I've had a resurgence in panic attacks in the past couple of weeks. At first I was devastated, and took out my frustration on myself. 'How could I let my anxiety get this bad again? I've fought it for years, finally got it under control, and then I'm back to near-daily panic attacks? How could I be so weak and so stupid?!'
But I've realized something: It's not my fault. Just like I didn't choose to have this illness in the first place, I didn't choose for it to worsen. Besides, all the energy I've put into getting angry at myself would be better spent dealing with this bump in the road. So here's what I've decided to do:
Learn new coping skills (and practice old ones). Keep using the tried and true, like deep breathing. But now is a great time to try out other techniques, too. I sometimes start gagging or choking when I'm anxious, so my mom suggested I suck on a mint to allow my body to focus on something else. And it works! Ask fellow anxiety disorder survivors for their favourite coping skills, or check out books and blogs for new ideas.
Take it one day at a time. Each day you resist giving in to your illness, is worth celebrating. You're showing your illness you're stronger than it.
This is difficult but doable. That's your new mantra. Mental illness is a daily struggle. I won't deny that. It's fucking hard. Every single day. BUT: it's not impossible. Every day you survive is proof of that.
Remember you beat your illness in the first place. Relapse means you're in recovery. And recovery is a journey, not a state. That's why it's called "recovery", not "recovered".
Don't blame yourself. Relapse happens to the best of us! It can be caused by myriad reasons, and beating yourself up about it will just make things worse.
What's your #1 tip for dealing with relapse?