This blog addresses various emotional aspects of experiencing infertility. It is written by a clinical psychologist who specializes in infertility counseling. Thank you for reading, and best of luck with your journey!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top tips for surviving infertility treatment, day five--fight feeling like a failure

Feelings of failure are incredibly common among individuals struggling through infertility treatment.  So often, I hear people telling me that they should somehow be able to transcend their physical problems, and because they can't, they feel a profound sense of failure and shame.  Rationally, people can usually see that they have a physical problem over which they have limited or no control, and therefore the situation should not be conceptualized as a success or failure per se.  Emotionally, however, it is almost always a different story.  Even though it isn't reasonable or fair, they often still end up feeling awful about themselves.

In my opinion, these feelings of failure are one of the most toxic emotional aspects of dealing with infertility.  They make an already painful, stressful, and difficult process harder.  Worse yet, they are usually self-imposed, unlike nearly everything else about infertility.

Thus, it is important to try to confront these feelings of failure.  I often tell clients that they wouldn't consider someone who had physically lost the use of their legs a failure because they were unable to walk a mile unassisted.  Likewise, they wouldn't consider someone who was bravely enduring treatments for cancer a failure, no matter what the outcome.  So why would they consider themselves a failure just because body parts x, y, or z were unable to do their part in the complicated process of reproduction?  I encourage them to remember these things every time they start noticing those feelings of failure creeping up on them.

To me, if you are trying to achieve your goal of building your family, you can't be possibly be failing at it.  Because there are so many things that can't be controlled about infertility treatment, you cannot be held responsible for the outcome.  You might get lucky, or you might not.  But little of that has to do with the effort put into treatment, or the desire for it to succeed.  

I know in my own infertility journey, I have struggled with these feelings of failure myself quite a bit.  Over time, I have come to the conclusion that I can't judge my life or my worth as a human being on the basis of my defective reproductive system.  I have learned that it is more helpful to look at all the hard work, grit, and ingenuity I put into my own struggle to have a family.  I hope that you do the same--I have a feeling that you will be impressed by what you see.

I hope you have a great weekend, and I'll be back tomorrow with another tip for surviving infertility treatment!

1 comment:

  1. I've often talked about the fact that those of us who survive our infertility journeys are the true success stories. http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/real-success-stories.html

    And yet, so often we beat ourselves up for being failures. Even the language we use is judgemental - a "failed" IVF cycle. When actually, it was simply a cycle where everything might have gone as intended, but we just didn't get pregnant. It doesn't mean that anything failed (as even if everything is perfect, it doesn't mean even the most perfect fertile myrtle will conceive on any one cycle), and it certainly doesn't mean that we failed.