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How can you avoid ‘infertility overwhelm’?

Overwhelmed during IVFIf you asked me what my most frequent feeling has been while trying to conceive (TTC) I would say OVERWHELMED!

Sure there are some close runners up – anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment – but really all those roads lead to overwhelm.

Quite often when I meet someone who is going through fertility struggles they have this ‘deer caught in the headlights’ expression that I recognise so well from my own face at times. It’s often a case of total information overload!

They’ve just been told about the new treatment options they are facing.

Or been spending too much time on Dr Google.

Or they’ve just spoken to someone who has this new doctor/treatment/superfood/weird-rare-genetic-issue that they probably have/should-be-eating/might-be-the-cure-they-have-been-looking-for!

Overwhelm is an awful state to be in. It can make you:

  • Procrastinate
  • Constantly be in a frenzy of activity with not much to show for it
  • Freeze completely
  • Do the exact opposite of what you are meant to do
  • Feel stressed, snappy and misunderstood

Personally I am not very good at not knowing the answer. I see a problem and I want to I charge forward and fix it. As a result Overwhelm and I were frenemies who meet too often…

I am definitely the person who investigated every natural conception angle possible before moving to IVF!

This has had some great benefits – allowing me to feel like I was taking action. It gave me a great foundation for IVF. It also uncovered new passions which I know will stay with me always – a love of nutrition, yoga and meditation.

It’s also had some downfalls. I don’t know about you but I have spent a lot of time on my infertility road self-diagnosing!

In the past I’ve been guilty of gathering too much information, to the point that it turns me into a crazy perfectionist … or the total opposite as it’s literally too much to process so I do nothing…

Well nothing isn’t quite true – I’ve spent a fair chunk of my time berating myself for not doing all the things I’ve read about!

Three years TTC and counting I knew I needed to get a handle on this as it was not sustainable.

My 4 top tips for preventing OVERWHELM when TTC

  1. Accept when you make lifestyle changes that it can take a while and can make your system go a little haywire. You’ve been living one way for so long, even if this new approach is better for you your body might need time to adjust. In my experience nothing in the fertility game is instantaneous, things can sometimes get worse before they get better! If you are worried, check with your doctor.
  2. Break it down – the old “how do you eat an elephant*? In bite size pieces!” approach – Make lifestyle changes that are sustainable, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Focus on a few changes at a time. If you are constantly frantically searching for the next thing to try before you have given this one a go you’ll only find overwhelmed! During cycles do it day by day – let the parts add up to the whole, don’t just look at the whole and freak out. You can do it – bit by bit!
  3. Get a support team you trust. Go with your gut as well as your head. I took my time to find the relevant fertility support and professionals that suited me (e.g. acupuncturist, IVF Doctor). I’m upfront with my IVF Doctor about any eastern medicine routines that have been suggested so that everything is in sync to support me. It saves me the stress of having to worry if treatment a) will affect treatment b).
  4. Remember we are all different – what works for me, what is the cause of my fertility challenges, how I react to fertility medicine will mostly likely be different to you. Get advice, share stories, but consult your professionals who know you before you try things. Try to stick to engaging with those in the fertility community who are able to ‘tell it like it is’ but in a way that is positive and supportive, not negative and fear-mongering.

What do you do to manage or prevent feeling overwhelmed?

*Disclaimer: No elephants were harmed in the writing of this blog.

Image credit: hadrian/123RF Stock Photo

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