Kevin Button’s letter to his 18 year old self about his fertility struggles
Our Men’s Support Champion Kevin Button wrote this amazing letter to his younger self, about the struggles he would face as a man with fertility challenges. If you’re a man with fertility troubles – or if your male partner is facing a diagnosis of fertility issues, then this is a very raw and real, but ultimately uplifting read!
Content warning: depression, addiction, alcohol, suicidal thoughts and themes of infertility.
“If I could go back in a time machine and talk to myself at the age of 18, years before the infertility diagnosis, this is what I’d say to young Kevin.
I’d say hey lad, don’t be freaked out but I’m Future Kevin. I’m you but I’m older, and I’ve got a load of stuff to tell you about something that’s going to happen in a few year’s time. It’s not aliens landing or winning the lottery I’m afraid; it’s something much more personal and it’s going to affect you very deeply. If I tell you all of this now, maybe it won’t be so much of a shock when it happens.
You’re going to meet a lovely woman and fall in love, and she’s going to want babies of course – and you will want that too. So you’re going to try and try, and it’s not going to happen, and then you’ll have to both go to the doctors to try and figure it out.
To cut a very long story short, younger Kevin – it’s going to be you that has the fertility problem. You’re a cocky sod now and you’re just as bad when you’re older, so you won’t think for a minute that it might be you with the problem. Your Grandad is one of nine and you know that your whole family is very fertile. It won’t even occur to you that you’ve got a genetic problem that stops you from being able to have children. Even when the doctor calls you back for more tests, you still won’t believe it’s you. It’s only when the doctor explains exactly what’s going on that you’ll finally accept it.
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Is it normal to feel frustrated about male infertility?
What happens next is you’ll feel incredibly down on yourself about that. Your partner will be unhappy and frustrated too, and you’ll blame yourself for this. Your relationship, sadly, will break down, and you’ll lose your flat and your job, and end up back at your Dad’s.
This is where the mental health demons will start to make you feel really bad – you’ll feel worthless for a while, and you’ll drink too much and even do drugs to try and bury all of those deep feelings. If I could go back in time and tell you what I know now, maybe you won’t feel so awful about yourself.
What I’ve learned as I’ve got older, is that there’s an up side to every down, and a silver lining to every cloud. An amazing woman is going to come into your life, and she’s going to understand about your fertility issues and love you anyway. This is because, younger Kevin, you deserved love and understanding and acceptance all along, even when you thought that you didn’t.
Staying positive with male infertility
You don’t always make the wrong choices as you get older. One of the many positive things in your life, almost as important as meeting Nicci and deciding that she’s one million percent worth hanging on to, is you start to open up about how you feel. You realise that men have a terrible time with their feelings about infertility, and that they’re not very well supported and they don’t like to talk about things. So you start talking about it, even though you’re worried people might laugh at you or look down on you. You’ll find that doesn’t tend to happen though – infertility and all the stress that comes with it is very common for men. You’ll start making posts about it on social media, and you’ll discover that you’re not alone, and that men are relieved to finally be able to talk about it. You’ll realise that because of your own mental health troubles, and the struggle with drink and drugs, that you’re able to help men with their own mental health issues.
Sadly, even when you pull your own life together, you’re going to lose somebody close to suicide. There’s nothing you can do about this, although of course you’ll feel bad about it forever. However, by this time you will be turning negatives into positives, and losing this person will make you think carefully about how short and precious life really is. Also how common suicide and serious mental health issues are, and how men are vulnerable to both of those things when they have fertility issues. You’ll decide you want to help them for the rest of your life, and you’ll set up an organisation to do just that. So from drinking and feeling at rock bottom, to inspiring other men to improve their reproductive and mental health – I’d call that a win young Kevin!
See you a few years, take care of yourself and stay out of trouble!
Older (and wiser) Kevin”
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Resources to help men with fertility issues
Sadly, none of us can really step back in time and speak to our younger selves. We only have today to act on our fertility and mental health issues. I wrote this letter to speak to men directly, and remind them that fertility issues are common in men, and that they’re not alone. It’s natural to feel down about it, and we’re all worthy of support and understanding.
The sooner you get checked out for fertility issues the better – and treatment is possible. There are other ways that you can take charge of your fertility and mental health too, and all of this information and support is free – I’m not selling anything! I just want to support men through infertility, because if I’d had more support, maybe I wouldn’t have had such a hard time with it.
You can download my free guide here
And here’s a link to my organisation The Man Cave, where you can find more information and support.
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