Letting Go of Social Media Stress

At dinner tonight, Cory aptly observed the irony with this post: a post about me vulnerably describing the anxiety I have recently felt about posting vulnerable content on social media. Wrap your head around that one (hee hee). Then, after processing my anxiety attack last night, I provide a brief update from our appointment at Conceptions to plan out our second round of IVF, including my nurse’s recommendation to decrease stress.

I woke up at 12:30 AM last night in a complete panic.

My thoughts raced, like a frenetic motorcycle darting between lanes on the highway. Everything is out there. My whole life...for all to see...for all to judge...is out there. Online. Nothing is private anymore.

One second, I was fast asleep. The next second, I was wide awake, spinning in an anxiety tornado started by the most intense sharing shame. I felt embarrassed and exposed.

What put me over the edge? What resulted in this midnight madness?

Maybe it was the frequency of my social media sharing. I had been posting almost daily between my personal Facebook profile, my Unicorn group, and my Instagram account. Perhaps I had become addicted to the dopaminergic surges I received after seeing the red-flag notifications.

Maybe it was the fear of judgment from faceless people behind their screens…people who thought I was being obnoxious or self-indulgent with my Embrace Your Unicorn posts. Despite the positive and encouraging feedback I have received from countless supporters, I still feel a tinge of insecurity and unease every time I hit the blue “share” button. And as my frequency of posting increased, then this insecurity and unease naturally increased too.

Maybe it was the lack of acknowledgment of my posts or my fertility journey in general from a couple of my seemingly closest friends.

Or maybe it was the product of multiple factors, slowly building over the past three months since I started publicly sharing my fertility journey online. As of July 1, 2018, I have been an open book for all to read. I have shared intimate fears, the many ways my body is not working the way it should be, my thought process as I worked through tough decisions, my disordered eating past, pictures of the inside of my body. I have put it all out there…to help myself process my stuff…and to help others feel less alone as they process their stuff.

I wonder what it would feel like to have unabashed confidence...to unapologetically share my story through whatever words or pictures I want. Without shame. Without the fear of judgment. Without this middle of the night anxiety attack.

My first solution was to get off of social media for a while. To maybe even stop blogging. To protect myself by not allowing any more of myself to be seen. But that didn’t feel right.

My next solution was to decrease my frequency of posting in order to decrease the opportunities for feeling insecure about faceless judgment. But that didn’t feel right either.

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My final solution, after giving it some time to sit throughout the day, was to keep on posting whatever felt right, without censorship or shame. My mission with this blog is to embrace my story and share it vulnerably so that my story no longer owns me…and so that others might feel empowered to embrace their stories too.

So maybe I’ll shift my inner experience after I hit the “share” button in the future. Instead of letting the fear slowly eat away at me until I have another anxiety attack at 12:30 AM, I’ll befriend the fear through a mindfulness exercise. Every time I post something, I’ll think of it as an opportunity to embrace the fear that arises…embrace the small voice inside my head that tells me I’m being annoying to that one friend who never acknowledges me…embrace the insecurity…and then mindfully practice letting them all go.

And this is exactly what the doctor ordered. Really.

Yesterday (10/1/18), Cory and I had a follow-up meeting with our reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Bush (yes, that’s really his name), at Conceptions. Our entire face-to-face time with him was brief. He got straight to the point. He was happy with the way our last cycle went. The fact that we got one genetically normal embryo with my low AMH levels was satisfactory to him (that was news to us…we didn’t know our odds were so low to get even just one). He told us that he doesn’t want to change anything with our next cycle: same protocol (i.e., medication regimen), same timing. Bada bing bada boom: IVF cycle 2 planned in five minutes or less.

After we spoke with Dr. Bush, we were taken into another room to meet with our nurse, Erika. Erika worked out the logistics and timeframe of the cycle. The plan is for me to start birth control at the start of my next cycle in about two weeks. The birth control will allow them to control when my following cycle starts. Then, about November 10, I’ll start the stimulation meds again, with a tentative egg retrieval date of…THANKSGIVING! Just like the Pilgrims did it. Egg retrieval first. Turkey carving second.

When I asked Erika what I could do to increase my odds of healthier embryos for this next cycle, she recommended that I focus on decreasing stress through mindfulness. She mentioned the negative impact stress has been shown to have on fertility and IVF outcomes.

So with this goal of reducing stress in my life in mind, I’m going to hit “publish” on this blog post and commence my first post-publishing mindfulness exercise.

Fear, get ready to be embraced.

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