Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Infertility And Depression

You know how the song goes..."First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage!"  This doesn't ring true for everyone out there, and the results can be literally depressing.

Diagnosed infertility is on the rise, and affects 1 in every 5 women.  While is it completely normal to feel terrible sadness surrounding infertility issues, depression goes deeper, lingers, attacks.  You're reminded of it when you go to baby showers, when a friend announces her pregnancy, when you see countless photos of your friend's children on social media sites.  While treatments can be helpful to some, they aren't always affordable for others, and this can cause depression symtoms to worsen, thinking there is no way to get pregnant.

When dealing with hormones it can be awfully tricky to undestand the difference between sadness and depression. 

Signs of depression include:

  • Sadness that lasts for weeks or months
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Frequent crying or tearing up
  • Frequently irritated or intolerant of others around you, specifically people who you used to enjoy being around
  • Lack of motivation, struggling to get work done at the office or around the home
  • Difficulty sleeping, either sleeping too much or unable to sleep well (insomnia)
  • Difficulty with eating, either overeating or experiencing low appetite
  • Struggling with experiencing pleasure in life, including a low interest in sex
  • Frequent feelings of anxiety or worry
  • Thoughts of dying, self-harm, or suicide (If you're considering taking your own life, please get help immediately!!)
Part of this blog post comes from Marie, one of the "Win A Baby" winners from Hot 89.9's 2011 contest, where couples applied to be lucky receipients of IVF treatments.  This is Marie's story:

"It's hard to get myself back into the headspace I was in before my daughter, Faith, was born. When I look at her now, I feel such an all encompassing joy, that it's hard for me to imagine there was a time when I described the way I felt as "numb to joy". It's the best way I can describe how I ended up feeling after struggling with infertility in the years leading up to her birth.
Infertility took me by surprise. It sent me into denial, it took me for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster that seemed to have no direction. "I am young, this does not happen to people my age" I found myself saying, over and over, in my head. Just a bit more time. A bit more time became a year, and then two, and then three and four. In this time, my husband and I had been to see many doctors, undergone many tests, answered many questions, and yet our biggest one took that long to answer .... "why can't we have a baby"?

Because I held out hope that one day I would get pregnant, and prayed that hopefully the magnitude of unpleasant feelings I felt during our struggle to "have Faith" ( in more ways than one) would slowly disappear from my mind, and from my heart, I kept a journal during that time. I didn't intend for it to be something negative that would induce feelings of sadness in me when I looked back at it. I intended it to be something that, if I was ever blessed enough to have a baby, I could look back at and feel an amazing amount of gratitude that my child exists after such a heartache. I feel that the best way to paint a picture of how infertility made me feel, is to share one of those journals. It's something I never imagined to be public, but with the rising rates of infertility, I am sure there are women out there right now who feel exactly the way I did when I wrote it.

" Sometimes the time, the years I have spent hoping and praying and trying don't seem real because I have trouble believing this is happening to us. All of the many times I have allowed myself to hope for the best only to be let down and somehow I still hope. I feel my hope is running out now like a battery losing it's charge and the light is dimming. I don't know how to pray anymore for something that doesn't want to come true for me. I know that people feel sorry for me and I feel watched and pitied and it adds to my hurt. I want to not hurt anymore. I want to believe that I'm not being selfish when I regret that this is my life right now. I want people to know that I am not ungrateful in any way. I just want to not hurt. I want to be able to lay in bed at night without wanting a baby so badly that it turns my stomach in knots when I remember my reality. My daydreams drift me off to a place where my dreams have come true, and when I remember that those dreams just won't come true for me my heart breaks, over and over again. I don't know if I can count how many times I have broken my own heart this way, and I don't know how to stop. I don't know how to stop dreaming of holding my own baby in my arms, I can't even imagine what that would feel like because it seems it will never be mine. I want to be able to get through a day without hearing about some unwanted, unplanned pregnancy that makes me want to scream in anger. I want to not be angry that an unfit mother gets pregnant by accident when I will likely have to pay big money to even have a hope in the world. I want to know how to let my anger go, it's eating away at my soul, at who I am and I don't want to lose myself in this. I want to know how to pray for my dreams to come true without feeling like I'm praying into nothingness. I just want to believe".  - Marie

Marie took to writing to express her feelings during the depression she faced, alongside of the infertility issues - an excellent outlet for depression.  Baby Faith was born on November 11, 2012 to Marie & her husband Chris, and is an amazingly beautiful girl with quite the personality. 

What can you do to help battle this depression?

  • Exercise.  Getting even 30 minutes a day will stimulate endorphins and  your physical well-being
  • Eat well.  Eating a proper diet helps with energy and increases mobility
  • Creative outlet.  As Marie did, she wrote out her feelings. Writing, singing, dancing, running, are all positive ways to get your emotions out
  • Aim for 6-8 hours of solid sleep every night
  • Join a group for individuals facing the same problem.  There are strength in numbers, and you may find that you have new friends and hope through others
  • Speak with your doctor or medical professional

Chances are, you know someone or know someone who knows someone facing the same infertility issues - and our volunteers are here for you, at any time day or night to talk, to listen, to support you in your journey.  You can call day, or night, when you are down, or have questions, or are looking for a community referral.  We're here for you.

When we say that any issue you are facing is worth talking about, we really mean it.  If you know someone who is experiencing depression from infertility, please pass along our 24/7 confidential phone line to them: 613-238-3311.

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