Coping with Stress and Relapses

Now stress is something I am very familiar with and, to be honest, I’ve never been very good at coping with it. Things that would make most people mildly stressed seem to affect me much more severely, which frustrates me, then I get more stressed – it’s a never ending cycle!

I did a post about university and mental health a few days ago, and I suppose this is an extension of that. [edit after completing the post: this post becomes more about dealing with bumps in the road and overcoming them…my mind took a little wander!]

University comes with a great deal of stress – it’s almost guaranteed that everyone who attends university will be stressed at some point during their degree. Deadline season, generally in January and then again in April/May, is by far where the most stress will be felt. Stress is perfectly normal, especially in times when there is so much pressure being placed on you to do well. Everyone feels it, most people experience it every day for one reason or another. However, when stress starts to seriously impact on your life where you find it difficult to function, it becomes abnormal.

For me, as soon as I am in a situation with even the smallest amount of stress, I hype it up in my head to seem a million times worse. I can never just accept that a little bit of stress is normal – my mind takes it from zero to 100 so quickly, to the point where I literally freeze and can’t deal with the thing that is making me stressed. The most recent example is with my dissertation. I would spend the whole day in bed watching Netflix, completely panicking about the approaching deadline but not being able to do anything about it – I just kept trying to push it all away. I did this for about two months, and it was two of the worst months of my life. I’ve never experienced stress and anxiety in this way before – normally I can break out of this cycle after a few days and get my work done, but I just couldn’t do it this time. I can normally make myself function somewhat normally, but for these two months I was trapped. It was one of those situations that you just can’t see a way out of, where you think it’ll never end.

The point I am trying to make is that your mental health is forever changing. Most of the time, we are taking steps and making progress to recovery and to being in more control of our mental health. But other times, it takes control of us. These times may be brief, or maybe a bit longer. But this is not permanent.

You CAN overcome it. You’ve overcome things in the past that you never though you could, and you can definitely do it again. When I first developed my eating disorder, and throughout the first few years of recovery, I thought I’d never be able to eat without counting calories, and I thought I’d never be happy with my appearance. Fast forward to about a year ago, and I started eating without counting calories for the first time, and I still am today. For years, I thought this would never be possible. I could never picture being free from spending nearly every minute of every day adding up the calories I’d eaten. But it was possible, and I’m free. And it’s because I am strong. I’m also happy with the way I look, and happy with my body. I’ve got a bit of a podgy belly, which would have made me desperate to restrict before – but now it makes me proud. It shows how far I have come.

Recovery and improving mental health is not a straightforward path. There will be bumps – you may have relapses or times where you feel like you’ve taken a hundred steps back. But you haven’t – at most you’ve taken one little step back, it’s just a little ‘blip’. It seems huge and heartbreaking at the time, but as soon as you’re reaching the top of hill after a long struggle, you can start seeing the easier walk back down. The walk to get back on track and carry on progressing. This is all part of the recovery process, and you mustn’t feel angry at yourself or your mental health for the little break in progress. Feel grateful for it, for it is another experience that you have overcome and made it through. See it as a success, as an achievement. You are wonderful and amazing, and you have the strength to overcome anything that your mental health throws at you.

I started this post on the topic of stress, but I seem to have gone a little off track! This is okay though, it’s just the nature of talking about mental health. So many things are linked together and the message stays the same – no matter how bad things seem, you will always overcome them. Sometimes getting back on track may take a little longer than you’d like, but it will still happen. And then you’ll feel amazing! So keep on believing in yourself, because I sure believe in you ❤

Thank you so much for reading another post of mine! Please feel free to comment or send me a message about anything you’d like to talk about, or any thoughts you have! I’d love to hear from you, I hope everyone had a great weekend 🙂

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