Routines, depression, and me

from Liminal Nest

I have a series of routines I use to try to keep depression at bay. They are mostly a hodgepodge of self care I should be doing anyway.

Things like: get dressed every day, even if it’s just yoga pants, even if I’m crawling right back into bed.

Things like: always eat breakfast, and always eat breakfast with enough protein to get me going in the morning.

Things like: shower and wash my hair when it needs it, which for me is roughly every other day or sometimes every day.

It took time and effort to develop these routines. I started mostly to stop the hospital staff nagging me about “faking it until you make it”, and because it’s easier to get discharged from inpatient behavioral health (or “the psych unit”) if you’re clean and don’t sleep all day. I kept up my routines because, annoyingly, they help.

But what happens when I physically can’t do them?

I have fibromyalgia, a connective tissue disorder, MCAS, dysautonomia, and (currently) a sinus infection on top of everything else.

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to shower. It’s a fall risk, and it sets off my MCAS and my dysautonomia due to the heat and the chlorine in the water. But I desperately need to shower for my depression management.

I try to make the best of it, balancing multiple conflicting access needs. But I have to say, with my sinus infection this week I got rather rank. And with the increase in the greasiness of my hair, it was as though I could feel the depression rearing its head and sniffing the air as though preparing to come roaring back. So I showered, even though I didn’t have the energy.

I don’t have answers for conflicting access needs. It’s an unwinnable game. I just make the best compromise I can and live with the consequences.

I share all this because I suspect I’m not the only one balancing multiple chronic illnesses, or a mental health issue or several, that has trouble keeping up with all the self care. And it can feel like my fault for not drinking enough water, or staying up too late, or eating the wrong breakfast. If only I had done things differently, or my routine was better, maybe I would feel better. I’m here to tell you, down that path lies endless self flagellation and sorrow.

It’s sometimes impossible to meet all your body’s needs, and sometimes you just have to live with an imperfect compromise.

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