Celebrities Use Social Media To Document Their Struggles
It is said that no one’s life is as perfect as their Facebook page. But sometimes social media can also become an opportunity for people to share hardships, especially since it is on their own terms.
In 2015 Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his very public Facebook page that he and his wife Priscilla Chan were expecting a baby girl. He went on to say that the couple has been trying for years and had three miscarriages. “Most people don't discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you're defective or did something to cause this. So you struggle on your own,” he movingly revealed. “In today's open and connected world, discussing these issues doesn't distance us; it brings us together. It creates understanding and tolerance, and it gives us hope.”
Zuckerberg isn’t the only public figure to speak openly on social media about difficulty with infertility and IVF. This awareness raises tremendous support for women struggling with similar issues.
Last month fashion designer and TV personality Whitney Port blogged about her fertility scare after she and her husband Tim contracted bacterial infections on their honeymoon in Fiji. “The infection cleared up, but my doctor seemed concerned that this could have an effect on me getting pregnant down the road,” Port wrote in her blog post. In fact, Port had announced her pregnancy on her Instagram and is chronicling her pregnancy on her YouTube channel, where she hopes to create an interactive community where people can share their journeys, ask questions and get answers without facing mom shame.
TMI? Not at all. Angela Bassett, Chrissy Teigen, Beyonce, Giuliana Rancic, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon have all bravely and publicly shared fertility issues. It makes everyone feel less isolated. “...it’s detrimental for me as a woman to not be honest about that and that it’s detrimental that women don’t talk about these things because when you go through it you feel like you’re suffering in silence by yourself,” Jaime King shared with Fit Pregnancy about how it took many years to become pregnant.
But is it a good idea to use social media as a medium for discussing these challenges, especially such deeply personal ones like fertility and IVF? Brian Levine, MD, a founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York believes it can be incredibly healing. “I applaud those courageous men and women who are willing to go online and share their story,” he says. “People forget that infertility affects one in eight couples worldwide, not America, not social media users, worldwide. Everybody knows someone who is struggling. The more people who share their experience and say, 'it’s okay to have a hard time,' is a gift and helps so many others.”
In fact, sharing these challenges goes beyond celebrities. Rebekah George Wornow turned to social media for information gathering when she began struggling to get pregnant. “Social media, largely Facebook and Instagram, was my news source,” says Wornow who is a CCRM patient under the care of the clinic’s founder and medical director William Schoolcraft, MD. “I also joined a private Facebook support group, founded by another CCRM patient, to help with the pain I was going through.”
Dr. Levine does caution however that social media can sometimes mislead people. “When someone is sharing their story, the thing that needs to be known is that this is their story,” he explains. “Everyone has a different diagnosis and treatment plan. My only concern with social media is that everyone expects the same result as someone else, and people need to understand that they are individuals and that individuals need to be treated individually.”
For example, Dr. Levine notes that when a patient goes online and shares, I’m 39 years old so I need to do IVF right away, the answer might be no. “You may not need to do IVF, but the patient who did IVF who posted online may have very few eggs left and may have recurrent implantation failures or a number of things going on,” he says. “I always tell patients, 'this is someone’s individual story. This is not your story, so just be aware of that.'”