The Fallen Hero Syndrome-The Anxiety of Relapsing from Alcoholism and Depression Recovery
Posted Sep 26 2008 5:16pm
We got the treatment. It worked and away we go, back into our safe old lives. Free from the scourges of Alcoholism, Addiction and Depression. Slowly our anxiety about our 'problem' recedes into the background. Your family, professional and social life returns to normal. You have beaten the odds. Your previous symptoms and abuse disappear. Congratulations. An Alcoholic and Depressive no more. But beware my friend. You do not want to suffer The Fallen Hero Syndrome.
Even as I write this post I am at as much risk as you are. 7 years well and counting. But a potential disaster lurks behind every bush. Relationship hassles, business problems, health concerns, retrenchments, disillusionments, political upheaval, boredom, paranoia, earthquakes and no end of trauma and assorted nerve-wrecking events can turn your cosy little new world upside down.
If you have come 'out of the closet' with your dramatic past you have slightly more pressure to deal with. For instance I actually write this blog and pass on info in the hope that I can help others. But does that make me safe from the dreaded relapse. No way guys. Each and every recovered Alcoholic and Depressive must come to terms with the ongoing potential of disaster. It is just a fact of life.
I make every effort to stay sober and well. I do not want to go back to where I was. But these illnesses are crafty bastards and can creep up on you again. Too many hassles and that fatal first drink and bang, we are back to square one. Part of your recovery programme should be a realisation of what you are. You did not ask to join this club but the reality is that you are a lifelong and honorary member. Having said that it can happen that you slip up. Statistics can be deceiving. I cannot remember who said it but some politician once remarked, "There are stats, more stats and then there are dam lies."
The relapse rates for both Alcoholism and Depression are high. Just looking at my own immediate circle I would say more people relapse than do not. The trick is to have your relapses and then go for the big one where you can get a good number of sober years under your belt. Relapsing is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to the best of us. This reminds me of another of those sayings that I am not quite sure who said it but it is very relevant, "It is not important how many times you fall down. What is important is how many times you get up again."
One of the major problems with Alcoholics is the tendency to believe that after a few years you are completely better and maybe, just maybe there had been a mistake with your diagnosis. Maybe I could have a couple of drinks and still be able to control it. Wrong again guys. If you do beat the odds you will make it into the record books. Many before you have tried and failed miserably. I suppose it is possible that you had a slightly exaggerated diagnosis years before and maybe your Doctor jumped the gun by giving you treatment for Alcoholism. But do not count on that scenario. It is highly improbable and not worth the risk. Consider the anxiety of your loved ones as you test those potentially troubled waters.
So in the world of recovering Alcoholics and Depressives the Fallen Hero Syndrome is a very real possibility. Do not fear it. Embrace it and keep your eyes in the back of your head at all times.
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln