When you think of relapse, what images transpire in your mind? Most people think of a person with some sort of addiction, reverting back –at least for a brief period of time – to the very substance they are trying to recover from. While this is certainly one type of relapse, mental illness involves relapses as well. Though not discussed as often, mental illness relapses are just as important to know about and to attempt to prevent. As with addiction relapses, however, relapse is natural and should not be considered a “failure” or a “weakness”. Rather, relapse gives us a chance to learn and grow, showing us what may need to be changed in our treatment program or what needs to be emphasized more.
Mental illness relapse begins in a variety of ways, including:
- Feeling overly confident (ex. I don’t need this medication anymore, I’m much better now.”)
- Feeling disheartened by recovery (ex. “I can’t do this. I’m not going to succeed. I’m just meant for failure.”)
- Thinking too much/Ruminating – (ex. reminding yourself of a negative chain of events that occurred, incessant worrying about something you have no control over)
- Placing too much pressure on yourself – (ex. “If I don’t succeed, everyone is going to think I’m worthless.”)
- Feeling in a great mood – (ex. “Everything is just going so well! Nothing can go wrong now.”)
As you know, emotions are fleeting. As humans, we may experience one emotion just to find ourselves feeling differently moments later. If you have a personality disorder, these emotions may even be more severe and may fluctuate differently than others. Extreme emotions such as being overly confident/happy and being depressed are dangerous for those in recovery because they can lead to relapse – whether that being breaking down, self-harm, self-medicating through substances, damaging property, impulsive behavior like spending too much money, saying things we don’t mean to say, etc.
Recovery is largely about recognizing these signs of relapse and figuring out ways that you can help prevent relapse before it occurs. What has worked for you in the past? If you’re feeling overly confident, it may be something as simple as reminding yourself that you must take things day by day. If you’re depressed, you may call a good friend or read a delightful book to help you get your mind off of things. The right treatment center can help you develop healthy hobbies and coping mechanisms to ward off dangerous ways of thinking.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.