The silent battle fatigue that is crushing men.

It’s taken me a year to muster the courage or to wire this blog because of what readers may think of me. But I’m not perfect, I’m an infallible man with struggles and I have come across dozens of men and women who are struggling alike with this unique battle. I hope my story encourages others and start a conversation. And COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult to bury under a rug. So bear with me.

Odds are that someone in your life either has dealt with or is currently dealing with the challenges presented by infertility, but something that some people might overlook is that oftentimes at least one of those people is a man. While women bear the physical and emotional brunt of the fight against infertility, men are often there, too.

We men suffer as well but in very different ways. My wife and I fought infertility for ten years. Hence the reason I refer to this suffering as infertility battle fatigue.

The Britannica defines battle fatigue as a neurotic disorder caused by the stress involved in war.  In social settings it is an anxiety related disorder resulting from prolonged exposure to emotional conflicts. Battle fatigue reaction is an acute reaction that includes a range of behaviors resulting from the stress of emotional battles that decrease the combatant’s fighting efficiency.

Infertility is brutal on men

Few men are willing to talk about the struggles we face in impregnating our wives. Husbands and dedicated men alike are silently battling infertility. We live in a culture that venerates parenthood for a married couple above all else. The literature says one in eight couples have trouble conceiving. My wife and I were one such couple for more than a decade. We suspected that we were struggling with infertility about three years into our marriage when we were not conceiving.

Medical tests pointed to poor sperm quality. These revelations were emotionally crushing and devastating for me, me especially, since men are expected to be virile. My wife and I sensed that there were going to be difficult years ahead. It also meant, ironically, that the previous three years of contraception use was pointless and a waste of money on condoms. Nonetheless, we followed our faith and the teachings of the “church” (with lots of prayers and the laying of hands, fasting for a miracle, prophetic utterances), invested tens of thousands of dollars in fertility testing, multiple medical opinions, the medications and health supplements and unorthodox sexual techniques to aid conception. But never did I contemplate the emotional and psychological price it would cost both myself and my wife to pursue our desire for children. Infertility is isolating, painful and discouraging and no one talks about – except to silently whisper that “like the husband firing blanks or like she barren“.


I lived for thirteen years treading the line between the hope that keeps us going and the despair that month after month, and year after year of failure brings. We married in 2007 and beginning in 2010 we settled on pursuing IVF treatment – an unimaginable expensive venture by Guyanese standards – opting for a treatment clinic in the Caribbean, though expensive by our standards I was committed to my wife and would pursue this relentless desire for a child and to start a new generation. The process and treatments became my life’s preoccupation and I was earning a living year on year solely to pay for the process (in hindsight we could have bought several house lots and built houses). It became my obsession. Time was getting away from us as we were aging every year.

The disappointment, frustration, guilt, shame and depression was setting in. Little did I know that the years ahead would be brutal on our marriage. Little did I know that infertility can ruin a couple’s sex life and threaten a marriage. We pursued IVF treatment for seven years conservatively costing million over seven years.

All the while the costs mounted – the cost of the treatment and the cost on our marriage. I took each drip of a failed implantation as a personal failing, and both of us were more and more separated from family, friends and each other. Instead we felt trapped, bitter, and unfairly persecuted by our God for a promise that is enshrined in the scriptures. And I was burying myself in my career as my way of escape. My job became my crutch and I became the best as what I did – top of my game.  People from all strata of society were seeking me out for advice, help, ideas and solutions to socio-economic, political and development challenges in our society but I had none for my own infertility dilemma.

How much is too much?

To put the emotional, mental, physiological and financial cost into perspective consider these; my wife underwent a medical surgery in Guyana in preparation for IVF treatment. At the Caribbean facility she endured the extraction of 16 eggs on three occasions over three years. Seven IVF implantation cycles, 5 failed cycles over 5 years 1 successful cycle that subsequently resulted in premature birth and subsequent death of our 1st child after 1 month of life (spent in excess of G$1 million for hospital charges to keep Amarie alive), with only two embryos remaining, we bit the bullet and decided to implant both embryos hoping and praying for the best and a miracle as we were on the verge of financial bankruptcy with no more embryos remaining.

Several flights to and from the Caribbean several times a year for treatment including hotel accommodation, 2 trips to Canada for medical treatment following the death of our 1st child who died 30 days after premature delivery as a result of a botched intervention at a local hospital by the attending Medical doctor. We discovered my wife’s placenta was not properly removed resulting in vaginal bleeding for one month. 

After a successful pregnancy test from the last two remaining embryos we implanted, my wife left her job and we opted for immediate travel to Canada with family who graciously agreed to accommodate my wife for 9 months to protect her health and gave us a fighting chance at a successful live and healthy birth – we are eternally grateful to them. But we were now a one income family with me returning home to continue earning to pay for the Canadian expenses associated with pre-natal care and delivery.

Infertility Distress and Depression

This stress compounded over five failed IVF cycles and the premature birth and death of our son, and the many years were wearing me down, made me want to escape many days, made me weak and vulnerable, and I allowed other influences into my life including ruminating about suicide. As Christ would have it, a friend from the UK reached out to me just when I needed encouragement and implored me seek professional therapy. I sought out more that a dozen social workers in Guyana who were unable to help, even some of my christian elders disagreed that I need professional help when “Jesus ” was the answer. While not discounting the value of my family and belief in God,  my experience with professional therapy brought me through the darkness days of my life and I’m ever thankful for my therapist Latoya Buckles who worked with me.

The struggle to call its quits

I was tempted to quit the IVF process on many occasions. I felt as though I was leaking money that could have built us houses rather than pouring it into a process that had no guarantee of success but my love for my wife told me to never give up and keep hope alive. It became increasingly difficult to engage or associate with friends who were getting babies. While I was secretly happy for them, I was avoiding them to not deal with my own disappointment and failure. Very few people knew my wife and I were pursuing IVF. Though I knew I wanted to talk to someone who would understand, I resisted doing out of caution that I would be judged and further, I thought by not talking about the IVF stress, it would shield us from embarrassment if it was not successful. I recall talking to my line manager Sophie Makonnen who I hold dearly as a mother figure, confidant and mentor about my struggles. She absolutely did not judge me. I came away from that conversation feeling she was the only person I could confide in about this struggle. I felt she was the only person I can bear that burden to.

Thoughts of regretting pre-marital unsafe sex.

in all of this, I thought many times, maybe my decision not to have children out of wedlock as a young man was a mistake or that practicing safe sex to prevent unwanted pregnancies with my girlfriend was a mistake. The again, she was of East Indian descent and her parents would never accept this young dougla boy who had his roots in Linden and Hope Town – predominantly black communities – to be with their only daughter.  This is not to say children out of wedlock is something I subscribe to because I practically grew up without a father and for all intents became an adult at eleven years old taking care of myself and sibling. I was determined not to repeat that cycle and to be actively involved and available in nurturing, caring and raising my child/children every day with love and affection – to be a hands on dad. Though I was committed to staying with my wife even if we were a childless couple, I was struggling with not being able to become a father or for my wife to become a mother. I felt my mind was not open to adopting a child because we would have no genetic connection to that child and it meant the loss of our lineage.

Where was my God?

I was conflicted and wrestling with the devil and God on the inside but my image had to be maintained. After all I was a Christian with a successful career. In 2017, in the midst of my depression, I became more desperate for help and saw a dozen Christian counselors who though well intentioned were not equipped to help as my problem was spiritualized and kept compounding until I began ruminating with suicidal thoughts one evening in my home. But through all of this I had determined that it was not another woman I needed and that my wife means everything to me, but I struggled to re-engineer a fix of myself. After 7 failed IVF cycles and only two embryos remaining, I was not optimistic. If there is no chance of conceiving a child, I felt like my life was basically over at that point. There was no more writing on the pages of my life. All I saw was blankness. It meant that I would just be a childless memory in the earth. I knew I was spiraling into depression, anxiety and acting out with unhealthy coping mechanisms. Sadly, my wife felt the brunt of my emotional instability which in hindsight, I regret. No. I did not blame her. None of this was her fault. She unfortunately, happened to be the person caught in the crossfire of my struggles and for that I take full responsibility.

In hindsight, I wished I had the good sense to know or for someone to advise us to work with a therapist through the IVF process and the death of our 1st child to cope with  the mental trauma of infertility distress,  (I am now learning that therapist skilled in inferility issues is effective in reducing infertility distress where I believe my faith community and my own ignorance failed me.) I have suffered increased social infertility distress. This infertility stress, psychological distress, financial burdens of treatment, and depression over the course of six to seven years  can be predispose a couple to un healthy social lifestyles.  Overwhelmingly, it often places their marriage under pressure.

But as God in his faithfulness intervened, I am delighted that my wife and I now have healthy beautiful daughter born in late 2019 who is a miracle. My message is that there is hope for many but as a society we have to desist from shaming and stigmatizing men and women who are struggling with infertility. If you’re struggling with the inability to conceive, please, please, talk to trusted medical professionals – travel abroad if you have to and see fertility Specialists. always enlist the help of a good therapist in the process. Our friends nurses Mandy LaFlur, Paulette Alstrom-Peters, and Sabrina Phillips who are excellent medical professionals are owed life gratitudes by us and have become our daughter’s spiritual aunts. Without them standing by us, we might still be childless. PS. On a side note, I do sometimes miss the simplicity of my previous life………lol. But she brings such joy.

Yes, the inability to conceive has taken a toll on our marriage relationship but I’m on to the next fight to rebuild it and to build back better. Everything I thought I couldn’t handle, I kept handling.

Blessings to all of you who are struggling to convince. I SEE YOU MY FRIEND. DO NOT GIVE UP. YOU. ARE. STRONGER. THAN. YOU. THINK.

You can judge me, hate me or love and support me if you get through this blog. In the meantime, I will continue to fight for my family as the most valuable resource in my life and to support and encourage those who are struggling.

My Dark Nights

I was at the edge of darkness. It’s not pleasant, your world slowly becomes wobbly, you constantly battle between sin and right living {righteousness}, call into question your faith beliefs and search for honest faith when your world is shaken.

But you hope to press through the valley of darkness believing that somewhere ahead there is light, holding on to the principles of your faith because light is a better option than darkness.  Sometimes a lightening bolt tears a dream apart leaving you with questions for your God, and these life experiences expose our mental and emotional fortitude.

A crisis of faith is often preceded by trials of seemingly unanswered prayers or unrelenting life circumstances, which shake us to the core. Yes it becomes so severe that you wonder if God is there.

A crisis of faith causes you to seriously question whether what you believe and live by is true.”

Crisis Point

I have struggled and faced my own crisis of faith when my wife and I lost our first child who was 4 weeks old {And I will tell the story of how our health care system needs urgent overhaul}. My fervent prayers for his life were unanswered, even though I was ready to give up mine for his. I was loved by many but a sense of abandonment settled over me and I didn’t know what to do. I felt those in the faith community did not know how to respond to my crisis or how to walk me back from the edge of darkness.

My life was at a crossroads. Do I walk away from my community of fellowship? Do I wrestle with and question the validity of my God or do I abandon my faith to explore life on my own terms? Responding to my crisis of faith became paramount if I was to survive as I was spiraling to depression {Yes, I will return to this silent epidemic in our society in a subsequent blog}.

I saw this crisis of faith in the lives of some of the great men of God in the Bible. Men who did some of the greatest exploits that have ever been done in the name of God. Men like King David, King Solomon and Joseph who we have read about, studied their lives and felt that we could never match up to their walk. Yet, these men reached such a great crisis point in their lives that some of them asked God to kill them and lamented their hatred for life (see Ecclesiastes 2:17).

I believe that Jesus of all men, suffered his own crisis of faith. Jesus is fully God, but He is also fully human. In the Garden of Gethsemane just before Jesus was arrested he prayed that if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me (Matthew 26:39-40). That “cup” to which Jesus refers is the suffering he was about to endure. It’s as if Jesus were being handed a cup full of bitterness and suffering with the expectation that He drink all of it. He struggled with the need to accept the torture and shame that awaited Him.

Walking Back from the Edge

All of these men ultimately chose not to abandon their faith. They were able to have a crisis and not lose their faith. How then do we overcome a crisis of faith? For me, it was important to be emphatic and patient with myself, and to examine my life to see if this was a gradual process. Our relationship with God is unique. Don’t compare your faith to others. Just because someone is praying more frequently than you or more active in fellowship doesn’t mean that God takes your concerns less seriously or that he loves you any less.

Like Jesus, my faith did not exempt me from life’s troubles. I experienced depression, and loss, and fear but nothing caused as deep a questioning of my faith as the loss of my son. I have come to realize that faith is not meant to be circumstantial. It means trusting in the midst of pleasant as well as painful situations. Acknowledging this did not silence the questions that arose, but I have embraced them as part of the process of growing as a person.

If you’re silently struggling with your faith, you are not alone. Many people are silently struggling with theirs. A crisis of faith could be a fundamental life trial. I am thankful for the few men and women in my life (both Christians and non Christians, Pastors, friends, colleagues and a professional therapist) who helped to walked me back from the edge of darkness. 

You can too. Talk to someone. Today I am more resilient.

In the meantime, keep your chin up and keep the Faith!

Making Cents for At-Risk Youths in Guyana by Derise Williams.

SiddiqaSiddiqa Shabazz, a 21-year-old school drop-out became a single mother at the age of seventeen and now has two children ages three and two years old. These days her main sources of income are braiding the hair of friends and neighbors and operating a trampoline on weekends.

After the loss of her mother in 2016 who was her main support, Siddiqa found herself depressed and struggling to provide for her two children.  It was at this point that a village leader told her about a business entrepreneurship program being launched to target at -risk youths in her community of Sophia. Sophia is a former squatting settlement which still is characterized with high levels of crime despite having been regularized over ten years ago. It was for this reason that Sophia was selected under the IDB-financed technical co-operation, Support for the Implementation of the Citizen Security Strategy as a community that can benefit from the intervention.

From Risk to Opportunity

The Youth Entrepreneurship Program, popularly called YouthBiz592 [1] because of its focus on youths in business was implemented through a collaboration among the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Business. The program provided entrepreneurship and life skills training to 87 young people considered to be at-risk from various communities in Guyana with an aim of providing support towards reducing negative behavior and to provide economic empowerment to this specific population group. Under this three-month program, participants received coaching on starting a business, and benefited from opportunities for work attachments with established firms. Networks were developed between students and with trainers and moral support and guidance were provided for persons who felt they did not have the skills and behavior to contribute meaningfully to society.

Birth of an Entrepreneur

In April 2017, Siddiqa’s journey started under the program. Although she facedFun Park 2 challenges such as being unable to work during the period of training and time away from her children, she was able to persevere thanks to the financial support and childcare provided under the program. Based on her business proposal, Siddiqa benefited from a US$1,500 grant which she used to expand her “Kids Fun Rental” business with the purchase of additional trampolines and a generator that allowed her to increase her working hours. In addition to the grant financing received, Siddiqa opined that the skills learnt on business strategies, socializing, empowerment and even parenting have been instrumental in expanding her business.  She now is not only able to comfortably afford her living expenses but also making a difference to someone else by hiring an employee who helps her with her business.

From being overwhelmed with the responsibilities of providing day to day for her family, under the program Siddiqa has transitioned to a life full of zest. Her self-confidence has dramatically improved. Currently she is in the process of applying for another grant to further expand her services to a full party service and rental. She has even decided to continue her schooling and will taking a few subjects inclusive of English and Mathematics at the next Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) exams. “I would recommend such a program to anyone, said Siddiqa, “since it changed my life.”

At its closing, the program was deemed successful with 85 out of 87 beneficiariesFun Park 2 completing with an attendance averaging over 83%. 84 business plans were submitted, out of which 72 were approved and 66 beneficiaries receiving grants of up to US$ 1,500 to start their business ventures. The program was able to institutionalize a business model on youth entrepreneurship within the Small Business Bureau since this was the first such program implemented in Guyana. The success of the program has led to its replication where at-risk youths in 20 communities across Guyana will benefit from entrepreneurship training under the Citizen Security Strengthening Program.

About our Blogger

Derise WilliamsDerise Williams is a Senior Operations Associate at the Inter-American Development Bank Country Office in Guyana.  Since joining the Bank in 2007, Derise has worked in the Operations Department with responsibility for supporting the supervision of the Bank’s portfolio of development projects in the areas of transport, institutional strengthening, public sector management and housing and urban development. She also worked in the Procurement Division at the Bank’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Derise has extensive experience in operations, project and procurement management which she readily applies and has helped to drive the successful completion of several Bank operations which continues to improve the lives of Guyanese. Working at the IDB provides her with the opportunity to be innovative and creative in delivering results especially in the areas that she is most passionate about, that is, justice, security, youths and the poor.

Previously, she was a Commerce Officer at the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce from 2004 to 2007 with responsibilities for domestic trade and creating a conducive environment for business. She also lectured at the University of Guyana in the Department of Economics. Derise holds a Bachelor Degree in Economics with Distinction, Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies with Distinction and a Master’s Degree in Project Management from the University of the West Indies.


[1] 592 is in the international dialing code for Guyana


This is a re-posted blog of 2014 exploring the development challenges the Caribbean faces in diversifying its dependence away from the traditional development paradigms and re-constructing regional development to help it punch above it weight as small island states.

“Good living nah lang life” is an African Guyanese proverb that translates to mean that the good life won’t continue indefinitely without sustained contribution from the one giving or living it and that nothing free and easy lasts forever.  I could not help wonder if this proverb can very well reflect the state of Caribbean development ……..TO READ REST OF THIS BLOG CLICK ON THIS LINK THE CHALLENGES FACING THE CARIBBEAN BLOCK


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