Protect your peace: when I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I suffered from depression. I had no direction and did not know what my next steps would be. It wasn’t until years later that I found a support group and therapist. When going through anything in your life, make sure you check in with your emotional and mental space. It was crucial for me daily.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing April Christina.
April Christina was diagnosed with endometriosis 10 years ago, and when she married her husband, Greg, in 2018, they began to experience issues with fertility. April learned her AMH level was low and that the best way for them to conceive would be through IVF. April has been vocal about her journey on her social media channels and has partnered with companies like Kind Body and others to share her story more broadly.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
Thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Queens, NY with my parents, grandmother, and brother. My mother had complications with trying to conceive. Once pregnant with me, the physicians told her that I would grow up with developmental challenges. I was born showing the world that I had resilience. At nine years old, I then began my menstrual cycle. Although that was very early on in life, I did not know what having a period would entail. I dealt with heavy bleeding, leg pain, & nausea most of my adolescent and teenage years. My menstrual cycle made it hard for me to work or go out at times. In my late 20s, I was officially diagnosed with a chronic condition called endometriosis. Over the years while maintaining a healthier lifestyle for my condition, I then developed low ovarian reserve. After undergoing multiple tests, I was officially diagnosed with infertility as well. With this knowledge, I have now started my fertility journey with IVF treatment.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Being a women’s health advocate and discussing what I deal with on social media, the most interesting thing is that people recognize me in the store or walking on the street. To have people come up to me and thank me for sharing my story, is one of the most humbling experiences to date. I learn every day that by sharing my story and life experiences, it is not for me, but to empower someone else.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
As a women’s health advocate, I make sure that I am as personable as possible. I answer every email, comment, and direct message on social media. Many people are shocked when I respond back in a direct message because some do not have the time or opportunity to do so. For me being available means a lot because I remember being depressed and looking for someone to just hear me. I’m thankful that I can be a listening ear.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Yes, my mentor Ylorie Taylor I am grateful for. When my immediate family relocated down south, I stayed in NY to learn more about myself & craft as being an advocate. Ylorie was the first person that saw something in me and gave me my first major opportunity to do what I wanted to do today and for that, I am forever grateful.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience to me is one that shows strength and beats all odds. I believe someone that is enduring, overcomes what they’re faced against, & has self-awareness are characteristics of a resilient person.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different to resilience?
Courage and resilience are similar to me because they both show some type of strength and endurance. The method of the journey to their strength I feel is different. When you’re resilient, you’re pulling from a strength to make it through perhaps a life hardship, or setback. Because the only choice you feel you have is to make it. The strength you possess in courage can come from proving yourself wrong in an area one felt they could not do and did or finding hidden confidence where an obstacle caused you to believe in yourself.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
It would definitely be my mother and grandmother. At different times in their lives they’ve both overcome their own battle with cancer. My mother and grandmother are both two strong women. If I can obtain half the resilience they had while going through their treatment and now, then I know I can make it with whatever I’m faced with. I’ve watched it happen — twice!
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
To be honest, I’ve told myself that trying to conceive was impossible. When I found out that I had to do IVF, I was devastated. I did not think that I was capable of beginning treatment. Which is why I say finding a community is important and I’m happy to be a part of one like Fertility Out Loud. I feel like in life you can hold yourself back from something you really want. For me, it was fear and lack of knowledge. Fertility Out Loud provided resources and guidance that allows information for all stages of fertility planning.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
While on my rotations in college to finish my degree, I started to not feel well, as if my endometriosis was bothering me. Upon consulting with an endometriosis specialist, I found out that I needed emergency surgery. That surgery lasted for seven hours, an overnight stay in the hospital, and six weeks of recovery at home. No one ever wants to have surgery; however, it was the best decision I made because it increased my overall quality of life and birthed me wanting to become a women’s health advocate to help others.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
Having my menstrual cycle at nine years old was not fun. I thought that during this time in the third grade I would be building friendships and focusing on my education. However, I had to do that and learn my own taste of “womanhood” simultaneously. It was during that time that I realized although my life would be different than my peers, I was made in a unique image and to be okay with that.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Five steps someone can take to become more resilient are:
- Protect your peace: when I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I suffered from depression. I had no direction and did not know what my next steps would be. It wasn’t until years later that I found a support group and therapist. When going through anything in your life, make sure you check in with your emotional and mental space. It was crucial for me daily.
- Send loved ones video notes: while going through my first IVF cycle, every few days I would record a video and send it to my close family and friends. I realized that this allowed me to prioritize how and what I wanted to say.
- Take time for yourself: when I look back on my life recently, I was always busy, thinking that that would make me happy, but instead I became mentally exhausted. Until I realized how much strength there is in having alone time. It allowed me to rest so I am able to be present for myself.
- Take moments of silence: I used to go by the water to sit and reflect. It was during those times of silence that I received the most clarity and direction for my life.
- Know your limits: while going through my fertility journey and attending various physician appointments, there were numerous events that I would miss. I would feel horrible and apologize for days. Now I understand that there’s a difference in being apologetic and understanding your limits. We all have limits and I feel we should be mindful of them.
I say this because these are things that I am currently doing while on my fertility journey. Which is why I love resources such as Fertility Out Loud. They have a brand new tool to assist in helping others that feel overwhelmed and with navigating through fertility. The holiday season is upon us, and it can be extremely tough on our mental and physical state. Sometimes we need resources like Fertility Out Loud to give us that inner strength and resilience to know we can make it and give us the sense of encouragement within ourselves.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
In 2019, I started The Endo Brunch, a brunch created to uplift, inspire, and allow women to meet to discuss reproductive health and more. When dealing with things such as endometriosis and fertility I feel that it’s important to be around others so you do not feel alone. I’d love to travel with The Endo Brunch to other cities and host seminars so women and their loved ones can attend. That’s definitely a dream of mine one day.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
Tasha Cobbs Leonard — I love to sing. She’s one of my favorite Gospel artists. Her transparency regarding her and her husband’s fertility journey is admirable, and I hope to sit down with her one day to discuss it.
Millen Magese — the work that she does for endometriosis and reproductive health in Africa is amazing. I honor the work and milestones she’s accomplished.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m on social media at imaprilchristina. My website imaprilchristina.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!