A Humble Request

After I published today’s post, I got an email; I had been corresponding with a few people about the PAIL post before and after I put it up. In the email, the author stated she was surprised I was looking for a negative in a positive situation. This stopped me in my tracks.

My Freshman year of college was mired in a pretty awful depression. I spent that Winter Break secluded in our snowboarding club’s cabin, isolated and alone, reading David Foster Wallace’s monstrosity Infinite Jest and hitting the slopes when I could get a ride. I spent almost an entire month up in that lonesome cabin, rarely interacting with anyone, stewing in my own misery.

When I came back down to confront the real world I spent an evening with one my best high school friends. During that night’s conversation, which ended up being the last we had for a long time, she told me I liked being depressed, she insisted that I was choosing to see the world so negatively, she assured me that if I wanted to be positive about things, I just had to do it.

I sent her away that night and didn’t speak to her again for many, many years.

Later, my two closest college friends confronted me with similar sentiments. I didn’t send them packing because if I had I’d have been left with nothing, no friends and no place to live. Still, hearing them insist that my depressed state was something I had control over was incredibly upsetting.

It took me a long time to work through my depression. I spent a lot of hours talking to therapists and downed many different medicines, in varying combinations. Finally, and for reasons I don’t really understand, I was able to pull myself out of my darkness. In my mid twenties, life started looking a lot better.

Around the same time my sister, who had never been a half-glass-full kind of person, suffered some very devastating losses. She fell into her own depression and became an incredibly negative person. Being around her was difficult and exhausting. Even though I knew that she couldn’t control how she was feeling, I hated spending time with her. Still, I supported her in whatever ways I could and with medication and therapy (and Buddhism) she pulled herself out of her own depressive episode.

Experiencing depression from the outside, with my sister, was an eye opening experience. It made me look back on my own episodes and sympathize with what my friends went through with me. I promised myself that when depression struck again (I always knew it would strike again) I would be better about either seeing the positive in life or keeping my darkly negative thoughts to myself. I’ve worked hard, during my healthy years, to seek out the good in situations, to see the silver lining, to be positive. I know I don’t always succeed but my intentions are good.

My struggles TTC and with my loss definitely shook my attempted glass-half-full outlook on life. Our financial strains, my father’s prolonged unemployment and our relationship difficulties have also chipped away at its already tarnished facade. I wonder if being a part of this community, and coming face to face with the constant and overwhelming loss, is having a similar effect.

The thing is, I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be the person who looks past what she has, who is seen as ungrateful, who finds a way to twist something wonderful into something troublesome. I have been that person and I never want to be her again. I hope the wonderful women in this community will help me stay on the path and tell me, as someone did today, when I’m veering off it. I know it’s asking a lot–maybe it’s asking too much and if it is I’m sorry–but I do hope that if I become that negative person you will please, please tell me. I know my anxiety has ways of twisting the truth, transforming it into something warped and grotesque. Sometimes I don’t recognize when it’s happening. Sometimes I need someone to shake things into focus. I’m sure as we start TTC again that will be the case. I truly hope you all can help me see what’s actually in front of me instead of what I fear I will have to face.

In the meantime, I’m sorry I saw the negative in a positive situation. I thought I was trying to be considerate, trying not to offend but instead I was the one offending and I regret that immensely. Of course, there is a silver lining and I’m grateful to be reminded of the path I chose not that long ago and how I very much still hope to follow it.

With this entry I’m going to bow out for a while. I’m sorry for the deluge of posts I’ve published in the last twelve hours. I promise you won’t be hearing from me again for a while. I have some shit to work out on the home front and a lot of work to do on other projects. I hope you all have a restful weekend and a hopeful beginning to a new month and maybe a new season, depending on where you find yourself and whether Spring has yet arrived.

9 responses

  1. I don’t think you were trying to find a negative: I think you’re a very empathetic and kind person who wanted to make sure that no one felt hurt. Since no one does, awesome 🙂

    I also don’t think you’re depressed. I’m not a therapist but you have been so incredibly productive, balancing everything (school, tutoring, parenting, WRITING A BOOK!!). Hanging out with you makes my spirits lift.

  2. No apologies necessary. You questioned something, put it out there, and got the feedback you were looking for. I don’t think people were offended at all – quite the contrary. Had they been offended, they likely would not have responded at all or would have responded with nastiness. People obviously respect you enough to respond to a post they don’t agree with, and it was all done with a lot of tact. I’m sure you’ve seen comments before that aren’t handled with tact – and those are the types of comments you get when you offend 😉

    Good for you for seeing the impact that external things have on you. Mommy Oddyssey mentioned the same type of thing just before she took her blog break, and I completely identified with her post the way I do with this one. We want to be supportive to one another, even if we don’t know one another, but being so deep in each other’s emotions can bring us down ourselves. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to you (obviously), and I’m sure it’s happened to many others.

    Happy blog break! We’ll miss you, but that will make your return that much better!

  3. I am someone who is on the periphery of this community – I have PCOS but was able to conceive with Metformin and have a happy, healthy 17 month old. I’m now 10 weeks along with #2. Honestly I wondered the same thing you did – how will P.A.I.L. make those people feel who see pregnancy/ parenting as elusive? You were brave to put it out there, and I still think some people may be hurt by it, but maybe don’t want to rock the boat by saying anything.

    I hope you’re able to tackle the things you want to get done, and that a blog break helps you feel renewed and ready to tackle the world :-).

  4. Can I just say I’m really glad you wrote the first post about this because, actually, I did have a feeling of being excluded when I started reading about the PAIL blogroll.

    That’s not to say I don’t think it’s an awesome idea and very much hope to be on it soon. I think it’s a great idea, I think it needs to exist, I think it will help a whole lot of people out, and I don’t think it was intended to exclude anyone or make anyone feel bad.

    But feelings are feelings. And, by choice, I do follow several blogs of women who are either pregnant or parenting “after” infertility (I put after in quotations because I’m not sure there is an after when there’s infertility or loss). And sometimes I read the posts with interest and sometimes I skim past them knowing I’m not in the best of places to read it.

    But still, something about the PAIL list did bring up similar feelings inside me as when I’m with a group of women and I’m the only one whose never been pregnant/has kids. It did make me feel like…”crap, what if I’m never on that list?”

    I don’t know. Those are just the honest feelings of one person whose not yet “on the other side.” So I just wanted to say I understood your first post.

    And again, I want to make it as clear as day that I DO think the PAIL blogroll is a positive thing. But emotions are complicated. Infertility is complicated. And I’m just saying that there was a moment where I felt left out in much the same way I often feel left out around fertiles.

    I’m not criticizing the list. I’m just throwing this out there as something to think about.

    • Thank you so much for this. I really, really appreciate it. The truth is I feel the same way you do, though it doesn’t seem it read that way in my post. I also think the list is great and I’m happy it’s there now and I can be a part of it. I’m happy I can easily find other bloggers who I might want to read and who might want to read me. But like you so eloquently put it in your comment: “But emotions are complicated. Infertility is complicated.” And I would add this community is complicated, just like any other community that is worth being a part of.

      Thanks again for this. I really needed it today.

      Oh, and I hope so, so much that you’re on that list some day, with your own healthy happy baby in your arms.

  5. I know exactly where you’re coming from. I’ve battled depression, too, and sometimes, when I start to feel its weight dropping down on me, I wonder myself if I’m choosing to wallow in my own negative thoughts, rather than looking on the bright side. Fortunately, I have a husband who is perpetually optimistic, and he constantly calls me on my negativity (which I insist is realism, not pessimism). I think it can help to have someone on the outside point it out to you, because sometimes it’s so hard to see it from the inside.

    As far as the whole PAIL thing, I think your concerns were warranted, and it’s something I think we’re all aware of because we’ve become almost hypersensitive to the triggers that could potentially hurt us or those around us. We know them all too well.

    Enjoy your blogging break! It sounds like you have plenty of other things to keep you busy!

  6. Hey- I totally understood what you were trying to say on the first post. I felt (and still feel) somewhat the same, although I did join the PAIL list.

    I understand the feeling of being excluded- most of my friends are on their second babies/pregnancies and it stings- because right now even if I wanted to get prenant and physically could (which I don’t have any idea if I could) I can’t until we know our chances of having another child with a genetic disease.

    Here’s kind of my comparison- I know a lot of bloggers in the ALI community are afraid of losing friends and not relating to those they used to when they do have a successful pregnancy or adoption. I feel the same way about G’s diagnosis, or lack thereof. I’ve made a lot of connections in the Mito community over the last few months- but if he isn’t diagnosed, will those people still want to be friends and a source of support? It’s tough.

    I think we are all just looking for a place to belong and to connect with people we share experiences with.

  7. Depression is not a choice– having a bad attitude is. Depression is a chemical imbalance. It’s not something you can pull yourself out of by merely attempting to have a more positive attitude. It’s quite obvious that the people making these comments to you have little to no experience or understanding of depression– otherwise they’d know how utterly offensive those words are. It’s equivalent to “Just Relax” for infertiles.

    I have everything in the world to be happy about– nice home, husband, income. I stay at home most of the week with my beautiful boys and I have awesome help from my family which gives me a break whenever I need it. However, there’s a weight (in my head, on my shoulders, in my heart) that I just can’t rid of by being grateful for my blessings. I need medication to find my way back to the best version of me & there’s no shame in that. At all.

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