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How I Overcame My Fear of Relapsing With Bipolar Disorder

The Mighty logo The Mighty 10/20/2020 Nichole Howson
a woman looking at the camera: photo of woman in profile view with hand raised to her chest, looking into distance © The Mighty photo of woman in profile view with hand raised to her chest, looking into distance

What happens if I relapse?

I walked around for years, completely terrified that I would suddenly be unstable. That I would have another manic episode. That I would fall into a deep depression.

It got to be so bad that an average “bad day” would turn into me spiraling into such intense anxiety that I was unable to concentrate on work or be able to relax.

I was sitting in a bipolar disorder support group when the leader said something that scared me, but brought me a huge sense of peace:

You are going to relapse.”

I stared at her, slightly angry. How dare she…

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But then she continued.

“This is why we’re taking the time right now to learn all the skills you need to cope and take care of yourself.”

See, bipolar disorder isn’t something that just goes away. It’s a lifelong illness, but that doesn’t mean I have to suffer every day. There are ways to overcome what I’m going through. Instead of spending so much time scared of relapsing into a manic episode or deep depression, I spend that time preparing.

I run a social media marketing and virtual assistance company, and I have a backup plan for when I’m struggling. I have game plans in place for when I need extra support from medical professionals. I have a strong support team that will help me and protect me when I need someone else to fight for me.

I’m not scared of relapse anymore because I’m prepared for it. Maybe it won’t ever happen — I mean, that’s the goal. But if it does, I’m going to be OK. That’s the most important thing for me.

If you’re scared of relapse, make a plan. Think about what you’ll need to overcome the situation, to take care of yourself. Write it out. Talk to your support team about it.

Relapse isn’t the end. It’s a bump in the road.

You’ve got this.


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