This is something that is largely from personal experience, and, from hearing people talk about others.
Now, personal hygiene is as much a social demand as it is a personal one. It becomes more obvious if you happen to live in a city that has a healthy migrant population.
Often, I hear complaints about one colleagues personal hygiene. It annoys me to hear them complaining about it… rather than going to the colleague himself, however, he has been spoken to on numerous occasions about it. What I found interesting was, it wasn’t just because he has bad habits… It’s because of the country he is originally from.
Another worker from the same country was with us a while, before she moved home it was observed that after every shift she’d just put her uniform in her locker. Every. Shift. When confronted about it she more or less explained that she did wash it, only every few months or so.
Now, understandably this horrified a few people, as hell I’ve resorted to running a washing line through my kitchen to make sure it has somewhere to dry, cause, you know, winter washing means it’s going to have to sit on the airers a while longer than normal and cause a backlog.
The reason behind her choice was simple, it’s the way things are done in her home country. The country she was working in happened to have far stricter ideals on personal hygiene and presentation.
Now, with all of that said, time to get down to the point of this post.
I have encountered three stages of looking after ones self. That does happen to include housework, social interactions, all those fun things alongside cleanliness.
As someone that struggles with clinical depression it’s not much of a surprise to know that there are periods of time when I just don’t give a shit about things.
Then it hit me, in a conversation with my mother -about housework no less- she said at least it wasn’t like when she was depressed (she has reactionary depression, often triggered by death.) she often looked at our home, and herself, and thought What’s the point? and proceeded to not give a rats arse.
Even when I had to physically drag her to the bathroom to shower, as she is a woman that is very ‘you must wash properly at LEAST once a day’ orientated. Even when I had to bring food to her, sometimes I didn’t know if she ate for days on end. The list goes on, and I’ll spare the complete rundown.
Stage one of giving a shit, when the Switch is on everything is hunky dory. One looks after ones self, the home is clean, they maintain what they deem healthy relationships with people around them. They can, and will make the effort, to be happy.
Stage two of giving a shit, when the Switch is half toggled, everything is kinda in limbo. One can look at a mess and go meh. And keep ignoring the fact it needs doing to the point where even procrastinators will likely shake their heads at you. Hygiene begins to not be a priority and gradually becomes a chore.
It begins to become troublesome to find excuses to actually go out and have fun, see a film at the cinema and so on. One is still capable of going to work, but continually asks ones self why bother… and, the same can be said for most things.
In the half toggled state there are more downs than ups, but sometimes a room will be deep cleaned out of obligation and knowing you’re nearing a visit from Kim and Aggie if you keep it up.
Leaving one’s bed when not obligated to go anywhere becomes a chore… only to leave for bathroom and food breaks is a bit much.
Only hindsight makes one realise that the Switch needs to be on.
Stage three of giving a shit, or, not giving one… is when the Switch is off. All bets are off and boy howdy is it a struggle to get the people who are incapable of looking after themselves to do so.
Having been in that state you go on autopilot, you go to the places you are supposed to go to. Only if you have to, likely only when there’s money on the line – to further one’s consumption of comfort food or means to escape the reality you find yourself in.
It’s all hindsight and you only spot it, when the Switch is on. Seriously, it takes just a moment, of a day, like any other day. When someone will turn around and go – Oh shit, what the HELL am I doing to myself.
Then, the routine will begin and maybe be kept up for the better.
But I do know it can be a chore. My switch is more of a toggle, probably because I’m just Lazy. I know I am. The flat keeps tidy for a while, then it’s a mess, then I tidy it again and so forth.
When it comes to looking after myself, well… that’s a bit hit and miss. Always has been.
Thing is, if you know someone that you think has suddenly developed a personal hygiene problem, and I’m not just talking about showing up to work with bad bedhair (I do it regularily, purely because my uniform requires a hat, so… I don’t look at a mirror while I’m getting ready.) I’m talking about uniform, smell…
Don’t be aggressive about it, but please do say something. I’ve said plenty of times to people I work with. It will hurt, but I’d rather be taken to the side if I let things slip than have everyone talking about it behind my back. Much like the colleague I spoke of earlier.
Believe it or not, for many people with mental issues it can be comforting to just have someone ask ‘are you okay?’. As someone who’s rather over talkative and chipper, it becomes obvious there’s a problem when I suddenly become distant with people I work with.
I do have a lot on my mind recently. People are noticing. People are asking if I’m okay.
I tell them I have a lot on my mind and for at least one colleague who knows the full story, she lets it go, or just smiles at me in a way that says it’s okay she’s trying to understand.
That understanding, knowing that someone cares enough to ask how you are, and in my case she’s the one person I work with that would be brutally honest if I was doing something wrong, or whatever.
You’d be surprised how much a difference having people you can trust in your life is.
If you don’t work, or you’re housebound and so on. There are means to get in communication with other humans, with the internet being what it is these days there’s little excuse.
One of my dearest friends and I share mostly written communication. We have been speaking for long enough to sense when something’s not quite right. Our typing patterns change, or what we’re saying isn’t quite the same as usual.
Every so often, I make sure (if I haven’t started the conversation with it that is) to ask if he’s okay. Sometimes it’s just with a simple ‘How’s you?’
As, even the strongest people, those that we think are always okay. Might need that extra bit of help keeping that switch turned on.
How are you?