I’ve been writing a little bit about internet forums for women who are TTC (trying to conceive) lately, and I will definitely continue to do so, as they just keep becoming more fascinating. In fact, I would very much like to go get a Master’s in Women’s Studies and write a thesis on this topic. Anyway, for now, I have this to share:
I got a “PM” (private message) this week from a woman who lives in Australia; like me, she and her husband are waiting to start trying for a baby until she sorts out her psych meds–what does she need to stay on, what can she do without, etc. We’ve been having a lovely conversation all week about doctors, medications and cultural differences. Australia’s health care system is, I hear, a lot less judgmental than ours. Which makes sense to me, because the public health care system in the UK was a lot less judgmental. Ahem, free birth control. Need I say more? (I have issues with handing out hormonal birth control like candy, but if it’s going to prevent an unwanted pregnancy at a university, which is the community my UK doctor served, I am reluctant to criticize. What’s more likely to interrupt a woman’s education than an unwanted pregnancy? Not much. So, free birth control gets my stamp of approval, even if I do wish they’d do a better job educating women *everywhere* about how the stuff works.)
Despite the lovely nature of this conversation between two women with quite a bit in common, one thing keeps nagging me, something I can’t quite shove away: the conversation is happening not in the already anonymous “public” forum, but in “private” via fertilityfriend.com’s messaging system. Why does this bug me? Because even when there is no chance that anyone will find out who we are, our real names, anything we don’t want them to know about our private lives, we still are not willing to openly discuss psych issues and pregnancy!
I hear from a lot of men and women who relate to the things I write, here and elsewhere on the web. I appreciate it, I do. I love the support, the encouragement and the “e-hugs” I have gotten from each and every letter-writer. I also invite you all to share your stories publicly.
You do not need to provide any personal details. You do not need to tell me or anyone who you are. You just need to speak up. Because we are not crazy. We are not freaks. We are human beings. We do a really good job, most of the time, coping with some pretty difficult circumstances. Some of us are severely ill. Some of us appear to most people we meet to be 100% healthy. But the thing about stigma is that it doesn’t go away if we all agree to hide. When we hide, when we are quiet, we give the stigma power.
I would like to see a Horton Hears a Who movement grow and grow. You see, at the end of this Dr. Seuss classic, it takes every Who in Whoville shouting the same phrase at the tops of their voices in order to make themselves heard. Do you know what they shout?
“We are here! We are here! We are here!”
If you are brave enough to share your story, if you think it is at all related to anything I have written about, please email me at amtonyan [at] gmail.com. I would love to include a guest post from you. If you have a blog, send me a link. I’m off to post a new thread in that forum for women dealing with psych issues pre-pregnancy/pre-TTC. I hope to hear from you soon, you brave, beautiful people!