Regression is the ultimate taboo in any type of recovery journey; at least that’s what it can feel like. However, regression or relapse can be more common than you think. Hence, the need to have an open and candid conversation about it.
Regression: noun – a return to a former or less developed state.Oxford Dictionary
How Regression Applies in Mental Health Treatment
The severity or outcome of regression is really contingent on what context we’re speaking in. For the sake of this conversation; I will be speaking from a mental health aspect.
Over the last 15 years or so, I’ve been in and out of therapy as needed. The purpose of my therapy is to help me cope with trauma and learn new healthy behaviors to deal with my depression and anxiety.
Despite my best efforts to apply all the things I’ve learned throughout the years; I have experienced setbacks or regression in my behaviors.
Regression is Not the End of the World
Even if it feels like it. Regression can feel awful because it feels like you have undone all the hard work you’ve put into changing. Whether you’ve invested weeks, months or years; regression can happen in a moment.
But it all doesn’t have to come crumbling down.
Regression is only as powerful as we let it be. It’s ok to acknowledge our imperfections and the fact that we make mistakes. The important thing is how do we move on from that?
Regression is a Moment not a Lifestyle
Now that we’ve acknowledged we’ve fallen off track; the goal is not to dwell in that space. Lamenting repeatedly over our failing is not going to do an ounce of good. Feel what you feel, grieve it if you must, but be proactive in getting back on track.
For instance, say you ate something that you made a conscious choice not to eat because of a new lifestyle you’re trying to adopt. You don’t have to beat yourself up about nor do you have to throw the whole day away eating what you have decided isn’t good for your body. Instead, use the next meal as an opportunity to make a better choice. Voila! The regression has now become an isolated moment, not a habit.
This same thought process can be applied to our behaviors. Perhaps you had a moment when you lost it, or had an outburst or manifested your mental health struggles in some unhealthy way. There is the opportunity to make a better choice the next time.
You do not have to repeat the same pattern of behavior.Whether you think it or not; you are not condemned to a life of failure.
Stay the Course
Regression can become the excuse not to make the changes we need to make if we’re not careful. At the end of the day, the important thing is to remember the goal. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Endurance is required.
No matter how many times we fall, the opportunity to get back up is most precious; use it wisely.
Until Next Time,