When I first was diagnosed as co-dependent, I figured that was it, I'm getting better, it's only upward from here. Then I had my first relapse and I couldn't understand what was happening to me. I was reading "Beyond Codependency" by Melody Beattie and found a whole section on relapse and finally understood what was going on. In the book it says, "Recovery is a process. Within that process is another one called relapse. Regression, reverting, slips -- whatever we call it -- any diagram we use to represent growth needs to accommodate it. In spite of our best efforts to stay on track we sometimes find ourselves reverting to old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, even when we know better. Relapse can sneak up on us, linger, and become as confusing as our original codependency." I could see how I had relapsed and at first I was disappointed in myself, but I learned from it, made some changes and started recovery again. I understand now when a co-dependent relapse is happening and I can catch the relapse sooner and get myself back on track.
The last few months have been really tough for me, but I thought I was doing well. Then I started noticing an overwhelming sense of fatigue and last Thursday I was so tired I barely got up to say good-bye when my daughter left for school and my husband left for work. After they were gone, I climbed back in bed just to sleep for a little while longer and I was out for hours. I finally dragged myself out of bed moments before my daughter came home from school. I couldn't believe I had slept the day away and that really concerned me. I started a self-analysis and realized I was neglecting many things that I do for me to continue in my recovery process. I started to see the signs of a relapse.
To quote "Beyond Codependency" again, "The first step toward getting through a [relapse] situation is identifying when we're in it. Here are some signs. Emotions Shut Down. . . . Compulsive Behaviors Return. . . . Victim Self-Image Returns. . . . Self-Worth Drops. . . .Self-Neglect Starts. . . . The Crazies Return. . . . Feeling Trapped. . . . After we've identified a return to our old ways, the next step is simple. We say, 'Oops! I'm doing it again.' This is called acceptance and honesty. . . . Now comes the potentially difficult part. We tell ourselves, It's okay, I did it again. This is called 'self-compassion."
My therapist is always talking about the importance of "awareness" and now that I was aware of the relapse it was time to do something about it. I spent Sunday fasting and praying for guidance on how to recover from this relapse. I knew what to do with a co-dependent relapse, but this was a little different, it was more like a depression relapse, so I felt I needed extra guidance.
My first impression was to get back to the basics, back to following my morning routine and doing my Basket A items (see blog entry "Basketful of Gifts") and to start doing "recovery" items again. In the book "Reaching for Hope," by Meghan Decker and Betsy Chatlin they say: "For me, there are two [self-soothing steps] that can usually jog me from the molasses morass of my depression. One is to physically get out of my house and meet a friend for lunch. . . . The second thing I do is to watch funny movies or videos. If I can get past the soul weariness to laugh a little, it usually jogs the depression. Though many women will never have a second episode of major depression, some will experience a relapse. Learning skills to prevent or minimize these symptoms will give these women greater control over their own emotional well-being."
I've been trying to be strong, trying to be better, but I also have to be realistic - relapse happens and I need to be aware of that and be vigilant in watching for the signs. My signs are fatigue, pushing on "doing" for others and home, neglecting self-care, shutting down my emotions, withdrawing and closing myself off from others, etc. This time I had a few additional signs which are specifically depression related and they are feeling low but not sure why, neglecting basic needs, low activity level and a general feeling of darkness. Now that I'm aware of these additional signs, hopefully I'll catch any future relapse sooner and get back on my recovery road. So maybe relapse happens, but it doesn't have to happen for very long, awareness, the skills to recovery and acceptance are all I need to get myself where I need to be.