Relapse Does Not Erase Your Success

It’s Part of Recovery

I’m sure you have probably heard the saying “recovery is never linear”. And this, really, could not be more true. Recovery is never straight forward. There are many ups and downs, loop the loops and squiggly lines. And you know what? That’s ok.

Relapse is a natural occurrence for someone who has experienced an eating disorder. I, myself, have had a couple of relapses. It can be really frustrating, because you can feel like all the effort you put in was for nothing. Sometimes it can even feel like you are having to start the whole recovery process all over again.

People relapse for different reasons – being exposed to a major trigger such as a verbal comment, being discharged from eating disorder services or going through a stressful time period in their lives. A 2013 study concluded that up to 65% of those with anorexia nervosa relapse within one year, and a report by the Physicians Postgraduate Press highlights that around 46% of those with bulimia relapse within a 5 year period. 

Relapses and ‘slips’ in the recovery process happen. In fact, they may happen a lot. But this is a reminder to you that relapses do not define you. They do not define how much work you have put into recovery, they do not define your strength and they do not define your ability to get up and fight back. Your relapses do not make you weak, they do not make you inferior and they do not make you unable. They, in turn, will make you stronger.

You must remember that recovery is a lifelong healing process. Relapse is a sign that you need to re-evaluate your coping mechanism and understand how you can use it to move forwards. It’s not hard to think “what’s the point in fighting again? I’ve relapsed now, I might as well continue going downhill because I’m clearly not made for recovery“. But that is a lie. Everyone is made for recovery, everyone has the potential inside of them. Instead of beating yourself up and refusing to acknowledge this, take pride in how far you came before your relapse, and if you came that far before, you can do it again. 

“You are not defined by how many times you fall down. What defines you is that you get back up every damn time.”


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