Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do I survive relapse?


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Over the past month or so I’ve heard a lot from several of you about relapse. What is it? What if I get stuck in it? How do I know it’s relapse? How do I get out? Is it like Quicksand? Will I get sucked in further if I struggle? Should I just stay calm? Am I down for the count if this happens? What do I do???? HELP!

Relapse sucks.

It just sucks.

It sucks the life out of you all over again, sucks your progress down the tubes, it just – well, sucks. There’s no nicer way to put it, frankly.

What is relapse?

Relapse is when you begin to show signs and symptoms of how you were feeling at the very beginning and these issues begin to interfere with daily living for more than a couple of weeks with no sign of decreasing. These signs and symptoms are set off by a myriad of things – something happening very similarly to what something that happened around the time of your child’s birth, re-visiting the hospital at which something traumatic related to the birth or immediately after the birth occurred, any situation increasing stress to a level at which you’re not ready to cope, or an unknown trigger.

How do I know it’s relapse?

I cannot tell you for sure. But chances are if you’ve had a whole bunch of good days and then wham! You’re two weeks into a string of bad days, chances are you may have a relapse episode on your hands. Think about when this pattern started. Did something happen at the beginning of this that may have triggered it? Moving? New Daycare? New Job? Loss of Job? Financial issues? Difficult news about a loved one?

How do I get out of relapse?

The same way you got out before – complying with your prescribed course of treatment, whatever that may be, and being open with your doctor about what’s going on in your life right now. If you relapse, it’s a good idea to get all your levels tested again – Iron, Thyroid, and Vitamin D. Even if you did not experience issues initially, it’s a good idea to rule them out again. Be sure to be open and honest with your care provider. They are at the mercy of what you share and to be treated successfully, they are relying on you to paint a clear picture of what’s going on as YOU know YOU best.

Is it like Quicksand? Will I get sucked in further if I struggle?

Yes and no. You’ll go further if you struggle against your prescribed course of treatment and remain a non-participant in your recovery. But if you turn and fight like the strong courageous woman I know you are, you’ll escape pretty quickly. (Halle Barry once said on Oprah that the repeat visits to depression valley were always easier because she had been there before and knew the way out. SAME principle applies here. Deep down you know your triggers, your flash-points, and you can control them. And even if you feel out of control, you’ve been here before and know what to do if you just let your body and mind relax.)

Am I down for the count if I relapse?

Absolutely not! Relapse is merely a detour on the way to Recovery. It can put you down for the count but ONLY if you let it do so. Once you decide to fight back though, Postpartum Depression does not stand a chance.

Let me put it to you this way – A caterpillar goes through hell to survive from the time it’s born. It eats, chews, grows, and then if it’s lucky enough, it builds a chrysalis. You know what it’s doing in the chrysalis? Morphing into a butterfly. A beautiful, gorgeous, amazing butterfly. Once that chrysalis pops open and the butterfly is set free, it can never go back. Sure, it can stop by and admire the now empty shell of its past life but it can never climb back into the original chrysalis. The SAME is true for you. You can never truly go back. We can only move forward and move with whatever bumps come our way. We choose to either make them into beautiful butterflies or remain a lowly caterpillar. The choice really is yours even if you can’t see it right now through all the fog.

So this is where I want to kick off the discussion. Have YOU had a relapse? A setback? How did you cope? What would you tell someone who is now relapsing to give them hope? What would you want to hear? Let’s get to Just Talkin’, ladies (and gents)!

Want to answer this on your own blog? Grab the button to the right! Just be sure to link back to this post so your readers can check out the comments here as well.

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8 thoughts on “Just Talkin’ Tuesday: How do I survive relapse?

  1. A little late here, but this is like music to my ears. I googled “ppd setbacks” and a myriad of other things until today i used the word “relapse” in my search and found that this does happen to other people. I was doing AMAZING for about 4 months..not a bad day in sight. All of a sudden a panic attack struck followed by severe depression and anxiety. Trying to pull out of it, going back to my counselor and psychiatrist next week. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

  2. Pingback: If I Were I’d Be « All Work & No Play Make Mommy Go Something Something

  3. I have so slowly started to feel somewhat good again, and then bam, the old PPD/PPA Mack truck hits again. Today being one of those days. I wish I could even say that it’s ‘relapse’ but I don’t even know how much time a person needs to be feeling better before they consider it relapse or part of the recovery process. It’s so confusing, frustrating and utterly sad. It makes a person feel like all progress is gone. I certainly hope that is not the case. Thanks, Lauren, for this post. Whenever I do start to feel better there is always that annoying PPD buzz in the back of my mind that tells me I’m not quite done with you yet. My thoughts are, once you have experienced this, you have lost a form of innocence and unfortunately you can never get it back. The only hope is that you can turn that loss into something positive and helpful for others and that’s what I’m praying for now.

  4. Thanks for everything, my dear friend. Especially for listening to me whine this morning at 2 am. I read the post…thanks for covering it. I am just not in a place right now to be able to comment. I appreciate you so much!

  5. Wow, that’s good stuff … worm, then butterfly … one day I shall spread my wings and fly! Right?
    Well, I know that my hard days revolve around my menstrual cycle … I’m so sick of that happening. Interesting enough, It’s like relapse but not really .. cause I’ve never gone back to that ‘dark place’. But, those ‘hard days’ are plagued with a sort of anticipation/ fear of those anxiety feelings .. oxy moron isn’t it .. fear of fear … it’s hell, utter hell … I can tell it’s coming cause of that pit feeling in my stomach and just fear … then eventually a thought will stick … go on rewind … then heart pain … so here’s a question … anyone else experience a sort of cyclical relapse … is that even possible, does that even make sense??? Cause I’m so tired of it =(
    I log days and almost every month around the same time … pre menstrual, I have 3-6 rough days … then weeks of good, even great … anyone relate??? Or is it,… I was told this cause doctors still can’t figure out this whole PPD monster and that sounded good …. (sigh)
    Lauren, your blog is really a breath of fresh air!!! Thanks for keeping it going!!

    • Hey Leslie! Good to see you again!

      I had a really hard time with PMS as I recovered, even when I was on my meds. My body would go all out of whack, I’d get angry, irritable, and depressed all within the course of a few days. Then Aunt Flo would show up and bam. Back to my happy go lucky self. Many, many, many women have this same experience. You are not alone in that experience at all. I still have issues with PMS. But to be fair, I had issues prior to all of the PMD stuff so it may just be I’m back to normal ol’ me!

    • I saw the award! Thank you so much. I would give it right back to you because you, my dear, are blowin’ mah mind right now with how open you’re being with everything. Keep on leaning on everyone as much as you have been – you’ve got a lot of us holding you up right now. And we’re not letting go anytime soon! ((hugs))

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