Friday, April 19, 2013

Infertility and Depression 2 for the price of 1

The dictionary definition of infertile is:

1. Absent or diminished fertility.
2. The persistent inability to conceive a child.

And (part of) the dictionary definition of depression is:

1. A feeling of being extremely unhappy.
2. A condition in which a person is so unhappy they cannot live a normal life.
3. An area, which has sunk below its surroundings; a hollow.

I left that last description in as I think that sums up the feeling of infertility more than any of the others, it is a feeling of emptiness.

Depression is a very strong word, but also one that is overused. How many of us have had a bad day and used the phrase “I am so depressed”? The ironic thing is that once you might actually be suffering from the effects of depression, you are highly unlikely to ever use that phrase.

Signs of depression include; feeling anxious, agitated or worried, feeling like you are on the edge of tears, losing interest in friends, family and your favourite things, loss of self-confidence, being unable to concentrate on daily tasks and activities, feeling tired all the time and reduced interest in sex. The last one being particularly helpful at this time in your life!

Infertility sucks all of the joy and colour out of life and due to the fact that many couples do not tell their friends and family that are trying to conceive can mean that they are very isolated.

While I hate labels and both the words infertile and depression are depressing enough in their own right, realising that these feelings are perfectly normal, you are in no way alone in feeling like this and that there is a huge amount you can do to help yourself is the first step to positive change in your life.

Over the past two years I have spent a great deal of time researching and learning about the link between the mind and the body. The majority of sources all indicate that the same four techniques can be used to increase happiness and balance emotional and physical health; therefore increasing fertility.

1. Mindfulness
2. Gratitude
3. Connection
4. Intention

Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to well-being that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety. It combines techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and stretching with elements of cognitive therapy to help break negative thought patterns.

Being grateful for what you have is so simple but can easily be forgotten when your life is not going to plan. Keeping a gratitude journal and listing five things you are grateful for every evening really does make a difference to how you view your life. You can start with the big things like your partner and family and then keep adding to the journal with anything and everything you are grateful for in life. On my list tonight will be Waitrose gluten-free hot cross buns. Perfection!

Connection with others is what many believe to be what life is all about. I am blessed with the support of my fantastic husband, amazing friends and loving family, but I still need support and advice from those who can really relate to what I am going through. I have built up my own support team to include; an acupuncturist, a herbalist, a mindfulness coach and the Infertility Network UK,  a fantastic charity that provides advice, information and support. On the back of this I have set up Mindful Mumas-to-be to share what I am learning and to create a support community. Please do join us if this blog resonates with you. 

Intention means deciding what you want and more importantly why you want it, setting realistic goals and working towards them in a consistent manner. In terms of fertility this could be deciding that you want to find out more about nutrition in order to ensure that you are supporting your body in the best way that you can. Your goal could be to find a nutritionalist or spend time researching on the internet and put together your own diet plan which you will then consistently follow. It is also important to create goals for every area of your life, relationship, health, work, leisure time, friends and family, to ensure that your life is balanced, rather than focusing wholly on your fertility. 

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