Tips To Staying Mentally Healthy During Infertility
I’m here to say, you’re not going crazy. You’re not being a drama queen. You’re not overreacting. Going through infertility is physically and emotionally challenging. Well documented research has shown that going through infertility FEELS like a life crisis. These feelings can be as deep as someone going through cancer treatments or a divorce or grieving the loss of a loved one. Feelings can range from shock and denial (what do you mean our cycle failed?) to utter sadness and grief to anger (why do they get to have a baby and not me?) to fear (what if it never happens?). Recycle and repeat. I often tell clients: Big picture - this is out of your control. Ahh, but what about the little picture? What is in your control? To put it another way, if we look too far into the future, we can experience anxiety. If we look too far into the past, we can experience depression. So by default, the only area you truly have control over is the present moment. The present moment is the only place you can take action and have some sense of control.
Journaling -Write It Out!
One of the best things I can suggest while going through infertility is to journal. I’m not talking about a public blog. I’m talking about a simple notebook where you can be you. A space where you can write all your thoughts and feelings without having to edit. Without having to worry what your readers will think. Ideally, writing for 15 to 20 minutes at a time helps to get out your most pressing thoughts and feelings. Hold nothing back. If you’re worried someone is going to read these dark thoughts, then rip, shred or burn up the entry. The point is to write it out. We know from research that your beautiful brain likes to put it down on pen and paper because it’s cathartic. It gets it out so you can focus on other aspects of your daily life.
Make A List Of Your Values
Another thing you can do is write out a list of valued centered actions you can take while going through your infertility journey. Think about your values. Your values are a reflection of what is most important to you. What gives you meaning? What type of person do you want to be? What do you want to stand for in this life? How do you want to feel and behave? Once you have an idea of these things, then make a list of activities you can do that closely line up with these values. For example, if you value laughter, go see a funny movie or read a funny blog. We know from mental health research that when you live your life as closely in line with your values, you have a more satisfying life. Notice, a satisfying life. Not necessarily happy all the time…but satisfying.
Talk to Someone You Trust
Talk to someone who has earned your trust and who gets it. Sharing your most vulnerable self with another can be hard, but certainly worth the effort. The only thing is before you start sharing your deepest feelings, make sure it is with someone you trust. Someone who will allow you to vent, cry, or scream out loud without judgment, without trying to fix it or you. This may be a trusted friend, colleague, and professional counselor or fertility support group.
Remember Your Partner/Spouse
They, too, are having a rough time with infertility. Often partners/spouses don’t know what to do or say. They want to take away your pain but they don’t know how to…so guide them. Tell them what words he/she can say and what actions he/she can take to support you. Also remember to hang on to your couple hood as you go through infertility. Go do something you use to enjoy doing as a couple and remember, both of you are more than your fertility. Do something you would like to do before you become parents. Keeping a connection with your partner/spouse is a skill that will not only help you through infertility but also when transitioning to parenthood.
It’s Your Journey- Don’t Compare!
Lastly, stay in your own lane. Hearing other people’s infertility stories or advice can be helpful but if you find yourself panicking or comparing or ruminating about their outcome, remember your journey is yours. Your body is unique. Your doctor and treatment team have your best interest at heart. As a professional in the field, we are all on “team baby”. We all want to see your family building dreams come true.
Thank you Alison for being a guest blogger this month. For more info you can find Dr. Wilson at www.alisonwilsonphd.com.
About Dr. Alison Wilson
Dr. Alison Wilson is one of only a handful of mental health specialist trained in reproductive health counseling in the Denver area. Through her close working relationships with fertility clinics, she has provided hundreds of individuals and couples guidance and support as they explore all family building options. She also helps women with other areas of their reproductive lives including PMS, high risk pregnancies, miscarriage and pregnancy loss, pregnancy terminations, post-partum depression, and menopause adjustment. Dr. Wilson is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and she is a board member of the Colorado Fertility Advocates (CFA).
If you are struggling with infertility and are ready to take the next step in your fertility journey call Denver Fertility at 720-420-1570 or contact us on our website.