Hey there friend
I hope you get this, and don’t be sorry for sending me your message. I care about you. I don’t want you to go through this alone.
Here I am? See? Just another dishevelled spoonie dork face trying to survive, in her PJ’s at 3:51pm.
I don’t know the particulars of your situation, but I’m going to try my best to help. Forgive me if I get things wrong, and please write in again if you need more help.
It sounds like you might be going through a relapse of symptoms, and that’s really scary. I know it is.
It can feel like you fight and fight to get some stability and then all the thoughts and feelings and urges come back and it’s overwhelming.
The first thing to do is to address that overwhelm and take care of you right now. If you’re frightened and overwhelmed, thinking about the bigger picture is just going to make you more so.
So let’s try to make your world a bit more simple for now. When we can’t do much about the internal — our minds working against us — adjusting the external world, or the things we can control, can help.
Of course, that’s one of the reasons we feel like self harming, or controlling what we eat, or any number of intrusive and unhealthy things.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a good way. Let’s do that, okay?
First: find somewhere you feel safest
Are you somewhere you can control your environment, like your own space? If you can’t get to a space like this, of If you don’t have your own space, even somewhere you know and are comfortable with where there’s less stimulus is good. Somewhere familiar where you feel least vulnerable. if other people make you feel safer, then friends can be good too if they are gentle and kind.
Second: adjust your environment to your needs
For instance, lets dim the lights if you can do that. If you’re having sensory overload, you might want low light that’s easier on your eyes and mind.
If the thought and feelings you are having are causing you more and more distress, try to find something that will take you out of the spiral, even a bit.
Focus on things that can distract you, and maybe even bring you back into yourself a bit. Avoid things that will pull you down, or draw you back in to intrusive or out of control thinking.
Things that people find can help: listening to music, reading, chatting with friends (online or off), audio books, playing music, crafts, art, writing stories, computer games — anything that occupies and focuses your mind a bit, that can distract you in a pleasant way and help you ease yourself out of panic.
Third: Try to pay attention to what your body needs
If what you’re having is light sensitivity and dizziness, I’d encourage you to try to take care of your physical body as well as you can. I know that can be really hard, but just do what you can.
If it’s cold, you need to be snuggled up warm. Too hot? Make sure you’re not overheating your body.
Many of us find feelings of comfort and security in being wrapped up in a blanket or a nice floppy sweater, if possible. Sensations of gentle pressure and protection will help things stop feeling so out of control.
Gently hugging or stroking your own skin can raise serotonin levels and re-connect you to yourself. Touching yourself kindly can help ease the urges to self harm.
If you have injuries, try to take care of them. Make sure your injuries are clean and protected. Forgive yourself. It’s not your fault.
If you do not have any, but the urges to self harm are really hard to beat, try some of the alternatives — like squeezing ice blocks, or snapping a rubber band against your skin.
If you can, please try to give yourself two things — hydration and sustenance. Even a little bit, whatever you can manage, may help with the brightness, the floatiness and the nausea. Even if all you can manage is water and dry toast, it will help. Try to pay attention to what your physical body is saying it needs, and then try to provide it if you can.
Fourth: give yourself time
These things are hard on us, body and mind. Give yourself time to rest. If you’ve succeeded in driving the intrusive thoughts back, give yourself a while to relax both physically and mentally before trying to confront what’s occurring. As we in the chronic illness community so often say — go gently. It’s okay to rest. It’s okay to take a break. You dont have to deal with it right now. It’s okay to take time to recover.
I’m not a medical practitioner. When you’ve taken some time, I’d advise that you find some professional support if it’s a possibility for you.
That said — these are some of my thoughts on relapses.
A lot of us dealing with mental health issues get told that, if we try hard enough, or do enough, or somehow are ‘enough’ this stuff will be ‘fixed’ and will ‘go away’.
Although I know there are people who recover, and that that’s a possibility, I think it can be held out as this… expected goal or end point to a degree that’s not good for many of us.
For many many of us, the things we go through and the reasons we go through them are part of our life experience, part of who we are, and linked to how our brain itself functions. That means that, even if we have recovery periods as long as years, something can still trigger a relapse of symptoms.
I have found it healthier, for me, to think about this less in terms of ‘how do I make it go away’ and more as ‘how do I deal with this as best I can’.
Doing that leaves me energy and headspace to try to enjoy the happy things, the pleasant things, the good things, without (to varying degrees) seeing relapses as horrible, terrifying failures. Instead, it means I can come to grip with ‘bad days’ as they come. I know it will happen, I know I can do something about it when it does, and I know that a good day will come again.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming. Sometimes it feels dark for a long time. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be ‘out’ of it all again. But you know what? There’s always something, even something small and silly, that makes me smile again. Like a flower. Or a good cup of tea. Or the sounds of someone’s laugh.
Happiness isn’t something we someday attain and just be happy forever — it’s the sum of all the small things and small moments you ever had of being happy. So try to notice those things, even when it’s hard. Let them be your anchors to yourself. Let them tie you a bit more to the world. Learn what makes you happy, content, safe, peaceful, and even a bit well, and build yourself a fortress with them.
And, when things get hard, please don’t hesitate to come here <3