In this webinar, Lori Metz, LCSW, CCM, a therapist, author, and public speaker who has worked in health care for over twenty years in various settings have been discussing how to deal with the struggles with your IVF journey. Lori has provided useful coping tips and how to get through this.
In terms of the fertility journey, it is important to remember that it is scaled as significant equally to breast cancer, the death of a family member or a divorce. It’s high levels of distress and actually mirrors those conditions for people going through fertility journeys. Some data suggests that over 50% of women and over 30% of men experience depression during this time, and 76% of women and 60% of men in treatment express anxiety.
According to statistics based in the U.S from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 13.1% of women aged 15-44 have used infertility services, and almost 13% of women have accessed fertility services, that’s approximately 1 in 8, 9% of people accessing treatment is a really large number.
Coping during the IVF journey
During this process, it’s important to remember your thoughts and feelings and separate the two, it’s also nurturing yourself, pampering yourself and caring for yourself. Our thoughts are our ideas, and their arrangements and the result from thinking is a plan, it’s an opinion and a picture, it’s a way of moving forward and usually, it involves action. Our feelings are an emotional state, it’s typically evoked from a thought from a situation or an event. Nurturing is to support yourself, it’s to develop and cultivate and encourage. Pampering is to treat yourself and gratify yourself with excessive indulgence or kindness. Caring relates to kindness, it relates to affection and making provisions to be helpful in a kind and loving manner.
Many times when you’re going through this journey, you feel like your thoughts and feelings aren’t corresponding with each other, you have to say to yourself: are they impacting my body? Are they impacting my fertility journey? It can feel like a roller coaster, you’re constantly rushing to wait, and your feelings are going in so many different directions, so try and keep all the information in and try to move forward because you want to have your baby you want to have your family, but recognizing the feelings is essential. Then we can tune into them and understand them so we can be experiencing things and feelings because we never thought we would have fear, and anxiety and self-blame and sadness, depression.
Drawing on your inner strength and seeing your future helps you to keep positive. Understanding how to nurture and care for yourself is an important part of your fertility journey. Small changes are the first step in caring for yourself. The mind-body connection activity is what can help, so breathing, and exercising are all things that require mind and body connection.
Ways to help you cope
How to find comfort in these big decisions that you’re making? There are a couple of practices, one is mindfulness, which can help you to slow down your mind and thoughts. Mindfulness is an awareness and it arises through paying attention to purpose and being in the present, it’s self-regulating your intention and doing it with an attitude of curiosity and openness and acceptance. You cannot force yourself to relax, but you can try and be in the moment, you can try and consider what’s in your mind. We don’t want to necessarily stop negative thoughts, we want to recognize them for what they are and then know how to take the next step and how to manage them.
Another thing you can consider is nurturing. Allow yourself to address self-care, tune into your body, and acknowledge your needs, you could do this through exercising or cooking or painting, whatever it is that gives you that activity of both because if you keep your mind and body busy then you’re focused.