(in)Fertility Stress and its link to High Functioning Anxiety
I wonder if you know that someone may be struggling with high functioning anxiety and yet look like they haven’t got a trouble in the world.
Many like me may have been dealing with high functioning anxiety for years and not even realise it.
I believe that many individuals struggling to conceive may also be dealing with a form of high functioning anxiety, perhaps totally unaware of the fact and even if they are, not realising that there is something that they can do about it.
Maybe you recognise yourself in the follow:
You are used to succeeding in whatever you choose to focus your attention on, and this is the first time you’ve come up against something that the effort you put in, does not equal the level of success you are able to achieve.
You take care of yourself, or maybe that is your aim and you then feel guilty when you slack off from your fitness and dietary regime. Or perhaps you wish you could give yourself some slack now and then but you daren’t.
You are always willing to help others when asked and when you are in social situations you show up fully. Although you have become quite stealth-like in getting out of social events without people noticing that there is anything wrong.
What others, most of them anyway, do not know because you would never share, is that underneath this clever façade you are struggling deeply. You experience a constant feeling of anxiety, worry thoughts that won’t leave you alone, nervous energy causing your heart to beat out of your chest, fear of judgement, fear of disappointing others because you can’t keep being there for them, fear of arguments because people don’t or won’t understand your situation, fear of having let your partner down, your parents and in-laws down, and so on.
Though you desperately want to say no on many occasions you find yourself saying yes for an easy life. When you are asked questions like “when are you going to have a baby?” or “isn’t your biological clock ticking?”, you want to scream that you have been trying for years and yet, you calmly spew out your carefully crafted ‘avoiding the answer’ response. Lying to yourself as much as to them as you do.
That's a lot to deal with isn't it? Which leads me to the question...
Has your fertility struggle led you down a pathway of having to deal with high functioning anxiety?
Let's take a look...
The Useful Stuff
Whilst it may not always feel like it, there are some useful aspects to your fertility struggle causing you to have high functioning anxiety. Generally, this is around the fact that it can have a strong power to drive you forward and help you put on that strong façade as you need.
Let’s look at how this shows up in your fertility struggle:
- SOCIAL– you can act happy when you need to, even being the source of others' entertainment. You can be funny, interesting and chat as if you haven’t got a care in the world.
- SHOW-UP – when you really have to, you are able to make appointments and show up to them for work, for social events, and for practical means.
- PROACTIVE – you are driven to research everything you can about your particular fertility struggles and what may help.
- ORGANISED – there is often a lot to do and think about when you are going through fertility treatment. You are able to keep on top of this whilst hiding it from others in the most efficient way.
- CARING – somehow you still manage to find the ability to be caring of others. Particularly in your own circle of fellow fertility sufferers you will always be willing to share and show up.
The Unhelpful Stuff
It is good to focus on the useful stuff isn’t it? Because let’s face it the struggle is not so great.
Also, because others don’t know you are struggling, they may pick holes in some of the things that they observe causing you to want to become even more stealth like in hiding them.
- When something isn’t important enough for you to have to show up or help with, you may say yes as that’s the easy thing to do in the moment and then pull out at the last minute. This opens you up to others judging you as unreliable and trying to make you feel guilty about that.
- You may find it really hard to say no because you are making such an effort to ensure others believe that all is fine in your world.
- You may worry about what other people think way too much. Things like saying no or late cancellations can exacerbate this. You also worry though about what they may think of you as a person with fertility difficulties, or the decisions you make on your journey towards having a baby.
- It can feel like Anxious Annie (or your version of her/him) has taken up residence in your head. Your mind goes into overdrive replaying negative stuff from the past and worrying about the future. Often beating yourself up about decisions you’ve made in the past and feeling overwhelmed by your choices in the now and for the future.
- You may have developed rituals around your fertility struggle. This can actually be a useful thing in moderation, however, it can also get out of hand and start ruling your life with regards to the actions you take and/or blaming yourself for things going wrong if you miss out on any parts of your rituals.
- You may have a constant need for reassurance. Google comes into this a lot, as does spending lots of time in social media groups asking questions. Both of these things can be useful, however they can also get way out of hand. The biggest problem being is that most of the time you are either asking people who don’t know the answers, who can end up transferring their situation on to yours, causing you more distress. Or in the case of google, you will always find ‘proof’ of what you are looking for because there are good examples shared that relate to your situation and bad.
- People close to you are potentially feeling like you’ve changed, that you are more difficult to be around and that they can’t talk to you without having to tread on eggshells.
- Your life can become very limited as you withdraw from your friends and family and turn down more and more invitations.
- You may find it hard to enjoy what you are doing in the now. Instead of being fully present, your mind is stuck in the past or racing ahead to the future. Most often you don’t want to be in so called enjoyable situations because you see no point being there as they are no fun.
- Perhaps you are frightened of what the future holds for you and the longer your fertility struggle goes on the harder it is to imagine a world as a parent. You worry that you don’t know how you are meant to ‘be’ in that world, even though that world isn't set in stone yet.
- You may feel angry at the unfairness of your situation wondering why others are able to have a baby so easily, especially those who don’t take care of themselves or worse are alcoholics, drug addicts, etc. Your thoughts, irrational as they may be, can then turn in on yourself as you wonder what you have done that is so bad for the Universe to deem you be unfit to become a parent.
- You may have difficulty falling asleep, or if you fall asleep ok you then find yourself waking up really early and unable to fall back asleep.
- You can feel exhausted, mentally and physically. Even when you do get a decent night’s sleep you wake up feeling like you haven’t slept a wink.
- You may end up using coping mechanisms as a form of distraction, knowing that they don’t really help and in fact end up making you feel worse.
‘Living in the Wait’ instead of ‘Waiting to Live’
Even if you only recognise yourself in a few of the things I’ve mentioned above, a few is all that is needed to have a devastating impact on your life isn’t it? Your relationships with your partner, your family, friends, work colleagues and most importantly yourself, are all affected by the way your fertility struggle is making you feel.
Right now, it may feel like the only solution to this problem is for you to have a baby and of course that would be a great short-term fix wouldn’t it? Although I am sure you are wondering why I have said short-term fix and so here’s the really important thing I want you to know in relation to that.
Unfortunately the emotional impact can be long lasting and the impact of a difficult fertility struggle can continue on into pregnancy, birth, parenting and how you live your life as a whole.
In other words, the impact on your mental health and emotional well-being does not necessarily go away on that magical day you get those two pink lines on a pregnancy stick.
This is why the Freedom Fertility FormulaTM focuses on helping you to ‘Live in the Wait’ in a useful and fulfilling way.
- Firstly, because that is what you deserve.
- Secondly because it is the way to prevent your fertility struggle from impacting on you for the rest of your life.
- Thirdly, from our experience of the work that we do with our clients, it enhances the chances of you having your longed for baby too.
Now clearly I can’t solve this problem in one blog post and you may not be ready to start working with a Freedom Fertility FormulaTM Specialist just yet.
I want you to start getting help straight away though.
That is why I have put together a free workshop that you can access through the Freedom Fertility Emotional Well-Being Support Space FB Group.
Come and join us now and you will get immediate access to the free workshop right there on the group. There is no need to register. You will also have access to the wisdom of my team of Freedom Fertility FormulaTM Specialists, who along with myself are very happy to answer any questions you have.
On that free workshop which I have labelled ‘Laying a Strong Foundation for Change’ you will learn the following:
- Success Steps – How to take charge of the emotional overwhelm.
- Stress Release – Understanding the impact of stress on your fertility success and what to do about that.
- Stress Less Strategy – How to take charge of your version of Anxious Annie.
- Self-Care Strategy – a simple self-care strategy that takes very little time, that will help you detox daily from the negative overwhelm, change your state easily whenever you need, and give you an easy and 'useful' way to relax at the end of the day.
- Sixth Sense Exercise – this is an awesome decision making tool to help ensure that you are always able to make choices that are right for you.
The delivery of this workshop is through recorded FB Lives and there are also additional resources in written and mp3 format to support you as you learn.
Myself and my team of Freedom Fertility FormulaTM Specialists look forward to supporting you as you make your way through this workshop, so please do come and join us and don't let your fertility struggle cause you to live with high functioning anxiety.
In other words instead of being forced to 'Wait to Live', learn instead how to 'Live in the Wait' in a positive and fulfilling way.
BECOMING A FREEDOM FERTILITY FORMULA SPECIALIST
If you would like to find out if working with Fertility Clients is right for you. Check out my Free Online Introductory Workshop for Becoming a Freedom Fertility Formula Specialist.