Do You Dare to Take Off Your Mask This Halloween?

Taking Off Your Mask & Coping on This Child Centric Holiday

Woman wearing a water mask
Do you wear a mask all year long? Pretending your okay when you're not? Maybe this Halloween, you should dare to take your mask off. PelageyaKlubnikina / Getty Images

For most Americans, Halloween is a fun, carefree holiday, filled with dressing up, candy, and parties. But for those with infertility, Halloween can be a source of stress and sadness.

There are ways to reduce your stress on Halloween, and maybe even have a good time. In fact, there may even be a way to learn a life lesson from Halloween.   

How to Cope on Halloween

What’s so hard about Halloween for the fertility challenged?

The children.

This is an extremely child-centric holiday. The main fun comes from dressing up the kids and taking them out to trick or treat. Seeing all the advertisements with moms and dads, dressing up their children, can be heartbreaking.

Here are some tips to consider:

Take a Social Media Break: The week before Halloween may turn your Facebook feed into a photo album of dressed up kiddies. If this is bringing you down, consider stepping away from Facebook. Pintrest and Twitter, depending on who you follow, may be happier places to hang out online during this time.

Throw an Adults Only Halloween Party: You don't have to have kids to justify having fun on Halloween. You might make the party for adults only and invite other child-free friends, or you might tell your friends with kids that this is for grown-ups only. Or you might throw a party for all ages.

The main idea is that planning for your party will take your mind off of what you don’t have and switch the focus on having fun in your own way.

Embrace Your Auntie Role: Your family and friend may be more than happy to let you take their kids around the neighborhood, and even have you help out in creating costumes and getting dressed up.

This isn't for everyone -- if the idea of taking out someone else's kids for the holiday depresses you, then pass on this tip.

However, some find this is a great way to cope on the holiday and have fun.

Go Out Halloween Night:  This may be a great night to go out to eat, since most kids will be walking around the neighborhood and not in restaurants.

This can backfire, however, if the restaurant or mall is having a child-centric Halloween event. If you want to avoid this, call ahead and ask.

Go Crazy Decorating and Candy-Giving: You can decorate your house with or without kids! Get your house spooked up, make fun candy bags, play scary music – whatever it takes you turn this day into a fun holiday for you.

Forget Halloween and Do Whatever You Want to Do: Turn your lights off and watch a movie. Or do whatever you want. You don’t have to participate.

Try Not to Feel Bad for Feeling Bad: If you’re feeling blue, don’t be too hard on yourself. Talk to a friend who understands, and try to ignore those who insist you “cheer up” or “get over it.”

It’s normal to have difficult feelings on Halloween, and what you need more than anything right now is to be on your own side.

Are You Wearing a Mask All Year Long?

Children aren’t the only ones who dress up on Halloween; adults also play along.

But many people struggling with infertility wear masks not only on Halloween but all year long.

Masks the fertility challenged may be seen wearing include...

  • The I’m-trying-so-hard-to-look-happy-for-you mask, worn when a co-worker or friend follows their pregnancy announcement with, “And I wasn’t even trying!”
  • The I’m-just-going-to-smile-and-nod mask, worn when relatives offer excellent fertility advice like, “Just raise your hips on a pillow! That’ll help!”
  • The Really-I’m-totally-fine-really mask, worn in public on bad news days, whether the bad news is another failed cycle or a disappointing fertility test result

Sadly, there are thousands upon thousands of the fertility challenged wearing masks every day, all day, pretending like all is well in their lives because they have not told a soul about their trying to conceive troubles.

While I completely understand the desire to keep your fertility challenges a secret – I went through two miscarriages and year of trying to conceive before I told anyone – I also know that keeping it a secret is preventing you from receiving help and support you need.

Don’t get me wrong. There are times that a good mask is necessary.  Bursting into tears when your sister announces her fourth “accidental” pregnancy at Thanksgiving Dinner is probably not a good idea. And one does need to work and get through the day, fertility woes or not.

However, sometimes we can get so good at wearing the mask that we never take it off. We may forget to confide in someone besides our partner about how we’re feeling, what we’re going through. That can then lead to feelings of loneliness and deep sadness.

I’m not suggesting that you tell everyone about your bad fertility days or even that you’re trying to conceive. There are good reasons to maintain health boundaries when talking about your fertility. But I am saying that wearing a mask all the time, every day, with everyone, is not a way to live.

This Halloween, while the rest of America is putting on their masks, what if we took our mask off to just one person?

Maybe a close friend or a beloved sister or brother. Or maybe join a support group or make an appointment with a therapist experienced with fertility. One person you can be <i>you</i> with, even if it’s just for one hour or even 15 minutes.