My IVF journey with mental illness

I want to share a personal story with you today. My boyfriend and I can’t have babies, not naturally at least. We started an IVF procedure about 1,5 years ago. It involved lots of tests, doctor appointments, and even surgery. Last week I was going to my last appointment before the real IVF starts. The nurse talked about what hormones I was going to inject, how the eggs would be harvested and at last she said I needed to go to a psychologist and get a ‘green light.’ I asked her if this was part of the procedure, but she told me it was because I’ve dealt with depression in the past.

I felt completely shocked because I was honest and shared my experience with mental illness, I’m stable for one year now but the doctor thought that I wasn’t able to decide for myself if I was stable or not. I felt my last bit of dignity and autonomy slipping away from me, and it hit me ‘I might never become a parent.’

As someone that has been through a lot in life, I’m just not that impressed by IVF. Yes, it’s a setback, but that’s the way it is. I’m not going to sit in a corner and cry my eyes out cause I have no other option, and if IVF doesn’t work, well I will have to adopt a dog. What I’m trying to say is; I’m rational, mental illness has made me that. I wish that professionals realize that they don’t have to treat us like we will break any moment, if anything, we are strong as hell, and nothing will hold us back. We can make our own decisions and deal with the consequences but stigmatizing and treating us like we are weak and breakable will never help us.

I understand that the doctor wants what’s best for his patients, but as an intelligent, rational and strong woman, who spend months thinking about this decision, I’m sure as hell can decide if I’m ready or not, and I’m so ready! but somehow the doctors think it’s better for a complete stranger to decide If I’m ready or not, so here I am on a freakishly long waiting list, so someone that doesn’t know me will decide in a 45 min talk If I’m ready or not for a baby. Well done society, we just went back 50 years in time.

Because I like to look on the bright side, I will give you all the reasons why people with mental illness make great parents.

  • We are not afraid to look at our behavior and our thoughts, and we can help our child do the same.
  • Our struggles have made us open-minded and compassionate, and we will transfer these great qualities on to our children.
  • Therapy has taught us so many great things that our children can benefit from.
  • We know life is hard and unfair so we try to enjoy every little thing in life and so will our children.
  • We are very mindful of what we say to others, we will not hurt people on purpose, and we will always be kind and compassionate and so will our children.
  • Mental illness forces us to keep working on our mental health; we teach our children to do the same.
  • Mental illness has learned us to set boundaries, and our children will look at us and set their own healthy boundaries.
  • We know how to take time for ourselves and rest up, our children will see that it’s ok to make time for yourself.
  • We share, forgive and help other’s because we know life can be challenging, setting a great role model for our children
  • Our children will see that life isn’t always easy, but they know if their parents can keep going and make the best out of life, so can they!

I can go on and on, but I’ve made my point. Mental illness sucks, but it also makes you strong, compassionate, honest, open-minded and so much more. Being a parent with mental illness will not always be easy, but you will also give so much to your children that other parents won’t be able to provide; a certain set of life experience and survival skills.

If I’m ever lucky enough to become a mom I will teach my child about mental health, I will teach my child compassion and that it’s ok to take time for himself. I will tell him that it’s ok to fail, that not everything has to be perfect. He will know that everyone is different and that’s ok. I will teach him mindfulness so he can wind down after a busy day and I will make him feel loved and taken care of. I know I will be a great mom and that I can handle anything to become a mom. It’s a shame that the decision if I will become a mom isn’t in my hands, but that of a stranger.

It would mean a great deal to me if you can share this. I hope that doctors, psychologist, employers, and other professionals will read this and realize that people with mental illness are people, just like them. We all have our own qualities, and we should all be able to make decisions for ourselves. Stigma has never helped anyone, and it’s time people realize that.

For all the parents with mental illness, you are doing great, be proud and don’t let people tell you otherwise!

To clarify; I’m glad my doctor is concerned about my wellbeing, but what bothers me is the double standard. People that keep quiet about their issues don’t need permission to start the procedure. They should let everyone get a mental health check if they are so concerned about their patients. I’ve also been stable for a year and we found out that a big part of my mental health problems came from actual physical problems, so I wonder, how long is my mental health diagnoses going to haunt me? When am I cleared to make my own decisions again?

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