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.