Bad Habits

Unlike Ed Sheeran, my bad habits never lead to conversations with a stranger I barely know… I can’t remember the last time that happened. But he was spot on when he talked about ‘wide eyes staring to space’ and ‘late nights endin’ alone’. If you remove any human interaction then Ed’s ‘Bad Habits’ form a partial playbook of my life. But I have even more bad habits, secret habits, that do make me look odd, and many of them are basically a direct result of my physical and mental issues.

So why am I going to tell you some of the things that make me even weirder than I already seem? Well, hopefully to normalise these patterns of behaviour and (even more hopefully) to let someone else privately know they aren’t alone if they recognise the patterns in themselves.

I’m going to give you a few examples relating to hygiene, eating and sleeping with a couple of extras peppered in for fun.

1. Hygiene

Yes, I have habits that are probably disgusting to you, but to me they are just a way of getting by. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t shower or bathe regularly because of pain – the number of times I have a ‘full body wash’ will change depending on how shitty I feel. This week I’ve managed one shower (today) and although I feel better, less grotty, less gross, I’m also exhausted. As my Spoonie Page explains, what you take with one task, you lose for another.

I’ve also been using the same towels for several years – one for my body and one for my hair. I have a routine with towelling dry (partly necessary because of pain, and partly necessary because the mental load of managing all parts of a shower with a bespoke element to every attempt would make it too stressful 🙄), so I sit in these towels, sometimes for half an hour, feeling comforted by their aged-softness while I recover from the shock of standing in a stress position beneath the shower rose for 10 minutes.

I rarely stand for more than 30 seconds a day. So yeah, I find it hard.

But showering isn’t my only hygiene hurdle. My make-up brushes are disgusting. My photos mostly show a made-up face giving the impression I wear it every day. In reality, my make up is limited to only being applied after a shower, like today. So I clean the brushes with a cloth before each use, but it’s been years since I changed them or gave them a proper wash. This means there are remnants of my old make-up on my face every time I complete a weekly application and that’s gross isn’t it?? Well, although it seems gross, my personal attachment to the dirty brushes is more important. I’m so afraid that after all this time a thorough clean would disintegrate them, that I can’t do it. The thought of getting a new (cheap) set of brushes to the level of familiarity and comfort that the current brushes has, sends a shiver down my spine. It would take years and my make-up would become more ‘Cruella’ than ever.

Can’t do it.

2. Eating

My terrible eating habits are harder to admit. But they are terrible, and I’m although I’m ashamed, I’m sure there are worse out there.

In the day I’m at a Jane Fonda level of eating health. I have a proper breakfast (normally cereal), followed by a small lunch (a few potatoes, some veg and a turkey dinosaur), then a little dinner (similar to lunch). If I counted calories I’d say I rarely hit 1500, even after counting a naughty snack. I’m in the middle of a GIGANTIC weight loss journey and low calories in the day is normal for me.

But at night everything changes. Holy shit can I eat crap when the moon appears. Maybe it’s a werewolf type situation. The lunar glow illuminates the sky and my normal self morphs into a food-wolf, desperate to eat anything nutritionally pointless within our cupboards. Yes, my poor partner spends the evening delivering mini chocolate bars and ice lollys until one of us passes out.

On a serious note, eating this way isn’t healthy and my recent weight gain is almost certainly a result of these stupid twilight activities, so it will change. But there is a real joy in zoning out to a Netflix Series whilst enjoying a Calippo on a dark, hot, sweaty summers night.

Oh, and my bonus disgusting note for the ‘eating’ section is that every morning there is a pile of Calippo cases and chocolate wrappers for my partner to clear up so I have some space to put my coffee on the bedside table.

I hate myself.

3. Sleeping

It’s unsurprising that my sleep is shit when you look at the crap I eat in the evening. But food isn’t really to blame for my sleep habits.

It’s no secret that I spend my nights drawing and / or writing. I love being creative and both distract me well from the ‘brain pain’ I talk about on here.

But some nights, the nights I COULD fall asleep and actually get close to the recommended 8 hours of peaceful bliss, I keep myself awake as some sort of punishment for the past.

In an unhealthy way I’ve always been a person who has to truly feel pain in order to accept it. That means sitting and thinking about it, allowing flashbacks, dealing with a headache from tears, and basically wallowing in it, until I’m exhausted. As the years of passed and the number of upsetting events in my life has grown, the amount of time I need to spend dwelling on these things has also increased…to an unhealthy level. But I have no idea how to manage it and after 8 years discussing it with rehab and various support workers all I’ve had besides medication is more talking, which just makes the problem worse. Talking to them opens pandoras box and leaves me with memories that are suddenly more tangible than they were before. Those evenings are some of the worst, first reliving the meeting at home with rehabilitation, then reliving the memories to a painful degree.

And yes, sometimes I’ll grab another lolly or Club Bar to comfort myself. Two bad habits melding into one.

Bad sleep hygiene can leave you with a daytime nightmare to navigate. Tiredness, lack of concentration, increased hunger, pain, problems with digestion and even mental illness are all heavily impacted by lack of sleep, but so many of us ignore those potential issues so we can squeeze in one more chapter, one more programme or one more shag.

Is it worth it?

For me it’s worth it SOMETIMES, but unfortunately ALWAYS necessary. My cognition requires me to live with the pain, to remember it fully, to make notes and watch the flashbacks closely. Why?

If I don’t remember then who will?

In conclusion

Yes, I’ll admit I have some pretty disgusting habits, but if you glance over this article again, most of them are about 2 things – comfort and familiarity. I realise I have an almost OCD like obsession with some things, but they are tiny patterns I need to go through in order to mentally manage.

It’s not easy living life the way I do – the isolation alone makes me a weirdo. I took mental note of a nurse looking horrified this week when I told her although I hadn’t left the house for over a year, I haven’t been in a shop (big or small) for nearly 3 years. She clearly felt sorry for me and was incredibly kind, but moments like that just remind me I’m an oddball to the outside world. Often I spend those sleepless nights thinking about reactions like that and wondering how it’ll ever change.

It’s a mind-fuck of epic proportions.

The picture

I deliberately chose to use a picture I drew during one of those recent all-nighters to head up this post.

This is one of my first full-body chibi drawings, and the first in my own style and from my own brain, so I feel pretty proud of it. She has a tradition kimono on, with the added spice of lilac hair and starry patterns. I loved drawing this and she needed a home, so she’s here to show I’m not always disgusting.

Bad habits lead to late nights drawing at home (thanks Ed!).

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

4 thoughts on “Bad Habits

    1. Haha. Sorry if it was too weird or off-putting. The truth is definitely odd, but I feel sure others will get it. And listen, odd socks are a great ‘bad habit’ – I may even try it myself (but not in this weather). I’m very grateful you read the post – every comment makes my day. Thank you x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually I can’t stand being under the shower rose. I usually turn it off or face it away from me unless I need to rinse off. Too noisy. So when you spoke about the shower I got it even if for a different reason. Maybe that’s a bit weird but used to get migraines so suspect left over from that🙃


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