Recognising Relapse

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The thing about mental illness is that it can take you at any time.

The last couple of years, I have prided myself on being well and having a handle on my mental health. There have been fluctuations over that time, but nothing significant, and I have managed them independently and safely. I have been well, and stable, since 2015. I take care of myself: I exercise, I eat well, I don’t drink much alcohol, I have a regularish sleep pattern (as regular as shift work allows), and I take my medication.

The thing about mental illness though, is that sometimes none of that matters.

Sometimes it just gets you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Three years of having neither a manic or a depressive episode had allowed me to start to feel safe. There has always been a shadow following me, knowing that with bipolar disorder, it will at some point happen again. But over the years I’ve felt more confident, more settled and more stable, to the point where I even questioned at times whether my diagnosis was right.

I let my guard down.

I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that my sleep was slowly slipping away, until it happened all at once. I didn’t really notice my creativity increasing, until I was writing ideas frantically in the middle of the night. I didn’t really notice I was spending more money, until my card got declined.

I didn’t really notice, until I suddenly noticed very quickly. By that point it was too late.

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Apart from when I was signed off uni when manic, this is the first time I have ever had time off for my mental health honestly. I didn’t say I had a cold or an ear infection or a bad back or whatever else I could have come up with. I don’t know how I feel about that still. A mixture I guess of relief and extreme disappointment in myself. Disappointment that I have become unwell again, that I am letting people down, that I can’t be perfect at everything all of the time.

I said in a previous post that when I am well, I sometimes think I wouldn’t change my illness because it has opened so many other opportunities for me. I can now categorically say, when not so well, that I hate it. I hate that I’m now going to fall back into years of insecurity about whether my next episode is around the corner. I hate that I feel like I am back at square one. I hate what this illness does to me and people around me. I hate this reminder that I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. I hate antipsychotics. I hate side effects. I hate the fact that no matter what I do, it can still strike me at any time.

I hate it.

I am a glass half full kind of person. I am an optimist. I try to always see the positives in any situation. Pragmatically, I can say that I will come through this a stronger person. That I can carry on using these experiences for the greater good as I have tried to up until now. That I learn something new every time. When I started this blog, my aim was always to be positive but honest. I don’t want to minimise or romanticise mental illness; society does that enough already.

So, staying true to my original aim, I am choosing to be honest. And honestly – this is shit. One day it wont be shit again, and I know that.

But right now it just is.

 

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15 comments

  1. Cara ❤ you’re so brave for being so honest and open about all of this. I’m so sorry that all of those difficult times have crept back up on you. I’m also really proud of you for having the approach of you know it will get better but right now it’s crap – that’s being genuinely real with us all and shows that it’s okay to acknowledge both sides of the coin. Sending all my love your way beaut, I know you’ve got this ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautifully written post! Well done for being so honest, by sharing your experiences you are helping others every day.

    I have borderline personality disorder and my wife has bipolar. We have found out happy medium and continue to find comfort every day in knowing the other completely understands what we need and how we feel. There’s challenges along the way but that’s life and there always will be. Self love is the most important challenge of them all and if you can learn to love yourself, half the battle is already won x

    My new blog post is here! 💫🌸 I’d love if you gave it a read and left a comment 😘
    butterfliesandboundaries.wordpress.com/2018/09/16/me/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So sorry to hear this Cara. You address it so well, how it creeps up on you almost imperceptibly and how we need to become more aware of the signs it’s approaching. Take good care of yourself, hopefully the better days will be with you very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can stand anything except the chucks of time i lose in my life when things get bad, like right now. Life on hold, projects on hold and i will never get the lost time back. That in itself causes me a lot of extra stress.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear you, I just about relapsed with my ED and I’ve been really depressed and I’m really sorry you are struggling too. It’s an awful feeling when you have been well for so long and then bang. Mine took me by surprise too. Hope you get better soon and be gentle with you!

    Liked by 1 person

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