Cheers, dear readers,
As we discussed in a previous post, midlife can be a major stress-filled phase in this journey we all find ourselves on called life. For those who are afflicted, adding infertility to the mix can send even the most emotionally strong person into a tailspin that can be extremely difficult to stop. Here at Slow Swimmers & Fried Eggs, we are committed to supporting you on your infertility journey any way that we can – and that includes helping you navigate mental and emotional health and wellness. When dealing with the stresses of infertility treatment, it is extremely important to keep your eyes and ears open to the signs in your own life when a crisis that may lead to depression is on the horizon. We hope that you can love yourself enough to then take steps to alter this negative path and find ways to get on a path to wellness and a more positive mental state.
While age and dealing with challenges may bring wisdom, it can also bring with it complicated issues and feelings that can seem overwhelming. This can lead to midlife stress and, if not handled, to a middle age depression. As Eric and I were in the aftermath of failed IVF treatment, we were doing our best to carry on with our lives. But truth to be told, underneath the facade of productivity and normalcy, we were not fulling comprehending the amount of grief, sadness and loneliness we felt. Being in a world where parenting and raising children is the defacto way to live – a sign of success and prosperity even – it can be daunting to face the possibility of being childless. Depression for me came on very slowly, like a sneaky, slithering snake making its way into your home and your psyche. I found that I was engulfed in overwhelming sad, confusing as well as disruptive feelings. One moment I’d be fine and “faking it”, another I’d be having a total meltdown again. The sense of isolation and loneliness is extremely debilitating as well. I felt that no one understood my unique pain and shattered dreams. I didn’t want to burden my friends with my woeful feelings, and I didn’t believe they could help me anyway. They were all busy planning birthday parties for their adorable children, gleefully sharing anecdotes and tidbits of how to best raise a family, and excitedly planning baby showers. As happy and thrilled as I was for them and their growing families, I was equally feeling sorry for myself, and confused as to why this fate had befallen me, and what in the world was I supposed to do next? I had also become quite used to listening to insensitive comments and remarks, as well as receiving unsolicited advice that only served to send me further down the path of feeling misunderstood and brushed aside. My pain was being ignored and shoved under the carpet… by both myself and everyone around me. That’s an awful feeling.
I remember very distinctly a day that I knew that something was very wrong with my mental state, and that perhaps I needed outside help. Eric and I had been busy building a beautiful, gorgeous home of our dreams. We purposely chose a house that we thought could be lovely for us whether we eventually had children through adoption or decided to live a different sort of life without children (though that concept confused me at the time, because I did not fully understand what that meant). Eric had acquired a hot tub years ago with my encouragement back when we were just dating. And our deck at our new home was adorned with this amazing yet small luxury. I was by myself in the hot tub gazing up at the sky on an absolutely gorgeous, sunny spring day… and I was balling my eyes out sobbing uncontrollably. It was surreal and I didn’t quite recognize who I was in that moment, or what I could do to comfort or soothe myself. I was a complete mess. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. But I thought: WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME? Here I am living in this beautiful home, sitting in what most would consider a relaxing and luxurious hot tub, looking up at a gorgeous sunny sky, married to an amazingly loving and supportive man, and lastly had what most would consider a prestigious, exciting job and career. Yet here I was, balling my eyes out with tears streaming down my face sitting in a pool of water. How ironic. How pathetic. How depressing. That’s when I realized… that’s it. Sadly, maybe I’m depressed! This is not normal behavior. I knew it was not healthy. And this realization only made me more sad and afraid for myself. I knew these feelings of sadness and desperation as well as isolation weren’t going to go away by themselves. I needed help… It would take me several more months to seek it out though, but eventually I did walk myself into therapy.
I don’t want this to happen to you, dear readers. I want you to be able to recognize signs of depression if they start to manifest in your own life. Here are some signs to keep on the lookout for, both for yourself and your spouse:
– Extreme changes in eating habits
– Consistently fatigued and exhausted
– Change in sleeping patterns
– A feeling of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
– Irritable, restless or unexpected bouts of anger
– Thoughts or attempts of suicide
– Decrease or increase in desire and ambition
– Compulsion for alcohol or drugs
– Desire for a sexual affair
– Feeling overwhelmingly trapped by responsibilities, such as financial, family and job
– Consistent desire to run away from responsibilities
– Doing things out of character that could lead to trouble
Having a bout with depression, regardless of any age, could require professional support. Rash decisions made while clinically depressed could have devastating effects on relationships, financial stability and overall health. This is one of the reasons that Eric and I did not make any major decisions about adoption at this time. Also being depressed makes difficult tasks – such as navigating the process of adoption – seem absolutely and completely impossible to achieve. Addressing overwhelming feelings of sadness, frustration and anger as well as coping challenges with a medical doctor can be an important first step in fighting depression. I know firsthand how awful and sorrowful this experience can be. I don’t want to see any of Conceive Hospital’s patients suffer unnecessarily. Help is out there. Know that you are not alone.
Please join us next week to hear more about our personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.
This post is also available in: Arabic