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7 Tips For Dealing With TTC Depression


The fertility journey is a really tough one.  What can make it even tougher is that sometimes you don’t even realize how tough it is.  People on the outside don’t realize it’s tough.  Half the time you can’t tell people about your journey either, but trying to conceive or infertility has been shown to be as stressful as an AIDS diagnosis or heart disease diagnosis or cancer diagnosis. It is a really stressful time for people and before you know it, you’re depressed.  That depression can really sneak up on you without you realizing it, and you’re having trouble coping and it’s hard to get out of that depressed place you find yourself in when TTC – I call it TTC depression.  I have seven tips for dealing with TTC depression.

let go of your timeline

The number one tip that I have is to let go of the timeline. When we first start trying to conceive, we all think it’s going to happen in the first month, right? Deep down in our heads, we all hope and pray that it will happen the first month and then it doesn’t happen the first month. So then we hope that it will happen in the first three months. Then we hope it’ll happen in his first six months and then we hope it will happen in the 12 months and then we think it will happen on our first IVF cycle. We’re constantly planning this timeline. Maybe you are the type of person who’s planning on, what month would my baby be born if I fell pregnant on this cycle? The problem with that is that we’re constantly setting ourselves up for failure because when we look at the statistics of IVF, it’s about 30%. When we look at the statistics of IUI, it’s about 11%.  I’m always in the camp of being hopeful that this will be your month, but also letting go of the timelines because often so many of us still have time up our sleeves. So many of us still have multiple avenues that we can try before we need to go onto something else, but we’re just holding onto these timelines that we’ve set for ourselves. It’s us who’s telling ourselves that it needs to happen this month and that’s not the same as being disappointed every month. It’s going to be disappointing every month regardless. But when we have these timelines, it’s added pressure that we don’t need to put on ourselves.

Check out my suggestions of other things to get go of in 2019

let go of how you thought it would happen

The next one is to let go of how you thought it would happen and this is different to letting go of our timelines because this is the how, not the when. When we look at our timeline, that’s a preconceived notion of when we thought this would happen. But I want you now to let go of how you thought it would happen.  We have to leave that disappointment at the door in order to move forward and progress with our next options. For some of us, that might mean using donor eggs or donor sperm or surrogacy or adoption, no option is less than the others. No option is our ideal option. You are not alone who don’t have children the way that everybody else has children.  So I want you to let go of how you thought it would happen, which is really hard to do. It’s easy for me tell you to let go of that, but I really want to encourage you to keep your eye on the prize here.  If we are fixated on how we thought it would happen, we’re just going to be left with an added sense of pressure and sometimes a situation that is completely out of our control when what we want is maybe to be loved or to be a mother, and that can come in many different ways.

start writing in a gratitude journal

The next one is an action that you can take and that is to start a gratitude journal. I want you to write in your gratitude journal every night before you got to sleep, or maybe it’s the thing that you do first thing when you wake up. Maybe if you just do it once, you won’t see the difference, but over time if you consistently start looking for blessings in your day, then that’s where you’ll start to find them. It can be really hard in the midst of a tough time to see the blessings that we have if we are not actively looking for them and where we feel grateful.  Think about something that you are really grateful for, and notice how that feeling of gratitude washes over you and how all of the other feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, all melt away. Writing in a gratitude journal is a way of highlighting that. It’s a way of encouraging and telling the universe that we want more of those blessings in our life. Gratitude is such a simple thing, but can have such a big impact on your journey and your life.

focus on your relationship

So number four is to focus on your relationship. This journey can be really testing on our relationships. It’s a very stressful thing.  The hormones, the money, the rigidity are all really horrible things that can test a relationship. And so I really want you to prioritize your relationship. No doubt you have a partner who is amazing. If you don’t have a partner, focus on other relationships. Focus on your family, focus on your friends.

These are blessings that you already have in terms of relationships, so please focus on them, cherish them, keep them as a priority. Make time for them. Make effort for them.

Make effort to just chat to your partner. Make an effort to just cuddle your partner and just be in it together. You don’t have to talk about things.  You can find shared interests or you can find common ground or you can even just sit in silence but cuddle. Maybe that means switching off the TV for you. Maybe that means going out on a weekly date night. It doesn’t have to cost money. It can just be watching the sunset on the beach. Make some consistent time together that is not time wallowing in the sadness that is trying to conceive. Please focus on your relationship and cherish it. It’s really important and it will get you through. If you can instill healthy relationship habits now in the really tough times, imagine how great things will be in the good times. What can you do to focus on your relationship?  Is that date nights? Is it rituals? Is that just going away camping every three months to just reconnect with each other? Whatever it is and whatever works for your relationship, please do it. Don’t put it on pause. Don’t let the muddy waters of fertility and infertility and trying to conceive muddy that journey for you.

don’t pause your life

The next one is don’t pause your life please. I did this and regret it. I paused my life. I put off so many plans because I just wanted to go to the next cycle as quickly as possible. I always wanted the next cycle. The reality is that I definitely could have taken a month off and a month would not have made a difference. One month would not have made a difference.  I missed out on so many things. I turned down my friends for cool things. I didn’t prioritize my relationships enough. I didn’t feel that I had it in me to spend so much time with my friends, and that’s fine if that’s how you feel. If you just need to be with yourself and alone, that is fine, but don’t do it because you’re waiting to fall pregnant because what happens if your journey takes 10 years?  If you are putting everything on pause, if you’re waiting to go on a holiday, if you’re waiting to change jobs, that’s a long time to wait. Please don’t put your life on hold. Live it now. Live it as though you only have one more week to live. Do things that light you up. Let go of things that don’t light you up, but don’t put your life on pause.

focus on the basics

The next one, number six, is to stop looking for magic bullets. Focus on the basics. When we sit there and try to nail 100% of everything, we aim for perfection, it all comes crashing down because perfection is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist. Especially on this fertility journey.  The reality is that you need to focus on the basics of just eating well and looking after yourself emotionally.  All these little magic bullets are not the things that will get you there. What they will get you is stressed, overwhelmed, tired and confused. So stop looking for magic bullets. Focus on what the basics, the core stuff. I know that some of you will rue your fertility specialist when you ask him about, what does this particular herb do? What does this do? What does this do? And they dismiss you, but they’re telling you these things often for a reason because they’re looking at the things that have the biggest impact for the least amount of effort.

Check out my biggest piece of advice to improve your fertility journey

get help when you need it

The very last one goes out to the people who are really struggling. Get help. If you broke your leg, you would not sit there and do nothing. But somehow, our emotional health, we don’t do that. Physically something is broken. Go see a doctor, but when it comes to our emotional health, why are we waiting until we are below rock bottom to get help and don’t get it.  Statistics have shown that the most successful people on our planet are people who just readily ask for help.  Statistics and studies have also shown, and these are big studies by like Harvard Business School and the University of Georgia, that people grossly underestimate the help available to them. There is so much help out there for you emotionally. There are therapists out there who specialize in infertility. There are all of these people who are fertility coaches with differing modalities. Some work on Chakras and that kind of really spiritual stuff. Some are hypnotherapists, some are traditional therapists, some are acupuncturists. But one commonality amongst fertility coaches is that they’re your best friend. They’re there holding your hand. Many of them, not all of them, but many of them have also been on their own infertility journey. But help is out there.  Maybe you can find a local support group. Maybe you can reach out to someone at your local fertility clinic. Maybe you can make friends in online support groups. But if you are feeling quite depressed, quite anxious by your fertility journey, don’t wait into you are waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks to then decide that you need to seek help. There’s no shame in getting help and the strategies that you learn when you see someone will help you in a multitude of situations going forward. You don’t have to do it alone, you don’t have to plod on and do nothing and just survive it because there’s so much help out there.

a recap

  • Let go of the timeline of when you thought this would all happen.
  • Let go of how you thought this would happen.
  • Start writing today in a gratitude journal.
  • Focus on your relationship.
  • Don’t pause your life.
  • Stop looking for magic bullets and just focus on the basics
  • Get some help. It’s out there.
7 Tips for Dealing with TTC Depression | Robyn Birkin | Author, Podcaster, Eternal Optimist
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