Bathing

I’m glued to the left side of the bed again and can’t get up to turn the lights off. Fully dressed and marinated in my “work from home” tracksuit, my legs are nestled inside a soft duvet, with the rest of my warm body spilling out on the randomly scattered pillows under my spine. Kings and queens used to sleep half-sitting up in the Middle Ages, but I’m just depressed and too exhausted to move what feels like rocks on my bed. “Maybe waking up with a crooked neck might make me feel something”, I tragically think to myself, mentally saving the joke for my Twitter drafts.

A thin layer of grease coats my hair, not in an exotic way like the Argan Oil adverts, but in a gross way where I need to wash it even though I washed it the day before. I’ve stress-scratched my scalp again and now my hair feels slick. Small spots bubble under my skin, worsening the new acne introduced by my face mask. I need to shower.

“Why is showering hard when you’re depressed?” I google, but don’t bother clicking on any of the articles. I don’t actually want to read them, I just want attention.

Dragging myself downstairs, I lock myself in the bathroom. My towel smells damp, no matter how many times I wash it. Gently, I take off the many layers of clothes I’ve hid myself in, feeling the radiating heat of my own body. I avoid the mirror.

I run the tap, crumbling in an orange bubble bar. I find showering too hard nowadays, so I bathe instead. The Lush cashier at Victoria Station knows it too. The other day he asked if I was “stocking up for lockdown” and I looked at the floor with shame, nodding my head and unable to make basic eye contact.

I’m trying to not wash things away but stew in them instead. Yet I can’t bathe for longer than ten minutes — everything gets too hot and unbearable.

It’s the first few minutes I do it for. My limbs sliding in the steaming water until I fully submerge myself. My face warms. So do my cold hands and feet. I soften like a Pot Noodle under a torn foil lid. I’m safe. The water forms a protective barrier around me as though I’m inside my mother’s womb.

Bathing takes me to the safe place they tell you to visualise during guided meditations on YouTube. It’s the same sensation as the heat of the sun’s rays soothing my vitamin D deprived skin in a beautiful Uzbek fruit garden. Here, birds sing instead of the constant hum of traffic outside my window. And here, the weather is pleasantly warm because it’s summer — not because of climate change.

I break my thoughts by flipping on my belly in the bath, a gentle reminder that I don’t have to stare at the ceiling all day. A different perspective is good — it makes me remember life’s spontaneity in the Before Times. And for a moment, I allow myself to hope that this brief feeling of joy will one day, last a while longer.

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