This last month has been quite the battle. I almost left this part of my journey unrecorded because I was nervous about putting it out there. I have seen friends be open and honest about their struggles, this issue in particular. But my pride stopped me from taking this next step.
I questioned Ryan about whether I should approach this topic so publicly. I was somewhat shocked by his response. He made me feel normal, and encouraged me to share this experience.
For the last year or so, I have been going in a downward spiral. Completely stalled in pursuing adoption or fertility treatments for an indeterminate amount of time, I slowly became more and more hopeless that things would ever improve, that I would ever have my family.
It started out as a funk, which turned into sadness, which turned into depression.
I tried everything I could think of to pull myself out of it. I prayed like never before. I journaled my feelings. I read scriptures. I started exercising more, including taking a weekly dance class. I tried herbs and acupuncture. I concentrated on work. I meditated and relaxed. I forced myself to think positively. I planned fun activities with Ryan. I served others at church. I cuddled with my cat. I vented to friends. I tried a new hobby. It wasn't getting better.
So, I turned to a psychologist, who immediately diagnosed me with depression (I didn't know that at the time though - I just knew she said I had 'symptoms' of depression). I worked with her for five months. It was only getting worse.
Finally, at the urging of loved ones and the psychologist, I made an appointment with my doctor. She couldn't see me for three weeks, so in the meantime I forged ahead.
After just one week, I couldn't take it anymore. I was near desperation. I knew this had gone way beyond just wanting a baby. Way beyond sadness. This was a different creature altogether. I called my doctor's office and told them I needed to come in right away.
While I was waiting to hear back from them, I ran an errand to Kinkos. There was a mix-up and the girl behind the counter was frustrated. Once back in my car, I burst into hysterical tears over the incident. This is the place I was at. This had become common behavior for me.
Just then, my phone rang. The doctor could see me right then. I went back to my office, told my boss I would be missing my afternoon appointment, and headed over there.
Through my tears I told my doctor how I was feeling and the thoughts I'd been having. I told her some of the things I had tried to make it better. I asked her what I should do.
She stated there was no doubt I had full-blown depression. She said I had let this go too long before seeking help, but she was glad I finally came in.
I asked her what was going on with me. How did my sadness turn into depression? She compared it to losing a loved one. Most people go through the grieving process step-by-step, but some get 'stuck' at a certain point. She's seen the same thing happen with women who have dealt with infertility for as long as I have. After a while of living in a state of sadness/hopelessness/anger, the chemical balance in your brain can literally change. That's when you might need a little more help.
So, she offered me some help. Swallowing my pride and accepting it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Even as my ego and stubbornness begged me to say no, the Holy Spirit (through an avalanche of tears) forced me to say yes.
She cleared up misconceptions. Yes, even I, a graduate of Psychology, had misconceptions. I would venture to say that everyone does, unless they've been through this themselves.
Since that appointment some amazing things have happened. Last week, for the first time in months, I was able to get out of bed without two or more hours worth of pep talks. Ryan and I had a disagreement and I got over it, instead of crying uncontrollably until 4am. Not only have I been making dinner again, but I am enjoying it.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is I have hope again. It is small, but it's there. Last night, I pulled the pre-natal vitamins out of the medicine cabinet. For five years I took these pills just in case, by some miracle, I actually became pregnant. Several months ago, I threw them in the back of the cabinet saying, "Why bother?" Last night I thought, "Why not?"
I still have all those emotions that come with infertility: pain, sadness, loneliness, bitterness. I still cry sometimes when I feel these things. But I also found the other side of life again: joy, faith, hope, charity. I feel so much closer to my Heavenly Father, and I can finally see His wisdom again, even when I am feeling hurt or impatient.
When I first noticed I was having trouble conceiving, someone told me to 'humble myself and it will happen'. I took a lot of offense to that at the time. Although it still stings today, I look back and realize that I am a lot more prideful than I thought I was. It took this experience to make me see that sometimes I really have to let go. Perhaps I needed to lose control to truly learn I wasn't in control in the first place.
This is my 100th post. My first post was written when I was starting my first Clomid cycle (in 2006). I ended with the following:
I am cautiously optimistic. Maybe this is all my body needs...just a little push. Or maybe it's just the first step in what may be a long process...
Oh, I had no idea, huh? What a process this has been!
Last summer, Ryan and I hiked to the Lundy Mine. Ryan had been on this hike one time as a child, and I had never been. Needless to say, neither one of us knew the trail well enough to know how far we'd hiked and how much further we had to go. There were no mile markers and no maps along the way. All we knew was the mine was at the end of this trail. If we stayed on the trail, we would get to the mine eventually. But we had no idea when.
About a half-hour or so into the hike, I literally sat down and said I didn't want to do it anymore. I was tired. I wasn't prepared for this. I was too out of shape. It was too steep. This was harder than I thought. This was not what I was expecting. After a few minutes and some tears, I changed my mind and we pressed ahead.
At that moment, had I known we weren't even a fraction of the way there, I would have quit. No question about it. Had I known the steepness and the length of the trail that was ahead, I would have second-guessed my ability to do it. It was the not knowing that was the hardest part, but also the part that kept me going. The end of the trail could be around any curve, and I wanted to make it to the end.
Much is the same with this 'trail' I'm on now. Had I known at Post #1 where I would be at Post #100, I might have sat down and quit. "I'm tired. I wasn't prepared for this. It's harder than I thought." I would have second-guessed my ability to do it.
There may be steeper paths ahead, rocky roads and long stretches. It's the not knowing that is the hardest part, but also the part that keeps me going. The end of the trail could be around any curve, and I want to make it to the end.