A letter to the next person who tells me to “just relax and it’ll happen” :
Dear friend/family member/acquaintance,
First, I want to tell you that I love you. And thank you for loving me enough to try to make me feel better when I am feeling low. And I know that your words come from a place of love, and I appreciate your attempts to help. And you are probably feeling at a loss of what to say or how to help. So you decide on a “safe” phrase (that I have already heard countless times before): “just relax and it’ll happen!” or “once you stop trying it’ll happen!”, or “you’re young; don’t worry about it!”
I genuinely appreciate your support, and I know that these words are meant to be comforting. And to be honest, I probably spoke these same lines in the past while trying to help a friend feel better.
But now that I am on the receiving end..I vote we stop. Like right now.
Because telling a person to “relax” or “stop worrying about it” minimizes the struggle. These statements are damaging because they fuel the fire for anxiety surrounding this issue. Because it shifts the blame onto the person struggling. It inherently forces the person to question his/her mental health and coping strategies (on top of dealing with the fertility struggles).
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said one of these comments to me and I’ve been forced to stop and ask myself: am I not relaxed enough? Am I stressed out? How do I de-stress if I didn’t even know I was stressed in the first place?
It’s really confusing advice! (especially to someone who spends most of her free time relaxing on the couch with Romeo). This type of advice makes me think that I am doing something wrong. Or not doing enough. Or maybe doing too much? Again, it’s confusing advice!
Many people and many couples have medical reasons for not being able to conceive easily. If I was diabetic and I told you my sugar level was in the low 40s, would you tell me to just relax and stop stressing? Probably not. You’d probably give me an apple or a cup or orange juice to help me regulate my blood levels. Sure, I know that this is an extreme example, but I think the point is we need to validate the hardship rather than minimize the struggle.
So what is safe advice to give someone? I guess that depends on your relationship and the person confiding in you, but for me a statement like “I’m sorry, this must be hard for you” or “I’m here for you” will do the trick. These simple yet supportive words can be very effective!