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Coping with a forced pause (Part 1)

holding bottle with hope messageThis is not an easy time for all of us. You may be feeling a myriad of emotions and thoughts. How we cope is different for everyone. If your emotions feel messy, this is a normal response to our messy world right now; however, it is also normal to feel whatever you feel in this. There is no prescriptive response. Your feelings are your feelings, your coping is your coping.

It is important to give yourself credit for the mammoth task of adapting to this pause of life as we knew it. This level of re-organising is a huge transition and it is ok to feel fragmented and exhausted in accepting this change. It takes a lot of energy to adjust, managing disappointment and sadness takes energy, not feeling in control takes energy, huge emotion takes energy, managing relationships in a new situation takes energy, hear what I am saying! There is so much that is changing by the minute and it can be exhausting recalibrating.

Changes in living and working arrangements can bring us intimately closer to others in their coping and this can be jarring! The way you cope with those you live with may vary greatly. This is just how it is, especially when a small issue is exacerbated and becomes a challenge and sends you into a spin. Managing change and stressful situations can come easier to some than others. You may feel annoyed by others in their individual way of coping or frustrated by what might appear to you as their lack of coping. Remember, how we cope is a very personal experience and we have different responses based on our life experience, our families and how we grew up, and our own interpretations of what is happening. Some people like to be continually informed on all the detail; this makes them feel safe. They like to stay on top of every news broadcast and social media post and continually talk about it, while others want to pull back and find it anxiety provoking to be so exposed and wish to remain less informed. It may be hard work, but it is important to cultivate empathy for yourself and for others. Each person is different in their needs, for what provides comfort, distraction, motivation and so forth. It is important to come back to yourself and trust that you are coming from your own lived experience, your own vulnerabilities and strengths, and you are you in this. That does not mean you cannot learn from others and be open to what might be helpful and inevitably irritated by what is annoying. What is key is to try to be kind and have empathy for yourself and those around you in our learning to collectively manage.

Your tolerance levels might be quite low right now. The smallest of things could be setting you off, irritating you, making you want to scream. When we are stressed and anxious and have so much on our plate to manage, the little things can make us wobble, and can appear irritational and out of context to others! If you can imagine a cup being filled and it overflows, there is only so much liquid it can hold. Is your cup overflowing? If so, it is hard to have tolerance. What do you need to make happen to recharge, reset and take care of you to manage which is most likely only a temporary overflow? Tolerating difference can be tough, especially when it grates, and you want to react. Difference does not necessarily have to be a bad thing, it can be an opportunity to ask for space, ask for support, ask for things that bother you to be altered, a chance to deepen your relationships, being brave to address some of the issues you have perhaps endured and have never addressed. Or you may just find ways to enhance your ability to tolerate in having empathy that the people you live with are human and are also coping as best as they can right now.

You might be questioning if your responses are normal and be doubting yourself. You may feel calm and question why I’m coping so well. Why am I calm when other people are not? Is there something wrong with me. It might feel strange to be doing well. You may have the skills that got you through hard times before and you are accessing them. Your incorporation of resilience in your life before may be serving you well now, remember it takes great resilience to manage fertility treatment. You will find a way too to make this pause time work.

Our counselling team is available to our patients throughout this time, via email, phone or Skype. Please contact them on counselling@genea.com.au, or Genea Hollywood at perth@genea.com.au and Genea Oxford at joy@mindfree.co.nz.

Visit Genea's Fertility Collective to find more advice and useful tips and tools plus the latest updates on COVID-19 and the impact on fertility treatment.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a Genea Group blog and as such information may not be relevant for all clinics. We advise that you consult clinics directly for further information.