Skin picking disorder is a chronic condition that lasts a lifetime, which means it never goes away completely. However, it is possible to live without picking, and many people do so successfully. People in recovery from skin picking disorder learn to manage the urges and behaviors similar to the way people with asthma learn to manage their condition. It takes awareness, perseverance, and resilience but even then relapse can happen.
The concept of relapse is most associated with addiction. The word itself connotes dread, fear, or failure. The dictionary definition does not inspire confidence either “suffer a deterioration after a period of improvement.” Contrast the definition of “lapse” which is to “pass gradually into an inferior state or condition.” How would you like refer to a setback?
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In recovery, language means a lot because it conveys attitude and meaning. When someone forgets to take their maintenance medication and has an acute asthma exacerbation, they are not described as someone who relapsed. People who exercise regularly and have a setback in their schedule aren't accused of a relapse. Therefore, when making lifestyle changes involved with managing skin picking disorder, we are not talking about relapse either. Change is hard. Sometimes life gets hard and setbacks experienced. Lapses happen.
Accept that lapses will happen. If you expect to experience a setback at some point, you can have realistic expectations about your recovery and plan accordingly. Identify triggers and high-risk situations. Part of managing a chronic condition is recognizing what sets it off. People who have asthma attacks when they are around animals tend to stay away from animals. Figure out what your triggers are for picking and either stay away or create ways to deal with them when they arise.
Be gentle with you. Life happens, and sometimes setbacks occur too. Resist the urge to scold, berate, condemn, or otherwise beat yourself up. Stop the negative self-talk as soon as you notice it and replace it with positive self-talk.
Changing language is not cause for complacency. Trading the negativity associated with the word relapse and accepting that lapses will happen does not open the door for relaxing into apathy. Positive recovery experiences require active engagement to maintain. Take steps to care for yourself and when lapses occur, learn, adapt, and keep on recovering.