RECOVERY IS NOT LINEAR. It is drilled into me. I have always known that my journey to tomorrow shall not be a straight forward one. I have even faced relapse and picked myself back up again finding the strength to push once more. However, even with all that, I didn’t think I would be back here. I didn’t think if I was to relapse I would be back to feeling so crippled, out of control and broken. Again.
One of the most frustratingly cruel parts about relapse is that no matter how much I look back and perceive to remember how hard it was to survive and how all-encompassing anxiety can be. I never truly can. The anxiety comes back and all of sudden that’s when you remember. You remember the lack of control and how it runs through your veins replacing the blood for fear. The constant tension and apprehension that you are going to have to live like this forever, appearing like a ghost you know too well.
Relapse comes and pierces your heart, head, and your body, shattering the hope you have spent days, weeks, months or even years rebuilding. Everything that had finally become easy, easier and bearable suddenly becoming impossible, unbearable and painfully difficult.
Then comes the worse part, the why. You either know and it infuriates you that the world is so unfair to make you start again. That you are the unluckiest person alive and entirely undeserving after fighting so hard for even an ounce of happiness and recovery that you had reached. Or you have no idea why, and you have to live with that. You have to simply accept that this is where you are, and quite simply recovery isn’t linear and that sucks.
There are other parts to relapse too, less scary parts, more reassuring parts. The moments when how far you have come flashes in front of your eyes all at once. The mindset that follows you reminding you of how possible it is to be okay.
The big difference when you relapse is that you have been where you are before, you have walked, ran, crawled, climbed and stumbled your way through all you are facing. This does bring the slight existential crisis that you are doomed to live forever anxious and never have a chance at a life that everyone else seems to have so easily as I mentioned above. However, it also has to exist with your memories, your memories of possibility and success. It is hard to convince yourself that you are doomed forever when you have already proved to yourself that this is in fact not true.
I wish recovery was straight forward, not just for my sake but for so many of my friends. I fight, they fight and we fight so hard every day for a chance at a life free from the shackles of mental illness. To relapse.
I am forced, or I am forcing, myself to see relapse in a different light this time, and however few or many times that I face it in my bright future. Maybe instead of relapse, character-building? resilience training? a healthy reminder?
Relapse reminds you of your strength, without relapse you wouldn’t even remember how hard it was for you to make progress in the first place. It allows you to be reminded of your overwhelming capabilities and achievements in a deeper sense than you would without it.
Relapse teaches you resilience in a way nothing else in the world can. The strongest people I know are those who suffer. The process of falling makes you the most talented climbers.
Relapse gives you a different perspective on the world and the life you have created. It makes it so much more precious.
When relapse first comes whether slowly or all at once it feels like you are back at the beginning. It feels like you have to start the fight all over again. As relapse settles and you are forced to accept and embrace it as a friend or foe that’s when you realize the most important thing.
You can never be back at the beginning. No matter how bad your day, week or month, your progress cannot be erased.
Relapse sucks, unarguably it sucks. However relapse doesn’t mean your starting all over again, or that you are doomed to be your mental illness and nothing else for the rest of your days. It’s just a bump in the road that’s sometimes shaped just like the four walls you started in. No matter how similar those four walls may be one important thing shall always differ.
You are what makes relapse temporary.
I am what makes my relapse temporary.
Mental illness wins many battles, it can win battles every day. But mental illness will never win this war.
Today, Tomorrow, Forever.