Relapse Prevention Strategies
Two steps forward and one step back. Relapse is a natural part of the recovery process. Even after receiving the initial treatment, recovery really starts to happen for people battling diabulimia when you get back in to the real world. The blood sugar monitoring, the stress, having a job and still taking care of your diabetes, dating, etc. are all factors that can trigger anxiety and a potential relapse. Here are some important things to keep in mind when you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed in your journey towards recovery from diabulimia.
- Nothing is permanent. While embracing recovery from diabulimia, you will have some physical issues: temporary weight gain (bloat), possible edema, electrolyte imbalances, nausea, constipation, dizzy spells, and insomnia. It’s not forever. Everyone goes through this! Think of it like detoxing off of drugs or alcohol. You have to be patient during the first few months of recovery, your body is slowly coming back to life and has a lot of catching up to do. Emotionally you may feel depressed, anxious, angry, etc. All those emotions you were hiding/numbing will come back fast and furious, there is no way to avoid the feelings you have, allow them to be present, allow them to move through you and remember that just like withdrawal from drugs, it passes. It’s not permanent!
- Know your triggers. Make a list of your triggers. There are internal triggers which include things like shame, boredom, anger, fear and anxiety. There are also external triggers including things like scales, family members, financial problems, weather, unexplained high and low blood sugars, etc. There is no way to avoid some of these triggers, but being aware of them may lessen your anxiety and help you accept that things don’t always go as planned, we just have to try to do the best we can.
- Connect with others who have been there. You're not alone! Check out the main resources page for information and online support groups. We also have a message board and a growing community of individuals ready and willing to lend an ear or a voice whenever it might help.
- Make a list of reasons you want to recover from Diabulimia. And after you make your list, put it up in a place where you can read it often!
- Recognize when you need to slow down. Living with type 1 diabetes is challenging enough, but living with type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder is twice as challenging! It’s hard to accept sometimes that your body doesn't run the way a “normal” person’s does. A bad low or high in the morning can make you feel sluggish or anxious for the rest of the day and it’s okay to allow yourself to move a little slower at work, or get the errands done a little later once you’re feeling better. This may seem obvious, but by recognizing depression, anxiety, or physical strain and accepting that you can’t feel 100% all the time, every day, you can take preventative steps before a relapse occurs in your diabetes regimen.
- Keep a journal. If you put your thoughts out on paper, you will begin to notice patterns. If it’s on paper, you can’t deny it. Recovering from diabulimia will bring up feelings of joy, fear, hope and many other strong emotions. Writing them down helps you release those sometimes very overwhelming feelings.
- Attend regular therapy appointments and keep in regular contact with your sponsor. We need help and that is one of the hardest things to accept and ask for. No matter how difficult it may be to share what you’ve been going through, you should consider getting a therapist. If you can’t afford therapy, go to a 12-step group and get a sponsor. This is so extremely important if you’re in relapse mode or even just in recovery.
- Develop healthy coping skills. Make a list of ten things that are healthy coping skills. These can be things like a hot bath, knitting, writing, drawing, crochet, taking a walk, an afternoon nap, etc. Here’s the important point: use them when you’re struggling!
- Practice acceptance. Life is hardly perfect. We are hardly perfect. Yet we tend to expect it to be, and when something goes wrong, we crash and burn. It’s not our fault, but we assume it is. We assume that we must either punish ourselves or numb the pain somehow. Punishing ourselves and numbing the pain will not make a situation go away. All you are doing is avoiding the truth.