Wednesday, January 23, 2008

That Rat-Bastard Hope

I’ve been pondering why, when I know I’m depressed and overwhelmed, I do nothing to care of myself. A few weeks ago, I realized I was in serious trouble. Real despair. The kind that can cripple you, destroy your job, ruin friendships and marriages. With this realization came a determination to do something about it. I re-read Alice Domar’s book on fighting depression during infertility. I made a list of things to do: self-pampering, a pottery class, yoga, relaxation tapes, support group. I even found a therapist that conducts mind/body group sessions designed to teach women like me to cope with infertility.

Then I did nothing about it. Why? It’s that goddamned rat-bastard Hope. He’s just chillin’ out there on the horizon, just out of reach, making faces at me, egging me on, daring me to deny his existence.

Hope. Not a terribly helpful concept. After a couple of years of this hell, Hope can’t keep depression and anxiety at bay. Hope isn’t comforting when you’re getting bad news from the doc, or when you’re spotting and you just know it’s not “implantation bleeding” (how many times have I been fooled by that one?), or when you’re filling out the paperwork for a home equity loan to finance your baby-making ventures. Hope can’t do your job for you, pay your mortgage, maintain your friendships, or salvage your marriage.

But that asshole Hope has been plenty good at keeping me from taking care of myself. As soon as I consider putting a lot of time, effort, energy, and money into some self-help, I think to myself, “well, why don’t I just wait a couple more months and see? Why not just try one more cycle, then I’ll get help if that doesn’t work.”

Infertility is a unique ailment. Unlike someone diagnosed with a life-altering disease, in any given month I might be rescued from this hell. With just two magical words from the doctor, I might be transported into another world, transformed into a different person, with new opportunities and chances, with a real opportunity to hope.

So why get therapy? Why join a support group? Why start a journal? All that effort could just be wasted. Month after month, I think, “maybe next month will be different.” Maybe next month Hope will get a little closer. Maybe next month, I’ll grab him by the throat and never let go.


luna said...

I got real tired of hoping and after a while just wanted a real chance... of course for me this meant treatments. still hoping for another chance now... ~luna

Malloryn said...

Wow, I could have written this post. I had a bad case of Hope during the last two cycles because of supposed "implantation bleeding".

I really understand your hesistation. I'm on the cusp of trying our first IUI and I'm anxious about it. I know it's not NEARLY as intensive as IVF, but perhaps it's the acknowledgment that we'll be taking things out of our hands that is scaring me.

the Babychaser: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the Babychaser: said...

Bad news, ladies. The more intense the treatment, the more Hope rears its ugly head. It's like condensing the pressure and anxiety of a year of TTC naturally into one supercharged cycle.

Blech. It all sucks.

Io said...

I am like you - I put things off thinking, "well if I start that then it will screw my IVF and pregnancy schedule up." Never mind that right now I don't know when I will be able to afford IVF and it might be a while.

Carrie said...

Yep, I could have written this post, too. What's the name of the book by Alice Domar that you read? I'd like to get it.

the Babychaser: said...

Alice Domar's book is called "Conquering Infertility". But it's not really about how to get pregnant. It's about how depression affects infertility, and how infertility causes depression (I almost got more out of the stats and studies than her advice).

She then lays out a lot of coping skills. It's really a book about how to survive and maintain you own mental health while dealing with the hellish nightmare that is infertility. I highly recommend it.

Does anyone else have a recommended reading list of books like this? Alice Domar's is the only one I've read.

Shinejil said...

Hey, dear Babychaser! I'm on the edge of tears after reading your post. I'm so sorry you're dangling over that despair/hope chasm. It's awful, I know.

I'm like you: I love to make lists of good things I should do for myself. These lists, for me, are double edged, because once I've committed to yoga, damn it, I have to do it -- or else! This can be really burdensome, when this self-nurture crap is supposed to be uplifting or soothing or whatever.

A few things that help me personally (sometimes): doing something I love that has no possible connection to fertility (i.e. gardening, hiking, baking, singing, whatever doesn't trigger any IF-crazies). The longer I can disengage from the sadness, the stronger I feel.

Alice Domar takes her mindfulness approach, as far as I understand, from John Kabat-Zinn. I really like his oddly titled book, Full Catastrophe Living. It might be worth checking out from the local library or something, to see if there's anything helpful in there for you. One nice thing: no mention of fertility (so it doesn't feel like you're adding to your get-pregnant to-do list), only dealing with chronic discomfort, pain, and sorrow.

What can we do for each other, though, when none of this works? Anybody in blogland have any good ideas?