First off I want to say thank you to everyone who has sent me messages, texts, emails, phone calls and real life hugs after reading my post last week. I didn't know what to expect but all of your kindness and empathy was truly touching. There was definitely tears but happy tears. Especially for those who shared with me their own struggles with fertility, I know it's not easy and feeling comfortable enough to share those personal stories means so so much.
It took me a long time to get to where I am, a place of acceptance. I'm a strong believer of everything happens for a reason, even when we don't know why at the time or don't agree with it, eventually it will reveal itself. Actually writing that post last week really helped with my state of acceptance. For the longest time, I kept wanting to only share my journey once I had good news like so many other stories I have read or witnessed. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are just as many of us (if not more) still toughing out this journey and we are the ones that need to speak up and support one another. The most common element I have gotten from everyone so far is how lonely this journey of infertility is even though we are not alone at all. I can't tell you how many times I have cried to myself, feeling so alone in this struggle, just trying to get off this emotional rollercoaster ride. And it was not like I could put my life on hold until I figured everything out, I mean I have a child who depends on me to stay alive so I had to implement some strategies to cope. I tried a lot but these were the ones I found the most helpful.
1. SPEAKING WITH SOMEONE
I used to think only celebrities or people who needed couple therapy went to see counsellors and therapists (thank you Hollywood) but talking to some trusted friends who were big advocates for counsellors I decided to book an appointment with one that my fertility doctor recommended. My counsellor specialized in fertility and that really helped to talk to someone who understood my struggles but who was also a non-biased 3rd person. She really helped me gain new perspectives and gave me strategies to cope with not just my fertility issues but with anxiety, depression and pressure. I have to say she has been invaluable to my mental health! And although her services isn't covered by OHIP, some counsellors are so if you do need to talk to someone and don't have insurance, there are still options.
2. FIND A HOBBY YOU ENJOY
This was a tough one for me because I work in such a creative field and I often find excuses to do things that relate back to my work. However, to avoid dwelling on the issue at hand, I needed to find something I enjoyed doing that was solely for myself. So often I hear people say don't stress about it and it will happen but dealing with stress is not an easy thing. Plus we can always find excuses to get out of it like "I don't have time" or "It's too expensive" or "I'm not good at it", we can always talk ourselves out of it. This time I wasn't going to talk myself out of it, though I was a little indecisive so I signed myself up for different classes so I could try new things and figure out what I really do enjoy doing for fun. I picked up hot yoga again, a good clean sweat really helps clears the mind and release some serious toxins, flexed my floral arranging muscles at some classes with some of the top floral designers in the city and I took a floral watercolour class that was really relaxing and therapeutic for me. It's so important that this is time for yourself and not anyone else. I'm learning that it's ok to be selfish sometimes.
3. (BINGE) WATCH COMEDY
Ok, I'm the first one to put my hand up and say I'm guilty with watching dramas and crying my eyes out (Grey's Anatomy has ruined me forever). And although a good cry sometimes can feel really good, my counsellor warned me that we as humans can absorb other people's dramas and negative feelings quite easily, even if they are fictional. Therefore, all we're doing is replacing our own negative feelings with someone else's and the emotional drowning continues. We want to avoid that so switch to comedy. Watching comedy will release endorphins, our happy hormones and also keep us from absorbing all those negative feels. So on those days when you feel extra blue, binge watch your favourite funny comedy and watch how your mood changes and how much lighter you feel after. Modern Family is one of my go-to's for some good laughs.
4. ESSENTIAL OILS
Without getting into too much of the science behind essential oils, I want to share how much I love them as mood enhancers and natural remedies. I initially started using essential oils for stress relief and to help me sleep better at night (I'm a super light sleeper who takes forever to fall asleep, a really bad combo). I loved that they are all natural and with a small child at home this is extra important. I quickly found that they do so much and are so effective! Even G my husband uses them whenever he has headaches instead of taking medication and when K my daughter has a tummy ache, will she ask for a drop rubbed on her belly to make her feel better. I used them for all kinds of things but my favourite is having them in a diffuser, especially on days when I feel stressed or blue. I put in a few of my favourite drops and it makes such a big difference!
Obviously travel isn't always feasible but for me this is one of my favourite coping mechanisms. There's just something about removing yourself from your every day. Being in a new environment can really clear the head and put a pause on all the stresses that are constantly surrounding you. No one to keep asking you when you're going to have another baby. Last year when G, K and I went on a 2 week trip to the Canadian West Coast it was exactly what we needed to get our minds off of everything going on back home. During the trip I was still waiting for the results from my biopsy but we honestly barely though about it. It was one of the best trips we've been on so far. We need to figure out where we're going this year, still trying to find some beach places to go to where we don't have to worry about the Zika virus. I really miss the beach!
These 5 coping strategies: speaking with someone, finding a hobby, watching comedy, essential oils and travel is what helped me the most. If you have other strategies that you wouldn't mind sharing, I would love to hear them!