This was written by a friend of mine, and he’s given me permission to share it with you.
For whatever reason that you find it hard to clean up (one of my sporadic issues (I do have more than one) is that I have a water phobia, and the act of getting in the shower is just too much sometimes, and to be honest, that is minor compared to others’ reactions), these eight tricks and tips might be helpful.
PTSD, traumatic memories, abuse, scars, eating disorders, phobias, delusions, anxiety, body image issues, gender or other dysmorphia…there are plenty of reasons that for some people, naked is HARD. And forced to confront your naked body directly enough to clean it is HARDER. But life doesn’t have a lot of room for people who struggle with basic hygiene, and even if you don’t deal with other people, there is a point where if you don’t clean yourself, you become at risk for skin infections and other issues, so I thought I’d offer a few tips, some from personal experience, some from my therapist because this is a thing I’ve struggled with myself:
- Love your products.For me, it’s LUSH stuff. I love the way that shit smells, the way it feels, the textures, the colors, everything. Even the company policies and marketing. I want to smell like that and put it all over me. If you’re already struggling, you don’t need to be gagging on the smell or shuddering from the texture of dollar store body wash. If there’s any way you can afford it or find free samples or anything, use whatever products you love most.
- Distance yourself.If touching your body bothers you, use a loofa, a puff, or a brush instead of your bare hand or a thin cloth or mitt.
- Turn the lights off and cover the mirrors.It may seem silly, but sometimes just not seeing can help. If you can’t do it in the dark or if total dark freaks you out, try a candle (outside the shower) or nightlight. Mirrors should be self explanatory, especially because bathroom light is often very unflattering.
- Don’t tempt yourself.If you have a history of or urges towards self harm, don’t have razors, scrubs, or harsh sponges/scrubbers in the shower or in easy reach after.
- Distract yourself.Get a waterproof case for your phone. Sing in the shower. Draw on the wall with soap crayons. Draw on YOU with soap crayons. Have an audiobook. Use the time to drill yourself on trivia, prep for a test, or work on that thing you’re writing. Try to remember the alphabet backwards in another language.
- Ink up.If you can and are so inclined, consider getting one or more tattoos. They can give you a real sense of positive ownership of your body, and you can focus on the art and its meaning when you see yourself naked rather than paying attention to the canvas.
- Set a timer. Things are often a billion times more endurable if you know when they’ll end, having to rush can sometimes help keep you from dwelling on emotions, and it helps prevent zoning out and getting the shitty surprise when the hot water runs out.
- Make it necessary. Paint on yourself or sharpie on yourself. Pour on something with a gross texture like lube or vegetable oil. Put paint in your hair. The focus on getting ____ off can help, and it makes it harder to keep finding reasons to not.
Sometimes, though it’s not going to happen. So consider a dry shampoo or dry body wash, a quick change of clothes, some extra deodorant, a spritz of body spray, some powder, and try again tomorrow. You’re not a failure because today didn’t happen, and succeeding tomorrow is not lessened by today.
And if you do it, reward yourself. You deserve it. You did the thing and it was a hard thing, and that’s awesome.