COVID-19 Message to our Patients (re: Mental Health)

April 16, 2020

 

Dear CRH patients:

 

Allow yourself to acknowledge how you are feeling and seek support.

 

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry COVID mental health taskforce created this website with useful information and resources about emotions, coping, self-care, working from home, and a lot more: https://psych.ucsf.edu/coronavirus

There are additionally supportive resources available through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), including a webinar on strategies for self-care during this challenging time:  COVID-19 Resources for Patients


April 3, 2020

 

Dear CRH patients:

 

We know all of us are struggling right now to make sense of what’s happening in our world. We have no similar experiences from the past to guide us as to how to cope. This is a situation we don’t recognize, and that feels extremely frightening.

 

All of our routines are interrupted. And we don’t know when our plans for anything can move forward. We’re homebound - many of us feeling lonely and isolated. And we’re scared, for ourselves, for our loved ones nearby and around the world, and for the great uncertainty of the future.

 

We know this extreme unpredictability is enormously challenging for you, our patients. During this past week, we’ve heard from patients who were eagerly anticipating the start of their first IVF cycle, with nervousness and hopefulness, only to hear that it is postponed. We heard from couples who, after much deliberation, had been planning to move on to family building with egg or sperm donation, only to hear that we don’t know when we will be able to proceed. Also, we have patients who are eagerly awaiting the birth of their child from surrogacy, but who are afraid they may not be able to travel to see their baby born and bring them home. One of the hardest parts of facing infertility is the uncertainty, and this crisis is magnifying the uncertainty more than we could have ever imagined.

 

In the face of all these new and difficult challenges, we wanted to offer a few thoughts for you, our heartfelt advice in these difficult times.

 

It is normal and even healthy to feel anxious.

 

Anxiety is thought to be a human adaptation to help us survive. When we feel anxious, we’re prompted to take action to protect ourselves and our loved ones from danger. With the situation we are now facing, we need to be anxious, enough so that we can be hyper vigilant with hand washing, recognize our need to stock up on provisions and medications, and figure out how to make necessary changes like working from home.

 

Anxiety feels awful. We try to avoid it at all costs. But we can’t resort to denial. We can’t try to convince ourselves that maybe it’s not that bad and that we can go about our regular activities and plans, trying to believe that nothing has changed. In the face of this pandemic, denial is dangerous, for ourselves and for everyone.

 

On the other hand, we need to keep anxiety productive. When we go from thinking through plans to obsessing and ruminating over worries, we know we’ve gone too far. Once your anxiety has motivated you to do what you need to do for safety, you can thank it for looking out for you, then ask it to take a rest.

 

Allow yourself to acknowledge how you are feeling and seek support.

 

The UCSF Department of Psychiatry COVID mental health taskforce created this website with useful information and resources about emotions, coping, self-care, working from home, and a lot more: https://psych.ucsf.edu/coronavirus

 

Connect with your support system. We need the support of others now more than ever. It is essential to share with someone whatever is swirling around in your head and causing distress. Reaching out not only can help you, but it makes the other person feel connected and important.

 

Psychological services at CRH continue to be available without interruption via Telehealth. Contact your doctor’s team to schedule an appointment. If you want to be part of an online support group, send us a message through your CRH patient portal to Psychological Services and we will set up new groups for those who are interested.

 

Very difficult circumstances are also the best opportunities for growth.

 

Going about our regular busy lives, we rarely take the opportunity to reflect on what really matters to us or on where we’re taking our lives. When we’re in our comfort zone, personal growth is usually slow. When everything falls apart, we have no choice: we’re cornered, we feel groundless. No one has the answers. Out of this groundlessness is a chance to find tenderness, deeper acceptance of our humanity, and a new sense of connection with people and our planet.

 

From our homes to yours, we wish you safety and calm in these terribly difficult times.

 

Yours,

Lauri and Sarah

 

Lauri Pasch, PHD

 

Sarah Holley, PHD

Your UCSF Center for Reproductive Health Mental Health Team