“I am doing horribly.”
“I am not doing well in life.”
“I am so far from recovery.”
“How am I falling into this negative cycle again?”
These are some of the most overwhelming thoughts that can occur during a relapse. So many people experience thoughts of failure or hopelessness at some point in their life. Yet people in recovery tend to get more of these thoughts when they are triggered or relapse. The human brain considers reprimanding the behavior of relapse or a fault in progress. However, these negative thoughts contribute to the eating disorder voice and make it harder for one to be kind to themselves and recover. The overwhelming feeling of hopelessness can alter one’s perspective on all their progress in recovery.
Mental well-being isn’t a straightforward process. This can make it more frustrating when one notices that they cannot stay steady in recovery. However, as humans, we don’t experience feeling better in a straight line. We all have up and down days no matter what we have experienced. Those with Mental health issues have up and down days on top of their previous struggles that they manage. It is more difficult to deal with both one’s mental health and negative circumstances. Thus, relapses can occur more easily for those who struggle.
Life is generally unpredictable and we as humans can only do so much to cope with these unpredictable situations. Our old coping mechanisms automatically kick in when we are stressed or overwhelmed. One can slowly work to overcome these. However, It is hard to automatically make them go away. The brain has to create new neuropathways to adjust to these new coping skills. The process to create and reinforce new coping skills and neuropathways is a slower long-term process that cannot happen overnight. Our mental health or recovery can fall on both internal and external factors that are out of our control. Our mental health can regress internally through thoughts, feelings, and how our body reacts. Yet externally an experience, person, or place may trigger a reaction.
Therefore, our mental health is transient and constantly changing. Our reactions play into so many individual factors. It’s difficult to find the solution to every situation. It is not easy to find coping skills for each situation and often people fall back into old coping skills. If you blame yourself for a regression it can lead to more self-destructive behavior and encourage relapses. No one chooses to struggle with their mental health. When we punish ourselves for how we feel, it makes us feel worse about ourselves and only encourages the cycle of relapse.
When a negative day or emotion arises the brain tends to recall it more than positive emotions. Thus, people often lose sight of continuous improvement in their life and recovery. When you look at the progress over a longer period, the general direction is growth. A perfect example of this is the stock market, finishing a degree, or improving on a language. You will have bad days and mess up but what matters is that you don’t give up on yourself and your recovery.
Life is full of ups and downs. One has to realize that recovery cannot be perfect just as nothing can be in life. It has ups and downs. If one does not recognize this they may fall into a deeper negative cycle and stop trying. Therefore, relapsing for a day doesn’t mean that all of the hard work for recovery was for nothing. Yet it usually means there’s something that has affected how we feel and triggered it. It is the perfect time to enhance your recovery and learn what sets you off into negative cycles. A mood diary can help one track patterns and reflection on what triggers the reaction.
It can take a bit of work to figure out what might be contributing to our mental health regressing. That is why we have registered dietitians to help guide each individual in their guide to food freedom, recovery, and overall wellbeing. The more knowledge one learns about their stressors the easier it becomes to apply that and break bad habits. You do not have to suffer alone. There is a solution and there is hope. You can and will recover. It may take some support and trial and error but you will find freedom and inner peace with your life and food. Call and schedule an appointment to see a one-on-one eating disorder nutritionist to help you heal.
Bardone-Cone, A. M., Harney, M. B., Maldonado, C. R., Lawson, M. A., Robinson, D. P., Smith, R., & Tosh, A. (2010, March). Defining recovery from an eating disorder: Conceptualization, validation, and examination of psychosocial functioning and psychiatric comorbidity. Behaviour research and therapy. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829357/
Berends, T., van Meijel, B., Nugteren, W., Deen, M.,
Danner, U. N., Hoek, H. W., & van Elburg, A. A. (2016, September 8). Rate, timing and predictors of relapse in patients with anorexia nervosa following a relapse prevention program: A cohort study. BMC psychiatry. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5017136/
Derrick, A. (2019, November 28). Eating disorder relapse is common. Eating Recovery Center. Retrieved June 11, 2022, from https://www.eatingrecoverycenter.com/blog/recovery/Eating-Disorder-Relapse-is-Common