Everyone has good days and bad days. Everyone has ups and downs. It’s obvious when a friend or someone you’re close to is in a down, right? A successful, upbeat woman couldn’t possibly be depressed, could she? I wish it were that simple. I wish things were easy. I wish that when someone asked if I were okay, or what’s wrong, that I had an answer. Any answer, other than “I’m fine”.
Infertility feels like being in the ocean. It feels like you’re floating, being rocked by forces far beyond your control, praying that you have the will to keep treading water for just a little bit longer. There are periods in the journey where the sea is calm. It doesn’t go away, it is just a bit more at bay. You have time to stop, look at the sky, enjoy the breeze. But there is no way to truly prepare for the waves and storms that will do their best to drown you with vigor.
It’s much easier to recognize when you’re in a peak or trough.
The trough – the water is shallow. You can keep standing. Yes… you know there are waves on either side of you. But it’s okay. You can handle this. You go on with your life with an annoyance, that damn water keeps lapping at your ankles. But it’s manageable.. until it isn’t anymore. It’s like the frog in boiling water. If you take a frog and put it in a pot of water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog will keep increasing it’s body temperature and will not recognize that it is being boiled alive. When you’re in a trough you don’t realize that the water is rising until all of a sudden you’re treading water.
The other extreme is the peak of the wave. These are the bad days. These are the days that the waves knock you off of your feet and there is no other description other than you feel as if you’re drowning. You would give anything to just be able to breathe for more than a second at a time. It’s simply exhausting, treading water, but for how long? That depends. It depends on where you are in your journey. For me, most of the peaks are for a day at a time… today, I’m at a peak. But for some people these can last days, weeks, or even months at a time. And sometimes the waves just keep crashing.
The most dangerous times are the between times. In the between times everyone thinks you’re okay. Often in the between times even you think you’re okay. You go to work and are able to perform well. You go to functions with friends and family and are able to have fun and laugh like everything is okay. But when you get home and the world stops running at top speed everything just stops. Your mind stops, your body stops, and you just feel… empty. You get home and you can’t do anything. You want to, but you just can’t. You stop sleeping. You feel anxious about things that you typically wouldn’t feel anxious about. You feel insecure, especially with the people closest to you. But to everyone else… you’re okay.
Depression is as common in cases of infertility as it is in patients with cancer, HIV, and AIDs. High functioning depression, the “between times” slowly drown you, like the boiling frog.
So how do you not be the frog?
Talk to your friends and family. Tell them when you have bad days. As hard as it is, don’t try to cover it up. And if you aren’t completely open with your journey, find a group that you can relate to. I am very fortunate to have a group of online ladies that I can vent to. I would be lost without them. You may need to seek the help of a therapist or a doctor for help with depression. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help.
Find something to blow off steam. For me, this is going to the gym. Even today I was able to go and work off frustrations. What makes you feel more like you? Go for a walk, go to the park, paint, read, take a bath, do what you need to do to make you feel like YOU again.
Be honest with yourself. This is something that I personally struggle with. Am I okay? Of course I am. I’m tough. I don’t need anyone. But.. I do. And I am truly blessed to have people that care about me. I have an incredible support system. It’s completely acceptable to admit when you aren’t okay. It is okay to not be okay, and sometimes the hardest part it admitting it. And that’s okay, okay?
Whatever you do, don’t lose the spark that makes you… you. It is easier to lose it than you think. Be open to that voice outside your head reminding you to stay positive when the one within feels lost.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, and you must have hope we will make it to that island.