Sunday, 6 August 2017

Mental Illness and The Fear Of Relapse

Lately, I’ve been doing well - and it feels like a curse. You know what they say about pride coming before a fall? I can’t help but feeling like recovery always peaks right before a relapse - and maybe it won’t happy, but it’s a constant fear crawling under my skin. The more stressful life gets, the more I let the worry creep in - until the anxiety of feeling regularly anxious again is unbearable; on the peak level of the feeling that you get when an insect disappears god-knows-where in your room before you have the chance to get rid of it. Relapse is a constant blur in my peripheral vision, the monster hiding under my bed, and some days I feel like it’s closer than ever.

Recovery for me was easy. Not learning how to recover, or clawing my way up to it by crying every week in therapy sessions, but actually being in recovery? It was easy for as long as my life was safe. I lived in my parents house; didn’t work, didn’t study, saw a handful of friends and was seeing a boy that was safe for me. Recovery is easy when it’s all you have to do - balancing is easy when all you have to do is stand stock still on both feet. The last year or so has been difficult; it’s been full of adventure, fun, new experiences, work and study - it’s been everything I need to do in order to fully live my life, but it’s been so much harder for me to maintain recovery this way. It’s the difference between standing on a pillar and being asked to walk a tightrope; it’s not safe any more, not still, not all I have to focus on; and staying in recovery? It’s a lot harder now.

Fear of relapse is something that I live with every day. Every time I feel like I don’t want to go out, my body is screaming the words ‘generalised anxiety disorder relapse’ at me, the mornings I can’t drag my lazy ass out of bed, all I hear is ‘depression’ ringing in my ears. It’s an exhausting way to live - and the anxiety about one day being anxious again is almost making it happen - it’s become a vicious circle that has me worried, sad and irritated; and I can’t tell if I’m in relapse anymore because I’ve suffered so long anything less than peppy and perfect throws me into such a big panic I’m making myself ill by worrying that one day I will be once again.

Living like this is exhausting, and I know it’s probably only tiredness, isolation, irritability and spending most of my time staring at the same four walls that’s leading me here; but I’m scared, tired and worried about relapse; I certainly feel like I owe my recovery to a lot of people - they deserve it as much as I do, and my health is something that I need to keep up for both myself, but also them. Recovery might have been easy for me when that was all I had to do, but now I have to keep my head above water too? It’s not as easy as it once was. It’s difficult, time consuming, scary and unreliable. There’s no point to this post, I don’t want pity; I just want to share the truth of my mental illness like I always did, I want to share the brutal facts about my own recovery in the same way that I shared the brutal facts about my illness originally. I want people to feel less alone if they also feel like this.

If you’ve found ways to deal better with mental illness when times get difficult, please do let me know in the comments, all methods appreciated.

Sammy xo.


  1. Sam, I can empathise totally especially with worrying that it will return. Like my brain will allow me to not have "noise" but then at times it creeps back in and scares me to pieces x

  2. This speaks to me so much. When all I had to do is be at home and go to counselling, recovering was easier. I had time to exercise, which helps my anxiety so much, and so I was building myself back up - slowly. Then when it came to getting a job, going to Uni, being social outside of my comfort zone, I become this almost childish version of myself. I want to stamp my feet and scream and say I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS TODAY because I'm terrified of the inevitable anxiety at the end of a long day and the thoughts eating away at me that I did so much today, that I probably did something wrong.

    I will say though, my lovely lady, that you are an inspiration. And everything you have achieved, and everything you're achieving, inspires me and makes me so proud to know you and to have a front row seat the your incredible accomplishments. But I will also say that I will also be there when you need to stop, when you need to cancel, when just being on Whats App is enough for you that day.

    I hope you find your balance my lovely, because you deserve absolutely all the joy in the world.