Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sensory Defensiveness - The Shower

Ugh, problems showering. This is possibly a problem for you, or a loved one. I know people who seem to think that not showering is always a depressive sign of lack of self-care. I admit it can be this for me sometimes. But I find more often it is that some days (or weeks) I find showering difficult if not painful. I'll describe my experience here, in slightly itemized and slightly disorganized form:

It's worse if it's cold. Cold is relative though, and my tolerance for any air movement is pretty much nil. First obstacle: removing clothing.

The feeling of clothing moving across my skin, interrupting the direction of all the little hairs on my body, that can be already a Bad Sensation.

Getting in - must start water first and warm the water to the right temperature. My shower at the moment is ultra sensitive, and I literally have millimeters of adjustment room or it's too cold or too hot. Too cold is worse. At overnight camp when I was growing up the shower was pretty much COLD.

Pressure. Can't be too hard, or the repetitive spraying is painful. It can feel like all these needles on my skin. Obviously too little is bad - but that's not a sensory processing problem, it's more pragmatic, like how do you rinse the soap out of your hair.

I had a bath mat that didn't fully dry out. stepping into the shower was a cold and squishy experience. This makes my whole body tense up. If I run the water beforehand, it at least would warm up. It got moldy and I tossed it. The new one is better.

Must wet hair first. If hair is not wet, the body doesn't feel right. The scalp tingles and jumps no matter what I do, but if the water temperature is right, this is pretty much the best part of my shower.

Shampoo first. As much as I try to massage the shampoo into my head, it doesn't quite get there. If my nails are too long (ie any quick on them at all), I have a hard time doing this, sensations on the scalp make me want to scratch it! Smell of shampoo is important. Sometimes it's just way too strong. Often it is.

Hair falling out. Hair on my body. Eeek. Trying to get the hair from going down the drain, I pile it up on the side. This is so ICK and the feeling of the little strands between my fingers, on the surface of my skin, and the feeling of trying to pick it off. It is better than pulling out a giant soap-laden mound of hair from the drain (which is happening anyway. gah.)

The cold water that comes out of the lids of the shampoo and conditioner bottles. Thhhhhhh.

I'm glad I can't see the slime and bits of lint and whatever else in the tub (I'm very very myopic. This might change with laser eye surgery, which I'm considering). If I feel them, I gross out.

If the shower curtain touches me -- as it did today, oh boy. It's like a SHOCK through my system. Literally like a painful jolt of electricity. Takes a while to go away.

Must soap body in particular order. I might go back to using the bodyshop skin towel I have, I think it actually is a bit like therapy, stimulating the skin all over, erasing all these feelings attacking me.

Must rinse in particular order. If I miss a part, I have to start again. If I use a soap that is moisturizing, I feel like I can't wash it off. So the rinse routine happens more than once.

Conditioner must also be rinsed fully, which it often never feels like it is. Conditioner must stay on head while soaping body. Hair must not touch the water. Body must stay in water.

I don't like soap behind my ears. Can we say potatoes? Or potahtohs?

Must rinse hair as the last thing in the shower. Head can NOT be cold. Head then gets wrapped in a towel. I used to have 1/4 inch hair. This was ideal - hair dripping on my body is really intolerable. My current long hair is difficult in this way.

Any air that hits wet body is Bad. So body gets wrapped in towel after head.. but feet must be dried before stepping out. Stepping out must be onto a bath mat. I do NOT like wet feet on tile or linoleum. SQUISHY SLIDY ICK!

Getting clothes on if the body is wet at all won't happen. I have a pretty intensive drying routine. Might try to invest in a thin housecoat (like some spas have, those white ones?) because hair must be done before clothes go on (wet clothing from dripping hair is Not Acceptable). Brushing hair can feel good, if the brush is right. But the brush brings the water out of my hair. It's a peril of long hair.

The body feels good after a shower, no doubt. Sometimes I can get in a space where I feel so gicked out from not showering that showering feels impossible, but if I showered, it would feel more possible because I'd feel less gicky.

So, to recap: Cold = bad. Slime = bad. Squishy = bad. Prickly water = bad.

But yeah, I gotta shower.

1 comment:

canageek said...

Hey, what are your opinions on baths? I love them, only shower at uni when I don't want to touch the tub (I live in residence)

For a while I'd have two baths a day, they just let all my muscules relax. If I don't bath I feel grimy and wrong and itch all over. If I don't wash my hair within two days it itches.

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