Anatomy of a Mental Health Relapse

October 1, 2014 Mike Ehrmantrout

This week my life closely resembles one of those old country and western songs. You know the ones. Basically everything that could go wrong has, and even the dog doesn’t want to get close to me.

I’m sitting alone in my four bedroom home, contemplating the condition of my life and wondering just where this is taking me.

I’m very fortunate that I have people in my life, specifically my wife and kids, who truly love me. They love me enough to tell me I need help and they want me to get it. Until I do, they’ve decided that for their own well being, they think living apart from me is the best thing for them right now.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Can Wreak Havoc on a Family

What a weird predicament. On the one hand, I support my family 100% in their desire to be in a more healthy environment. I’m actually glad they have chosen this for themselves because I love them and want what’s best for them. On the other hand, I also feel angry and abandoned. Even though they haven’t abandoned me, sitting alone in our home certainly makes me feel like I’m being abandoned.

I don’t blame them. Living with a person who has posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression can be an unpleasant place to be. The anger is always present, and is more aptly described as rage.

According to the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD), family relationships often suffer when PTSD is part of the relationship. This is because of PTSD symptoms that hinder the intimacy needed in healthy relationships. “The survivor's symptoms can make a loved one feel like he or she is living in a war zone or in constant threat of danger,” reads an NCPTSD fact sheet. Sometimes I explode. I don’t mean to. The PTSD symptoms seem involuntary, though I know I always have a choice.

I've Been "Getting Help" for a Long Time

Mental health relapse is always a possibility when one has PTSD and depression. In this article, a mental illness relapse and its effects are discussed.

They say I need to “get help.” I argue I’ve been “getting help” for years now. I’ve had hundreds of appointments with mental health professionals. I’ve consumed enough medication to single-handedly keep pharmaceutical companies wallowing in profits for years to come. I’ve had stays in the hospital, one stay for 16 weeks.

I’ve taken numerous classes, including an anger management course. I’ve read hundreds of books on mental health in an effort to understand this insidious pain I carry.

You’d think that with all that treatment experience, I’d be healthy. Wrong. I don’t know why but I’m in a crisis situation, and I’m holding on by my fingernails.

I have options. I can just give up completely and quit all treatment. It doesn’t seem to be working very well anyway. Or I can get back up and start fighting again. If past behavior is predictive of future behavior, I will continue to fight.

But this time is different. This time I almost don’t care either way. I’m sure that’s the depression talking.

I’m in a mental illness relapse. Again. My infirmities have become raw and the wound is open again. The same wound that made my family leave.

I’m going to get better for myself and for my family.

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APA Reference
Ehrmantrout, M. (2014, October 1). Anatomy of a Mental Health Relapse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Mike Ehrmantrout

Michelle Rafter
October, 2 2014 at 3:16 pm

I can totally relate to this mans suffering. After 35+ years of dealing with depression, anxiety mood disorder & PTSD, I've finally found a psych who has been able to provide me with an insight into why I'm like I am. The validation that what I'm suffering isn't "all in my head" & I can't possibly "snap out of it" as I've been told by ill informed people over the years, has given me some much hope! I know I will never be cured, but with support, I can learn to manage triggers thus thwarting the "fog" & reemerge into the light to fight another day.

Dr Musli Ferati
October, 4 2014 at 8:23 pm

Relapse of any mental illness indicates common course. It is the same with mental health statement. So, it is importance to be conscientious for this insidious relationship of mental health with two opposites edges. Between these two extreme boundaries there are numerous transition mental health condition with low and high global life assessment scale of functioning. The intention of current mental health care system is to improve this index to both categories of people: mentally ill patients and mentally health ones. It goes without saying, that the therapeutic approaching is different and specific for mentally ill subjects. In the end, psychiatric treatment is individually titration psychiatric intervention. It is importance to understand and implement the recommendation of current treatment of clinical psychiatry, as medical branch of mental health care.

Olivia gepner
October, 6 2014 at 1:15 pm

I also have PTSD. I have lived with it for over 10years now. 3 hospitalisations really hurt me and my family I also suffer from suicide ideation, which I manage from moment to moment, and have been treated for. The pain of it never goes away. It is with me always and has held me back especially in my working life. I have learnt through mindfulness and life to live each moment and be grateful. Riches have come from this. Anyway, I enjoy reading this and other blogs. I am also a psychologist so the inner perspective helps.

Lisa Boutin
October, 13 2014 at 11:58 am

Dear Mike, Your blog concerned me when you said you almost don't care either way. I would like you to check yourself into a hospital at this point as sometimes that is the only way to keep yourself safe for the moment as well as potentially getting some help that WILL make a difference to your future. All it can take is one savy consumer, nurse or doctor, a stranger who is kind, switching or altering medication(s),or rest in a safe place where you are not on your own (no matter how horrible it is to be around people in this state.)
Things can change. I have suffered with Bipolar, and suicidal ideation my whole life as well as getting PTSD. One savy doctor in the hospital changed my life in 2008 as I got additional diagnoses of ASpergers and PMDD. The medication for PMDD and the switching to another antidepressant saved my life and now I have been 2 whole years without the suicidal ideation or major depression. I have not been hospitalized since 2009. I am now 50 and have been on antidepressants since 16 and have seen what seems like an infinite amount of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and read a million books and searched websites blah, blah. They all missed the Aspergers and PMDD ! (by the way, Aspergers explained so much and the fact of the diagnoses makes me laugh.)
I value you for sharing on your blog. I hate that other people suffer at all. It doesn't matter how smart you are your brain is wired the way it is, be safe... Lisa P.S. I never write emails to strangers and am a total hermit so something in your blog got me to write.

March, 27 2015 at 10:58 am

all this talk about not getting angry sometimes it is justified i feel someone once told me it depends how much it hurts you in the heart that defines hoe angry you get to hold it in to my exsperience can make me depressed we have feelings so why are we hiding them one thing i do know when i say how i feel does not make me a threat this i know from inside;there is a diffrence between anger and violence

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