A study back in 2017 by NHS clinicians and scientists at the University of York, Sheffield, Huddersfield, and Trier found that 53% of the sample studied had relapsed within a year of finishing their treatments for their mental health, but why is this important?
I have relapsed.
I’ve slipped into my old ways following some difficulties in the past few months – without going into details, amongst other things, we suffered a sudden bereavement and a new nightmare neighbor’s actions led me into an anxiety attack resulting in me hearing voices again.
I do just want to put it point-blank and clear, everything I do in regards to my mental health work and my professional vocation has nothing to do with how I’ve been feeling.
Am I ashamed I fell into an old way? – “Nah mate.”
What is a Relapse?
A relapse is defined as “the act or an instance of backsliding, worsening, or subsiding” and therefore, in my opinion, it can be referenced and used to describe any condition – physically or mentally. The word is often used to describe someone who has overcome addiction but obviously, it’s not limited to those issues.
I suppose, for want of a better word, there is a hidden “beauty” behind relapse and that although it’s not always possible, it is easier to catch yourself slipping back into that paradigm.
How This Affects Me
My relapse has been because of a few testing months and without really noticing, I have been turning to food as a comfort rather than “enjoyment” or a “necessity.” – Just like old times
For me, it all came to fruition in the most unlikely of places, a Westlife concert – because we all know self-realization comes in the most likely of places. As my wife and I were waiting for the band to start and make their big entrance, I found myself eating what can only be described as a share bag of crisps and a large coke.
Not a big feat you may be saying to yourself? Well I have left out the six takeaways we have had in the past week, an odd glass of wine and even a couple of tins of beer perched on my bedside table – hoping that it would take the edge off of things; don’t get me wrong, it did; I, however, found myself alongside my various medications needing to have a drink just to make peace with my own demons.
It wasn’t until this point where I thought to myself that some weight has gone back on, clothes are starting to not fit me, my general mood is at an all-time low and I have the motivation of a baked potato.
I’m so tired that I find myself getting out of bed in the morning and going downstairs and falling back to sleep on the sofa (even though I already had 8+ hours of sleep). I also feel incredibly lethargic and don’t want to do absolutely anything. My self-care also goes well out of the window – put it this way, I’ve not had long curly hair since I was 17 and my mustache is laughable at best.
Am I Ashamed?
I mean, the first part of that question has two schools of thoughts. There is one side which says “Yes because I have done all that hard work recovering and I’ve had a significant set back” but the opposite says “No, I’ve now learned how to tell if I’m slipping or if I need some extra support.”
If we look at the “Yes” statement, it is an easy mindset to be in but a dangerous one at that. It’s identified as “the negative spiral effect” and it is exactly as it says. The thoughts get more and more heavy until you have this metaphorical tornado brewing in your mental well being, tearing you apart, and undoing literally all your hard work.
But, and it’s a Big But…
What if we can prevent this in relapse? The simple answer is “yes” and this leads me onto the second school of thought – “No”
There is no greater trial by fire in mental health than to put yourself in that situation and know where the exits are. Sometimes we dive in feet first into a situation without knowing the consequences. This can affect our ability to pull the parachute and get out of there. However, this trial by fire is where we learn without knowing what the trigger points are or what conditions you need to look out for. For me personally, that’s the comfort eating and the depressive qualities I’ve already mentioned.
I feel like I’ve gone on a tangent but let’s go back to the question at hand, “Am I ashamed?” Why the heck would I be ashamed to acknowledge I have had a relapse and get the help which is needed? Would I be ashamed to go to the hospital for a broken leg? NO!
Admitting you need help again is essentially like running into war again (with yourself), but this time you are Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator because now you’re equipped with the knowledge you can do this. YOU are a depression killing machine and it’s not going to be as hard as it first was.
When you win, you’ll have a great reunion.
If you have or are currently going through a relapse you shouldn’t be ashamed. This is your time to stand up and say “Something isn’t right”. It’s your time to get the help you need and it is your time to show the world that you weren’t beaten before and you’re sure as hell not going to be beaten now.
Well that is me. I’ve relapsed but I’m ready to punch a hole in the moon to kick this “blip” out of orbit! #whateverittakes
There is no shame in relapse, consider it a springboard – Jump at it and watch how high you come out.
I love you all, thank you for your kind messages Stay strong, Stay safe Mentalhealthrunner xxx