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  • Allison Ramsey, Fertility Counseling Specialist

The Loneliness of Infertility

Infertility counseling

The Loneliness of Infertility

Infertility is a lonely diagnosis. You are experiencing a health crisis that sets you apart from all of your other conceiving friends. And when you feel bad your mind tends to make comparisons, in order to show you just how bad it is for you. As I've said before, emotions are information, but emotions also love themselves and will do what they can to keep themselves around. During this isolating time you may be eager to hear about other people who are struggling with the same thing, which is what may motivate you to participate in internet forums about the topic.

However, you may notice your mind comparing your fertility journey to others' you read and hear about. Your mind tries to find order in the disorder of infertility and may create a hierarchy about your suffering. If you've had a miscarriage you may deem your suffering worse than someone who hasn't been able to get pregnant after two years of trying. If you have had a failed IVF at age 38, then you may feel your suffering is worse than someone who has had a failed IVF at age 35. I have seen the comparisons made by individuals in the online forums, and the outcome is never healthy.

You see, your suffering keeps itself around by gathering more evidence in support of the suffering. While it is true you are suffering, finding validation for suffering is often more isolating and ultimately unhelpful. We cannot feel better when we're comparing our pain to the pain of others. The thing is, all emotions are a unique experience. We have no idea if someone's pain is less than or greater than our pain.

One of the best things we can do to help alleviate our pain is to connect to others. And we can't do that if we're busy rating our suffering versus someone else's suffering. I admit, it's hard to do when you feel so horrible. Try to acknowledge that the pain a person feels is their own unique, personal pain. Even though you feel like you've had an experience that is much much worse, it doesn't make either of you feel better for you to compare the pain. What feels better is acknowledging someone's pain in a compassionate way, and understanding that if they are telling you it's hard for them, then it is hard for them. We must unite around what we have in common, versus isolating ourselves through our differences. And maybe you'll feel a little less worse, and find a friend along the way.

Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and completed their certificate training in mental health counseling for infertility. Contact her to start feeling better.

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