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IVF and Depression


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#1 prue~c

Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:03 AM

I found out a few weeks ago that I was going to be an Aunty for the first time. My younger sister is pregnant and I am incredibly thrilled for her. But it was my own reaction to the news that surprised me. I was happy. There was a slight tinge of jealous, and a bit of "why not me", but on the whole, the overriding emotion was joy.

But she was wary of telling me, so much so that it wasn't until she was eight weeks along that she plucked up the guts to let me know, but I had already guessed. I thought something was suspicious when she kept telling me NOT to come over with a bottle of wine. Then when she didn't want to go ice-skating at the temporary rink on Bondi Beach, I knew something was up. I was right, of course. I always know it when friends are pregnant - that sixth sense that infertiles develop. 
 
But in the past, I haven't dealt with news of other people's pregnancies so well. At the very minimum, a bottle of wine was required. A day off work was also on the cards. It goes without saying I would cry myself to sleep and burst into tears at inappropriate occasions.
 
It came to a bit of a head last year, when a friend of mine, just hitting the magic 40, and someone I thought
was only having one child, told me she was pregnant - she found out a few days before she was going to start IVF. At the time, it felt like I was surrounded by pregnant women or families who had just welcomed babies.

I ended up in a deep funk of depression for weeks. I had already resigned from my job to concentrate on baby making, and was freelancing, so there was no-one relying on me unless I agreed to do specific jobs. I would get up late, run a bath, and spend hours in it, crying, hating myself, making pacts and promises with the Gods that I would be The Best Mother Ever, if only I was given the chance.
 
Of course nothing made me feel better. I was seriously depressed. My husband insisted I go see the counsellor at my IVF clinic and she straight away suggested I go see a psychiatrist and a psychologist. They got me started on a regimen of anti-depressants and cognitive behaviour therapy, and a year later, it's almost like I am a new person. IVF and infertility has been so much easier to deal with since I started taking those magic little pills.
 
IVF can cause depression. It can cause rational people to do irrational things and behave in ways they generally wouldn't. A quick look on the assisted conception forums on EB tells a thousand stories of once happy, functioning women driven to despair by their inability to have children. I have even read stories of women being driven to suicide by their inability to have a child.

Of course not everyone becomes depressed, but I would hazard a guess that a lot of women don't want to admit to it. But take it from me, it's much better when you finally do. There is no shame in asking for help, and I guarantee, you will feel a lot better when you do.

#2 kitty005

Posted 14 October 2010 - 11:33 AM

..

Edited by kitty005, 10 December 2010 - 12:27 PM.


#3 cinnabubble

Posted 14 October 2010 - 08:42 PM

Prue, you really are a remarkable writer. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Fingers crossed for a baby and a book deal in that order.

#4 paulagirl

Posted 15 October 2010 - 10:31 AM

Prue, thank you for your blog.  It takes me right back to those dark, dark days and nights.  My heart goes out to you and to all others that are currently suffering this silent and suffocating grief.

QUOTE
But in the past, I haven't dealt with news of other people's pregnancies so well. At the very minimum, a bottle of wine was required. A day off work was also on the cards. It goes without saying I would cry myself to sleep and burst into tears at inappropriate occasions.
I remember saving my tears for when I was alone in the car, usually during my commute home from work (with the radio volume turned up to the max so that other motorists would not be alarmed at the wailing noise coming from my car...)  My tears would blur my vision and make it hard to see the car breaking in from of me, but it was impossible to stop.

Thank you, thank you for sharing your experiences.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your quest to become a mother.

#5 ~Panda~

Posted 15 October 2010 - 04:44 PM

Thank you for sharing original.gif I have been considering going to see a councellor for a little while and your post has encouraged me.

All I can say is that I am there with you. I have had almost 10 friends announce pregnancies in the last few weeks. Some pregnant with number 2, and I started ttc well before they conceived number 1! sad.gif

I have not endured IVF for nearly as long as many others, so I almost feel guilty posting in here, but I have had plenty of invasive tests, 5 m/c's, 6 hour drives each way to clinics, many stays in hospitals, bloodtests for 21 days straight, etc.

People who have never done IVF do not understand what a failed cycle is like. Some people fob it off, thinking it is just like ttc naturally. If only it were that easy! I look up to the women who have done so many cycles. After 2 attempts, I am a mess. I find I get really emotional at supermarkets. I have started crying while searching for the ripest banana. sad.gif

I wish you all the best, Prue. You deserve your baby original.gif

I'm off to get a glass of wine!

Edited by ~Panda~, 15 October 2010 - 04:45 PM.


#6 hernette

Posted 15 October 2010 - 04:45 PM

Hi Prue

Again I have found things to relate to, even though I have not done IVF (yet). My younger sister also made me an Auntie this year, for one original.gif.

When we first started TTC back in January 09, I went to the GP to have the pre-conception check-up.  When she found out I was on anti-depressants she told me to wean myself off them...and I managed...or so I thought.  This was my third attempt to stop taking them after 2 previous disasters, although the GP hadn't really looked into those.

As soon as I became pregnant I stopped being able to sleep through the night.  I would wake up at 2:30 or 3:00 am and be completely unable to sleep.  The insomnia decreased my ability to cope at work, which increased my stress levels, which made it harder to sleep...and so on...By the time I had my first miscarriage I had told myself that I wasn't fit to be a mother anyway.  I ended up suicidal and needing hospitalisation.

By my 2nd miscarriage I was seeing a perinatal psychiatrist and back on the meds.  While it hurt, I coped so much better.  Instead of getting depressed I got angry, and when Doctors told me I didn't qualify for recurrent miscarriage testing I demanded it.

Should I be lucky enough to get another BFP I will be staying on the meds with the supervison of my psychiatrist and obstetrician.  I have not done IVF but I have seen the dark side of trying to conceive.  Thank you for talking about it.

Edited by hernette, 15 October 2010 - 04:45 PM.


#7 lady*of*thelake

Posted 15 October 2010 - 06:11 PM

Hi Prue,

As usual, a beautifully honest and heartfelt piece. You have an amazing talent for expressing the emotional stuff in such a truthful and believable way.

As always, continued good wishes in your journey.

#8 lollysmum

Posted 15 October 2010 - 06:39 PM

confused at why people are mentioning book deals on this heartfelt blog? not the time or the place, surely.

#9 KFC8

Posted 16 October 2010 - 01:04 PM

Dear Prue

I have just discovered your blog.  Thank you for having the courage to share your journey.  I remember the tears and the heartache and the endless annoying assumptions - I wish I had been able to point people (especially my mother) at a blog like this when I was doing IVF - so I could say "you want to know how I feel, you want to know what's involved read this".

Kristy


#10 hernette

Posted 16 October 2010 - 01:13 PM

QUOTE (lollysmum @ 15/10/2010, 07:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
confused at why people are mentioning book deals on this heartfelt blog? not the time or the place, surely.

The book deal comments relate to one of Prue's previous posts about how we only seem to read about stories of infertility that have a happy ending.

#11 angel70

Posted 16 October 2010 - 02:51 PM

People who have never done IVF do not understand what a failed cycle is like. Some people fob it off, thinking it is just like ttc naturally. If only it were that easy! I look up to the women who have done so many cycles. After 2 attempts, I am a mess. I find I get really emotional at supermarkets. I have started crying while searching for the ripest banana. sad.gif

[/quote]

Panda I hear you - but to you and Prue and everyone else in the same boat - hang in there guys. I'm living proof that things can change.... and yes, I've had depression twice in my life.  The first time quite badly.  The 2nd time I knew what was happening and sought help really quickly.  Both times felt better very quickly after seeking help.

After TTC for 2 years (having lots of lovely tests, procedures, fertility drugs, acupuncture and giving up everything even remotely likely to affect our ability to conceive and enduring constant queries from loved ones as to why nothing was happening yet...???) DH and I finally managed to conceive DD through IVF (on our 2nd cycle).  I cried my guts out over the first one which failed.  (This post does not address any of the tears, issues and emotional wreckage which occurred in the 2 years of TTC - it was so hard to handle and other people's pregnancies during that time were both a joyful and sorrowful experience.)

About a year after DD was born we thought we would try another IVF cycle.  It was all set up and then 24 hours before the embryo transfer my MIL died.  I really underestimated the impact that would have on our little family and went ahead with the transfer as we'd paid, I'd been having all the blood tests and ultrasounds, had booked leave and I thought the embryo had already been thawed.  DH just went to ground for about a month, I felt like a single parent and like I was trying to hold him together as well as be the breadwinner and keep the house running, look after him and DD.  Naturally the embryo decided not to stick around for that thanks very much.... I tried to pretend I was OK about it but I too found myself pushing the food trolley up and down supermarket aisles with DD in the seat trying so hard not to cry, or silently crying in the car ..... The last failed IVF cycle I did, we miscarried after 7 weeks.  Again absolute devastation on my part, just felt like such a failure.  M/C and infertility are not very well supported or understood by the wider community and women (and men) suffer in silence for it.

The happy ending?  well in February this year we went on a short family holiday up the coast and we'd given ourselves another month before we were going to try IVF again.  We'd just sold our house, were trying madly to find another one before we were evicted from our rental place at Easter, we were quite stressed about this and I did NOTHING right this time.  I had actually called the IVF nurses to book in for another transfer (we still have 2 frozen and we plan to give them a chance at life at some point in the future).  Anyway 5 days into the holiday I tested positive for a pregnancy (and bub is now due to arrive in the next 2 weeks according to my Dr).  Not IVF, not tried for and I thank God, the universe whatever being was so kind and generous as to bestow this gift on us every day - even when my toddler is giving me hell - which she is at present because her mother is currently not up to the task of running around after her as much as she would like.

So in short, if you think you might be suffering depression - I recommend getting help ASAP.  Life is so much harder when you're suffering from the condition (I was suicidal the first time, that actually was what made me realise I needed help).  And, I know I've been lucky but I really think that by staying positive that you help your chances of TTC.  Take holidays, live life to its utmost, enjoy everything on offer to you and just keep trying.  I know another couple who did IVF on and off for 5 years, they had this attitude and then.... conceived naturally twice. Go figure!

All the best to both of you. xxx

#12 prue~c

Posted 16 October 2010 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the beautiful comments as usual everyone.

Depression, like infertility, is just another taboo thing that people don't want to know about. It's invisible and often if you can't see something, it doesn't exist.

I just really want to encourage anyone who has considered maybe seeing a counsellor, or even a psychologist or psychiatrist to take that first step and do it.

I has made SUCH a remarkable difference to my life and my partner's. And infertility and depression often go hand in hand. Those women that can go through it and not have any emotional ill-effects are so lucky. i thought I was one of them, but I really wasn't.

My FS and psychiatrist worked together to come up with a medical solution that was OK to be used while doing IVF or if pregnant. Of course no medical professional will tell you that something is 100% safe - not even panadol -  but the meds they prescribed have never shown any adverse effects on IVF outcomes or pregnancy.








#13 jrdd

Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:31 AM

I wish I had read something like this 6 years ago. We spent almost 2 years ttc and I was an absolute mess.  Crying all the time, hiding at home, days off work, avoiding friends, having thoughts of stealing babies...  Was one of those incredibly lucky ones who conceived while 'on a break' before starting IVF and managed to conceive another two very easily afterwards (on first attempt, and on second attempt - go figure). Should have been over the moon, right? Nope! Ended up with PND after first and second. For many many reasons, but I believe my depression while I was ttc had never been dealt with and this was simply the aftermath. It was a veery dark place to be and has changed me forever.  If I had known years ago (that is, if other women had been as open about it as they are today) I would have certainly have asked for help.

#14 sweetiepop

Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:05 AM

But what do you do Prue when the clueless psychologist (with two children) suggest you should get a life and diminishes the pain you feel that the thing that is most important in life to you is not happening and you have to watch through countless pregnancy announcements all around you? Can anti-depressants really help when you are in chronic pain from endmetriosis and bleeding from a failed ivf cycle and the announcement comes over email that a work mate you don't even knowk to support from your familuy only to hear, "no-one carries on the way you do." What if suicide is not irrational when life is filled with emotional agony and is, to your mind, empty? Can other people impose the view that your work for example should fill the void of family? Or that you should devote your life to altruism in a society that has completely dismissed your pain and which you now hate?

#15 PriLou

Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:23 AM

Thank you Prue. Your article brought back many memories for me, and reading others responses the tears are back. Our ttc journey was 8 long years, numerous surgeries (most with complications) and through the generosity of an egg-donor we now have a 10-month baby boy.  One regret I have is that during our rollercoaster ride and despite seeing counsellors, I denied that I was depressed and subsequently not treated for it. Infertility and IVF place an awful strain on relationships, especially marriages. So now, although we have everything we ever wanted, things are strained with myself and DH. O, the irony of it.

#16 bourney

Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:48 PM

Hi Prue
Your story rang so true with me.  Friends fell pregnant all around me whilst we still struggled on.  I would find myself glaring at pregnant strangers, hating them for having something I so desperately wanted.  I don't know how it happened but I ended up thinking that maybe they were in my shoes once.  When my best friend fell pregnant another friend came over with a bottle of wine & a sedative (God bless her!).  We were very lucky that IVF worked for us but those feelings of despair I can remember only too well.  I was lucky that I had 2 other friends going through it at the same time.  I hope you too have someone close who can 'get' it.  All the best on your journey  original.gif


#17 prue~c

Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:59 PM

QUOTE
But what do you do Prue when the clueless psychologist (with two children) suggest you should get a life and diminishes the pain you feel that the thing that is most important in life to you is not happening and you have to watch through countless pregnancy announcements all around you? Can anti-depressants really help when you are in chronic pain from endmetriosis and bleeding from a failed ivf cycle and the announcement comes over email that a work mate you don't even knowk to support from your familuy only to hear, "no-one carries on the way you do." What if suicide is not irrational when life is filled with emotional agony and is, to your mind, empty? Can other people impose the view that your work for example should fill the void of family? Or that you should devote your life to altruism in a society that has completely dismissed your pain and which you now hate?


I would suggest you find a new psychologist. I have a wonderful male psychiatrist who is the least judgemental person I have met. Happy to PM you his details if you are in Sydney.

ADs don't help pain from chronic endometriosis, obviously, but other meds and procedurs can. I have Crohn's Disease, so I know how physical pain only adds to the emotional pain.  

Anyway, I'm not at all qualified to dish out advice - or assvice - whatever you want to call it. I'm just one person sharing my story. If you do feel suicidal, please pick up the phone and call BeyondBlue right now 1300 22 4636.

#18 WittyKitty

Posted 17 October 2010 - 04:28 PM

Sweetipop,


I have no words to make you feel better, I really wish I could.

I have also been suicidally depressed, with a burning hatred for myself and the world. If you have not tried ADs then please talk with your Dr to see if ADs could help you. They are not magic pills but in my experience they helped me think more clearly and fight away the dark thoughts instead of drowning in them.

As for other people, well... yes, it's hard not to hate them sometimes, isn't it? It's such a shame they make this journey harder but what can we do?

To be honest I simply stopped telling people what was going on if I didn't trust them not to say stupid things. That might be the wrong thing to do for others but I found changing the subject around those people helped me. And for those that wouldn't take the hint -  I developed a little arrogance in dismissing their opinion to myself ie - 'well, she would say that, she's totally self obsessed and the fact she has no idea how cruddy she's being proves it'  - that type of thing.

But the most important thing is stopping those hurtful words going around and around in one's head, no matter whose voice is saying them. It can be done.

Please, please seek help. There is help out there.

#19 greenerkiwi

Posted 17 October 2010 - 08:16 PM

Pru - thank you for having the courage to tell the stories that don't end in a baby.

It would have been a lot easier going through the process (8th time lucky) knowing that there could be life without a baby at the end of the tunnel.



#20 sjla

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:58 AM

To sweetie pop
Please tell your psychologist how her comments made you feel and deal with your anger with her first or seek another mental health professional. Antidepressants won't solve the situation but they just might give you the energy and improved mood to tackle the situation and find a way forward. But don't give up. This too will pass.

Edited by sjla, 18 October 2010 - 05:59 AM.


#21 mish-p

Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:20 PM

Pru - yet another poignant insight into the plight that is IVF and infertility. And I too wish I had have read something like this back in 2004/05 when I was on the infertility/IVF treadmill.  

I endorse your recommendation Pru to seek counselling. This is something I never did during our infertility/IVF journey, and looking back, I really should have. I remember feeling like such a failure as a woman, and would feel almost angry towards pregnant women I would see in the street. Having friends and family members announce their pregnancies was quite unbearable at times.

My journey ended happily, for which I am immensely grateful. But after my DD was born, and I failed to establish breastfeeding (after monumental efforts I might add), those feelings of failure returned. I felt like I was a completely useless mother and didn't deserve such a beautiful baby. I remember thinking - "first I needed IVF to conceive, then a c-section to deliver, and now I can't even feed her like nature intended". Perhaps if I had sought counselling during the infertility phase, I would have been better equipped to deal with the feelings of failure that overwhelmed me in early motherhood.

Pru - thanks so much for your honesty - it helps me even all these years down the track. I truly hope that your baby comes to you very soon - you sound to me as though you'd be a wonderful mum xxx

#22 Guest_senecio_*

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:34 PM

This post is very topical for me. We've just had an unsuccessful 5th cycle and it's been my hardest cycle so far. I can't stop crying. Whenever I'm alone the tears come out (and often when I'm not alone too). I've been like this for days. I've seen a counsellor before but she didn't help me at all. I'm trying a different one next week.

I was a normal person before this.

#23 angel70

Posted 19 October 2010 - 02:51 AM

mish-p - you wrote you were thinking - "first I needed IVF to conceive, then a c-section to deliver, and now I can't even feed her like nature intended". My God, I had the exact same thoughts after DD would not breastfeed! (also after monumental efforts).  I ended up with PND after she was born - sleep deprivation ahd a lot to do with it and DH and I still hadn't amde al the necessary adjustments between ourselves to fully accommodate DD into our lives.  Thankfully I got over my PND pretty quickly when my daughter was about 10 months old.  I was only able to do that though because I'd had a v bad bought of depression back in 2003 (for reasons completely unrelated to TTC/children). So in 2003 I had learned how to pull myself up out of depression and get myself better...... took me 18 months and was not an easy process.  I learned a lot though.

To anyone suffering depression there are so many things that can be done to help you get better, I knew next to nothing about it until I found I had to deal with it as I was suffering badly.  I found anti-depressants whilst they didn't fix the problems, helped me feel like I could at least have the energy to start facing them, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, teaches you how to reset your brain/thought patterns, something people who've had multiple bouts of depression need to watch all the time.  Also getting out into the sunshine, getting some exercise, eating right, having some acupuncture to help you to sleep/not sleep (depending upon how the depression is affecting you) having a non-judgmental friend to talk to - all can help.  I felt like I didn't have a friend I could really speak to about it, for me it was a solitary journey back to wellness (both times), but I know others that did and it really helped them.

All the best to those suffering out there.  Others have trodden the path back to wellness, you can too.

#24 wondercat

Posted 19 October 2010 - 05:07 AM

blink.gif ... ahh! I can't delete this post!!

Edited by wondercat, 19 October 2010 - 05:21 AM.


#25 wondercat

Posted 19 October 2010 - 05:17 AM

mish and angel70 - I was in the same boat. IVF, c-section, then extreme difficulty with breastfeeding. Right when I was able to conquer breastfeeding, I had to go back to work and my supply dried up despite pumping. We got through that OK, but just recently my husband and I were planning to go for baby #2 - and both found ourselves spiralling into depression. It's like the thought of starting that daunting process all over again just triggered something in our brains like post-traumatic stress. I just know that after going through all that to have this absolutely perfect, beautiful boy right when we were ready to complete our family everything has fallen apart. We are definitely both making a move to see some kind of mental health professional. In the meantime it's just a relief to see other women who have felt the same things.




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