It’s a crying shame is a campaign lead by the fantastic Fertility Network UK, in a bid to provide support for those going through fertility issues when they need support the most. Even if you do not read this blog post, please head to Fertility Network’s page and donate to help support those dealing with infertility.
Infertility is a bitter pill to swallow. It is lonely, it is heartbreaking, it is complicated. I have spoken about my personal experience of mental health following my infertility diagnosis; how I sunk into a depression, how I didn’t want to be alive. I am still, 12 months later, awaiting counselling. I know for a fact I am not the only one. This is why campaigns like crying shame exist.
To understand why a person who is struggling to conceive, or who has been told they are infertile, might feel this way is hard to understand for a person who has not gone through it. Around 1 in 6 couples will struggle to get pregnant, with some never managing to at all, even with treatment. Infertility is a too common problem and the emotional impact it has is huge. There are feelings of grief, guilt, self loathing, stress, depression, anxiety and strain on a relationship, all of which appear together with no manual provided about how to deal with them. The mental health services are failing as it is and so those with fertility issues are also added to a queue, with no support from any kind of specialist as to how to deal. Enter #CryingShame.
For a long time, it has been questioned whether stress causes infertility or infertility causes stress. There is no way to easily answer that question, but it is clear as day that infertility causes a world of stress. Relationship stress, financial stress, emotional stress, you name the stress, it’s prevalent with infertility. Research did find that stress levels for women who are infertile are the same level as those with AIDS, cancer or heart disease. Whilst those illnesses are terminal and no doubt bring on a different type of stress, it begs no question that infertility is an extremely stressful time for those involved.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) have found that ‘high rates of clinically significant symptoms of depression and anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and a strong conceptualisation of grief affects infertile individuals.’. It is so easy to tell someone to adopt, to get a puppy, that it could be worse or to ‘think of the freedom’, but you can almost guarantee those saying that have not witnessed a family member or a close friend deal with infertility. With infertility comes an unjustified feeling of shame. This shame impacts a person’s mental health beyond belief. You can talk to a family member but getting professional help is so important when dealing with these feelings. Going to see a counsellor is different. You aren’t talking to someone who is without a grandchild, without a niece or a nephew because of your infertility, someone who you can feel guilt towards. You are speaking to someone with no judgement, no bias and who is there simply to listen to you. Crying shame is a campaign to fund more support like this.
I know how it feels. I know how it feels to have the chance of having a child naturally snatched from you. I know how it feels to sit there and sob uncontrollably all hours of the day. I know how it feels to feel heartbreak, anger and jealously towards everyone who has children, or who is pregnant. I know the bitterness towards the entire world. I know how it feels to not want to get out of bed in the morning, for just washing your face to take up all the energy you have. I know how it feels to not feel yourself, to lay in bed and not find any reason to get out of it. I know how it feels to have panic attacks, to not want to leave the house out of fear of seeing a pregnant person or a child. I know how it feels to burst into tears in the middle of a supermarket because you’ve seen a mother with a newborn. I know the guilt when you tell your parents that they may not ever be grandparents, the stress you feel when you realise how expensive treatment is. I know how it feels to wonder what you have to live for; to sit in your car and wonder if it’s quicker to drive it into water or into a tree. I know how important it is to find help, because better days are ahead.
Wherever a person is in their fertility journey, support is so important. It really is a crying shame that the support provided in the U.K. is inadequate. Infertility impacts so many people and yet the emotional support available doesn’t even touch the sides.
1 in 6.
1 in 6 who are not alone. 1 in 6 who need support that just isn’t provided. Isn’t that a crying shame.
Love, Amber x
You can donate to Fertility Network UK’s #CryingShame campaign by clicking here.