Unbearable: Infertility, Mental Health, & Why No One Has The Right To Tell Me I Need Therapy

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psychiatristHaving a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.

Throughout the process of writing about my struggles with fertility, I’ve received plenty of comments that made me upset, made me sad, and made me defensive. I’ve been told that using a fertility clinic to try to get pregnant was unnatural, and also selfish. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t classify my ectopic pregnancy as “losing a child,” because it’s not fair to parents who lost children that were already born. I’ve heard that I whine a whole lot. But nothing has made me quite so angry as being told that I “might need some therapy.” Let me explain why this comment has me so heated.

First of all, I want to say that I think counseling and therapy are extremely important tools for mental health. Speaking to a professional about your problems is a responsible way to address issues surrounding emotional well-being. I’ve been to counseling sessions for personal issues at different times in my life. I find them helpful. I think the stigmas in our culture surrounding mental health needs are really ridiculous, unfair, and ignorant.

Because of those stigmas, it’s become pretty commonplace for people to tell those they disagree with that, “You need help,” or “You should talk to someone about that.” It’s become a way to marginalize someone’s voice and discredit their feelings. It’s like saying that their feelings are abnormal or unwarranted, that their thoughts come from a disturbed place. These types of insults are all over the internet, where lots of commenters seem thrilled to play doctor and diagnose a writer’s entire personality based on one piece of their story, typed up in 1000 words or less. And I guess that why it’s seen as acceptable to tell a woman you’ve never met that she needs psychiatric help based on her emotional response to the Pottery Barn catalog or her anger at pregnancy sites that continue to spam her email even after she’s asked them to stop repeatedly.

I’ve been writing about infertility every week for more than a year. There are about 75 “Unbearable” columns on this website. Throughout this experience, I’ve tried to be honest and open about discussing my struggles. Some weeks I’m doing better, feeling like I’m inching towards acceptance. Other weeks, I have a really hard time and get upset over a spam email. I’ve found that infertility is a rollercoaster, and you’re going to experience some highs and some lows. There will be times when you completely forget about trying to conceive, counting your days or measuring your temperature. And then there will be days when your heart actually feels like it’s aching, like your sadness is a physical condition. I try to write about all of these times, because I feel like that’s the only fair way to tell my story.

(Photo: Ambrophoto/Shutterstock)

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