comfortable it feels like lounging in bed (only not because there’s work or school or whatever to be done so not at ALL like lounging in bed but your lotioned skin doesn’t know better).
- Additional note that jersey knit dresses come in colors and patterns other than black, but I recommend keeping your palate dark so the bags under your eyes match.
- If you’re up for a challenge, please note that certain patterns will instantly zazz up a dress suitable for a luxurious depression shower, but most won’t and there’s no rhyme or reason to figuring it out without sacrificing a woodland creature or trying on lots of dresses to see what gives you a sudden burst of confidence. This tacit confidence is the key to pulling off the delusion that you’re not depressed.
- Dress in a way that makes you feel happiest. Sure, your mood is down but I find having fun colors or mixing patterns that don’t match will give me an extra .001% of joy so why the heck not? Sure I told you to only wear dark colors but I’m a depressed librarian. What do I know?
And that’s it folks. A whole lot of words to say “do a half assed job of cleaning yourself and get to work because you can’t take mental health days every day.”