Managing Set Backs in Recovery

Yesterday I had a set back; I had undergone graded exposure therapy and felt fine but all of a sudden I started to panic when I was out shopping. I was convinced that I was going to collapse and I knew I had to get out of that situation. It took me around two hours to get home and as I was travelling I felt crushed by disappointment.


Luckily I have a great support network, which is something I really recommend; my friends helped me to see that although I had a set back, it was minuscule in the grand scheme of my progress. Since I was blinded by negative thoughts, confiding in my friends was invaluable as they can see the situation realistically. For example, my friend acknowledged that I did freak out, but two months ago I wouldn’t have been able to get the train and go shopping, never mind make it that far.

In addition, all the friends I spoke to referred me back to my own blog, to see this graph:

Set backs are an essential part of the recovery process

It is a great graph, I can’t argue with myself. When I plotted myself on the graph, at a low point yesterday I actually felt quite good about it as I had come from a high point. I hadn’t realised how well I had been doing with my recovery, I was improving week after week – so maybe this panic was needed to let me appreciate how hard I have been working.


I was flooded with negative questions after I panicked – I felt like I had let myself down and that it would be extremely hard to get back to this point in recovery.

“Is all this effort worth it?” “Will it ever be over?” “What is the point?”

These circling thoughts pulled me down into a sinking sadness; I believed that I would never be better. However, I looked back at my journal and saw a similar entry – it was before I went on holiday and I was terrified of the flight. But, the entry after that was extremely positive, I had the most amazing holiday and completely forgot about my problems – if I hadn’t picked myself up then, I would have not had the funnest holiday of my life.

So by looking at specific examples in your past, when you felt so low or anxious over something that had an amazing outcome, you can reassure yourself that it will get better. You have been here before and you will get to the positive side soon; you’ve dealt with this before and so you can do it again. I would definitely recommend a journal as it will allow you to remember the highs and lows of your recovery. When I felt so shaken yesterday I couldn’t summon any positivity, so a written account is priceless, it will always be there for you to look back on – no matter how you are feeling. This high quality journal comes in lots of different colours.


Instead of beating myself up about failing, like I normally would, I went home took a shower and napped – I woke up feeling a lot better (sleep is the human emotion reset button). Due to taking some time out to relax, I was able to have a really good night. Normally, after I had let myself down I would go home and work on something but since I allowed myself to take a break I ended up salvaging the day – which is very rare for me. In addition, I woke up this morning feeling motivated, sure I was a little disappointed, but compared to when I don’t take time to relax I was in a much better place.

Last but not least, treat yourself! If you are in recovery and are putting so much hard work and dedication into getting back to normal – you are incredibly strong. Recovery is really difficult, and if you can keep going throughout the hardest times then you deserve to reward yourself. It would be so much easier to lie in bed but you are fighting for your life, so be grateful for your tenacity and take a night off from your busy schedule and relax.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s