What the words ‘recovery’ and ‘relapse’ mean in mental health.

No, I am not an addict. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink alcohol to excess.


But I did have a relapse today.

I have been dealing with panic disorder for… well… the time really blends together for me. But the most severe symptoms started about a year and a half ago I suppose.

Since that time I’ve been on three anti-depressants and finally have found one that works so good for me after a lot of trial and error. I’ve worked very, very hard to face life without the crutch of my benzos because it makes dealing with everything so much easier. But its also not living either to be spaced out all the time.

I’ve worked very hard on breathing techniques, removing unneeded stressors from my life, removing toxic people from my life, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

My panic attacks have been nearly nonexistant unless there is an extremely obvious trigger. (This year I was told I had skin cancer… I was 20… turned out I don’t have cancer, but that doctor certainly induced a fair amount of panic attacks until I saw someone else who said I was fine). But like I said, the ones that seemed to happen for no apparent reason pretty much wholly stopped.

I even took myself off of benzos completely and just have a very small amount in case of emergency. That was one of the hardest things to do. I was never addicted in the sense of physically craving them, but by taking them it subdued my anxiety enough to where I never had to try anything else; I could avoid actually working on me.

Like I said, it was definitely my crutch, but one I was so proud to get rid of.

I had a relapse today.

The feelings I haven’t felt in forever.

I was thinking of so many things, thinking of all the work I have to do this weekend, the impending doom of finals, all of the projects and homeworks that still needed finishing. Thinking about recent bad news related to my health. Thinking about it all and thinking all too much.

That should have been my first warning sign. Its very rare my mind rapidly cycles through so much information.

Then the tears started to well up in my eyes and I had that out of body sensation, almost as if I could watch myself, tear streaked face, walk hurridly to the bathroom before anyone could see.

Then I started loosing my breath. Hyperventilating and trying to suck in as much oxygen as possible.

I let out an audible, “No, No, Please No…Not again” between sobs and gasps for air.

I got so hot and the walls of the bathroom stall seemed to get closer and closer.

And then my favorite… the sudden urge to vomit.

You see, that hasn’t happened to me in some time. But it is just as awful as I ever remember it being. Once the worst is over, I have a bit of residual panic left over. I just can’t stop the tears.

I’m crying because going through that is scary,

I’m crying because I’m disappointed in myself,

I’m crying because I couldn’t hold this one in,

I couldn’t deep breathe this one away.

But I’m really crying because I had to take my benzo.

After months of not needing it… I was too weak to handle myself, my emotions, my panic, without a drug.

Even after taking two times my normal dose I still cried the entire way home. Hummilitated even though I had no audience. None of my classmates or teachers had any clue what had just happened in the bathroom down the hall in the second stall.

They woulnd’t guess every time they talk about how much Xanax and other benzos are abused and overprescribed, I shrink in my seat a little. Ashamed because my emergency stash still sits in my purse only feet away. Ashamed that I don’t think I am recovered enough to get rid of it, and worried that I may never be.

When you shame people for using their resources, or for needing medication, that is exactly what happens. We already feel so weak in times of panic, so weak that we can’t get our minds to coexist with our souls. I don’t need the judgement of society to make me feel worthless.


I have that covered by myself.



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