I’ve been having trouble showering. Not like, I slip in the tub. Rather, I can’t get myself into the tub in the first place. It’s been sneaking up on me for a while, really. I typically shower every other day to avoid greasy hair, but when I feel stressed, I can sometimes stretch it to 3 days with a messy bun or something. Then I bought dry shampoo, making day 3 almost as good as day 1. Then I started stretching it to 3 days without treatment, and dry shampoo on the 4th day. 4 days without a shower. That’s practically criminal. It’s not like I was crazy busy or trying to save water. I spent most of my time watching Netflix and sleeping. I just couldn’t make it into the shower. It’s like the act of getting my bath robe, warming the water up and washing my hair etc. was too physically demanding. I felt absolutely exhausted every time I considered getting a shower. The 4th evening, I forced myself into the shower because I didn’t want to smell at work, but it was really tough. I couldn’t bring myself to shave. It probably took me 10 minutes flat to get my shower, and another 5 to comb my hair. It seems easy. But it’s not.
Why is it that it’s always the tiny things that are too difficult? I can go for long hikes in the woods, but I can’t wash 3 dishes. I can take my dog out to play for an hour, but I can’t spend 5 minutes washing my fish bowl. I can put the entire building that I work in into perfect order, but I can’t hang up my clothes. For me, this is the worst part of depression. The complicated stuff, the different stuff, the new and exciting stuff, is easy to do. I could totally go volunteer at a soup kitchen for a day. But I can’t make dinner for my family. It’s all in my head, I know. It’s so easy to do all these things that I Just Can’t Do, but somehow Rational Melody can’t convince Anxious/Depressed Melody that it’s true.
The worst part is having to face my mom, when I just can’t do household tasks. She’s a clean freak (in the best way, but still) and she’s one of those anti-Mark Twain types who never puts anything off ever. When she asks me to do a task (which isn’t often, mind you) and I feel like I can’t, it makes me feel absolutely worthless. I feel like the most spoiled, ungrateful, entitled person ever, to have to ask my mom, who cook and cleans every day, to do the one little task that she needs me to help with.
Now, this isn’t how I feel all the time. Sometimes I can do everything. On those days, it feels really good to help, and I try to do my best to get as much done as I can, but those times never last. And usually the good days don’t coincide with the days when the whole family is stressed and actually needs me to be helpful.
How can I look my mom in the face, or myself in the mirror, and tell myself that I’m an acceptable person when I often and inexplicably just can’t help? It’s frustrating to my parents, for sure, but its really most frustrating to me. I don’t want to be a freeloader. I want to contribute. I don’t know why I feel this way, and I don’t understand why sometimes I can wash the dishes but not take a shower, and sometimes the opposite happens. It makes me afraid, because what if I try to live on my own and I just can’t take care of myself? How are people supposed to understand my explanation that I “just can’t” when it doesn’t make any sense? What if this happens to me at work and I have to tell my boss that I just can’t do XYZ… Most importantly, how can I really, truly, be a successful and capable adult if I can’t keep my bed made and my dishes clean?
I try to tell myself that it’s okay, that I need to cut myself some slack, that it’s harder for me than the average person because I am stressed over every little thing. But I know for a fact that this will never go away. I’ll always have these days. How do I manage them? In the back of my mind, I hear the mantra that my mom repeated throughout my entire childhood: “If you can’t take responsibility for yourself, how can you take responsibility for anything else?” This is one of my greatest fears: that I won’t be able to be the independent and successful woman that I long to be. I could be ridiculously well educated. I could have perfect networks. I could have people clamoring to hire me for executive positions. But it won’t mean anything if I can’t do the basic stuff.
I know that my situation is special, and that these fears of mine are most likely intrusive thoughts. But they’re still here. They torment me. I want so very badly to be able to take responsibilities and be successful. It’s so hard to try to explain to others that I’m not lazy, I’m just sick. It’s so hard to accept that I can’t just be a normal adult.