Infertility #4: Breakdown

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Disclaimer: We all have our own journeys, and everyone is impacted in their own way. My story won’t ever belong to someone else, but I hope it can help further the acceptance and willingness to speak about one’s life, mental health, and find a supportive community who listen and care.

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When I initially realized I was entering depression, it was very much in the back of my mind. I wasn’t paying attention to it, but I knew it was there. As I described in my last post, it felt like I was sliding in my mind. Not even that my mind was stuck in one place, but that it was slowly sliding backwards.

On March 12, I had my first emotional breakdown of my entire life. All of a sudden the emotions swept over me as I was in bed for the night. My mind was racing, realizing how scared I am of the unknown. A lot of these emotions focused on the fact that I am likely to require surgery, but I don’t know anything about it.

I have no idea what the urologist is going to say to me. I am annoyed and confused that it’s a phone appointment. I just want a real appointment so I can seriously find out what comes next. Not only that, but the phone appointment is not even directly scheduled. The doctor is going to call me sometime within a 9 hour window of time. I had to take the entire day off work just to sit in a well of anxiety ALL DAY LONG waiting for a phone call to come at some point.

I am scared that I am going to be given a surgery date with very little explanation. Of course logically, I know that won’t happen but during this breakdown, I realized that my emotions of fear surrounding this are bigger than I knew. I have never had any kind of surgery before, and I know this is normal. I’ve watched enough ER and Grey’s Anatomy to know that much…

I HATE not being able to research things. Usually I would just spend time and research all the things I don’t know, but in this case, I literally don’t even know what to research. There’s lots of different types of surgeries this could be and I don’t know what the urologist will recommend since I know that everyone is different.

But it’s surgery. Right now all I know is that this is something that needs to be done for my future health, NOT to help with my fertility. And if there’s any sort of infertility related surgery to come, that’s a new fear all on it’s own. And given that it’s for a future health concern, that means I know even LESS because it’s not even something that is affecting my life right now…other than causing me anxiety.

During this breakdown, I laid there in bed crying and exploding out all of my fears surrounding the unknown. Every thought I had been having that caused me any anxiety or fear all just poured out as Andrea listened and consoled me. She had no idea the amount of things I had been thinking about regarding this surgery and had no idea that I was this concerned about the unknown since normally, I really don’t mind the unknown. I didn’t realize that at the time, the surgery was something that wasn’t even on her mind. It was surprising for both of us how differently we were thinking about “what comes next”.

For her, she was thinking about fertility clinics as the next step, but to me, it was all about the urologist and surgery. Not that it will solve my fertility problems (it almost definitely won’t), but it is still something that comes sooner in the timeline than the fertility clinic stage ( I also later learned the urologist will likely be the one to submit a referral to the fertility clinic).

On March 20 – I had my second breakdown. This one was….much worse. I had been spending the last few weeks slowly sliding backwards in my mind, having less and less emotional energy. What I had was usually completely used up by the end of my work day and all the intense situations I have to deal with. While normally, I love to phone friends on my 40 minute drive home and catch up with people, I found that I had the desire to do that, to reach out, to communicate…..but literally no energy to do so.

Every day, I felt my soul be a little darker and sadder. Day after day. It was something I continued to feel, and it was getting harder to ignore. I kept wondering why I felt this incredible lack of energy. It’s so unlike me to feel this way. I would literally pick up the phone to call someone and then feel the desire just suddenly….slip away.

And then the night of March 20, I just broke. I was trying to manage too many conflicting emotions in my mind. Andrea and I were having a disagreement about something and suddenly I just blurted out WHY I was arguing for a specific point of view, and it had to do with all of my feelings surrounding infertility. I blurted it out, left the room, and collapsed on my bed in tears.

I laid there, shaking and sobbing uncontrollably until Andrea came into the room and consoled me. She let me speak and I just….let it all go. Every thought, every feeling, every insecurity, every fear. I released it all to her in one huge chunk. Some of the things she didn’t know I was feeling or thinking, but most of it she had heard me talk about it before and just didn’t know how DEEPLY it was affecting me.

There’s so many feelings wrapped up in this about who I am as a man, and what it means to not be able to have kids. Logically, I KNOW I am not less of a man just because of this….but I certainly feel like I am.

I feel like I have less to offer the world, and more importantly…less to offer my wife. She desperately wants to be pregnant and I cannot give this to her. I cannot give her something that we both desire so deeply and that makes me feel like I am a failure to her. I love my wife, and I strive to always make her happy and feel loved. And now I have no choice but to completely fail at something so big. It makes me miserable, it makes me furious, and it makes me feel less than other men.

When I look around at all the people who have kids, I have felt angry, hurt, and deeply sad. I have been miserable as I have been trying to figure out these emotions, all while telling myself that I am being stupid. I’m not ACTUALLY angry at people who have been able to have kids, and I know that my wife still loves me and would never consider me a failure.

But I can’t stop feeling all those things. Sometimes they fly briefly through my mind, sometimes they nag at me like a whisper, and sometimes they sompletely seize my heart

While crying and rambling out all my raw emotions, feelings, and thoughts, I finally realized that I am not okay and something is wrong with me on a deeper level. It took Andrea finally outright telling me that she thinks I am depressed to really hit home. I’ve never felt emotions like this before.

This sucks.

How I described my mind sliding earlier is no longer exactly how I feel. Right now honestly as I write this, I feel like I have stopped sliding and am slowly….very slowly…climbing my way back. It’s going to take a lot of work, and I am planning on seeing a therapist to help me through it. We all need help sometimes….and I need help. It’s too much to deal with on my own.

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