This week I’m starting my series of ‘self care’ vlogs with a talk on how your ability to give a shit about your physical appearance and cleanliness changes and how odd it is to start caring about that when it’s literally impossible when you are ill. I touch on the outward appearance cultivated during excursions beyond the safety zone of your four walls. The mask worn to hide the inner mess, to distract people from seeing the truth of your disintegration – it never feels as secure as it looks.
Honestly I always felt that no matter how careful I was, everyone could see through it despite all evidence of their obliviousness. I also talk about being wary of judging a friend’s mental state based on their appearance out and about. If they confide that they’re struggling and you see them looking put together, that does not negate the struggle. It’s hard to tell people with depression from those without because we make a concerted effort to look ‘normal’.
I wanted to talk more about my perception of *normal* here too, it’s basically how you want to be, the person you want to express yourself as. You know, the way everyone does – normal is short hand for ‘not going out looking mentally ill but instead like an average, okay person who likes the shit I like’. The mask for me was however close I could get to that, and sometimes louder versions of it. But always as put together as I could, to maintain the illusion ‘it’s all OK here’. Sometimes I even used my appearance as a double distraction ‘if you’re looking at my outfit you’re not looking at me’. Classic sleight of habiliments.
I also wanted to address the notion of ‘clean’ and wanting to care. That includes a more normalized attitude to baths etc. You avoid them when depressed as the thought of the effort is too much. That applies to house cleaning, getting dressed, eating proper food (you either eat junk or peck at barely anything – I have always swung between comfort eating and not being able to stand the thought of preparing food). This changes as you enter recovery and begin to think of yourself as a person again, someone worthy of care.
This is a larger subject, a difficult one to encapsulate, and I’ve done my best but I feel I’ve waffled a bit, so I do apologize. I think it’s still a sore subject for me, and becoming more so as I move further along in my recovery journey. Certain aspects of battling a low mood get way more frustrating as I become more and more aware of what low moods cost me in terms of my humanity, my dignity.
I’m going to include some self care links here – they are *not* about hygiene or whatever, they’re good practical advice for managing depression that includes some advice on food/exercise, which I will touch on in later self care videos too. I would not shove any old idiotic shit up here in my linkage.