on relapse

relapseI think that in the mental health community, we are kind of afraid of relapse and all that it entails.  It’s definitely not a pleasant thing to discuss, but it is necessary to address it, in all its forms.  Just doing a quick search on Google, pretty much every article is on how to prevent relapse- only one was on how to cope with relapse.  While ideally you should work to prevent a relapse, let’s be real- it’s very likely that it will happen to you at some point.  So, I’m going to take a different stance on this: embrace it.  Embrace your relapse in all its glory.  Embrace all the ugly.  Embrace the mess.  Because when you embrace it, it puts it in a different light: instead of shining a beacon of negativity on it, you are casting a shining ray of hope and strength.

Relapse can come in many forms, and it doesn’t always mean that you hit rock bottom.  Think of relapse as a spectrum, and that you can fall at any one point at any one time during your recovery.  Just by changing your way of thinking of what relapse looks like, you are changing the way you approach it when it happens to you.  And hey, it happens to the best of us.  I know that for me personally it is hard to think like this when I am in the midst of a relapse, because my thinking is clouded: negative and hopeless.  It takes real work to remember that this relapse isn’t the worst you’ve ever been.  It takes real work to recognize that you are in a relapse.

While it might be hard for you to recognize that you are indeed in a relapse, it is key that you recognize and acknowledge the fact that you are.  Being honest with yourself in times like this is so important for your recovery.  I struggle with this.  Sometimes weeks go by without me realizing that I am in a relapse, and by that point it is so much worse than it would have been had I just been honest with myself from the beginning.  I’m really bad about lying to myself and others when I’m struggling, because I don’t want to acknowledge the fact that I am not doing so good.  Because if I do that, I feel like I have somehow failed myself and others.  But that thinking is so negative!  And it’s the last thing you need when you are relapsing!

I can only speak for myself, and for my experiences.  I am actively trying to change my view on relapse, to prevent myself from getting lost in the depths of it.  Because, guys, I can get really bad- I lose my grip on reality, and then all hope is lost.  My last full blown relapse landed me in the psych hospital for two weeks, and out of work for an entire month.  Granted, I did realize at that point that I needed to get some help to get myself back together, so I went willingly, but that doesn’t change the severity of it at the time.  It took removing myself from my life completely to recover from the relapse I was in.  I think that it’s the fear of that happening over and over again that is continuously fueling my desire to lie about it if it does happen.

Since I’m writing this post and all, I am publicly admitting that I am in the early stages of a relapse.  How can I tell?  I am not taking care of myself.  I don’t have the desire to shower, go to the gym, or do anything productive.  All I want to do is sleep, sleep, and sleep some more.  And all of this was brought on by taking on too much at once.  I want to learn how to play guitar.  I want to crochet a million things.  I want to work all the hours.  I want to go to the gym.  I want to make friends.  I want to do this.  I want to do that.  And I am out of control.  SO STOP!  Just stop, take a minute or two to assess the situation, take a deep breath, and continue on.  But don’t continue on doing what you are doing, working yourself further and further into a relapse.  No, instead, work actively to get yourself out of relapsing, and back into recovery.

I have something very important to say: even if you are relapsing, you are still in recovery.  Do I need to repeat that?  All the things you have previously accomplished while in active recovery do not just disappear when you are faced with a relapse.  No!  They are right there, just waiting for you to grasp a hold of.  All those coping skills you learned about in counseling?  Use them!  The support system you built around you?  Rely on them!  The safety plan that you constructed, to be used in a time just like this?  Reference it, and take appropriate actions to get yourself back on track!

When I’m in a relapse, I forget about all these things.  And, since I forget everything I have accomplished, I generally spiral out of control.  Out of control and lost, I view everything through gray colored glasses.  It’s so hard for myself to get myself out of that viewpoint, too.  The key is, though, to keep reminding yourself of all that you have accomplished.  Remind yourself of all the ways that you have grown since starting on your journey!  Do you want to know what I did?  I sat down one day and wrote a list of all the ways I have grown in the last year, and it is hanging above my desk, where I can see it every day.

So, when you are in a relapse, what can you do?  Well, here is what I try to do.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  And when it doesn’t, I just keep trying at it again and again.  It can be a tiresome process, and I sometimes lose sight of the goal: to keep myself from sinking into my mental illness, foregoing any process I made for the moment.

  • I remind myself of my coping skills.
  • I use my coping cards.  They reference specific situations that generally happen on a pretty regular basis, and over solutions.
  • I reference the power statements I came up with when I was in a better state of mind.
  • I reach out to my support system- granted, it is not very large, but the few people I rely on are usually there when I need them.
  • I try and get out.  Sitting in the house, all alone?  Not very helpful.  So, I try and reach out to others, or I drive to the Gorge and sit outside, overlooking it.  Or I go for a walk.
  • I journal.  I read.  I do creative things, to try and express my emotions.

But really, you have got to find your own things that will work when you are relapsing.  Whatever happens, though, you have to focus on positive things that will help you in your recovery, not set you further back in your relapse.  I struggle with self harm.  I started self harming when I was just 13.  I’m 24 now, and still have thoughts of self harm on a pretty regular basis.  It took me years to quit- and I haven’t had a serious run in with self harm in six years, but every now and then I still fall into the seductive trap of it.

Relapse isn’t fun.  But, it’s a part of our reality when faced with mental illness.  And given this, the only thing we can do is actively work to prevent it- and when it does happen?  Be honest with yourself, be kind to yourself, and use positive coping mechanisms to help pull yourself out of that relapse.

You got this, friend.  We all fight similar battles.  There are people out there who understand.  You are not alone- always remember that.

 

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change is on the horizon,.. far far away

I have been slack in all areas of my life, as of late.  Struggling just to get through the day at times, I realize that I need to get back on track- and fast!

Of course, when I try to revamp my lifestyle completely, I usually fail.  I recognize this, but really, it’s not going to stop me from trying again.  I’m halfway there already- so why not go in all the way?

Here is what I’m thinking.  I go to work at 7am pretty much every day.  I don’t want to go the gym afterwards.  So, why not go before work?  The gym opens up at 5:30am- so I’ll be there, starting tomorrow!  I’m going to challenge myself to show up every morning, Monday through Friday.  Saturday and Sunday?  I’ll just have to go after work, I guess, since they open later.  Or maybe those will be my rest days.  Not sure yet..

I have been wanting to do Yoga at home, before I go lay down for the night, for several weeks now.  I have classes picked out- I just haven’t done any.  This week, I am aiming for a 10 minute class every night.

I want to learn to play the guitar.  I have a guitar.  I have online lessons that I bought.  So why am I not showing up to learn to play the guitar?  Starting tomorrow, I am aiming to do lessons and practice for 30 minutes, three times a week.  I may increase this, but to start with- that’s what I’m aiming for.

Crochet- I have a festival  coming up in October that I am making items for.  So gotta get on that!  But what I don’t finish, will not be the end of the world.  I have a list of items I hope to get done- but like I said, if I don’t get to all of it, it will be okay!

I want to write more.  Creatively and journalig through reflections- probably on this blog.  So, I am aiming at half an hour every day spent writing.  I may do this in the morning- I am trying to get up at like 5am to have some coffee and wake up- I can do my writing then.

Also- I need to watch what I’m eating. I can’t be a bottomless pit of food anymore.  That’s just not going to work for me.  I need to make conscious decisions and make better food choices.  I need to eat only when I am hungry- not when I am bored.

All of these changes might be a lot to make.  But I’m going to give it a try.  Wish me luck!?

i fell off and didn’t get back up

Hi, guys.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I don’t even remember the last time I wrote anything.  I’ve been struggling a bit, to be honest.  Starting a new job, volunteering with Crisis Text Line, personal struggles, and all the things of daily life that need attending to have kind of kicked my behind.

So, first of: I started my new job at the bar.  I like it (for the most part)!  I have some issues with my coworkers, but I’m hoping to work through those issues.  Other than that, I really have no complaints.  It’s a kitchen job- which is very stressful- but I have the least stressful job of the kitchen.  I do prep work, all day every day.  It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s mindless.  It is straightforward, and there shouldn’t be any stress or frustrations involved in it.  However, people.  People always seem to complicate things, don’t they?  Oh well, nothing you can really do about that.  The only thing you really have control over is yourself.  And, with this in mind, I choose to focus on how I react to things.  While it definitely requires work, I think I’m doing pretty good.

I got my rental car three weeks ago, and boy oh boy has it been trouble.  It’s a diesel car, and some gas stations choose to overcomplicate getting diesel gas.  Why can’t it be just like getting regular gas?  That aside, though, let me tell you a story!  I started noticing a strange sewage smell coming from the car on Monday.  Being the worry-ward that I am, I went to the dealership.  “Oh, it’s just the diesel fuel.  Nothing to worry about it!”  Alright, if you say so.  I drive off.  On the way to see my mom Wednesday, the check engine light goes on.  Uhoh.  I freak out!!  We successfully set up an appointment Thursday afternoon to get it looked at.  Well, it started to smell like the engine was burning by the end of the day.  So, after dinner we open the hood to check on it.  THERE WAS A SQUIRREL MELTED ON TO THE ENGINE BLOCK!!  What?!?  How is that even possible??  I sure would have never thought of that happening.  Anywho, the dealership took care of it the next day- but geezzeee.  And, worst of all, the check engine light is still on.  They told me not to worry about it,..  o.O

What else, what else?  I signed up for a craft festival in October.  I started volunteering at the Crisis Text Line.  I am taking the initiative to get an assessment done next week to see if an anger management program would be beneficial to me… I really hope it is, and that I can afford it.

I share all of this to say- I’ve been overwhelmed.  I have not been handling myself very well.  Last week I got drunk at the bar, and Josia had to leave to take me home, interrupting his hanging out with friends.  Oops.  Guess I wont drink again?  I usually don’t, anyway.  I’m a real lightweight!

But for real,..  I fell and didn’t get back up.  I just let things pile on top of me, suffocating me until I had enough of it all.  Well, I’ve had enough!  I am finally taking a stand for myself.  I am pulling myself back up.  Starting with,.. I don’t know what.  That’s the next hurdle I got to pass over.

I want to start with today.  It is almost 6pm.  For the remainder of the day I am planning to take a shower, rent a movie, and crochet.  I do kind of want to start learning things for my guitar, so I may do that at some point.  I plan on going to bed around 1030pm.  It’s a start..

I am hoping to be more active in posting on my blog.  I don’t really expect many people to read it, but maybe someone will and can relate.   Who knows, I may even help someone out by sharing my experiences.

day 2 – emotional eating journal challenge

What do I want most in life?  How can I get it?

 

There are many things in life that I want.  I want to be financially secure.  I want to have a family of my own.  I want to make a difference in the world.  I want to be healthier.  But most importantly, I just want to help people in any way that I can.

How do I go about helping people, though?  Well, the obvious answer to this is that I must first be healthy myself.  If I’m struggling with my health (physical, emotional, and mental), I can’t even begin to help others.  Of course, I can share my journey as it so happens, and that may help another person realize that they are not alone in this world, that there are others struggling with the same things.. but that’s only one form of helping.

When I say that I want to help others, I mean that I want to help them realize their potential in this world.  I want to be there for them in a crisis.  I want to be there for them for all the successes they will achieve.  I just want to be there for them, period.  I want to be a pillar of strength in their life- always there, whenever they may need me.  Now I realize that this may prove to be difficult in the long-run, especially when we’re talking about just helping strangers or acquaintances.. because you are not as involved with them.  A step I am taking in order to help others is training to become a crisis counselor.  Through this, I am able to help strangers through a crisis they are experiencing.  In this situation I am not able to continuously be there for them, because it is a short-term solution to a bigger problem.  The goal of being a crisis counselor is simply to calm down the person, help them recognize coping skills, and ensure their safety.  This is just one way that I want to help others.

But to really help another person in a significant way, I have to be healthy myself.  I have to stand strong in my convictions, I have to be able to handle whatever they may throw at me.  And in order to do that, I need to work on myself.  I realize that.  And, although I realize that, I have not done much to help better myself.  It’s a constant struggle, even though I have come a long way.  To realize that I still have so, so far to go is discouraging at times, but I need to realize that I have already accomplished so much!

Six years ago to this time, I was just adjusting to life on mental health medications- and just months before I was hospitalized for the first time.  I wasn’t able to return to finish my senior year of high school- I had to do it on my own, at home.  While I was able to walk across the stage at graduation, I missed about half of my senior year.

Five years ago, I was yo-yoing in and out of hospitals.  I couldn’t attend classes at college, and I lost my scholarship.  I wasn’t taking my medications as prescribed, and I would often quit them spontaneously.  I was not coping well; I didn’t know how to.  I didn’t have a good support system.  I got fired from my job because of actions I took when off my medication.

Four years ago, I was putting myself in danger nearly every day.  I would meet random strangers off the internet, hop in their car, and have sex with them.  I regret these acts SO SO much.. but there is nothing I can change about that now.  To say that it’s come close a few times to things becoming very dangerous is to say the least.  At this time, I had no hope for the future.  I wasn’t processing my emotions.  I just wanted to feel anything, and taking risks did that for me.

However, four years ago I did meet Josia.  And once I met Josia, and realized how special he was, I stopped taking those risks.  While we did meet online, I told my mom about him as soon as he mentioned wanting to meet me.  We met in public.  He met my mom.  He was different from all those other guys.. and it was refreshing.  It was exciting, and it prompted me to really work on getting help.  While at this point I was doing exceptionally better, I wasn’t truly okay.  I was still struggling on a daily basis.

From this point forth, things started to look better.  While I didn’t have a good, strong support system until I moved to Georgia and started receiving services at Avita, I had come a long way.  Even though everything seemed to be against me, I made it through.  I learned coping skills.  I began to actively- really, really- work on myself.  Josia made me stronger.  Things were good.

Then, somewhere along the way, things got bad again.  I became codependent on Josia.  My mental health began slipping.  I was hallucinating again… and I didn’t want to take my medications.

So where does all this leave me today?  It leaves me with a toolbox full of coping skills, power statements, positive affirmations, and resources I can turn to.  It leaves me struggling on a daily basis to live.  It leaves me fighting my hardest fight to combat all my symptoms.  Even though I have come such a long way, I still have so much further to go.

And, realizing this, I am actively working on myself so that I can help others work on themselves.  Because in the end, it’s all a journey.  I just want to make an impact on another person’s journey, no matter how small.

tomorrow

withering

in the sun

we lay upon the pavement

 

wondering

wishing

hoping

 

for a better tomorrow

 

a tomorrow with

joy and forgiveness

for today only brings

hate and wrath

 

a tomorrow with

hope and excitement

for today is lacking such

 

the pavement bends ahead

curves our minds

and challenges our intentions

 

we are faced with a choice

the sun

questioning our path

 

headed for a brighter beginning

headed for a stronger mindset

headed for a brave transformation

 

for we are not withering

in the sun

for we are not forgotten

on the pavement

 

we are creating our destiniy

 

thriving

in the sun

we lay upon the pavement

 

palnning

deciding

bringing to life

 

a better tomorrow

disaster of love

to love…

hurts

 

every waking hour,

tossing

turning

running from the truth

 

to love?

butterflies in your stomach

chills down your spine

cheesy lines cross lips

 

no.

to love…

 

how?

why?

what?

 

false feelings

plastered on our bodies

covering the truth

concealing the need for

love

 

to love:

hurts

breaks

destroys

 

who would

accept this fate

of love?

 

who would

welcome the utter

disaster of love?

 

to love…

me.