Relapsing – How to spot it and why it’s probably going to happen.

Recovery is not simple. You don’t choose it one day and shoot up with no issues. There are good days and terrible days. But that’s Recovery. 

Choosing recovery can be scary – It’s like letting go of a part of you even though it’s caused you so much distress, you can’t remember your life without this. Letting go of my OCD, for example. It caused me so much distress but there was a part of me that wanted to stay in that cycle because It was simpler than having to challenge it. Change is scary, especially when you know that letting go of this, whatever you’re struggling with, is going to involve facing things you never thought you could. 

Recovery is not simple. You don’t simply think to yourself, I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to recover. It doesn’t work like that (We all wish it did). You cannot expect recovery to happen without challenging your disorder, eating a meal for example or not washing your hands for a day. It really is down yo you in the end, because no matter what everybody around you is saying, your disorder is in your head all the time and it’s tricky to ignore it. You have put all your trust in that voice for years, even if you don’t realise it, and completely ignoring it is seemingly impossible. But trust me it is possible and it is one of those things that you have to keep fighting back at in order to begin recovering.

For me, when my Recovery finally got going was when I decided it was up to me. I was on medication (still am) and for a long time I sort of relied on that to help me through beating my illnesses but obviously that’s not how it works. If you want to get better you have to challenge them, and for me it was a slow start, every now and then not avoiding things I’d usually hate to be close to, but after Therapy exposure and a lot of dedication my work started to pay off. I was facing things that months ago seemed impossible and it was so rewarding to look back at what I hadn’t been able to do and say ‘I can’.

Like a lot of people, I was on an upwards curve. Sure, it wasn’t all pink and rosy, but there were fewer and fewer bad days. Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I then hit rock bottom.

After months of fighting back at your disorders and proving them wrong, finding yourself almost back where you’d begun is a really depressing situation to be in. Often, there is no real cause, but it causes everything you’ve done before in your recovery to seem pointless and insignificant. Honestly, it’s probably often a really bad day, but it really hits a nerve and usually, you stop fighting back and go back to your old ways, avoidance, skipping meals, repeating small tasks until you’ve forgotten how you recovered from all this in the first place. It’s often difficult to spot that you’re going through a small relapse phase, in my case, I assumed it was a bad week and it would just go away, but really you do have to go back to basics in a way, and start fighting and exposing yourself to your avoided situations all over again.

Is it a bad day or are you relapsing? 

Relapse                                                                                             

  • Old behaviours start to creep back in
  • You’re avoiding anxiety provoking situations 
  • Skipping meals / Excuses to not eat
  • You’re starting to lie more to avoid confrontation about your behaviours e.g I forgot to eat or I didn’t wash my hands today
  • Your mood is decreasing 
  • Often anxious (Look for symptoms such as avoidance, physical anxiety, panicked tone, or often being quieter in social situations)
  • How’s your appetite ? It can often increase or decrease depending on your emotional response
  •  Look for physical symptoms – Are you losing weight, are your hands sore and cracked again (result of over hand washing).
  • Try and record what you’ve been eating – this is often a tell tale sign of an eating disorder taking a hold again.
  • Notice how your family is acting – Your emotions usually feed into theirs.

Bad Couple of Days 

  • Overall lack of energy (if this carries on it can be a sign of relapsing)
  • Still managing to go out, continue with exposure if necessary
  • Staying on track of plans e.g. Meal plans 
  • Are willing to partake in social events e.g. Dance lesson to distract your mind 
  • Are being honest about your behaviours with your parents/family etc.
  • Are aware if you’re performing old behaviour (e.g. I’ve skipped a meal today, that’s not good.) 
  • See old behaviours as negative even if occasionally performing them (This could be starting signs of a relapse)
  • Talking to your family  If you’re struggling with wanting to perform compulsions (etc.) so they are able to help you to ignore them – e.g. Can be sure you’re eating, locking away soap or washing liquids.
  • Are still able to be sociable even in small increments 

Obviously I’m not a professional and this is from my own experience – If you are having a bad few days, please keep an eye on your behaviour. Acknowledging you’re not moving forward in your recovery is a really good step to get back on track. Don’t be disappointed – It’s a rocky patch but it’s always possible to get through it.

Will I relapse if I start recovering? 

Again, I’m not a medical professional, and I don’t know a definite answer. I’m assuming it depends on your individual situation, and how quickly you receive help. I can assure you that recovery is not just one straight upwards line of successes – bad days and rough patches are all a part of recovering from a mental illness. If you’re going through a tough few days don’t panic – it’s going to happen. If I’ve gone though a week or so of repeated symptoms of a particular mental illness, I usually talk to my therapist about it – they’re trained professionals who can offer the best advice. 

I hope this post has helped if you’re struggling in your recovery. Please don’t panic if you’re having a tough time with your mental health and recovery, it is usually a bad few days that will pass. If you would like a blog on how to deal with these ‘Bad days’ that I have talked quite a lot about in this blog (😂) then please let me know! They can be really unmotivaving and getting through them is often a struggle but having experienced quite a few I’ve discovered a few ways to deal with them. 

Stay safe and strong,

Casy x

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