My life has been defined by beating the odds. In many ways, overcoming adversity became my life motto. When it came to infertility, I felt completely outmatched. Despite my best efforts, it seemed as though infertility had two or three counters, constantly putting me on my back and against the floor. Being on the bottom of the fight was a new experience for me and one that I was not accustomed to.
My world was completely flipped upside down. As the reality of infertility set in, so did difficulties that I have never experienced before. Depression, anxiety, frustration, and chronic stress became regulars in my life. Even when I was able to muster up some resilience or hope, infertility found a counter and placed me right back on the floor.
I journeyed through years of lonely doctor appointments, only to find endless closed doors. I cycled through years of medicinal treatments and herbal regimens to see little to no improvement. Test after test, doctor after doctor, the answers were always the same. A medical anomaly of sorts, my particular case was unique and rare. While tests indicated that something was off, there was no cause that doctors could point to.
While my stress continued to increase, my hope and optimism began to dissipate. I struggled with depression and anxiety in ways that I had never experienced before. Even more, I found myself becoming even more depressed because of my depression. I felt as though I was given a senseless misfortune with no hopeful end in sight.
One thing that I have learned in my Jiu Jitsu training is that being on the bottom of the fight is a good place to be. My trainer Ryon Gracie said “Once you learn to remain calm under the stressful circumstances of a fight, you will have no trouble remaining calm under the circumstances of life.” This never seemed more real than in my relationship with infertility. As I continued training, I found myself more confident in my ability to remain calm being on the bottom of the fight and trusting in the counters that I had been practicing.
When I translated these same principles over to my infertility journey, I found a new optimism about my ability to survive the intensity of the experience and to turn my mess into a message. Infertility has undoubtedly been one of the hardest experiences I have ever faced. Yet still, I sit here pursuing a doctorate degree with every intention on raising awareness about infertility through my dissertation. Furthermore, I plan to use my education and research to create a platform and pathway for men to change the conversation about male infertility. My infertility journey is empowering my purpose in advancing the support for those walking through infertility. By changing my own conversation with infertility, I am changing the conversation about infertility.