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Pulling Through a Depression Relapse

It is terrifying when our mental illnesses come back, completely out of the blue. We feel like we’re in the clear and then all the sudden we’re struck with a depression relapse or some other resurgence of symptoms. To add to the intensity, it always seems to feel worse than it did in the past.

Our mental illnesses naturally come and go. It’s part of the healing process and-as we all know quite well-recovery is not linear. We’ll have good days and bad days, great months and tough seasons.

In the midst of a depression relapse, though, we can often forget that it’s not going to last forever. We can feel eternally trapped, questioning our ability to survive this resurgence of symptoms.

This depression relapse will not last forever. It will pass and you will be okay.

All of this is normal. I’ve experienced it. People who have been in recovery for decades have experienced it. I bet even your friends and peers have experienced it. Remembering that you are not alone in this common situation may be the reminder you need to get through this. But, in case you need more than this, I created this video for you.

There are two key things I’ve learned along my journey that can help you pull through a depression relapse. Through any mental illness, really.

The first one is to find a sense of safety during this trying time through self-trust. The other is to practice self-forgiveness. There is no need to blame yourself for your symptoms coming back. It is not your fault and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

When you combine self-trust and self-forgiveness together, you create a bundle of hope and resilience around yourself. This alone can carry you through even the hardest of times.

One of the most important things to remember about depression is that there are a wide variety of solutions out there to help treat it.

I believe you can get through this. You can survive this depression relapse and any other time your mental illness comes bubbling back up. Give this episode a watch so that you, too, can believe in your ability to pull through.

Related episode: 2 Things to Help You Keep Going When Life Gets Tough

This is a difficult time, but I want you to know you can get through this. You are powerful, capable, and so incredibly resilient. It is my hope that this episode has shown you your own strength.

I’ve opened up the comments on this blog, so we can all find some healing and solidarity together.

What is the scariest part of your symptoms coming back?

And, if you’re feeling up to sharing, what is one thing you want to tell all the other people who are experiencing a relapse of symptoms?

Your heart is still beating and you are still going strong. It sings with everyone else’s who has gone, and is going, through this right now. To spread this joy and strength, please don’t hesitate to share this blog too. We all deserve to hear this uplifting reminder.

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  1. Suzie

    I think, for me, the third episode of depression was the worst because it was the one that made me realise I would be living with this illness for the rest of my life.

    I have, slowly, accepted that there are certain symptoms that mean I need to start paying attention. I become distracted and unable to focus before I get unmotivated, and I can if I ramp up my self-care routines sometimes stop an episode from taking hold.

    • Arien Smith

      Thank you so much for your comment, Suzie! Coming to terms with a chronic illness, especially a mental one, can be a really challenging thing to do. I’m so glad to hear you have found acceptance in the face of this difficulty and that you even have designed strategies to help you through the times your symptoms flare back up. Go you!!

  2. Rayla Larson

    Accepting clinical depression as being factors outside of myself that I must cope and function normally with. Really embracing that it is my choice as to how I respond to each obstacle. Mine has been a journey of learning to accept myself and learning to accept responsibility for my role in things I have no control of the outcome of. I was blessed with a reason to learn to be resilient and strong. At barely 20urs old I learned the true meaning of love and complete abandonment in fell swoop. I had a son who less than 8hrs after birth was transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit to begin dealing with completely undeveloped kidneys. His father who didn’t even want to hold him looked me straight in the eye and said “I don’t want to know my son if he’s going to die” and he left. My resolve was settled and I knew even when given the option for medical foster care, I could not abandon my child no matter what. 3 years of home dialysis that I trained extensively in, a few issues that were astronomical odds of having, a kidney transplant at 3 yrs old, followed by 11 pills in the am and 12 pills in the pm. Well, my now 15yr old son has lived through more than most and he has not given up. He has been the source of the greatest joy and victory I’ve ever experienced and also the source of great fear and pain. I have not ever fully made it out of depression, I don’t think. But I have had moments when it’s easier to cope and at least smile. Except for when life gets stranger and more pathetic than fiction. Like this month- 2 day of sophomore year, he gets hit by a car in the parking lot of his school, chipped a front tooth and breaks his LEFT wrist also his arm for dialysis (transplant started failing last year), they took him home to my father (I was at work) told him what happened left a name and phone number for me. The school resource cop is a joke and waits 1 week before examining the car, fills out the accident report FOR them, then tells me they are denying it and her report is being written UNFOUNDED. That he must have tripped and fallen in front of their car?! How much more can one kid have happen to them? And the first words out if his mouth when I got to the hospital (after an hour the shock wore off and my dad finally takes him to ER) “i didn’t cry mom. I almost did and I wanted to, but I didn’t cry!” No but I did. Twice I’ve had to scramble to get him to dialysis because medical transport didn’t show up, just this month!! Where is the room for not being depressed? For not feeling like everyday is struggle to get out of bed and do what’s necessary to sustain? Where is the room for self care or development? I work full time am advocate, nurse and mother full time. I struggle with feeling like there is no ME left.

    • Arien Smith

      I absolutely love the first two lines you wrote–they are so powerful. Embracing your ability to respond to the situations you can’t control is an incredible perspective to walk through this world with. It will take you far!

      The story of raising your son is incredible. I’m honestly blown away, to the point of getting goosebumps just reading it! You are such a strong person and it really shows. It’s incredible to have dedicated yourself to your son, even at the abandonment of his father. Your son sounds incredibly strong too, especially with all the trials he’s had to face in life. Such a pain about the school cop too! I wish there was better treatment of him in that regard.

      Me time can be tough to find when we’re busy and, although I’m not a parent, I think it’s essential for all of us to schedule self care time. Perhaps having a couple hours of a home assistant so you can take a bath or go to a spa. Or after your son goes to bed, having a nighttime routine that is relaxing can be really helpful! Essentially, find pauses and moments of rest in even the slightest bits of quiet in your life. It might mean taking a deep breath while waiting for a bus or stretching as you get out of bed. But, these little tiny moments of rejuvenation add up.

  3. brandye

    I know this an older post and I apologize if I’m too late… First off, you are absolutely beautiful, your beautiful soul shines through. I’m currently in a relapse of depression and anxiety and I’m scared to death. It’s so hard to handle to wave of emotions that race through my mind 24/7. I wish I could sleep. I wish I could eat. I wish I was “normal”. It feels like I’m drowning in a black pool and I’m swimming as hard as I can to reach the surface to breathe, but all the arms are pulling me deeper and there’s no light. I try to meditate and practice mindfulness, but if I do get just one second of peace, it’s gone and it’s back to days upon days of constant hell. I thank you for your post as it reminds me, if only for a second, this too shall pass. Love and peace to you❤️

    • Arien Smith

      Oh gosh, of course it’s not too late! I treasure your comment (and thank you so much for all the kind words!).

      I’m truly glad this post has helped you see that this will indeed pass. Perhaps it’s also good to recognize that the second of peace mindfulness brings can give you a glimmer of hope too? Like noticing that you have a little breather–and that gives you the energy to push through the couple rough days after. Those little breaks, no matter how small, can help you get through a really difficult time.

      Lots of love I’m sending your way, too! If there is anything I can do to help, like a private mentorship session, I’d be happy to.


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