Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m sure I have been here before?” The same feelings of depression, the same anxiety, old guilt that you thought you had dealt with and old memories you thought you had resolved. There is something that you know is familiar, but at the same time these feelings appear new and have a powerful draw for your attention.
One of the greatest challenges for sufferers of emotional or mental distress is the return of familiar symptoms or feelings. Of course the reality with most common disorders like anxiety, depression is that the individual needs to continue to work hard to maintain their gains after recovery. So often people find themselves coming out of a difficult time and then just wanting to forget the journey that they have taken. Then when life, or exhaustion or circumstances out of their control lead them close to the edge of their previous experiences they feel like they are starting all over again.
The reality of having recovered from any mental or emotional condition is that some feelings, delicacies or tendancies will remain. It is impossible to live a life in which we will never again feel low, or exhausted or worried. The challenge is can you harness what you learnt the first time to walk quickly away from the edge? Or are you down about being down again?
There is a great difference between full-blown relapse and a more minor dance with depression. Just because you are feeling some recurrence in symptoms does not mean that you are starting again from scratch. However, how you approach things now will have an impact upon how hard they become. If you were to review the gains you made in your previous recovery, how were they made? And what have you not sustained in your ongoing lifestyle?
One of the most important gains they you made on your previous journey was undoubtedly the ability to see your situation for what it really was. If you were depressed you would have recognised that your negative thoughts were a product of depression. If you were anxious you would have learnt that the panic was a result of your anxiety levels. If you were struggling with bad thoughts or compulsions you realised they were a product of OCD. But are you still sure now, second time around or are you finding yourself fighting a new narrative?
When you look back over your life so far, you, like many people may see that there has been something of a pattern to your emotional experiences; distinctive highs and lows that have been marked by the same feelings. It is your vision of this undulating journey that can provide you with a lot of comfort and clues towards what is going on. Knowing yourself, your particular emotional profile, it’s positives and it challenges, will give you the best possible indicator for where you are at right now and what you should do to change it. Fear can be an accelerator to many emotional problems, but recognition and familiarity can diffuse fear and give us the best possible start to applying our recovery tools before things get more challenging. Get to know yourself and value the strength you have shown in the past, then today will seem like a steep hill that can be climbed and not an impassable mountain range.