How Recovery From Postpartum Depression Is Like Playing Chutes & Ladders

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postpartum depression recoveryHave you ever played the children’s board game Chutes & Ladders?

As players move through the game, they advance along the board, sometimes skipping ahead several spaces by landing on a ladder and sometimes falling behind several spaces by landing on a chute.

I like to describe recovery from postpartum depression and anxiety as being like a game of Chutes & Ladders. For a while you’ll be moving along nicely, maybe even having such a great day that you feel you’ve shot forward to the end. You’ve reached out for treatment, you’ve been doing what you’re supposed to do and you are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then, for whatever reason, you fall back into a hole of despair. A bad day, or a string of bad days, hits and you become convinced that you’ll never get better.

Setbacks are a completely normal part of recovery from postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD. I can’t tell you how many women I hear from who are worried about them and want to find out if other women experience them. The answer is a resounding yes. I can’t tell you that I know exactly why they happen, because I’m still not very clear on the intricacies of brain healing, but I do know they happen all the time. I also know that they don’t last and that you should never give up.

If you just keep going, despite temporary obstacles, you’ll realize the same thing that pre-school players of Chutes & Ladders learn: No matter what happens, the players always make it to the end of the game.

 

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Love it! So relateable!

  2. Amber @Beyond Postpa says:

    Very cool analogy!

  3. Such a great analogy–I have setbacks all the time and you're right, it does feel like they're never going to end and I'm never going to get better. It's funny how we can feel great for weeks on end and then one bad day comes and boom, we're miserable and life sucks and will never be better. Hopefully next time I'm having an episode I'll remember Chutes and Ladders. :)

  4. So very true. I had a serious chute issue a couple of days ago and thankfully I remembered that I have wonderful friends that I could call for a rope ladder. I'm back on the board!

  5. thanks for normalizing what so many of your readers have gone through and are currently going through! Myself included.

  6. Are you inside my head today? Just this morning I was imagining myself "backsliding" with a visual of a playground slide in my head. Your analogy is much better. Thanks. :)

  7. I remember this well!! My therapist described it as a stock chart that has jagged ups and downs. Even if it ends on a high, it took some ups and downs to get there. It got me through those rough days when I'd think "maybe I'm NOT getting better". But I was, the bad day(s) was just a hiccup in the process.

  8. Ugh setbacks suck hard and it is very difficult at times to look beyond the setback and to actually see how far you've come and know that you can make it there again. I have to remind myself that it's one day at a time. Today may suck, but tomorrow's a new day…a new roll at the dice if you will.
    Don't give up that hope ladies.
    Great analogy!!

  9. I especially appreciate this topic because my shrink (who doles out medication and asinine advice) told me that I should be treating my "recovery" from chronic depression (and dysthmia) as a full-time job. Which is great advice, but I'm not sure what recovery looks like.

  10. Thanks so much for this.i am from england and my son is 7 months old.i have suffered from horrific postnatal anxiety.i was hospitalised in a psychiatric mother and baby unit that help women with postpartum illness.i could not le on my own,be near my son,not get out of bed for days on end and had a horrific feeling of doom over me everyday.i thought i would never ever recover.but i am now on medication and have had a lot of therapy and am on road to recovery.i loved the analogy of chutes and ladders.

  11. I love that analogy, it is so true….That is how it has been for me for about a year and a half now…Waiting to get to that finish line, lol…Thanks

  12. Amen! I had been having a wonderful week and then today was just not as great as the other days. But I'll take one bad day for ten good days, better then what I was having, no good days. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train! :-)

  13. Yes. I love this analogy, too! The first time you may go flying off the chute, completely blindsided- wondering who pushed you. And maybe even the second and third.
    But learn from those slides and start to recognize what is happening before or as you start to slip: anxiety, paranoia, crying, blaming, anger, intrusive thoughts, or whatever other warning signs you may recognize.
    Once you identify the "blame" isn't external, it's an internal treatable condition that needs to be addressed- again. Starting to slip is the time to put in that call to the therapist, go for a run, ask hubby to handle the kiddos for the night so you can get some sleep or whatever helps you.
    And keep climbing back up that ladder.
    Love it, Katherine.

  14. Chrissie says:

    This is particularly helpful to me now because I recently tried to get off of my medication after 6 months of treatment. Things were going great…I even saw characteristics of myself that I have been missing (laughing more, more energetic with the kids), but, alas, I started having major sleep issues and my anxiety shot through the roof after a couple of weeks. Needless to say I jumped back on the medication train and am now waiting for it to get back into my system and take effect. So discouraging!! Its easy at this moment to believe I’m stuck with this evil, but reading this website really gives me hope that I will get out of this some day.

  15. Johanna says:

    Thanks for this. I should probably read this post every day!

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  1. […] You will go along fine for a while and then have a setback and be shocked and worried about it. Setbacks are common. They are not a sign that you will never get better. They are just setbacks. You will get past […]