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?


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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