1.They tend to have a genetic predisposition. Something in the brain is a little haywire, slightly imbalanced. Both are examples of invisible diseases.
2. They get a boatload of judgment. Both get the, “Aren’t you over that yet?” Both get unsolicited tips. “Just stop after one”. “Just get outside”. “Just appreciate what you have”. “Just get over it”. Rarely does any good advice begin with, “Just”. One of the most ridiculous is, “Stop being so selfish”.
3. They don’t want to be this way. As beautiful as a good drink feels, no one wants to be hooked. As needed as a good cry is, no one wants to be unable to fathom happiness. These are not pleas for attention, the behavior is a result of the disease, uncontrolled.
4. They relapse. Even when the disease is managed, there are still ups and downs. There are depressive dives and days (weeks/months/years) when long-sober alcoholics might contemplate a drink. Or take one. Or more.
5. They take things day by day. Forever. It’s not over, not ever. There is no, “I’m done with that now”. There is a split-second moment in almost every single day in which the person isn’t sure if they will make it.
6. They push people they love away. They act like assholes, highly emotional and illogical while in the thick of it. They’re unpredictable. They say things they do not mean. They are too intoxicated, or too tired to be nice.
7. Sometimes they smell. Or otherwise don’t take care of themselves. Stress has an odor. Alcohol has an odor. Sweat has an odor. Both are gangrenous, eating a person alive from the inside out, emitting the stench of decay in the process.
8. They can be a drag to be around. They can be wildly out of control or barely-breathing, impossible to move from the bed. It can be exhausting to stay positive and uplifting when the person you are with is neither of those things.
9. Left unchecked both result in a slow, toxic death. Unpleasant to think about, but all too true. The alcoholics know it. The depressives know it. For some reason the friends and family don’t always know it.
10. They tend to benefit from support groups and networks. Alcoholics Anonymous, church groups, online groups. It’s usually helpful to talk to others who understand a situation. If you fall into either category, you are not alone. Not even close.
Need some help getting some help? Here are a few relevant links:
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. RESOLVE, a National Infertility Association, chose the expression Resolve To Know More as their campaign theme for 2014.
Jesse and Lauren, at Our Crazy Ever After, are doing their part to raise awareness by pairing up bloggers, having the ones with experience dealing with infertility guest post on the ones without. They’ve compiled all of the posts in a link up here. Below is a post I wrote for Kelsey’s page, Randomly Randts about why you need to know about my infertility (and everybody else’s, all around you).
It wasn’t until three years after we initially started trying to conceive, and I was already pregnant past my first trimester, that I was brave enough to share any of our struggles, even with most of my family and friends. Looking back, it was crazy for me to keep silent, to try to rein in all of the emotions that surrounded my infertility. But, I felt alone, a little embarrassed, a lot depressed, and didn’t realize the abundance of support that existed, if only I was willing to put myself out there and seek it.
So, now I’m pretty outspoken about my infertility, making sure that if someone else is going through similar circumstances (and they’re out there, I know that), they know they aren’t alone and that I am someone they can reach out to, if and when they’re ready.
Here’s Why You Need to Know About My Infertility
To someone who hasn’t dealt with infertility firsthand, the question, Why do we need Infertility Awareness? may come to mind. The answer is pretty simple. It is easy for all of us to get wrapped up in our own existence, our own experiences, as we are all egocentric at the core. Even so, most of us want connections with other people, need them, really, for our own well-being, and find that nothing is more important in life than our network of friends and family.
The good thing is that most of us can be wakened, relatively easily, from our narcissistic slumber by learning about the experiences of others, and connecting something within ourselves to something within them. The more we understand others, the more we understand the world around us, and when we assimilate information from others into our mental repertoire, if we allow it, we end up learning more about ourselves. Convenient for the egomaniac part of us that it all comes full circle and we get to think about ourselves again, right? Ultimately, integrating the accounts from others with our own experiences is how we grow into better people, and that’s pretty damn important.
The problem is that when it comes to infertility, most people remain silent about the issue, one that has taken over their private lives, is eating them from the inside out, causing them to turn into bitter, crumbling, empty shells of themselves who feel like they might not make it through the day. They hide it. Put on a brave face. Say, Great!when someone asks how they are doing, even though they are NOT great. They are fragile vases, full of water but devoid of flowers, who could easily shatter and collapse into a puddle of tears the moment they reach their car and shut the door behind them, after leaving one of the many doctor’s appointments, after leaving a baby shower, a family gathering, or even after leaving an afternoon coffee with a friend, who just happened to say the wrong thing.
There are SO MANY people going through their own personal conception-seeking hell. SO MANY! There are currently over 7 million individuals in the U.S. alone who have a medical condition making it difficult, or impossible, to conceive, or carry a child to term. That’s 1 in 8! They surround you. At your workplace, at your gym, at your knitting club, in your classes, in your own family. Usually, you aren’t even aware of this, yet it’s impacting you. It is impossible to make those true connections we all seek with others when such an all-consuming piece of oneself is ensconced in fear, shame, anxiety, and ignorance.
It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that we can better understand the reality around us, the people around us, and are able to reflect, respond and react in the best way possible. In other words, so we can grow ourselves.
It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that we can be informed, and aware, to know how to support our siblings, friends and coworkers when we find out they are dealing with something we haven’t dealt with firsthand.
It’s important for us to know about the infertility struggles that exist, so that if it turns out that we are suddenly one of those people who is fighting this exact same battle (that we never before thought could be possible) we are better prepared, and don’t feel so alone.
The barriers that get in the way of making authentic connections with others can be combated with information, with awareness.
All of us infertiles who have “came out” have had friends and acquaintances emerge out of the woodwork, contacting us publicly or privately, sharing their own experiences, sometimes to let us know that we are not alone, sometimes to talk so they can continue healing and processing their own grief, sometimes to thank us because up until we spoke out, they felt isolated, solitarily suffering, with no support in sight.
Those of us that are recovering infertiles, who now have children of our own, need to let those still stuck in the trenches know that hope exists. Real living and breathing hope, not the grasping-at-straws-hoping-yet-hopeless feeling that we get from the doctor’s office alone.
Those of us who are recovering infertiles, who were never able to have children (we don’t hear too much about these people, but they’re out there, too) need to let others know that modern medicine doesn’t equate to miracles.
It is so important for those of us who have struggled, to speak up.
For the naysayers who use the excuse that people are overly sensitive or that everyone gets offended by something, let’s be clear about this one thing: This is not about being exceedingly politically correct. This is just about not being an insensitive jerk.Resolving to Know More doesn’t have to apply solely to infertility. We could easily replace all of the “infertilitys” within this post with Sexual Orientation, Depression, Grief, Eating Disorder or Addiction. By resolving to know more about OTHERS, and their experiences, we are resolving to better understand the people all around us, and to become better individuals for having done so.
Ok, I’m going to be a little boasty, braggy, hippity hoppity. I can’t help it, I just might explode – this week has been sort of amazing. I have had a lot of horribly dark weeks, and this one is shiny and bright and remarkably different than those.
FRIDAY: I am starting a support program for students on the Autism Spectrum at the high school I work in – we will be piloting it, starting in September. A local news channel interviewed me last week, along with a parent and student in the program, and ran a segment about the program on the 5 o’clock news. Bonus: My excessive facial hair was not overly noticable, even with the high def cameras.
SATURDAY: A record number of views today on my Accidental Marathoner post made my day! I also got a piece of “fan mail” in the form of a message on my fb page from someone who had enjoyed the post. The message said this:
Congratulations on your achievement! Besides it being your own personal achievement, you’ve inspired countless others you’ll never know. This is … a great thing in light of ALL the events of the past week. 4 of my children will run in the Illinois Marathon this coming Saturday (the first for all of them!). I shared your Accidental Marathoner blog with them….truly inspiring, very much the truth, they agreed. I just wanted you to know that what you write makes a difference.
Um, can you say BEST EMAIL EVER?!
SUNDAY: I ran my first marathon. Despite not running for two years before having my baby, and running the race 7 months post-baby (the point being: I did not feel NEARLY as strong as I think I should feel before running a marathon), I decided to just go for it. I had a great experience, and my time beautifully corresponded with the whole reason I ran the marathon in the first place.
MONDAY: Our news story aired a second time, on the local news channel’s morning program. I could also walk down the stairs pretty comfortably – something I was not anticipating after the 26.37 miler the day before.
TUESDAY: Baby Grouch got her 2nd tooth. I know I had nothing to do with this, but I sort of feel like I do because I MADE HER (Double bonus: I MADE A BABY – still pretty excited about that).
WEDNESDAY: I thought Saturday went well, but today I was completely overwhelemed with the number of views, replies and comments on my post in honor of Infertility Awareness Week. This far surpassed my previous record on Saturday of most views on a post. I had a lot of people share the Top 10 list, and there were so many women who said that this hit the nail on the head, that it said what they felt, but were often too afraid to say. It is sort of amazing when you realize you aren’t alone, and there are so many others who understand you.
THURSDAY: I dropped the cap to my water bottle, but then immediately caught it ON MY SHIN before it hit the floor and I lifted my leg up to return said cap to my hand. Clumsy and yet SO coordinated at the same time.
And ALSO, I got my first piece of hate mail! It was very exciting and occurred in the form of another blogger posting about how my Infertility Awareness Post pissed her off. HAH! She didn’t actually point out much that she didn’t like about it, other than a) my agressive tone (absolutely guilty as charged, that was the idea) and b) when I said infertiles didn’t want to hear pregnant people complaining about their whaleish pregnant bodies. Her huffiness made more sense when I noticed she had JUST written a post about how horribly whaleish she’s feeling because she’s got a big pregnant body (I’m paraphrasing here). I get it. Other side of the coin and all that. I’m not offended that she got offended. Plus, the fact that she hated it helped me raise awareness even more, so I thank her for helping me accomplish my goal.
Perhaps I was linked into her post an effort to draw more readers to her blog. If that’s the case, I guess the joke’s on her, because I’m really a half-assed blogger and I don’t have that many readers! She must think I care deeply about my readership numbers since she felt the need to point out to me that she wouldn’t have bothered complaining about my post publically if she had noticed ahead of time that I wasn’t a “big time blogger”.
FRIDAY: A few months ago I entered my infertility story (the nice one, not the bitchy one) into a writing contest. And guess what? I won a $400 prize package – money towards a vacation destination and also money towards future services at the fertility center that hosted the contest. Maybe enjoying a free weekend away will make my husband less annoyed that my face is constantly shoved into my computer keyboard.
I also utilized the word “fanfaron” which came in my word-a-day email this week. I never remember to practice those words.
Ok, I’m done. I’ll be humble again, now that I got that out.
For all you jealous types, don’t worry, I’m sure next week I’ll get rear ended, drop my cell phone in the toilet and my cat will pee all over the living room carpet. Because, that’s how life works.