Sunday, July 16, 2017

Phases of Resilience

I had to read an article about resilience and adversity the other day. Of course, there was no mention of infertility at all even though nearly everything in the article could relate to it. The author talked about trauma and coping strategies and implications for practice in the medical field. I was dreading doing the assignment, and then the article actually ended up being interesting haha. It's so nice when that happens.

The article covered so many themes:

  • extreme life events are threatening
  • loss of one's identity
  • psychological stress due to culture's definitions of what is valuable
  • being in limbo (those with chronic illness)
  • the power of social support.

But one of the most relevant parts was when the author discussed the phases of resilience. I'm paraphrasing but here's the idea real quick. First, there is an acute phase, when all of one's energy is going to the situation. Then there is the reorganization phase, when one begins to accept the new reality. And then there is the rest of one's life. That's it. That's how trauma and crisis goes in a nutshell.

I suppose my experience wasn't totally acute. Acute means short-term and I dealt with infertility over a more long-term period of time. But still. It was a million little acute responses to a chronic condition until I reached my personal point of exhaustion.

It's so interesting to me how much recovery and rehabilitation from all sorts of physical and mental health conditions have so many similarities. It is shocking-not-shocking at the lack of infertility being any part of the conversation in the articles and textbooks I read as a future medical professional.

But I really like it when I read something that describes what I just went through. I think that's why the phases of resilience resonated with me so much.

  1. acute response
  2. reorganization
  3. live the rest of my life 



  1. This is sort of like the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. But I like this model better because there's less to remember. :)

    But yes, I can definitely relate to this. We develop resilience because we have to. Because it's necessary for survival.

    1. Hahaha- you like this model better because there's less to remember! You and I would get along great in real life!! :)

      So true. "We develop resilience because we have to." It IS necessary for survival.

  2. I agree that it is shocking-not-shocking that infertility is ignored as an example of trauma. When I was volunteering for the ectopic pregnancy organisation, we saw many women suffer from exactly the same symptoms as PTSD. But no professionals would say that.

    I have definitely seen those three phases of resilience in so many of us here too. They do seem to cross over a little though. Acute response - that was me in the first weeks and months after seeing all avenues to parenthood were closed. Reorganisation - that takes several years, and definitely has its ups and downs! It can't really be rushed. The Rest of My Life phase also has its ups and downs, but is much more settled and content.

    1. It's so weird that infertility is ignored as an example of trauma! Especially with the importance of having children so heavily emphasized in society

      Reorganization takes a long time. But that makes sense. I spent 30 years wanting and planning on one thing. It makes sense that it will take me a decade to endure infertility, create new plans, and execute a new life dream.

      But I do feel like my ups and downs are already starting to get a little better, less debilitating. :)

  3. So interesting, it totally makes sense that resilience would have stages in response to a trauma. I agree with you, lots of acute responses to things over a long period of time. And exhaustion. And even if you reorganize and accept the new reality, those triggers can put you back at acute. It's probably like a zig zaggy thing, a pinball machine where you bounce around until you finally get to that Rest of Your Life with fewer acute moments.

    Infertility should totally be discussed as trauma. It's definitely shocking-not-shocking, but it should be changed. I know so many people, parenting and not, who have PTSD symptoms from the trauma of infertility.

    1. Those damn triggers. Yes, I definitely feel like a pinball in a machine sometimes. Perfect description.

      Infertility is definitely traumatic. I don't understand what people don't get about that.

  4. PS years later: absolutely LOVE this: "It was a million little acute responses to a chronic condition until I reached my personal point of exhaustion." Perfect description.