How to Cope With the Sadness of Infertility

If you're experiencing infertility issues and find yourself feeling sad, discouraged, or depressed, you're not alone. Coping with infertility is exceedingly difficult, and research shows that it can have a significant emotional impact on both men and women.

In addition to the stress that naturally comes with infertility issues, many fertility drugs can cause mood swings. People talk about the Clomid Crazies—the mood swings this particular drug is known for—and they aren't joking!

Just as many women experience mood swings before their periods, fertility drugs can affect your hormones and emotions in a similar way. Unfortunately, our society often discourages acknowledging sadness. On the contrary, we're supposed to "look on the bright side" and "stay positive!"

People may insist that you focus on all the blessings and goodness in your life, or they may preach that if you would just have a more optimistic outlook, you would be able to get pregnant.

There is, of course, a place for gratitude and trying to see light even in darkness. But you can feel both emotions. You can be thankful for what you have and feel sadness. These aren't contradictions.

Don't Hold Back the Tears

Putting on a false smile isn't going to create a miracle. And feeling sadness over the loss and frustration that infertility brings does not negate the goodness in your life. When you need to cry, it's important to let yourself do so. Holding in sadness doesn't make it go away. Instead, it eats up the emotional energy that you need to thrive in your daily life.

Tears always find a way out, sometimes at the worst moments. Sadness that is held in, or repressed, may even present itself as anxiety or panic. You don't want sadness, stress, or other negative emotions consuming your life. When things are really difficult, it can help to choose a contained period of time to let the tears out.

Schedule a Good Cry

It may seem strange to schedule in some time to cry, but it's surprisingly helpful and freeing. Here are some steps you can follow to allow yourself to experience your sadness without being judged or feeling like you need to stay composed.

Choose a Day and Time to Feel

If reading this has you tearing up, perhaps that time should be sooner rather than later. You might set aside just 15 minutes or a few hours, as long as you can be alone and feel free to cry and express yourself during that time frame.

Set a Start and End Time

It's important that you set a start time and an end time. This isn't to say that you are not allowed to feel sad after the time limit, of course. But it can feel safer to know that you won't cry forever once you start. Plus, if you do find the sadness creeping in all day, this can provide a way to express those feelings but prevent them from taking over completely.

Choose a Safe Place to Let Go

That place may be at home, or it may in your car or somewhere else private.

If you're at work and really need 10 minutes to cry to get through the day, you might decide to drive to an empty parking lot.

If you're seeing a counselor, your safe place may be inside their office. Just be sure to also have a safe place away from therapy, so that you aren't holding in negative feelings for a week between counseling sessions. 

Find a Way to Bring Out the Tears 

It may be easy for you to start crying when you're feeling sadness due to the ongoing sorrow of infertility, but if the tears don't come freely, there are a few things you can do to help. Listening to music, journaling about your feelings, doing art, or the classic—watching a sad movie—can all help coax the tears out.

When you've been holding back for a long time, the tears can get stuck. When I'm feeling the need to cry, my movies of choice are "Forrest Gump," "Dead Poet's Society," and "It's A Wonderful Life." I don't think I've ever made it through those movies with dry eyes.

Another trick is to write yourself a letter, saying all those comforting things you'd say to someone else in your situation. (Isn't it funny how forgiving and kind we can be to others, while remaining judgmental of ourselves?)

Offer Yourself Plenty of Self-Comfort

This might mean drinking a hot cup of herbal tea or wrapping yourself up in a blanket or towel just out of the dryer. Do whatever you need to do to feel cared for and loved. You might even rock yourself back and forth gently. Rocking soothes the nervous system. Use that knowledge to take care of yourself!

Don't Judge Yourself

If you can't cry, that's also ok. Any time spent taking care of your emotional self is time well spent.

Create an Ending or Transitional Activity

You spent some time alone with your sadness. Now it's time to say goodbye to it (for now) and move into a more positive—or at least less intense—emotional place.

Turning on some upbeat music, taking a brisk walk outside, or calling a friend can all be helpful ways to lift your spirits. The purpose of a transitional activity is to signal to your emotional self that you've listened and acknowledged the sadness, and now it's time to get back to your life.

Schedule Time for Tears as Needed

Schedule these moments whenever you need, whether it's once a week, once every few weeks, or even 15 minutes every day during a really difficult time. If you feel that the sadness is taking over your life and these short moments aren't enough, consider finding a professional therapist to speak with.

If infertility is causing emotions or stress that are interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor or seek out a therapist. RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, maintains a directory of therapists and other infertility healthcare professionals, as well as a national database of support groups.

Therapy has helped millions of people get through difficult times. If you're concerned about the cost, check with your health insurance company. Many insurance plans will cover the cost of counseling. At first, it can feel scary to stop holding back the tears, and it might feel like you'll never stop crying. But while it hurts when you're in the moment, afterward your heart will feel a little bit lighter.

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