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  • Writer's pictureAllison Ramsey, MS, LCMHC

Just Relax! Your Best Friend’s Famous Last Words

Just Relax! Your Best Friend’s Famous Last Words

Infertility Counseling

You’ve heard it everywhere. Sometimes the unsolicited advice is also accompanied by a story of someone’s friend/cousin/coworker who quit trying to conceive/went on a trip to Maui/decided to adopt and boom she got pregnant. How is this supposed to be helpful? If you’re like any other woman I see in my counseling practice, it just makes you want to murder them. Part of you knows she’s right, but the other part of you is so angry you want to cut them out of your life forever.

What do you do with this advice? Firstly, the person giving this advice doesn’t understand your experience. At all. She sees you stressing out, and it makes her want to help you. So she offers a story about someone who “relaxed” and found benefit from it. Your friend is also not a trained therapist (I hope) so she probably doesn’t understand some important parts of helping people. But if you hear this advice from someone who loves you, try to hear the words she’s not saying: “I love you, I care about you. I hate to see you in such pain. I wish I could help.” The next time you hear it, try giving a small smile, and telling them thank you. Then change the subject.

Secondly, how does one “Just relax”? Interestingly relaxation is often a byproduct of another activity. We rarely “just relax”. So focusing on “just relaxing” is frustrating and difficult. What do you do now or have you done in the past that makes you feel replenished? When you’ve been having a stressful time at work, what do you want to do when you get home or at the end of a long week? Usually it’s something that takes your mind of the stressful thing. You don’t usually go home and replenish by working more, right? When you’re working hard it’s important to make time to do other stuff than work. (Notice I didn’t say “relax”.) That could be any number of replenishing things: Dinner with your spouse, reading fiction, exercising, walk with a friend or animal, playing board games, taking a bath, meditating, crafts, spending time in nature, shopping, getting a massage, watching TV or a movie, planning a vacation, you get the idea. Essentially TTC has become your work, and every day you need a break from that.

Hearing “Just relax” is offensive because it feels like a comment on your mental health. And it is absurd to think that struggling with infertility wouldn’t make someone feel crazy! It is possible to continue to TTC while taking time to focus your energy elsewhere for a little while everyday. It’s a way of telling yourself: “I love you, I care about you. I can help.”

Allison Ramsey is a licensed professional counselor and certified grief counselor specializing in grief and infertility 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.

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