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Emotional Immune Systems

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to emotional immune systems since reading No Kidding in NZ’s post about her internal bad guys.  (How is that for convoluted?  I’m responding to a post that is a response to one of my posts.)

So we have our actual immune system that protects our bodies by fighting off disease-causing entities.  But then we also have an emotional immune system that protects our emotional health by fighting off negative-feeling entities.

Infertility (and all trauma) compromises our emotional immune system.

You know how when your actual immune system is compromised, your body can’t fight off simple infections and what is usually manageable becomes possibly deadly?  I think the same thing happens with our emotional immune systems.

When you have a robust emotional immune system, you can handle rude questions or friendship slights.  But when your emotional immune system is beaten down by a trauma such as infertility, you can’t fight off feelings or bounce back from moments as easily.  When your defenses are down — and infertility brings your defenses down — you get emotionally sick.  That could manifest as an emotional cold lingering much longer than it would if you were emotionally healthy or it could be a more frightening emotional illness.

I guess it helps me to think of it that way because just as we’d never say that someone with a compromised immune system is weak or they should just stop getting sick so damn much, it makes no sense to say those things to someone with a compromised emotional immune system.

And beyond that, it helps a person to be gentle with their own heart.  Be kind to yourself, will you?  Especially as we approach Mother’s Day.

Image: Stuart Webster via Flickr via Creative Commons license


1 Lori Lavender Luz { 05.07.17 at 3:02 pm }

Such a timely message, as we gear up for the mother of all holidays.

Yes. Let’s be kind to each other and ourselves. Let’s soothe where the world may irritate. Let’s build up and fortify and heal. Love this post and NK in NZ’s.

2 loribeth { 05.07.17 at 6:44 pm }

Yes, yes, yes. And I firmly believe that when your emotional immune system is compromised, & you feel emotionally unwell, it can affect your physical immune system/health as well. It’s all connected.

Sending (((hugs))) & good thoughts to everyone for the week ahead. <3 You are not alone.

3 TasIVFer { 05.08.17 at 9:26 pm }

Responding to Mali’s post isn’t convoluted; it’s a conversation. 🙂

I think I need to read these posts not only with my eyes but with my head and my heart.

I’ve been feeling ever since Sparky finally came that it’s a terrible thing to want something for so long and to work towards it only to find out that you’re no good at it. I’m no good at being a mother. Maybe part of it is to do with what I went through? Maybe I’ve been left too exhausted. Maybe the very process of becoming a mother was too much for me.

4 AmyB { 05.09.17 at 9:02 am }

Thank you so much for this, Mel. My best friend told me last night that she is pregnant (on their first month of trying). I am happy for her, but haven’t been able to stop crying or thinking about it since. That, of course, has been making me feel guilty and frustrated with myself.

Thank you for putting into words what I’ve been feeling, and for helping me feel like I’m not a weak or terrible person.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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