Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene

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TwinCinema

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Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« on: December 01, 2016, 07:36:33 AM »
A major symptom of C-PTSD is proneness to self-abandoning tendencies, so I was wondering if anyone's noticed theirs in relation to oral hygiene.

I had decent enough teeth in early childhood, but around age 10, when my parents separated and I first discovered my depression and ASD, my oral hygiene began sliding further and further.
I would brush my teeth less and less often (flossing almost never).
In times like now, where I'm in a major depressive episode, I can only bring myself to brush maybe 2-4 days a week.

The vicious cycle goes something like this.
I know I have to brush my teeth, and I know I'll feel a little better once I do it, but I just can't bring myself to do so.
I still can't place my finger on the exact cause of the aversion, but it's there.
Maybe, maybe, I'll swish with some mouthwash, but I know that's a poor substitute.
I wake up the next day, grime still on my once-pearly whites, and feel shame and self-loathing for not just getting it over with.

Up until a few months ago, I assumed it was just based in "laziness" (or at least that's what my inner critic told me).
Lately, I'm starting to consider that it's a self-abandonment process, based on my dysfunctional household.
My parents would take me to the dentist every 2-4 years, instead of every six months as is standard.
I understand that they had a lot on their plates, but it still feels somewhat neglectful to space it out so long.

Last time I was at the dentist, I got chewed out (no pun intended) for not keeping up on my oral health.
He asked why I haven't been regularly brushing and flossing; I didn't have an answer.
What was I supposed to say? "Sorry, I didn't brush because I don't think I deserve it"?
On the way back, my Dad yelled at me in the car, triggering a heavy emotional flashback.

I don't want to end up with all my teeth rotting or removed, but these nightmare scenarios just make me even more discouraged.

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sanmagic7

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 02:30:21 PM »
when i was growing up, i never brushed my teeth.  my parents didn't, either.  don't know why, but it just wasn't done.  it wasn't till i got to college that my roomie called me out on my bad morning breath, and i began brushing when i woke up. 

like any other form of self-care, oral hygiene is taught or not.  i do believe that you're not talking about laziness, but a lack of self-care that's taking the form of not being good to your teeth.  i think as you get farther into recovery, all forms of self-care will be more present in your life.  as always, being as good to ourselves as we can means just that - some days we're better at it, some days not so much. 

these levels of caring for and about ourselves take many forms.  the more we think we're worth it, the easier self-care becomes.  keep at it, twincinema - you'll get there.  are you seeing someone for help with your depression?  that might make a difference, too.   best to you.

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starrysky

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 07:38:21 PM »
I've only just found this forum and hadn't heard of self-abandonment as being a feature of c-ptsd before, but can so relate to this.  I began having issues brushing my teeth after having a child, and I don't know what the trigger is, but periodically it will happen again and I have to remind myself that I can't afford dental fees in order to help motivate myself to start brushing again. 

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Blueberry

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2017, 10:25:01 PM »
Hi Twincinema,
I can so relate. I pretty often go through phases of not caring for myself properly. Not so long ago I wrote a What I Achieved Today post: I'd finally showered and washed my hair after I didn't want to say how long. I'll say it now. I think it was 2 weeks. This is not unusual.

Caring for myself properly exhausts me. If I were to do everything I should every day, I'd probably collapse.

Not brushing my teeth as often as I should is an issue at the moment, so very counter-productively I'm not going to the dentist either. Even though the check up itself is covered by the insurance.

As children one of my sibs and I tried to get out of brushing our teeth in the evening as a form of rebellion. We weren't supervised too rigorously anyway about that kind of thing, though about plenty others, so I guess that gave rise to rebellion before we hit adolescence.

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Candid

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 08:47:14 AM »
As children one of my sibs and I tried to get out of brushing our teeth in the evening as a form of rebellion.

LOL, Blueberry! I can remember lying when Mother asked if I had, and she went into the bathroom and felt my toothbrush then Got Mad at me. So the next night I ran my toothbrush under the tap, and she got me to breathe into her face and Got Mad again. So... I can see that by that age she had reason to call me "difficult", and I've only just realised I was trying to get one over her, too. But of course I never had a win with Mother.

These days no one needs to monitor my oral hygiene. H has false teeth, and I was with him when they knocked out his remaining ones to fit the dentures. I've seen the trouble he's had with them ever since. Also have a couple of friends who are starting to lose their teeth, because we're all at that age.

I traded my old toothbrush and quick scrub for a power brush and floss about five years ago. Yes, for a long time it was a big battle at the end of each day when all I wanted to do was fall into bed. Now I have a routine. About 8.30pm I change into my pajamas and floss my fangs. Then I go back to whatever I was doing, and I'm already dressed for bed so all I have to do at the end of the night is whizz around with the toothbrush.

It helps me to break this down. If I go out in the evenings I might not bother, depending on how tired I am, but the very occasional night off doesn't do any harm. I guess it also appeases my Inner Child Rebel.

Hope this helps.

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Blueberry

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 01:36:34 PM »
Candid, I really wouldn't call that 'difficult'. That's what children are like! FWIW I was continually told I was difficult too. It became a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, especially as there were no good role models in my family for becoming less 'difficult' in the ways I was considered difficult.

I just remembered now, a lot of aspects of taking care of oneself was viewed as a sign of weakness, and weakness was to be avoided at all costs. You need lunch??? Weak. In our family we get by with just breakfast and dinner. (Admittedly that didn't become an issue until I was about 11 or 12, we were given lunch as small children). It was a false source of pride. Maybe caused by an intergenerational trauma thing? Harking back to wartime and starvation a couple of centuries ago??

Whatever the reason, when I first read your post, I thought to myself: do I really want to make the effort to change, like by breaking the task up into smaller components? I mean I do that already with other impossible-seeming tasks. Or do I just want to remain not brushing my teeth regularly till it happens again of its own accord? (Believe it or not, just waiting sometimes works...) Oh dear, staying in the victim role. But I note as I write that that this remark is definitely not helpful. That's just bashing myself over the head again. Ideas of negative consequences, like all my teeth rotting and falling out, don't help to motivate me either. I think I need to remove myself further and further from FOO's sphere of influence, even FOO's imaginary one, or FOO in my mind.

Twincinema, sorry for hijacking your thread a bit. I guess you're still living with M or F or both? That might make what I propose to do at dentist's seem more daunting (what if he mentioned it to parents????), but what I've increasingly found with health professionals is that if I say I suffer from severe, long-term depression, they understand. They'll probably still say: it would still be good to brush your teeth, or they might just remark: we haven't seen you for a while... or ask if I'm still in treatment for depression et al., but they no longer ask questions like WTF aren't you cleaning your teeth regularly? or WTF aren't you coming for yearly check ups (e.g. pre-cancer screening)? etc. Occasionally I've even mentioned trauma, but I'm more cautious about spreading that info around. Just if there's a particular reason like a particular treatment method triggers me every time and there's an alternative.

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Wife#2

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 08:04:36 PM »
I just devoured this whole thread. I had no idea that poor hygiene could be considered self-abandonment. That really does fit in with how I actually feel when I choose to 'pass' on brushing teeth, showering, eating healthy. For me, with my mother and because it was the 1970's and I was a child - the biggest battles came over hair. I went to school with stinking, greasy, rats-nest tangled hair more days than not. Mostly because nobody else seemed to notice or care. I was a small child, I didn't know how to do these things for myself! And healthy habits were not enforced in our house.

Memories are flooding me right now. I'm going to finish these thoughts in my journal.

Thank you for starting this thread, TwinCinema. And for everyone else who's been posting. You are not alone. It's also nice to find out I'm not alone.

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Candid

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2017, 10:20:51 AM »
I was continually told I was difficult too. It became a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy...

I agree about that. I think I started rebelling early, and it was my way of defying Mother. Without that defiance I would have been completely lost when she kicked me out of FOO... but she could say without that defiance she wouldn't have needed to kick me out; that she did it for fear I would contaminate my siblings. LOL.

I've remained untrusting and defiant, sometimes to my detriment, and that's where the self-fulfilling prophecy comes in.

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In our family we get by with just breakfast and dinner. [...] Maybe caused by an intergenerational trauma thing? Harking back to wartime and starvation a couple of centuries ago??

My parents grew up in the Depression years and we were on short rations, as well.

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I thought to myself: do I really want to make the effort to change...

That's a good question. I don't look after myself (or abuse myself) in other ways that I figure can be put right when I'm ready, but we only get one set of adult teeth and I hate the idea of losing them. At the ABI group this week we were told to get outdoors and walk at least three days. I came away fired up to do it but am now balking... I know I'm at a choice point: make the effort to change or wind up where I'm headed. And change is effort, isn't it!

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Boatsetsailrose

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Re: Self-abandonment re: oral hygiene
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 08:37:09 AM »
Hi twin cinema
I can relate !
I said to the dentist 'I have mental health problems and find it hard to look after my teeth..
How about setting an alarm for your teeth, a time set aside for this and that you commit to doing it no matter what the feelings are .. I'm learning I don't have to 'feel like doing something, to actually go and do it ...
Pretend your brushing someone's else's teeth or find a way to by pass the psychological block