As I come to the end of my therapy sessions, the inevitable fear of relapsing is kicking in a little.
I – like most people – have good weeks and bad weeks. Sometimes I have great days and bad months. But once you’ve suffered with something like a mental health problem, those bad times can go from bad to horrific in 0-3 seconds.
Rather than just accepting the bad and finding the source, it’s easier to just curl up in a self pity ball, feel ashamed – ‘I can’t believe I’ve let this happen again‘ – disappointed and angry at yourself; making the week a whole million times worse!
Relapses happen. That’s just a fact. But not all bad days or moments are the end of a good streak. There are times in life when we are going to get down or nervous or impulsive, and that doesn’t mean we’re not better than we used to be.
I guess with understanding this fact ourselves, others around someone suffering need to also understand: Not every bad mood is Depression, and not every nervous moment is a panic attack. When we cry, we’re not necessarily suicidal and thinking of hurting ourselves. When we don’t eat, we might not be hungry and when we can’t sleep, we might just not be tired.
In order for us to realise our lives aren’t dictated by these diseases, we have to have faith in ourselves and so do our loved ones.
Each time we fall and get back up again, we are nearer the top. Never needing to look down again, except to see how far we’ve come.
Of course, I mentioned the fear of relapse in my session; it’s all well and good learning methods to cope and rationalise thought processes in 10 1 hour sessions, but what happens after that? What if four months down the line I’m an anxious, depressed shell of person I used to know?
Prediction and prevention
More often than not, we can see setbacks approaching before they happen (refer back to the beaker full of water analogy!) we know our limits, our triggers and how we tend to act when we’re slipping back down.
If we can predict setbacks – such as work’s getting us down, home life is difficult or we’re feeling low after particular things – we can deal with this effectively to prevent these worries building up too high. (For example with the worry tree)
At times, our setbacks are going to seem like they’ve jumped out of nowhere to hit us down when we’re high. But the key is to not panic, and don’t compare the present day to feelings you’ve had in the past.
Simply stop, take a deep breath for a few seconds, and think about how to deal with the set back.
Don’t forget: If you take five steps forward, and one step back after, that’s still four steps forward.
Bitch, moan, talk it out
One of the things I thought I’d never do is ‘talk things out’. I’m an honest person, but I’m never completely honest about how I’m feeling or what’s bugging me. Standard stereotype of a woman I suppose.
Since leaving uni, there’s been a massive learning curve regarding how I approach situations, and it has involved building up a small group of people I can trust to actually discuss my raw emotions with. It’s almost never pretty when I’m honest, but they seem to be able to handle it.
I’ve learnt to open up a lot more to a lot more people in the hope to make it just another thing I’m comfortable talking about. I think it’s helped me build stronger relationships, understand the toxic people in my life, and made me more approachable when other people are having struggles of their own.
So let it out! Bitch, moan, whine, cry, fight. Sometimes you’ve just go to realise that you need to do what’s best for you and if that’s letting it out, then do it!
I know most of us are usually busy trying to make sure those around us are okay, but whilst we’re doing that, who’s making sure we’re okay?
Let yourself be happy and proud
Today you got out of bed. You’ve eaten. You’ve been honest to someone about how you feel. Any tiny thing you’ve achieved is something to be proud of. Without acknowledging the little things, it’s easy to be blinded by the bad things and presume there’s no way out. But if you’re getting out of bed, eating regularly, maybe going to work and sticking to your daily routine, that’s a massive accomplishment. So don’t be afraid to think ‘you know what? I’m doing well‘ because you are. And nobody around you will quite understand how well you’re doing because they’re not experiencing it front on. Nobody can give you the praise you deserve it you don’t give it to yourself.