When faced with infertility, women are typically isolated as it is. According to the CDC, 6% of women have infertility. On top of that, it is not a topic most women, men, or couples talk much about with others. Facing infertility can be depressing as well as anxiety-producing as it is, and then it seems like everyone around you is getting pregnant. And just when you think it can’t get worse, you are invited to another baby shower.
When you are not able to talk about your experience and feelings in wanting so badly to have a baby, and feeling so disappointed, sad, hurt, scared, ashamed…….you are most likely going to add to your depression and anxiety. It is essential for you to have a safe place and safe person/people to share with. You need a community or a tribe around you!
The top four reasons I hear from folks for not talking about their infertility experience (whether the reasons are true or not):
1. People don’t understand.
2. People get tired of hearing me be sad/anxious/obsessed.
3. My husband/partner does not want me sharing with other people.
4. **This is not one that is readily realized, though comes with some digging.**
Shame and vulnerability researcher Dr. Brené Brown says shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging. And when you feel shame, you are more likely to isolate and become depressed and anxious (can also present like anger). But here’s the thing, as Brené Brown points out through her research, shame can only exist with secrets. And here’s another thing, your experience of shame, and likely your experience of depression and anxiety, are greatly diminished when met with understanding and empathy. It only takes one person to help you unload all that shame.
I encourage you to find someone you can talk to who “gets it.” It could be a family member, old or new friend, a therapist or counselor, pastor, online support group/forum, or a live in-person group. Resolve has resources for both peer and professionally-led support groups all over the country. No matter which one you choose, just find a tribe that will fit you.
If you are interested in a live in-person group, the benefits cover all the bases:
1. You are likely to feel understood and cared about.
2. People in the group will not tire of hearing about your anxiety, depression or obsession. They get it!
3. It is confidential (particularly with professionally-led support groups)
Remember that shame can exist only in the darkness of a secret, not in the light of understanding and empathy. Shame increases the chances of feeling depressed and anxious, which, in turn, leads to psychological and physical stress. In addition to just plain feeling really, really crappy, these conditions are not considered optimal for conceiving a baby. So, please find a tribe. Your tribe. Just for you.
If you are interested in joining a live group, feel free to look here for more information if you are in the local area (North County San Diego: Especially accessible to Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Valley Center, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Mountain, and 4S Ranch).
If you or you together with your partner would like more one-on-one support or couples counseling, and you are interested in working with Rachael Stracka, LCSW, please visit the Services menu for more information.