mental health

Mental Health Monday: Stress and Relapse

Oh shoot, I totally had a post planned for today’s Mental Health Monday and then…I completely forgot to actually make it. Right. Well, this Monday (although most of you will probably see this on Tuesday…), I want to talk about preventing a relapse in your mental illness symptoms during a stressful time.

This is really freaking hard. Mental illness can lay you low even when everything else in life is going perfectly, so when things are sub-optimal (or just a total dumpster fire), it can really sink its teeth in, even if you were doing great before everything fell apart. I want to start by stressing that this is not your fault. Seriously. You aren’t weak or bad or anything if stress triggers your symptoms. And if you do happen to have a relapse, that in no way erases the progress you’ve made.

When we relapse, we don’t go back to square one, even if it sometimes feel like it. Part of recovering from mental illness is learning skills and techniques to help pull us back from the brink, so even if things do get bad again, you will be better equipped to survive it. And I do mean survive. I’m not saying you’re going to deal with it with the utmost grace, I’m not saying everything will be perfect, but I am saying hopefully your recovery work means you have a better chance at simply getting through relapses alive. And that is freaking awesome.

Okay, but the goal is to avoid relapse when we can, right? So how are you supposed to manage that when stress is eating you alive? I have three main recommendations: boundaries, self-care, and de-escalation strategies.

I go into these recommendations further in my latest HealthyPlace article, How to Prevent Mental Health Relapse During a Stressful Time, so feel free to check that out if you’re finding yourself in a stressful situation that is pushing you over the edge. And know that even if you do relapse and your symptoms start getting worse again, it is okay. This has happened to me over and over and over, and I’m here to tell the tale. You can do it too. It might suck, but you can do it.

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