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The Fear of Relapsing from a Mental Health disorder😱

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When you carry a mental health diagnosis, you are in almost constant fear of relapsing. Whether you have a long-standing chronic condition or are suffering from a new diagnosis, the fear of symptoms re-activating, or worsening, is a real problem for people with mental health disorders. 

The truth is people with mental health diagnoses are in complete control over their mental health. Despite what some people say, your mental health is in your own hands. Research suggests that environmental, biological, genetic, and parental factors contribute to our overall health. These are the proposed indicators. They are markers that speak in broad terms about the healthiness of your emotional regulation and cognition.

For most people, the capacity to maintain their mental health, recognize new symptoms when they activate, and work on eliminating the impact of extraneous negative factors is truly in our hands. Self-determination is our drive and very mobility needed to work on ourselves. Change comes from within when people begin to harbor enough self-awareness to realize their strengths and limitations. People are put in impossible situations, sometimes. Born into poverty, victimized, abused, and maltreated, sometimes people get the short end of the stick. Even in these circumstances, people can rediscover resilience despite the seemingly disparate nature of problems. Solutions are still identifiable.

Why do we fear relapsing so much if it is in our means to stay or get healthy? The answer is that people often lose sight of the bigger picture in life and think short-term. The road ahead can seem long for people in recovery, especially with seemingly chronic diagnoses. Often, people cannot persist over the long haul or think that their illness is manageable for the long term. 

For many of us, the rest of our lives is a long time! For young and even middle-aged people, long-term can seem like a lot of work or too much effort to sustain long-term across the life span. The fact of the matter is maintaining good health will only make a living more manageable in the long term. 

  • Allow space for solutions during difficult situations
  • Rationalizing unhealthy behavior is a step back
  • Engage in everyday routines and self-care 

People sometimes like to think they are cured when they are still sick. We can manifest almost infinite self-rationalizations to discontinue our self-care practices. These are merely self-defeating messages we create. Over time, they are cognitive distortions and untruths our minds manifest. 

Challenge these rationalizations every day. Mainly when they first occur, because it will go a long way in sustaining our positive behaviors over time. These negative, maladaptive, and self-defeating behaviors need to be discontinued. Like most thoughts surrounding fear, paranoia, and anxious thinking, they can snowball, combine and multiply our worst thoughts. 

Following a self-care plan across the lifespan will mean living a life like you are in the driver’s seat, not just a passenger to your mental illness. The truth is, you are driving your health forward at a rate and speed and course of your choosing. Ultimately, whether you have a chronic condition or an acute diagnosis, relapse is only to be feared when you aren’t doing what you need to do to better health and healing. 

Relapse is real. Relapse is awful. But it isn’t the end of the world. 

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice in New York City. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist, and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a ‘2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10’ award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes about his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

‘I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery,’ Guttman says. ‘After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my ‘break,’ I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others.’

‘In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity, and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and Recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients.’

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