Julie Potter is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and an Infertility Warrior. She knows that infertility sucks and she’s doing her part to help others dealing with it through individual and group counseling. She herself is navigating secondary infertility, giving her special insight into what her clients are going through. Read below to learn more about Julie and her experience and head to her website to learn more about what she offers. I suggest starting here: http://infertilitycc.com/blog/5-ways-to-grieve-a-negative-pregnancy-test
1. You started the Infertility Counseling Center after being diagnosed with secondary infertility. Can you talk about what this process has been like for you?
Waiting for years to have baby number 2 was really hard for me. After 4 failed IUIs (Intrauterine Insemination) I thought I had hit my lowest point. But then I had 2 failed FETs (Frozen Embryo Transfers), and those were some of the most difficult experiences I’ve had. After that, my husband and I decided to take a treatment break for a while, which was very healing for me. During that time I started seriously thinking about starting a practice where I could help others who had gone through those emotionally difficult experiences. I knew I always wanted to run a therapy practice; the MSW (Master’s of Social Work) program I attended had a clinical focus, and I spent hours providing therapy, which I loved. I’ve always wanted to return to that, and everything seemed to fall in place. I knew that with my training/education/professional experience, and my personal experience of struggling with infertility, I could help others. That’s my hope: to help other people experiencing infertility find the peace I’ve found.
2. What's it like to treat others with infertility as you experience it yourself?
I’ve always thought of myself as pretty emotionally stable. I work very hard to deal with my emotions in the ways that work for me so that it doesn’t spill out into my work and my relationships with others. I’ve written a blog post about ways to deal with a negative pregnancy test, and those suggestions are what I do for myself whenever I feel the need to grieve.
3. As someone who has experienced infertility and secondary infertility, I know it can be tricky to navigate secondary infertility when you've already had a child. Can you talk a little bit about what that's been like for you?
Secondary infertility is really tricky! It took us a while to get pregnant with our daughter, so I was always worried that we would have a hard time with our second. But I had no idea that it would take 4 years of trying! I felt guilty whenever I talked to my infertile friends about my infertility because I already had a child. I worried that they would be thinking “stop complaining, you’ve achieved the dream!” I also got a lot of comments from others, like “time to give your daughter a sibling” or “how much longer are you going to wait until you have another?” Those thoughtless comments are hard for anyone, but I almost felt more invisible. I felt like everyone around me assumed that we were making the decision to not have more children, which led to very little support, which was very hard for me. I had to tell my close friends and family about our infertility, no one assumed it. But after being open with others, I’ve found a great deal of support.
4. You run groups for people going through infertility, can you explain what that process
Yes, I provide infertility grief therapy groups and pregnancy loss therapy groups. Although there is a great deal of support people receive by participating in these groups, it’s not just a support group. We explore the emotions that surround infertility and pregnancy loss, how that affects each group member individually, and how they can learn to cope with those emotions in a healthy way. The goal is to process the grief, and turn it into something that’s not quite so ugly and painful. Just like individual therapy, but with a group of individuals that understand each other and can provide additional insights and support.
5. Your site states, "infertility sucks." I couldn't agree more! Why do you think people are often
reluctant to get help for something that really sucks?
I think, especially with infertility, there are a lot of people that think they can deal with this on their own. Most people have probably been dealing with it on their own for a while. It’s such a private issue, they probably don’t talk about it often. And I think it’s really hard to overcome that mindset and allow others to help. Also, not a lot of people talk about infertility. So, there might be people that don’t realize that there are others that know what this feels like and that can help.
6. What do find yourself saying most often to your clients?
Give yourself permission to grieve.
7. What would you like others to know that might be reticent to seek help from a professional?
Therapy is not for “crazy” people or for people with such severe mental health concerns that they can’t function in life. It’s for everyone. It’s a safe place where you can meet with a caring professional who wants to help. Who wants to listen. Who wants you to live your best life. Why wouldn’t you go talk to someone like that?!?