Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

On depression and infertility

So, you guys are probably expecting a recap of my Boston/Massachusetts trip because that’s what all good bloggers do when they get back from vacation. They share pictures of family and sights and food and give all kinds of tips for travelling to wherever just returned from. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I’m a shitty blogger and I have no recap for you. Instead, I want to address two topics close to my heart that of course popped up while I was away. Warning: this a long post, filled with two very emotional topics. I won’t be mad if you don’t read the whole thing. 

The first is Wentworth Miller’s post about the meme mocking him for his post-Prison Break weight gain. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can read Buzzfeed’s summary here (I realize it’s Buzzfeed but it’ll do to help me make my point). Make sure you watch the video. I’ve watched it about 6 times since 2013 and each time it gets more powerful. 

Now, it’s no secret around these parts how I feel about Wentworth Miller (I love him. LOVE. HIM. Seriously, if you go to the search bar and type in his name, about a dozen posts will come up. I think I’ve mentioned him more than Matt Damon). When he came out a few years ago and he talked about how he attempted suicide because of wrestling with who he is, it gutted me. To hear that someone so intelligent, talented, successful and let’s face it, hot, tried to kill himself because of a mental illness that he couldn’t control, circumstances he couldn’t control, and choices he felt he had to make to protect himself and his career, destroys me. And I’m glad his attempts failed because if he’d succeeded, the world would be worse off. (And so we’re clear, anytime I hear someone, not just a famous person, attempts or commits suicide, it guts me. But that’s a post for another time, and a topic that I once addressed).http---janasays.com

Because what he’s doing now, speaking out with his stories, sharing his tales of lows and survivals, is inspiring. Not just to people like me, who are suffering from depression, but to people who need to understand depression. To get a glimpse into what goes through the mind of someone living with it. To see it can happen to anyone regardless of looks, money, or fame. To realize depression isn’t just sadness but something so much bigger. To understand that surviving depression isn’t as easy as just “choosing happy” and that for many of us, surviving means assigning meaning to it by speaking out and sharing our stories and letting others enduring it know that they truly aren’t alone. 

But beyond that, what I love the most about what he said (and can we pause to say what a beautiful writer he is?) is that he was able to take what should have been a low point in his life and make it positive. That he sees beyond what the paparazzi wanted us to see. That he sees and feels absolute no shame in an unflattering picture because what it represents to him is so much more than what the rest of us see. That he’s using it as a source of strength and recovery and fortitude rather than a reason to hide. 

It’s something I know I need to work on. When I find a picture of myself smiling, really smiling, no matter how bad I look in the picture, rather than looking at how fat or ugly I look in the picture, I need to look at from a different lens. I need to see someone who’s survived a whole lot of shit over the last 5 years and the fact that I can still put a genuine smile on my face and enjoy life means more than the fact that I have weight to lose. I need to see those pictures as something to treasure rather than delete. It doesn’t mean forgetting everything; it just means accepting it as part of my story and moving on from it. 

 

Which is a semi-decent segway into the next topic. 

April 15 marks the one year anniversary of my miscarriage (you can read about that here if you’d like). I still can’t fully write about it without crying but I’m going to try because my friend Justine, an infertility blogger and amazing person, has launched a campaign, We are More Than 1 in 8, that I want to share with you guys (1 in 8 is the statistic for people suffering from infertility). The campaign is dedicated to sharing what life looks like as a result of infertility. To show that not every infertility story has a happy ending (the happy ending being the baby) but that you can redefine your happy ending. The campaign has a mission to bring faces to infertility and to bring together a community of people who, like those suffering from depression, need to feel less alone. 

Infertility is a very isolating thing. When you’re dealing with it, you feel like there’s something wrong with you, like you’re being punished for something you did or didn’t do and the punishment is no baby for you. You don’t want to bring it up because you feel like no one can relate and you don’t want to be the one to make someone feel awkward or uncomfortable, even though you know that talking about it is exactly what you need to do. 

And then there’s this. No one wants to talk about it because how do you talk about it? How do you explain to someone who has one or 5 or 10 kids that you just can’t have them? That when someone says to you “why didn’t you have more” or “why don’t you have any”, it’s hard not to punch them in the face or snap back with something expletive laden. How do you make someone who’s never had a miscarriage or experienced infertility just how much it hurts and that when you can’t be around a baby, they need to not take it personally? 

As for me, my story has a different turn. I had my daughter and then the infertility happened. It’s called secondary infertility and it hurts just as much. Having one child does not eliminate the pain of a miscarriage or seven years of trying for that second child or the failed infertility treatments. Secondary infertility means that my family will never feel complete and that something will always be missing. Adoption isn’t an option for my family for reasons we don’t need to talk about and also, the solution to infertility isn’t always adoption (like suicide, this another post for another time). 

This past year has been one of the worst of my life. Do I have a greater appreciation for what I’ve been given in the child department? Yes. Has it helped ease the unbearable pain of losing a pregnancy? No. Has it been the fight of my life to not sink into a paralyzing depression? You bet your ass it has. 

I still mark each day by where I would be if I’d had the baby. I still can’t walk down the baby aisles in stores, can’t hold babies, and still struggle with looking at pictures of healthy babies and pregnancies. I still can’t refer to the baby by the name he would have had (although we never got to find out the sex, we’re all confident it was a boy). I wrestle with the months my period is late because I still have hope yet I never want to experience the pain of a miscarriage ever again. 

But it’s easier today than it was yesterday. And each day it gets easier. It’s a heartbreak that will never go away but now it’s manageable. I’m learning to live my life with this as part of it, just like my depression. 

Depression will most likely be my most constant companion, like a long distance friend who I don’t hear from for awhile and then shows up on my doorstep. I don’t know when she’ll come calling again but I know I can’t run from her or hide from her. I won’t want to let her in but I know she’ll sneak in through a window or something because she’s an asshole like that. And I’ll deal with her in the best way I can or know how, whatever that looks like. And maybe she’ll win one battle and I’ll win the next, and I know it’ll always be a fight, but in the end, she won’t defeat me. 

Some days I wonder why I have to deal with so much fucking shit. It seems cruel and unfair. I’m sure there’s a purpose or reason for it and right now, I’m struggling to figure out what that is. But along with that struggle, I’m learning to appreciate all that is good because I’ve survived. I’m still here. 

I will continue to survive. 

That needs to mean something. 

 

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28 Comments

  1. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    Well said Jana. I can’t speak to the infertility issues, nor the severe depression and how debilitating it seems to be, but I can speak to how you referred to yourself when you see your pictures. I definitely struggle with this all the time, and I “let that be the reason” I never get asked out by guys (or have anyone “like me” on a dating app). I think it’s because of how I look and how I look old now. It’s hard to see past all of those imperfections to someone who “should” think of themselves better. Anyway, I can relate to that.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…March RecapMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Oh, you know we’re going to talk about this lots in September because that’s what we do 🙂

      As far as pictures go, it’s hard to see what others see in pictures. I think we judge ourselves too harshly (people like me and you especially, who look for our faults all the time) which is why it’s important for me to look at certain ones and see beyond my weight or bad hair. There’s so much more going on and I need to focus on that.

      Reply
  2. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Really exceptional writing in this post. It’s hard to write about things that are really close to us and emotional and you killed it.

    Love you & support you always.
    SMD @ Life According to Steph recently posted…Things that are probably like wrestling a gatorMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thank you <3

      I knew I had to write about it sooner or later. It's cathartic for me and sometimes the only way I can process what I'm feeling.

      Reply
  3. Linda sheridan

    I googled Wentworth Miller. Sharing our pain helps others. Sharing IS caring. Goddess speed and love and healing lights and Angels always to your mind, body, and soul. It might not feel like they are with you, but they are.
    Love. Steph’s. Momma.

    Reply
  4. Mackenzie

    Beautiful and honest post Jana. You know that I can completely relate on the depression front and you eloquently described the hardships in dealing with it. And I am so sorry you have had to deal with infertility. If you ever need to talk, I am here. XO, my friend.
    Mackenzie recently posted…Classic HummusMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      Thank you. Don’t take this the wrong way but I wish you didn’t relate. I wish no one did. Depression is an asshole.

      Reply
  5. Kimmi

    I know what you mean. I was 10 days late this month and part of me was excited but a huge part of me was just plain terrified. What if it happened again? Could I handle it again? I don’t understand what happened the first time. In the end I got it and the decision was made for me and then I cried and I was sad. I’m still sad. In fact there’s some days I’m so unbearably sad that I can’t breathe. But if you already have a child no one wants to talk about the possibility you might not get another one. You worked once you will work again right? People don’t get it…..and it is always hard.
    Kimmi recently posted…Friday Five 4/1My Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      I know exactly how you feel. EXACTLY.

      What hurts me is when people say “well, at least you have one!”. I had a doctor say it to me. Having one does not ease the pain of not having any more.

      Reply
  6. Ali A

    this is beautiful — thank you for writing it. so many people suffer in silence and people like you who are brave enough to bring these topics to the forefront are so very appreciated. i also read that wentworth miller thing and was heartbroken for him. we can live in a very cruel world sometimes.

    continue to be the strong, inspirational and amazing woman you are!
    Ali A recently posted…Basic Life EtiquetteMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      One of the things I’m good at is saying the things lots of people are thinking but no one wants to say so it only makes sense that I talk about it. I don’t mind because if it helps even one person, it was worth it.

      Reply
  7. Brittany Pines

    I loved Miller’s response. But it was the comments themselves that made me stop and think- you could almost hear the joy in some reporter’s words as s/he purposefully cut down another person…and for what? For not looking the same always, not meeting certain standards constantly? Yes, Miller responded beautifully and meaningfully…but I’m so annoyed that he had to deal with this at all.

    I can’t speak to the depression or infertility, but I appreciate your willingness to talk about them. It’s important for all of us to share our stories. I had a miscarriage last year also, although my feelings aren’t exactly the same it is indeed one of the most confusing and emotional experiences I have ever witnessed.

    Reply
    1. Jana (Post author)

      I think it’s nonsense that he was mocked for how he looked. And it’s funny because if he looked that way now, he’d have a “dad bod” and that’s just fine. It’s all bullshit. And you’re right; they almost did seem to gloat in their mockery of him. It’s a fraction of why I hate tabloids.

      I’m sorry about your miscarriage. I wish none of us had to go through it.

      Reply
      1. Brittany Pines

        That’s a good point- you don’t see that type of mockery for guys like Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, etc. It’s like it was worse because he was more muscular and then lost it…because that never happens to normal people…
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  8. Nadine

    You always express your feelings so eloquently on matter that is more difficult. I can’t even begin to understand depression or the feelings that come along with infertility. I think it is difference for everyone, and is a subject that maybe we all should be able to talk about more so that people aren’t feeling isolated and alone. I love what you said about seeing a genuine smile in a picture and being proud that you were able to smile like that. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings on this. Sending you hugs.
    Nadine recently posted…Weekend ShenanigansMy Profile

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    1. Jana (Post author)

      It is different for everyone, which I think is what makes depression so hard to understand and why it’s so important for me to talk about. My story might not look like someone else’s but the more stories we have, the better picture we’ll paint.

      Reply
  9. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I can’t even imagine what you went through with a miscarriage! We haven’t started trying for a family yet, but one of my biggest fears is that I’ll be one of those women that can’t have kids. Those women are not just a statistic, and I love your friend’s idea for the campaign to bring a face to those numbers. The fact that you are surviving and taking it one day at a time does mean something!
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  10. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Oh Jana. Thank you for such a beautiful, honest post. I am very sorry to hear about your infertility struggles and miscarriage. There are no words but I am giving you a big virtual hug. So many women struggle with infertility, and much like depression, we too often make them suffer in silence. There is understandably great pain but there should be no shame. Hopefully, thanks to efforts like this post and your friend’s campaign that can start to change. As you know I suffer from depression too and it is an ongoing battle. Some days it does win and sometimes I beat it back down. Like you, though, I won’t let it defeat it me.
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  11. kristen

    Thank you for sharing Jana. Beautifully written, and just beautiful in general. I agree about more people sharing more stories, they are all different, and they help others understand what they are going through, as much as they can, anyway. I hate that these things are taboo or people feel like they can’t talk about it. I have a friend who told me recently that she struggled with infertility, where for years she was telling me that she didn’t want kids. She was afraid I wouldn’t understand, and while I do not claim to understand what someone is going through, not talking about it is definitely not helping. The world, not me and her. If that makes sense.

    Hugs Jana. I wish I could say or do something, anything. Thank you for writing and sharing your words.

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  12. Kristen

    Jana, this post brought tears to my eyes.

    I think you know that I’ve also struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. I used to be really embarrassed about it, thinking that other people would judge me or think I was crazy if they knew the thoughts that raced through my mind on a regular basis or if they knew just how often I thought of suicide. These days I’m more open about it (for the most part), but I still sometimes feel awkward about it. It doesn’t come up in everyday conversation or anything, but I at least feel comfortable sharing that part of myself with those closest to me. It’s easiest for me to be open about it online, though, because I know there are other people out there who may find comfort in knowing that someone else feels the same way. (Which is exactly what that portion of your post did for me.) At some point I would like to sit down and write something about it, but I haven’t been able to do it … Yet.

    As for the second portion of your post, I’m so sorry that you (and so many other women) have had to go through that. I wish there was something more to say, but I just don’t think any words I could say could ever be enough.

    I struggle with the idea of motherhood, but a small part of me is honestly just terrified I won’t be able to get pregnant at all. There’s no way to know until I actually try, of course, but I’ve recently had some medical issues (relating to that area) that have forced me to think about it a little more than I was probably ready to do. (I’m also obviously not getting any younger, but that’s an entirely different issue.)

    Anyway, thank you for sharing so much of yourself here.
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  13. Erin

    Two topics. Two responses.

    Interesting that some of the words and phrases you used in talking about depression echoed some of the words and phrases I used that I sent you. Some of that is the shared disease. Some of that is that we are yet again #twinsies, and that makes me smile.

    Having children, raising children, adopting children, living child-free, all of these things are such personal, meaningful, emotional decisions for so many people. I am grateful that there are many avenues to educate people to think a little more, be a little more sensitive and thoughtful, to hopefully avoid dumb ass comments and questions like “why don’t you have kids?” or “but you already have one.” Then, when the decision is taken from you and you lose a baby, I can’t comprehend the emotions involved, but I am inspired by your strength to share some of them.
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  14. Abigail @ipickuppennies

    Wow, I had no idea about Wentworth Miller. (And can we just talk about how wonderfully he chews the scenery as Captain Cold on Flash/Legends of Tomorrow?)

    Glad he spoke out. If more depressed people could (and it is an issue of ability) speak out, perhaps the subject wouldn’t be shrouded in mystery/contempt for mentally healthy.

    I feel for you on the miscarriage, as you well know. I’m sorry the treatments didn’t help. I suppose we have a mixed blessing of having almost no trouble actually getting pregnant — just keeping the result developing past the 7th week. I don’t think there’s any form of infertility that’s any easier than any other. (And I totally get the knowledge that it was a boy. I’ve always known I’d have sons. Confirmed when we sent the “product of conception” — ugh — for chromosomal testing and it came back male.)

    I’m glad you’re focusing on the smiles rather than the gut reaction we have when we look at pictures of ourselves in general. (There’s a great Margaret Cho rant about that.) It’s good for us to remember, in the good times and bad, that there *have* been good times.
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  15. Lindsay

    Sending lots of love and hugs to you, my friend. I’m so very glad I crossed paths with your blog last year. xoxo
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  16. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t even begin to imagine and I am so happy that there is a network of support for women who face infertility so sharing your story is really important. I’m no stranger to the tunnel of depression but each new day brings something else to smile about. I wish I knew the right words to leave here but I’ll just leave with 🙂
    Jennifer recently posted…Let’s Be Honest: There Are Crumbs All OverMy Profile

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  17. Revanche

    I have friends struggling with infertility and, though I’m not a praying person, I find myself praying for them and their happy ending. I don’t know what it’ll look like but I pray nonetheless.

    “At least you have one” is such a horrible thing to say, what a slap in the face.

    For ourselves, we didn’t know if I could survive having LB, it was a difficult and painful pregnancy, but after healing and time, we fell absolutely in love. Then the realization that I don’t think we can do this again sank in. Whether or not I *can* conceive again my health is, as things are now, full stop a hard brick wall barrier to having more totally dependent small humans and that’s heartbreaking in a way I never expected to care or feel.

    *hugs*
    Revanche recently posted…24 hours, Part 2: juggling and the baby dashMy Profile

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  18. alyssa

    I have thoughts on both these topics, but this isn’t my post to pour them out onto so I just want you to know that I read every word, and that I know hugs don’t help the pain but I’m sending you virtual ones anyway.
    (And yes, it does mean something. A lot.)
    xoxo
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  19. lisacng @ expandng.com

    Beautifully-expressed on these two tough topics. I’m here. I’m reading. I’m listening.
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  20. Lauren

    Thank you for being a real blogger who actually writes about life in a sea of perfectly-presented BS. I heard about the Wentworth Miller thing (Buzzfeed is good for something afterall) and I was so impressed with his outlook and the way he handled himself. Hugs to you as April 15 gets closer.
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