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Turning depression around

Snakes and ladders (without the ladders)

There’s nothing fun about depression.  It’s not an engaging pastime to be dipped into at leisure, but rather can feel like a board game on which we play over and over again.

One thing I’ve come to accept is that recovery for me will be a game of snakes and ladders for a substantial part of my life.  However, no matter how vehemently I believe it when I slip down an unforeseen snake, I’ll never be back at square one.

Square one is ignorance: ignorance of the illness and the fact that I’m affected by it.  I know that I suffer from depression, and that I most probably will for the rest of my life, to a greater or lesser extent at any given time.  In acknowledging that, I know that square one is a place I will never revisit.

What happens with the next roll of the dice is anyone’s guess.  The first time we play the game, there are no ladders on the board, no shortcuts.  The hard work must begin from scratch.  We  might move forwards quickly, rolling consecutive sixes, or the journey onwards and upwards may be slower and steadier with only ones or twos.  Accepting our own pace is key:  setting expectations or demands for an immediate  or faster “fix” creates pressure that sets us back before we even encounter the shortest of snakes.

Similarly, the snakes may set us back only a few squares, or from within fingertip reach of our goal to not quite the beginning of our quest.  What we do at the bottom of the tail is our choice.  We can coil up and resolve to never roll the dice again, or we can shed our skin and start over, this time with the knowledge of how to incorporate a few strategic ladders that we know work for us.

Our rungs are our lifelines.  They are unique to us, and what works for me may not work for you.  Our willingness and ability to cling onto them will vary, and even when we know where they are, we can stand in our own way at times.  The awareness of these ladders and how to implement them keeps us ahead of square one and lends a sense of control that is missing when we navigate the board for the first time.

We roll the dice, but life may load them against us.  Ladders are our prize; snakes are the downfalls that lead us to them.  Sitting the game out gets us nowhere.  The only choice we have if we want to live this life is to keep rolling.

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