Bad Days vs. Relapse

I quite often see a lot of banter on whether or not there’s a difference between a slip up or bad day in recovery and a full on relapse.
I thought long and hard about what my position on it was.
I’ve had multiple conversations with people about it to bounce my thoughts off of them and to hear their thoughts.
I’ve debated on whether or not I even wanted to write about this because I’m always so afraid that if I bring it up, people will automatically assume that I’ve either relapsed or had a slip up.
But I’ve decided that I don’t really care what others perceive about my journey.
If you’ve actively been walking with me through this journey and are ever concerned that I’ve relapsed or had a slip up, then ask me. It may make for an uncomfortable conversation for me, but accountability is something that I think is so vital in any recovery process.

So. To answer the question that I think I’ve posed:
Is there a difference between a slip up and a relapse?

Yes.

Now let me explain. Because I definitely don’t want people to think that I’m trying to create a fail safe for myself by saying this. That’s not at all what I’m trying to do.

I think that if anyone goes in to the process of recovery from anything, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or in my case, self harm, and you think that you will never have a bad day, that you will never struggle, and that you will never mess up, has a very ignorant view of recovery, and ultimately setting themselves up for failure.
Bad days are going to happen. Period.
Whether you want them to or not.
Recovery is hard. Incredibly hard. And if you have an attitude other than that, you’re in for some huge disappointments.

A great mentor of mine said, “Recovery is a long road. There are bumps and curves.”

That pretty much says it all.

This is an incredibly long road. A road that I will walk for the rest of my life.
I will have bad days. I will make mistakes. I’m not perfect.

However, I do believe that a relapse can easily stem from a slip up.
I believe that relapsing is more a mindset than anything else.
When I have a slip up, if I choose to remain in that frame of mind and not care what the consequences are, I’ve relapsed.
When I decide that I don’t care how much or how often I harm myself, I’ve relapsed.

If I have one bad day, where I make a bad choice, and get in a situation I shouldn’t be in, but immediately recognize that I’ve chosen to not live in that life anymore, that is not a relapse.

I think it’s more detrimental to view recovery in the number of days that I haven’t done something.
Talk about pressure.
And unnecessary pressure at that.
However, I think it should be viewed as, “I’ve been actively walking in and pursuing recovery for 270 days, but there have been some bumps and curves along the way.”

That’s life. Whether you’re actively pursuing recovery or not.
You will have bad days. You will make mistakes.
Every day won’t be kittens and rainbows.
And that’s okay.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this process, it’s that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.
It’s okay to breakdown and cry.
It’s okay to be angry and to shake your fist in the air.

What matters is that you don’t stay there.
You pick yourself back up.
You surround yourself with people who love you and who will walk with you through the good and bad.
You realize that one mistake doesn’t take away all of the hard work you’ve put in along the way.

Things won’t always be this way.
There will be a day where the road gets easier, but don’t let those easy days spoil you.
Remember the bad days as much as the good.
Because the bad days are what shape you into what you’ve become.
Which is an incredibly strong human being.

Your story isn’t finished.
And neither is mine.

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Oh the Difference a Year Makes..

I will never forget where I was in my life when I walked through those theater doors a year ago.
I was broken.
I was a mess.
And was in the worst place I had ever been in regards to my self harm.

I didn’t even want to come to church that night.
It took me most of the day before I finally answered the text message inviting me.
I was reluctant, to say the least.
But I went.
I figured, what could it hurt to just go, right?

And I promise you, the sermon preached that night, was just for me.
Suicide, and the thoughts that go along with it.
Brokenness. Pain. Depression.
That was the boat I was sailing in.

I remember having the opportunity to write a letter to Murr.
You could write about what was going on in your life.
I decided that it couldn’t hurt to just write it out, and the fact that I had never met him before that night and honestly probably wouldn’t ever see him again made it all the easier to write out every dark and scary detail of my life.
It had been seven years since the viscous cycle that is self harm first became a part of my life.
And I was terrified that I would never be able to live without it.
I wrote about my suicide attempt in 2006.
I wrote until I had nothing left to write.
And I folded it up, and I handed it to a youth pastor that I had just met.
It was terrifying and relieving all at the same time.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would get a response from him, and that in and of itself made my anxiety soar.
Heck, I wasn’t even sure if I would ever walk through those doors again.

But. Sure enough, I got a response.
And it was a response that would come to change everything for me.
I also walked back through those doors again the next week.
And the week after that.
And the week after that.
And, well you get the picture.

For the first time in those seven years, I was letting someone in to that part of my life.
And when I did, their first response wasn’t that I was crazy or that I needed treatment.
It was that I was worth recovery.
And that was something that I wasn’t used to.

From that point on, recovery became intentional.
And with that, it made it harder.
A relapse in November and then in January made it all the more difficult.

I honestly, didn’t expect to be around here long.
I figured I’d finish out the year and be on my way.
But then came the invitation to join the intern program.
And reluctantly accepting, I expected to intern for a semester and be on my way.
But man, did God have something else planned for me.

I honestly can’t believe sometimes how much God has blessed me and the doors that He opened up for me.
I can’t imagine being anywhere else than here.

Recovery has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.
But it’s also been one the most rewarding things.
I am forever thankful for the people that have come alongside me in this journey and have walked through some really difficult times with me.
You have become more than just my friends, you’ve become my family.
And I love you all beyond what my words could ever express.

Thank you for walking this road with me and thank you for allowing me to walk yours.
I’m looking forward to continuing this journey with all of you.
Thanks for the memories; here’s to many more.