Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Join the movement. Hide in a cave.


I wanted to name this post: "living in a parellel reality". But it's Infertility awareness week and the prompt for people writing about it is 'join the movement'. I don't know why they would choose such a theme, because I would bet no one would ever be going through this by choice. Sometimes I wish I could just hide. Make it all disappear. Make it stop consuming my mind. Infertility can be a very, very dark place. I find myself constantly fighting with it, trying to stop it from controlling my thoughts. I know how easy it is to spiral down if for one second I dare listen to the voices, to wallow and feed the negativity, to dwell on it. Like a dark hole attracts matter, it sucks you and sinks you right in. Going through infertility is like being suspended in time, locked in a glass cage while you see life continue everywhere around you. It is like being in an alternative universe while all the while being submerged in the one everyone else seems to be living in. It is like having bipolar-disease or schizophrenia. Constantly going up (because forcing yourself up is the only way to continue) only to be pushed down, every month.

"Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The "mood swings" between mania and depression can be very quick."*

Yes, that would be me. Except I have to fight hard not to peek down the rabbit hole too long, I'm afraid I could stay there, not be able to escape.


Sometimes I wonder if my obsession with fairy tales, quantum physics (black holes!) and mental disease (I had a phase where all I would read were journals and treaties about madness) were preparation for this. I always felt drawn to stories where the characters found a way into another world, starting early with 'Sylvanian families' where every chapter a little kid became really small, went through a tree and ended up in the other side, on a magical world of talking animals. Then I discovered 'The chronicles of Narnia', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Stardust', 'Hopscotch', 'The Snow Queen',  'The little mermaid'. All stories in where there are two worlds, coexisting amongst each other. That's how infertility feels. Except you are trapped on one side, forced to slowly let go of so many things you wished for, while watching life unfold on the other side. At some point last year there were simultaneously 3 pregnant girls at the office. I remember having to lock myself in the bathroom to cry because I couldn't handle it.

Please, please don't get this wrong. If I have learnt anything by going through this is that every single pregnancy is a miracle, it deserves celebration. I am genuinely able to feel joy for my friends and family who find themselves expecting a baby. I share their happiness. It's just that I have become very good at making myself believe that although our path is different, we will get there. I am kind of an expert at being aware of the good, at staying optimist and positive and at building a protective bubble around me, keeping myself busy and happy. But lately my bubble keeps getting broken and I am faced against the harsh realization that our situation is weird, that we are not the norm, that this path is a lonely, isolated one. I feel left out, robbed of my dreams, wondering how this will all end, wishing for a happy ending that seems further away with every second that passes.

To learn more about the disease click here. To learn about National Infertility awareness week click here. 

*From theNational library of medicine.
**Image found on pinterest (sadly, it doesn't link to the original source).

24 comments:

  1. Many hugs and much love. I think of you a lot. You can email me any time, I will DM you my email address on twitter x

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    1. Thanks so much Donna. Same goes here. I will email you. And I constantly think about you, wishing this will be over soon for both of us (and anyone who's going through it).

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  2. I'd like to join the movement. The movement you yourself are describing, of constantly fighting your way up, despite things working to push you back down.

    Maybe that is precisely why the organisation gave this prompt - to make it a rallying cry for the people who struggle and fight to stay 'up'. To give them a way to call on those around them to rush to their aid and support them. To say a word and have those others form a loving circle or a protective wall of care and friendship around them when they need it because their dreams seem so unfulfillable.

    There is very little that an 'other' person can do, when someone close to them struggles with fertility. Still, I think it is important that we try. That we try to listen, to hug, to distract, or whatever else the person going through this struggle needs. In that sense, yes, I think people need to join your movement. I think we all need to be ready to help you go 'up'.

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    1. Oh Pluis, thank you so much for this. It means more than you know.
      And sometimes,being listened to, distracted or hugged can make all the difference. Definitely being able to share it, to talk about it is a huge deal. I wish there was less stigma associated with it and more understanding. But we're getting there (if we share our struggles, which can be very hard in the first place).

      Thanks, thanks.

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  3. Leyendo este post en especial y pensando sobre el nombre de la campaña, me han dado muchas ganas de ponerme a pensar y tal vez escribir una columna al respecto, desde un lado que no lo vive, que lo ve en las otras personas y que sí cree, o creo, que este asunto de que sea algo de lo que no se habla, algo que no se dice, algo que hace sentir mal socialmente, es milenario, hay libros y obras de teatro basadas en ello, el tabú de que la mujer siempre era "culpable" hasta hace unas cuántas décadas, yo creo que no hay culpables y que lo de la caverna me suena bastante mal, pero iré a mirar la campaña y luego te cuento qué ideas salieron.

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    1. Tienes razón, hay que hablar de estos temas. Por un lado, al pasar por esto, te sientes sola, aislada. Sólo al compartirlo descubres que no eres la única pero es algo que se dice sólo "tras bambalinas", se murmura. Es el miedo al estigma, a ser juzgada por algo que ni siquiera es tu "culpa", como bien dices, no hay culpables, y sin embargo, así lo pareciera.
      Gracias por escribir sobre esto!

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  4. A parallel universe is an apt description.

    "Join the movement" is an odd prompt. Dealing with fertility issues is not a movement anyone wants to be part of, and it's a club I think every member of desperately wants to leave.

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    1. Yeah, I really did not know how to start. I think they meant it as in "Join the movement: don't be quiet, talk about it" because so much of it is a silent condition and the fact that its not openly discussed makes it all the more difficult.

      It really does feel like we've been extracted from the world... put on hold, to wait in a limbo state.

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  5. This breaks my heart every time... sigh... You are in my thoughts and prayers!

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    1. Thank you so much Tania. It means a lot.

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  6. Since I am unable to say anything helpful (I haven't been there) I will just offer a big hug, lots of love, and my hopes that this will be over soon. I've heard this is a wonderful book: http://www.silentsorority.com/

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    1. Thanks so so much Marcela, your constant support, thoughts, energy is very important and means more than you know. Thanks for the recommendation. I will check it out.

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  7. 1) I used to love sylvanian families too! We have very similar taste in fiction.

    2) I love the Dorothy and Alice pic that you've used to illustrate this post. Love it.

    3) Feeling like you're in a parallel universe is *exactly* how infertility can feel, and sometimes the hardest part of that is the difficulty others have in understanding what it's like, just how soul-crushing it can be. It's like that parallel universe also has it's own language that seems like gibberish to those who inhabit the 'normal' world. One of the things I've felt most robbed of (besides the chance to easily have kids of my own), is feeling a part of others' joy. It's always somehow like there's this big party, everyone's happy and smiling, and all you can do is look in through the window, where you're standnig in the cold and dark. A really helpful post Amanda, especially for those who have never experienced it. Thank you and hugs to you my friend.

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    1. I saw that picture and I fell in love with it.

      Sylvaninan families were the best, I even had some of the little dolls ( I think elephant, bunny and bear families).

      And yes, this is like watching the party from outside, but not being invited to it. It feels like being excluded by the mean girls. Of course there is no such a thing, but it does feel like we are constantly left behind.

      Thanks for your constant support and hugs to you as well.

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    2. I had the bunny family!

      Being excluded by the mean girls is *exactly* how this feels. :(

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  8. I love everything about this post. Not even sure where to begin. So here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
    -I love that you used the Alice/Dorothy picture for this post. Wonderful.
    -I love the "down the rabbit hole" metaphor. I too was obsessed with books like Narnia and other books where there is an escape into another world. I now want to read the Sylvanian families.
    -I once took a course called The Literature of Mental Illness. Nonfiction novels written by or about people suffering from different disorders. I loved it.
    -I think you portrayed the oxymoron of "joining the movement" very well. It's complicated. You portrayed the importance of support and acknowledgement but also not over-looking the hard stuff associated with it. Nicely done.

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    1. :) I am glad you liked it so much. Your class on Mental Illness sounds super interesting. Did you read David Cooper? M.A. Sechehaye? Sybil? Recently I loved The Marriage Plot because of its descriptions of bipolar disease / depression.

      Thanks. Thanks for being here and thanks for your support.

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    2. These all sound fascinating and as I've mentioned, The Marriage Plot is on my 'to read' list now. Have either of you read The Yellow Wallpaper? I had a professional interest in historical attitudes/diagnoses of female hysteria for a time, and that is an excellent work of fiction addressing these issues, together with female oppression. JustMe, I'd love to have seen your syllabus/bibliography for that course!

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    3. Oh adding "The Yellow wallpaper" to my endless list of books I want to read. The historical attitudes towards female hysteria sound interesting.

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  9. Wishing your happy ending arrives soon Amanda. I admire how you make the best of every situation life throws, optimism and finding the good stuff even when it seems like there is no good stuff is such a valuable lesson.

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    1. Thank you so much Blanca, it means a lot. And yes, we're hoping and praying.

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  10. I am so sorry for your struggle, Amanda. I wish that this didn't have to be part of your story. I wish that you (and the rest of us infertiles) could just comfortably cruise through conception, pregnancy and parenthood. But it's so not the case. Thank you for speaking out about the darkness that infertility can be at times. I wish you the best and only the best.

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    1. Thanks so much. I wish and hope all the best for you too. I hope it will be over soon for all of us going through this. And I wish I had the magic power to erase this from the World.
      Hugs.

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