01 July, 2014

Saying good-bye and good riddance ...

The other day, I heard an interesting interview with someone who had experienced mental illness.  She was talking about survival and recovery from mental illness, and the stigma that is often attached to it.  She was a strong, strong woman, and she announced proudly that she was not ashamed (why should she be?), and that she refused to buy into the social stigma.    

It struck me that there are similarities with infertility.  There is a social stigma around infertility, and specifically around childlessness (a word I prefer not to use).  I suffer from it still from time to time, even though I fight it, even though I don’t feel this way most of the time.  But there are times I feel ashamed, times I feel less, times I just don’t want to share.  And yet, like those who suffer from mental illness, this is not my fault, and it is not a judgement on my personality or character. Am I buying into the social stigma?  Or am I just protecting myself, exercising my own right to remain private, and choosing my battles?  I hope it is the second.  Because I want to emulate this strong woman who was vibrant and full of life and a surviving spirit.  

And I think that is what we are trying to do here on our blogs – battling that social stigma, refusing to feed it, in fact, crushing it and refusing to let it find – pardon the pun – fertile ground here.  Social stigma, I'm showing you the door.  


  1. Hear, hear! I think you've chosen your battles well, Mali. I've just found a quote that said, "Never apologize for how you feel. It's like saying sorry for being real."

    I agree with you that there are other people out there who also suffer from social stigma. I've been reading a Japanese manga on the topic of IS (Intersex) and I've never cried that much reading anything in my entire life (piles of tissue must be nearby). The writer has done a marvelous job conveying the complexity of the problem and the social stigma around it.

  2. Its like the blog post that I have in my head and have yet to write down. I just want people to remember I'm a person too. I have a life, responsibilities, feelings, etc. Just because I'm childless (I'm with you, I don't care for the word), doesn't make me a nobody.

  3. A social stigma is an interesting issue to explore. First time I found myself in a stigmatized group was when I moved to a different country as a single adult. I didn't speak the language and had to work an odd retail job despite having an advanced degree. Life can be tricky... Many people those days treated me like I was automatically stupid, uneducated, mentally ill, poor with no prospects and somehow born to serve them. Oh, and they proudly tried to speak to me in broken Spanish LOL

    It was amusing and annoying at the same time. When I felt like it I let people know that they entertained me with their attitude, and it was cute to watch their discomfort. Being in the infertility camp is a very similar experience. We can buy into the stigma and suffer it, or we can focus on our own path, surround ourselves with people we want to be with, and leave the close-minded to their own messy, even though fertile, lives.

    Thanks so much for the post!

  4. Here, here!! I absolutely agree with all of this and am grateful there are people like you, Mali, who refuse to apologize for the road they walk in life. I yesterday the historic push for social stigmas, but we as a society need to recognize that shaming people over something they can't control is so counter-productive. You've walked through hell to get where you are today and that should be a source of pride.

  5. Ditto Mel's comment. You go girl, lol. :)

  6. I am very open about having suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety in my life. I am medicated, had therapy and am doing well. I had dealt with the stigma but when applying to adopt a child, the stigma hit me full in the face. Despite it happening years ago, due to the medication, I was not eligible to adopt in many places and told I was unlikely to be wanted by any birth parent.

    The stigma of infertility and infertility nearly broke me until I realized it was time to once again kick people's perceptions. Other people's prejudices and ignorance are not going to hold me back. I haven't picked up all the broken pieces yet, but I am finally starting to get up off the sidewalk.

    1. Picking up the broken pieces is tough work, and I'm not sure how long it lasts. But starting it, and starting to kick people's perceptions, is real progress. Good for you.