A Journey towards post abortion recovery
I had an abortion. I don't think I need to go into details because frankly, an abortion is an abortion. I'm going to tell you how I overcame it. After my "elective" as the clinics call it, I crumbled. I felt "wrong", I felt "alone" and I felt "miserable". I told nobody except for the father of the baby. The day after my abortion, I went to him crying. Telling him I want my baby back. I felt numb. I felt alone and I felt ashamed. I knew I made a decision for a reason but at that moment, those reasons didn't mean anything. It didn't matter. I felt I just wanted to take it back, but I couldn't. Where was the rewind button? I began to think about the "what ifs". Big mistake. I fell into a depression. I couldn't move. I took 5 showers a day (not necessarily washing my body, just sitting under the water). I would turn the shower on and lay on the bottom of the tub while the water from the shower poured over my body. Sometimes, I would get the energy to turn around and cry on the floor. I "hid my emotions". Big Mistake. If I cried in the shower, nobody could tell if I was crying or just wet - I thought. Good plan. No. I ended up getting a pregnancy test. For some reason I thought that maybe the baby was still there. Then I got even more stressed and worried that I would have a baby that I destroyed and have to live the rest of my life with this or have to go through an abortion again. Again. Just thoughts in my head. I took the test. The first line was lighter then when I took it before. This meant my body was slowing processing the pregnancy. My baby was gone. I felt a sense of relief, but at the same time sadness. Did I make the right choice? I decided to think... maybe these feelings I am having are because of the hormones in my body still. Most likely. This helped me think that it was just my mind, but it wasn't enough. I couldn't take pride in anything. Food tasted horrible to me. I tried to eat, but would eat a few bites and be done. Soon, eating was difficult and my stomach couldn't handle it. Each time I smelled food, I wanted to vomit. Then came the tummy aches and body aches. My body wasn't getting food so I felt tired. I would sleep early. I would wake in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep. I had a hard time working. To be honest, I pretended to work one day. I just looked online looking for someone that had a similar story as mine. Some were similar but not close enough to make me feel better. Mornings were hard. I actually still felt pregnant. I was nauseous. I was nauseous but not because of the pregnancy, that was gone. I was nauseous because of anxiety. I had worked myself up so much that my body was on a mode that I couldn't change or at least at those moments I felt like I couldn't. I would eat a piece of food just to throw up. For some reason throwing up made me feel better. I really couldn't throw up because I had no food in my body. I would just gag over the toilet. I hadn't had a bowel movement in three days. Normally, I'm an AM pooper. I had bad gas. I couldn't let the gas go. It woke me up at night. I ended up going in the cabinet and finding gas-x. I took one tablet right before bed. If I woke in the middle of the night, I would take one more. This helped with that. I decided to go to the doctor. I wanted to get on birth control (we were just using condoms)because even though I felt I wanted to have a baby right then and there, I thought I shouldn't. The nurse said they had an assistant shadowing today and asked if that was okay. I said no, not today. She asked me when my last period was, I said I would rather not say. They were okay with all of this. I heard the doctor say - can you tell her I am running 15 minutes late. I felt like ugh... I have to wait here longer? Alone? When the nurse came in to tell me, I told her, I heard. I know. She sensed something was wrong. She asked, what is wrong? I said, I'm afraid to tell you. I did something terrible. She said, we don't judge here, you can talk. I spilled my beans. I told her I had an abortion and I felt terrible. I cried. She hugged me. I told her I had so many reasons, but now those reasons don't seem true. She said its okay. I have a friend that had an abortion. She said, if I had a baby today, (she just split with the father of her child), I would have to have an abortion because I couldn't' afford it. I thought, really? I'm not a monster? I'm not alone? I felt a sense of relief and power. Dr. came in. Spilled my beans again. Again - relief. This was getting easier. I didn't feel better about what I did, but I felt better that I wasn't holding in this secret. I went home. A friend called. I had been ignoring this friend because she was pregnant. I didn't want to see pregnant girls. Made me sad and regretful. I immediately called her back. She asked how I was. I spilled my beans. I thought - I'm on a roll, might as well share again. I can either lose a friend - and realize she wasn't really my friend or gain confidence in myself. It's a 50/50 shot. I went for it. I told her, I'm going to tell you something and I hope you don't hate me. She said, no I couldn't hate you. What is wrong? I told her about having an abortion. She said, wow, you are so brave. Whatever your reasons are, they are valid. It takes a lot to do something like this. Think about people who can't have kids and do not live the lives they wanted. It's not fair to a child to be brought up in a home where they do not get the love and care they need. Brave? I thought? Really? I never thought of it that way. I suppose she is right. I could have a baby, maybe not afford it and then live many many years not giving my baby what I always wanted to give it. Or maybe I just wasn't ready, I had the baby and then there I am caring for this little being that needs my every day 24/7 attention and I just can't do it. Brave. yes. That I am. I felt in control. I felt, it is my body, my choice. I get to choose my path in life. I get to live the life I WANT TO LIVE. Just because this happened to me does not mean that I stop here. That night, I woke again, feeling crummy one more time. I thought of the what ifs. I kept sticking things into my head that were negative, not positive. I had to stop myself. I decided to think of the whys. Why did I do this? Then I thought, yes, this is valid. Its okay. I was taking care of myself-surviving. I am brave! In the middle of this night, I just kept thinking and thinking. Then I came across my answer. As soon as I figured it out I felt a sense of relief. I had to figure out what the real reason was why I did this. Once I figured it out, I could move on better. In one day, I felt so much relief, life and control. Talking helped greatly Knowing the reason, I embraced it and used that to take more control back. The next day I had the anxious feeling again all day. I called the Exhale phone number (I'll continue to call - they are great! 1-866-4-EXHALE). (I called previous helplines and they were not helpful. I felt judged - not good. Exhale was the only line that I really felt understood or cared). Again, I felt better. I decided that I needed some extra help and found a therapist. I walked in proud, but confused. I needed her to validate my feelings and to tell me what was going on with me. My searches online told me I was having anxiety. She agreed. The fillings of numbness, the back pain, the sadness - anxiety. So I spilled my beans again. I felt a feeling of strength. In the end of our session, she said you are dealing with Grief - a feeling of loss. I thought loss? I suppose you could be right. I picked up the pamphlet that she gave me and read through it. Yes, this is what I am feeling. She said you need to go through all of the steps. You will go through all of the steps of grief. In the end you will accept and move on. Here is a link of those steps: http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html I searched the internet several days previously and also knew that I had PASS (Post Abortion Stress Syndrome) right after the abortion. She was right. I could look at this sheet and pinpoint each of the steps I had gone through. I was almost there. I just needed to learn to control my anxiety. Each time I thought of the 'what ifs' or the bad things. I said stop. I turned it off and started again. Knowing what issues I was having made me feel more in control and made me feel like there will be a happy ending for me. Before I left our session, I asked her. Will I get over this? She said yes, you will. It will take time, but you will. She mentioned every year of the anniversary to do a ceremony. I'll see if I do this. She also mentioned to write your story on a public site (here I am). She also mentioned write in a journal if you feel that you do not know what your feelings are. I can see how this will help because ever time I talked about it, I got more strength. She also taught me how to breathe. Breathe in for 4 seconds (deep breath) hold it for 4 seconds, breathe out with the mouth 4 seconds and hold it for 4 seconds. This helped me stop and start thinking again better. So I leave you with this. Talk, speak up and get help. Living with a secret will destroy you. Remember that you made the right choice for you at the time with the information you had. You can't erase it, but you can embrace it and move on. You can learn from it. Find the peace in it. There is some, trust me. I can tell you that I have a different feeling about the people around me. I didn't know this before, but I have a really great support system. This was necessary in my recovery. Find people you can talk to. It makes a world of a difference. I feel like since this experience I want to be less judgemental towards others and learn to listen more because this is what I needed in this time. So I'm taking 2015 with a new face to be a better person.
I am sure this will help others who feel locked in secrecy and afraid of being judged by others. Your road to recovery has taken time but taking those first small steps to breaking the secrecy was crucial. There are post abortion support programmes and they do focus around the grieving process. A successful programme in UK is called The Journey and has helped many women to process the painful emotions that can surface after an abortion. Help is available, for post abortion support.