Unless you’ve walked the path of infertility, you may not appreciate how much courage and resilience it takes to keep “trying”.
For many people, the path to parenthood includes many challenging situations to “get through”, including losses, setbacks and disappointments.
‘I thought I was stronger than this’
At the start of our time together, many of the lovely women and men that I work with say ‘I’m not coping well ’. It is common for people struggling with infertility to say things like: ‘I don’t know why infertility is affecting me so badly’ or ‘I thought I was stronger than this’.
I help these people see just how much courage they have inside and how incredibly resilient they are.
You show courage every time you congratulate a friend who has just announced their pregnancy. Every time you try again after a negative pregnancy test you show resilience.
‘I feel like I’m turning into someone I don’t recognise’
It can sometimes feel as if the experience of infertility is “turning you into” someone you don’t recognise as yourself.
For example, I have heard so many women say that they can no longer see their pregnant best friend or sister.
These women feel the loss of that relationship. There is often also a powerful sense of shame at not being able to overcome feelings of sadness, anger or jealousy. It is sad to hear these lovely women say things like: ‘I used to be a nice person, what has happened to me?’
Highly emotive situations can “add fuel” to the inferno of anxiety. Unwanted feelings of guilt and thoughts about being a “terrible person” can creep in. It can even feel as if you’re “losing the plot” – which is a very uncomfortable place to be.
Please be assured that you are still “you”. You are not a terrible person and you are not “losing the plot”. This is a very hard time for you and you are human.
Here’s the science bit:
When we are stressed, the front cortex (which is the rational, logical and reasoning part of our brain) is not active.
The mid-brain is active. Our thinking comes from the limbic system, which is the “emotional” part of the brain.
This means that the lovely, sensible, rational and reasonable part of our brain is not available to us when we are stressed. We can only “think” from our emotional brain.
The “emotional part of our brain” is programmed to ONLY think in extremes. When thinking from our mid-brain, we can only think in a way that is “black and white”, “do or die” or “now or never”.
There is no compromise, no middle ground, no logic and no reasoning. And this is why you might find yourself thinking thoughts such as:
‘I can’t see my best friend now that she’s pregnant’
‘If this next IVF cycle doesn’t work it never will’
‘I’m a complete failure because I can’t get pregnant’
‘It’s because I drank coffee that my fertility treatment failed’
‘I’m going to leave my partner as I’ll get pregnant more easily with somebody else’
‘Life isn’t worth living if I don’t get pregnant’
‘I’m being punished for a termination I had years ago’
If you have ever found yourself thinking “extreme” thoughts similar to this: you are not a terrible person and you are not “losing the plot”. You are human and you are going through a really hard time. It is likely that you are far more stressed than you realize.
It feels so real
When stressed, we feel absolutely convinced by a particular train of thought. This is simply because the rational and reasoning part of our brain is not available.
We can’t see compromise or any “shades of grey”.
When infertility endures for months and years, the emotional part of the brain is active over a prolonged period of time. Extreme thinking begins to feel “normal”. It really can feel as if you are “turning into” someone that you don’t recognise as yourself.
Please be assured that you are not. It is more likely that you are trapped in the “vicious circle” of fertility stress.
The vicious circle of infertility stress
Infertility is stressful.
Stress activates the “emotional” brain.
The “emotional brain” can only think in extremes.
Extreme thinking leads us to say, do or decide things that have unwanted consequences.
The consequence of things “said or done” lead to feelings of regret, guilt, isolation, low mood and yet more stress
Stress activates the “emotional brain”.
And the cycle goes on and on and on…
You can break the cycle
Seeking help to reduce your stress levels is one of the greatest acts of self-care.
If you are struggling with infertility stress, I encourage you to reach out for help. There really is no shame in being stressed by fertility problems. Living with fertility problems IS stressful. I’ve been there and it can be really, really tough.
If you’d like to change unhelpful thinking styles RIGHT NOW, please download my free audio.
In less than 20 minutes this audio can return your whole mind-body system to pre-stress levels. When you return to pre-stress levels you SWITCH OFF “the emotional part of your brain”. The reasonable part of your brain is switched ON.
You can, quite literally, begin to feel like “you” again. Feelings of calm and a sense of control will return and your world can begin to look better.
For details of a breathing technique (that will turn the stress signals OFF in an instant) read this blog. This is a great technique to master because it is fast, effective and can be done anywhere.
It is not always easy (or even the best idea) to “soldier on” alone
Good, therapeutic support can be of enormous benefit to women and couples struggling to conceive. With the best will in the world, it is not always easy to resolve complex feelings or habitual thinking styles on our own.
If you would like to explore working with me in person or online, then please do drop me a line as I would love to hear from you. I absolutely guarantee you a warm welcome and a non-judgemental and supportive space.
You can contact me here
With best wishes