In a world that doesn’t yet fully acknowledge the high stress of infertility, it can be hard to recognise and validate the real impact of it.
Recently I came across a Stress Inventory and it helped make sense of why infertility can make us feel exhausted, unmotivated, and unfocused.
According to the Stress Inventory, the higher the number of significant changes or events in your life, the higher your stress levels. These could be positive things like moving house or a holiday as well as negative events like a pet dying or a world pandemic. It’s a great way to get an idea of what you have on your “emotional plate”.
How it works is you add up the scores from all significant life events over the last 12 months. The more stressful the event, the higher it scores.
Right at the top of the list was ‘terminal illness’ (10 points), ‘death of someone close to you’ (9) and ‘serious illness’ (7-9). At the bottom of the list were bad diet (1), a new car (1), and no exercise (1).
A score of 5-7 is considered moderate stress and a score of 7+ is considered high stress.
The inventory I found didn’t include infertility but it needs to. According to the Harvard Study The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment, infertility is considered as stressful as a life-threatening disease.
That means that experiencing infertility rockets you right to the top of the Stress Inventory. That’s official high-stress level.
Infertility is stressful! I know this isn’t news to you but are you allowing yourself to acknowledge how stressful it is? Would you treat yourself differently if it wasn’t infertility you were experiencing but a serious illness? How would others treat you? They certainly wouldn’t be telling you to just relax!
If you’re reading this today, take this as a signal to be extra kind, compassionate, and gentle with yourself. Let yourself off the hook – you’re doing better than you think.
If you want to do something proactive about your stress levels then there are three things you can do - remove stress, increase the positive stuff, or get support.
And it’s important to remember to focus on the things you can control.
Don’t wait for the world to catch up and recognise the impact of infertility. Make yourself and your emotional well being a priority.