This post is about fighting discouragement when you feel emotionally drained.
On the first of this month, I had a laparoscopic surgery to treat endometriosis and improve my chances of having a baby.
Over a period of 2 years, I’ve had 3 pregnancy losses (two of which were ectopic) and it was time to find out what in the world was going on in there.
You probably think I was nervous about having a team of masked doctors snipping and fiddling around INSIDE my body, but NOPE.
I was in a great mood. Motivated! Upbeat!
You see, in my head, I had a plan.
And my plan went like this:
- Step 1 – have this surgery
- Step 2 – heal as fast as possible and then
- Step 3– start trying to conceive again as soon as possible.
I was focused on the end goal and I knew that this surgery was the way to get there.
Well, during recovery a week later, when I should have been getting ready to put my grand plan into action, I found that I just… COULDN’T.
I just couldn’t!
The thought of logging daily temperatures into the fertility app or peeing on another ovulation stick made me want to buy a one way ticket to a distant, remote village.
I could NOT.
I was a car that had completely run out of gas, and the gas, in my case, was motivation and emotional fortitude.
Emotional burnout was ALL I could feel.
I was tired of struggling with something that comes naturally to most women.
Tired of having to encourage myself all the time.
Tired of being on the brink of tears at any given moment and bursting into actual tears at the drop of a hat.
Tired of hoping.
Tired of making hard decisions.
Tired of picking up shattered expectations every failed month.
TIRED AND SO DOGGONE DISCOURAGED.
So now what? Even though my heart and my spirit were broken and spent, the goal is still the goal and my journey to fertility requires me to keep going despite the frustration.
To encourage myself to keep going, I’ve had to develop a tried and true formula of how to pick myself up when I’m completely down and out.
Here are my steps for overcoming discouragement and repeated disappointment.
10 Steps To Be More Resilient & Beat Discouragement
1. Plan Yourself a Pity Party (but schedule an ending time)
Sometimes you just need to let the gravity of the situation wash over you.
You’re not wrong for feeling frustrated and discouraged… as long as you don’t plan to feel that way forever.
Plan your pity party- give yourself time to feel and acknowledge the hurt. BUT! Make sure to assign your pity party an ending time.
Tell yourself, I’m going to let myself sulk for this many minutes or just today or even for this week. Then after that time has passed, make up your mind to pick up the pieces and go after it.
For example, I’ve told myself that by the time I hit publish on this very post, I’m going to gather all of the strength I can muster and I’m going to keep trying.
When you give yourself permission to feel your feelings, with the knowledge that you’re going to move on soon, you get rid of a lot of guilt.
2. Read About Other People’s Breakthroughs
Sometimes when I need to refuel my will to keep going, I google something like “success after recurrent pregnancy loss” and read about other ladies that have overcome a complicated TTC journey.
EVERY single time I do this, I feel rejuvenated. You know why? Because I can see the possibilities again.
Success no longer feels abstract or out of reach.
You can get encouraged in whatever area you are struggling with in the same way. Try googling stories of people that have been in similar situations OR talk to others who have had the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Getting through the difficult situation won’t feel so impossible when you know other people have done it.
3. Take a Break
Feeling emotionally drained should be an automatic signal that you need a break somewhere.
When you’ve been stressed for a long time, it’s not unusual to develop burnout. When that happens, recover by giving yourself some time off. Granted, some things, like chronic illnesses for example, are impossible to take a break from. But, in the situations when you can afford a break, take it!
Recently, a friend shared how discouraged she had become from back-to-back unsuccessful relationships and pointless blind dates. For her peace of mind, she decided to take a “no-dating” break for a few months before trying again.
Don’t let things seem more of an emergency than they really are. To stay emotionally and mentally healthy, you need time off for your heart and mind to recover.
psst… These days, apps like Headspace make it much easier to take a mental break, which is why I have a free trial you can use!
4. Confide In Someone
Emotional validation is when someone shows you that they understand and accept what you are feeling and going through.
When I share my struggle with my husband, sister or close friends, I feel heard and someone (besides myself for once) comforts and encourages me.
I know that sometimes it can be tough to find someone trustworthy and supportive enough to share your issues with. If you need help with that, I suggest that you read: “5 Ways to Know You’re Confiding in the Right Person”.
5. Look Around You! (Everyone is in a Struggle)
I don’t know if this is weird, but I find it extremely motivating to learn that even those that are rich and famous are struggling in the same ways that I am.
Did you know that: Michelle Obama had a miscarriage and used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant with both daughters, Malia and Sasha?
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife had recurrent miscarriages. Remy Ma had two ectopic pregnancies like me! Jimmy Fallon, Celine Dion, Courtney Cox, Beyoncé- they all struggled with infertility or pregnancy losses.
Learning these things help me realize that I’m not alone and that I’m not some dysfunctional woman. Knowing that others, despite their money and influence, are in the same position I am, helps me to realize that it’s not my fault and this is just life.
Try it! If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety for example, look at the statistics! Find out just how many others are going through a similar journey. You’re not strange, you’re not alone and you can make it!
6. Fill Your Life Up
My life and my identity are bigger than my fertility. When I take a step back and look at all the different aspects of me, I have to admit that there is so much more to this woman than this one issue.
The same is true for you. While you wait or work on your breakthrough, fill your life up in other areas. Take up a new hobby, work on personal development, help others!
Don’t live an empty life just focusing on one problem.
The fuller your life feels, the easier it will be to tap into your personal strengths and rebound from feeling emotionally spent.
7. Meditate on Encouraging Thoughts
Before my surgery, a good friend casually said something that really lifted my spirit.
When I told her what I was going through, she casually said “you’re such a strong woman”. Those five words encouraged me so much, she has no idea! Whenever I started getting discouraged, I would think about that statement and it would motivate me to live up to that strength.
What you think about directly shapes your everyday life.
If you want to regain your emotional strength, you need to consistently feed on words and thoughts that are positive and motivating.
This is why I have an e-mail group where we talk about transforming your self talk and your mindset to help you be more resilient. Subscribe right here!
8. Remind Yourself Of Past Victories
I often think about difficult times that I have already overcome and then use them as a point of reference to remember that I have what it takes to keep on going.
For example, are you tired of hearing ‘No’ when you apply for desired jobs? Think about how hard it was for you to pass that tricky class in school and look at you now. The class is passed and long forgotten.
Are you discouraged by a trail of failed relationships? Just remember how challenging it felt to save up for that car you really wanted. You thought you’d never see the end of that struggle but alas, you were determined and you succeeded.
That same determination hasn’t gone anywhere.
If we could keep going then, we can keep going now!
9. Be Nice to Yourself
The concept of self care is EVERYWHERE right now, isn’t it? For good reason.
Self care isn’t just about bubble baths and yoga. It’s about being gentle with yourself when life is overwhelming and frustrating! Some ways you can be kinder to yourself are:
- Don’t beat yourself up for not having it together all the time
- Avoid toxic comparisons
- Take a social media vacation
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ to emotionally taxing commitments when you just can’t deal
One big tip that I have is to create a designated Self Care Day and be faithful to it every week.
It’s easier to prevent burnout than it is to overcome it.
10. Put on the Garment of Gratitude
One of my most encouraging bible verses (Isaiah. 61:3) says that God has “given us a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Remember that, like a garment (an item of clothing), gratitude is something that you can choose to put on or take off. When you start counting up all the things that you have been blessed with, it has the tendency to make the things that are going wrong, look way smaller.
It takes creativity sometimes, but when it feels like nothing is going my way, I force myself to find things to be thankful for.
For example, I’m thankful that I live in the days of modern medicine and that fertility options are more accessible than they have ever been before.
I am thankful for a supportive spouse.
Finally, I am thankful that time after time, the grace to keep going keeps finding me, despite how discouraged and drained I may get.
Read Next : “How To Be More Positive” (strategic changes you can make to eliminate negative thinking)
Friend, I know that it feels really hard.
In life, discouraging times will come but thankfully, you and I can overcome every single time.
Awww I love this post. When I read the last one I audibly said ‘Awww that’s sweet to myself!
Fantastic post x
I knew by the time i read your first point that i’ll love this post. We do DESERVE pity parties. Break down, do the ugly crying-slash-howling-to-the-moon once in a while. But make sure you don’t drown in it, this point is important! Love that you highlighted it as well :)x
And i cant agree more about confiding in someone. The hard part is finding someone you can trust and someone who actually understands. But if you have found that one person, then you have the extra support that’ll get you through! Thanks for sharing :)x
Shayla aka batmom85 says
This post is so wonderful. You’re so brave for sharing what you feel and helping others at the same. You post is so moving. I’ve dealt with infertility my kids are 10 years apart. I had many failed attempts at ivf, 5 MC’s and finally had my Christy girl naturally almost 3 years ago. I’m praying for you and I’m so glad you wrote this. It’s hard to talk about this things but you’ve done so beautifully.
Thank, you so much for sharing your story. I’m such a huge advocate for realness and you hit it on the head when you suggested sometimes we need a social media break. Life IS NOT perfect no matter how much people might try to paint that type of picture on social media. Everyone needs a pity party, and I like that you put that a pity party needs an ending time. I love that you’ve included that self care can be just saying no to things that cause stress. I’m currently taking a health leave from work whereas before I was sick and pushing myself to a physically damaging place, I’m JUST starting to realize how happy that I said “enough is enough” and put myself first to heal. Thank you for this post, sincerely.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis 20 yrs ago when I was 18 years old.
Even though I’ve had two kids who are turning 14 and 7 this year, i will tell you the depression and emotional issues are still there. No one understands my symptoms and unfortunately they are never entirely gone 🙁 🙁
This is a very good and helpful article though, thank you for posting it! 🙂
Thank you for your comment Leah.
I certainly understand how those tough emotions can continue to linger; endometriosis can be lonely and agonizing. I am glad you found help here. Stay strong, you are doing great!
Thank you so much for this. I just had a miscarriage and happened to stumble across this article, so helpful!
You are so so welcome Leigh! It makes me so happy to be able to reach you at a time like this. Recover well!
Holly Hutcheson says
Wow, what a great article! I really needed this, self care is so important. Thanks!!
Arun Dahiya says
You know I struggle with a lots of chronic health conditions too. And with it, it’s very easy to feel depressed. I try these things. Would use your ideas too. You have a great list.
Great post! We all need to be kinder to ourselves.
Gracia Harrison says
Love this so much! Thanks for the inspiring words! We definitely do all need the time to wallow in our misery and pity parties, and then get back up and grind! I was just talking to my best friend about this today! It’s important to take the time to reflect on the good rather than focus on the bad!
Great article. Everything that has been suggested is so simple yet powerful. Loved it.
Very informative post! It’s so easy to fall into a depression when you’re suffering from chronic health issues, which then leads to a whole other issues because you have both to contend with.
Your suggests are so helpful and although they seem so easy in theory, for those of us suffering from mental illness it’s far from it.
As someone with overwhelming anxiety who is constantly comparing her day-to-day to others’ highlight reel… thank you for this. It puts things into perspective for me. Especially #9! Showing ourselves kindness and grace can be so difficult sometimes.
Emily Ryan says
I am infertile also and this really is such good advice, particularly this line “My life and identity is bigger than my fertility.” it really resonates! thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Mind and Love says
Terrific post! My wife and I have been trying to conceive and are familiar with so much of what about you write about here! We also have had fertility challenges. We finally have genuinely relaxed and decided to let whatever will be. Thank you for sharing! So many of us will gain comfort from your story.
Thank you for sharing this! I’m encouraged as a woman, and I’m compelled to be a better friend 🙂
You’re an amazing friend already girl!
But I AM glad you found this encouraging. That encourages me to keep sharing!
I agree that self-care is absolutely about being kind to ourselves, even if that’s just in terms of our self-talk. A pity party, or acknowledging the emotion, is also a form of self-care, I think! Thank you for sharing your experience; difficult as it may be, it seems that you’ve found some great ways of looking after your mind and embracing life <3
Yes indeed! Thanks for reading and commenting Tilly 🙂
I know this wasn’t easy to share. I am so grateful for your openness.
As a woman, we have plans. Go to school, get married, have babies. Sometimes, things just don’t work out in that order.
I love what you said about reminiscing on all the difficult times God has brought you through. It’s sooo true! It reminds me that all I needed then was faith and works and that’s the same thing I need NOW because God NEVER CHANGES. He knows why He has allowed this but rest assured that He will be glorified in this!
You’re so right about the default plans we all have, not knowing how things will actually turn out. We plan our life but God directs our steps.
Nevertheless, I believe it will all end in Glory.
Thank you for reading, commenting and encouraging Queen! A supportive community like yourself makes it easier to be open 🙂
Love your self-care strategies (and your graphics!)
Lynn Helene Bonfils says
I find that the hard things that happen in life are when God wants me to learn and grow closer to Him. I can trust Him that what He has for me is better than anything I can imagine. So, I am learning to trust God and let go of the “control” that separates me from Him.
Amy Walsh says
Thank you! I feel the weight on my shoulders getting lighter.
That is so wonderful to hear Amy