As a mentally ill person, I try to surround myself with others who have mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. Since I am always talking, I find that I am normally asking “do you do this too?” questions. Recently my “do you do this too” question was “I hate to shower. Do you hate them as badly as I do?” The answer I got was a very certain “yes.”
Then I felt better that I can’t stand to shower. I do it because it would be wrong not to. However, it takes a lot out of me to do so. I truly get in the shower and cringe. It makes me uncomfortable and I try to talk myself through them.
Often I only wash my hair weekly. I have longer hair and it is very thick. Washing it takes extra effort and I don’t normally have the energy to wash it each day. Since it is so long and thick, it takes forever to dry and it never lays flat unless I blowdry it. Again, extra effort I don’t have the energy to do. I have learned that if I put my hair in a ponytail and put it in a plastic cap that it will stay dry and I won’t need to wash it.
I often find myself putting my showers off until the last moment. The weird thing about it is, I am very particular about my looks. I am always in the perfect outfit and my makeup gets mentioned by everyone I meet. I often get told I am the picture of perfection when it comes to fashion and makeup. Oftentimes, because of the way I look, others don’t know I have mental illness of any kind, let alone a severe mental illness such as bipolar 1 with ADHD, an anxiety disorder, and a binge eating disorder. I put on a good front, even though other times I am falling apart on the inside.
Showering for someone like myself seems like something that would come easy. If my looks and outward appearance mean so much to me, you would think that I would care about a shower. I don’t, though. I still hate them. It’s a task I wish I didn’t have to do.
I always ask others with bipolar disorder if they hate showers as much as I do. I feel validated when they say yes. I know being bipolar that I am often from others. Many times I feel like I can’t connect to anyone. I feel like when I ask my “do you do this too?” questions, that I am connecting with someone and I don’t feel so strange. It is never fun to feel like the odd man out. I get the chance to feel normal when I am around others with bipolar. By comparing notes and asking questions about their symptoms it gives me a sense of being like someone else. I don’t often get the chance to feel that.
I know that something as simple as a shower doesn’t seem like much to connect about. I wonder if others with bipolar feel the same thing when they are feeling as abnormal as I do most of the time. Sometimes for me talking to others with the disorder makes me feel as if I am a part of something bigger. It makes me remember that I am not so strange after all.
I am always going to be a person who asks “do you do this too?” questions. That way I am able to let others know they aren’t that weird either. Those of us with bipolar disorder often feel alone in this world. By talking to others I have learned I am not as different as I think. I hope because I am open with them they realize they are not that different, either.