“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Roosevelt


I have a fear of relapse.

There I’ve said it. Not all of recovering from OCD/anxiety is smooth sailing. It seems to be the case that the more I head towards recovery, the greater my fear of relapse is. I have more to lose now it seems than when I was only at the beginning – there is further for me to fall. I have a bad day and I become convinced and anxious that I am slip sliding my way back into the pile of mud at the bottom of the slide. It reminds me of the game ‘Snakes and Ladders’ that I used to play as a child – move forward a couple of spaces and before you knew it you’d landed on a snake fast on your way back to the bottom of the board.

It terrifies me that my brain could go back to where it was and not to really know what may set it off.  It scares me that my brain can do as it pleases without a heads-up (surely it would have just been common courtesy to warn me what it was planning?!). What really terrifies me is that I feel that I can’t trust my mind. I have spent quite a long time trying to work out what caused my OCD to escalate so badly. I analyse all that was going on in my life at the time and for a while I have made changes according to that. Perhaps it was the friends I was socialising with at the time. Simple, I just won’t see them. Stress at work? I’ll just do the bare minimum to keep stress levels low. Flat situation getting me down? I moved out and in somewhere else. I have fortunately reached a point where I have realised that this perhaps isn’t the healthiest of mechanisms. Of course it’s useful to look at where you can make positive changes in your life and I actually think moving out of a slightly toxic flat situation probably did help. But what I’ve really realised is that this fear of relapse is all part of my OCD thinking. I want 100% certainty that I won’t relapse. I want an absolute answer as to what caused my OCD and really what I know (I should know) after months and months of CBT is that maybe I have to be able to tolerate the uncertainty. Maybe I will have another OCD struggle on my hands in the future. Maybe I will face more stress that might trigger another OCD outburst. Maybe just maybe I’ve done enough work (emotionally/psychologically) to stand me in good stead. So what I keep trying to remind myself is that if I can’t ever really know for sure then maybe there’s just no point in worrying about it at all. 

Emily x


4 thoughts on ““The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” – Roosevelt

  1. It’s really important to entertain those “maybe” thoughts and tolerate them, isn’t it? Seems to me you’re doing terrific if you can do that. With everything you’ve learned though, you will never be in the same old place again!

    • Hi Angie,
      Thanks for this! Tolerating the fear of relapse is easier on some days than it is on others. I can easily see how it could almost become another obsession but at least I’m aware of it and know what I need to do. I like that thought that with everything I’ve learnt even if I do go back it will never be the same place.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. This is a great post, and I’m glad you figured out your OCD is making you think this way. While I don’t have OCD, I used to have the same fears you describe, only they were about my son. “He’s doing so great now, how horrible it would be if he became completely debilitated again.” Instead of enjoying his good health at the moment, I was worrying about “what ifs.” What a waste! None of us knows what the future will bring, but I do know Dan has a lot more tools now to help him fight OCD than he did when things were really bad. I hope you can try to live in the here and now, and enjoy the improvements in your life :)!

    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks for your comment. I think you’re right, living in the moment is something that we all (as humans) find very difficult to do – I definitely find that mindfulness helps with this issue, I think it will be a work in progress for some time as the fear of relapse does pester me from time to time! As my CBT therapist used to say to me though “can you do anything about this worry right now?”, if not then perhaps “postpone” thinking about it. I definitely think that’s true in this particular case! All the best to you and Dan! Emily

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