Breaking the cycle.
Nicola Wallace

Clinical Manager

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It is important that we acknowledge that if we keep repeating the same actions and patterns of behaviours, that we are going to get the same result.

The first thing I would like to say to someone who finds themselves stuck in a cycle of relapse is to just hit the pause button and stop for a moment. It is only when we take the time to stop or hit pause, that we can then have a look and take stock of what those patterns are and start to think carefully about what the triggers are for our relapse.

What are the obstacles that you are faced with which are preventing you from progressing and moving forward with your recovery journey?

Taking a close inspection can be challenging for some people, but this is part of what happens when we get caught in the cycle of relapse. It is thought that it is that the shame and sense of failure that we around the relapse that increases time after time, leaving feelings of hopelessness and as if things are never going to change.

To alter the pattern we need to resolve to draw a line under the action or event and forgive ourselves for being, recognising that we’re doing the best we can with the resources that we have. The only way for things to change is to empower ourselves to make a difference.

One of the things you may find beneficial is to make a list. This could be a list of the things you find help to distract you thoughts, of all the books that you have which you feel are helpful or books that you want to get, along with online resources that you find inspiring. Also, think about the people you have a relationship with that you feel empower and support you.

So many people contact us about how much bad and conflicting advice they have been given which leaves them completely confused. Those people have tended to ignore all the advice previously given completely or have just taken bits of it and ended up in a pattern where they are half doing something, not having much confidence which results in remaining within that cycle of relapse. When they draw a line under everything and take control back by saying “I’m going to do this for myself”, “I’m going to put some faith in myself”, “I’m going to take stock of the resources that I’ve got”, “I’m going to move forward with my life”, that’s when change becomes possible. Those patterns begin to change. As soon as we start doing something different, the pattern and the frequency we’re on changes. It can only stay the same if we stay the same.

Forgive yourself, this is the key to drawing the line.

When people have a bad day in clinic then we call it a bad day, that’s all it is. We do not use the word “relapse” as it is completely unhelpful. People can be doing really well and have a bad day/week/month but it doesn’t mean they’re not doing really well any more.

It means they are having a bad day and we all do at times. When we can see those times as just experiences which we can learn from, then we don’t hold the weight of the sense of relapse, of feeling a failure and that we have gone backwards. Instead, think about the patterns you are in, the obstacles that are in your way and the triggers that you’ve got and start to change them. When you do that, that relapse cycle will begin to change.

If we can look at adversity as an opportunity to challenge ourselves and to be reflective then we can start to move forward.