Mental health stepped into the spotlight this week for many after two deaths by celebrities attributed to suicide. With that, I have a few things to offer as to why this is important for the infertility community to take notice now. Right now.
When I heard the news of Kate Spade’s death, I admit I didn’t have a strong connection with her or her products but I knew the name. When I heard of Anthony Bourdain’s death today, I couldn’t remember exactly what his deal was but I new it had something to do with food. Both of these examples might be proof of how far removed I am at times from pop culture but I knew one thing to be absolutely true about each of them: they were suffering.
Suffering is not exclusive to any attribute about you, your economic status, your race, your career or your physical ability. Suffering has to do with your mental ability to navigate the circumstances life presents to you. When things are hard, when situations are uncomfortable, how do you show up? How do you deal with it?
For a lot of people it is through external means with things like food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc. You name it, if it gives your brain a temporary dopamine hit it feels way better than that heavy, sinking feeling you’re carrying around with you for thinking you are not good enough, smart enough, rich enough, or capable enough to stand tall and proud in this world. To fix those negative feelings you start buffering and you look for external answers to solve your internal problems. No matter what you do those external answers are always fleeting, temporary, and never give you the results you really want.
I see buffering a lot with my clients, particularly as it is followed by feelings of inadequacy, which is rampant in the infertility community. Navigating my own infertility experience brought up all of the thoughts that made me feel less-than other women. For someone that considered herself pretty mentally sound before infertility, I can tell you that experience tested everything about my mental health. It tested all of the things I believed about myself, my ability and my body. I walked through the difficult moments completely unprepared in the beginning, buffering in many ways to avoid the negative emotions that came my way in waves every day.
What was I trying so hard to avoid? Emotional pain. I was trying to avoid all of the thoughts my brain was presenting to me to justify the “Why me?” question that surfaced with every pregnancy announcement on Facebook or every cycle day 1. In the beginning I didn’t know that the suffering was optional. I thought it was necessary. I was wrong.
Emotional pain is never necessary. It is completely optional because it stems from our thoughts, something we have complete control over. Through a lot of reading, searching, and growing I learned how to manage my mind and my emotions to the point where I am fully able to feel and process negative emotions without reacting or responding to them. That is what I teach my clients to do now.
Living with the emotional pain of infertility is like being crushed under the weight of your own thoughts. Learning how to manage your thinking and process negative emotions offers you the mental freedom to move forward in life towards your goals. Suffering happens when you don’t know how to do that.
Rather than thinking the only way to have peace is after death, I implore you, you can have peace right now. Even during difficult times like infertility. It is entirely possible to learn a different way to navigate those negative emotions instead of buffering to temporarily feel better.
I’m always available to talk to anyone that is suffering with the emotional pain of their infertility experience. Email me directly if that’s you.