As someone who does not suffer with problems of mental health which lend themselves to triggers, the concept of a “relapse” is perhaps not immediately applicable to myself.
However – and, I reiterate, this is not something I have conventional experience with; and I do not want to belittle or undermine the struggle of others – I think this perceived inapplicability stems from the conventional understanding of a “relapse” as it relates to obvious examples found within a Mental Health-focused community.
What I mean simply is that whilst I am not vulnerable to the triggers that others within the community are, I am still vulnerable to a relapse. In my case, it is a psychological and emotional episode.
I do not have a great deal of confidence in myself. I am also wracked with loneliness: I long for romantic company; affection; to be utterly devoted to someone and make them happy; and to revel in our shared interests and passions.
At times, this subsides: I can (finally) at times feel comfortable in myself, and feel confident in my interests, as opposed to an outcast. This though, is always fragile. This veneer of confidence can be shattered as quickly as it can formed.
The Oxford English (Online) Dictionary describes a relapse as “deteriorat[ion] after a period of improvement”. If I view the implementation of a veneer of confidence as a constant work in progress and continual improvement – certainly an improvement from my usual insecure state – then a deviation from this, I think, can be credibly viewed as a “relapse”.
So, what does this (emotional) deterioration involve? Quite simply, it is to be submerged in a sudden whirlpool of all the negative feelings I have mentioned above. Having (temporarily) scaled the mountain of my own self-confidence; the shattering of the veneer equates to a shattering of ice beneath my feet, and I proceed upon a downward spiral. Insecurities abound. Loneliness, self-doubt, worthlessness and self-loathing are palpable, as ever-bleaker thoughts creep into my mind like the wicked, seductive scent of a femme fatale which the carnal part of me can’t help but crave – always, I know, against my better judgement. It is misery, emptiness, hopelessness. It is an unwanted cocktail.
There are, to be sure, other elements at play which add grist to this merciless mill. Hannah Rainey not long ago wrote on her wonderful blog, Little Thoughts, about “Attachment Anxiety“; and whilst I was unaware that this was a formally-recognised condition with a formally-applied name, some of what she describes resonates with me, and in fact has done for a long time. I know (perhaps as a consequence) I fall in love easily. Rejection, in this respect, hits particularly hard. (See the third of Rupi Kaur’s poems in this post.) Self-confidence, meanwhile, has always been an issue for me; for reasons I am only recently beginning to pinpoint. I seem to forever suffer from”frustrated creativity“; that is, the frustration of not being able to accomplish everything I want to as quickly as I want to accomplish it all – and sometimes that which means the most to me can feel like a burden, and the consequent pressure, a heartbreaking curse. I am of course, I should remind myself and readers, on Citalopram; whilst I was not officially diagnosed, I think my GP believed I had struggled with seriously depressive thoughts following the breakup from my fiancée last year, and which has left me far more emotionally fragile than I was before.
All of these no doubt play a part in this episode I interpret as a “relapse”. But the relapse itself is, regrettably, a regular occurrence – one with its own recognisable symptoms – which is why I consider it a separate issue.
As I emphasised at the outset, I do not wish to undermine or belittle the more conventional and more physically-obvious and readily-identifiable manifestations of a “relapse” as suffered by those within the Mental Health community. However, the psychological and emotional relapse which I feel routinely plagues me, should go neither undisclosed, nor unacknowledged. It is, to me, very real, immensely detrimental to my well-being, and afflicts me all-too often.
If anyone reading this feels this is something to which they may too be vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. If ever you need someone to talk to, I am always contactable on Twitter (@whateverwordsuk) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)