The Unspoken Struggle: Relapse

“Relapse” has a lot of different meanings for everyone. To me, relapse is what happened in May of 2019.

I was doing great: I was almost done with high school, and I had amazing plans for the future. I couldn’t even see myself getting back into a bad place. I can say, “I should have known,” but I couldn’t have known. It all happened so fast that I can’t even tell you why it happened.

I remember waking up that Friday morning, praying that the night before was a dream. Unlike what I had wanted to the night before, I didn’t want to die anymore. But… how was I still alive? I looked at the empty pill bottle next to my bed—it didn’t make sense. My first thoughts were that I couldn’t tell my mom; I knew that telling her would mean a trip to the emergency room, and it was a Friday morning, which meant that it would go into Shabbat.

Admitting That I Need Help

Despite this, I came to the determination that I had to help myself. I needed to do what was best for me—even if it meant another hospital stay. I needed to get better and that would only happen if I was honest with myself and everyone else.

I called my mom into my room and, as quickly as the whole thing went down, she had her shoes on and was getting into the car to drive me to the emergency room. Surprisingly, the car ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I actually felt calm because I knew that I was doing what was right. Additionally, the whole time my mother kept telling me how much she loves me and just wants what’s best for me.

After being in the emergency room for a few hours, going home before Shabbat didn’t look so promising. More pressing on my mind, though, was what would a tenth hospitalization mean?

Struggle is OK. And Struggle is Normal.

I can tell you now that going back to the hospital wasn’t a sign of failure in my mental illness recovery at all. Relapse is OK. I did not realize it right away, but I have come to see how normal it is. In fact, when struggling with a mental illness, relapse is almost expected. While of course, no one wants that for themselves—or anyone else—it’s completely normal.

Since then, things have been going better. I still have my bad days—but everyone does. Once I learned that no one expects me to be perfect or to have my life together all the time—and it took time—it made everything a little easier. I know that my being in a good place most of the time doesn’t mean that I still can’t struggle. I now know that asking for help does not mean that I have failed at recovering.

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