My post-abortion trauma
Sophie blogs about her experience of anxiety and depression after having an abortion.
It started with a pregnancy, one that was unexpected to say the least. I had gone on a date with somebody that I didn't know particularly well but we had been talking online and I thought he seemed like a nice guy. One thing led to another and I woke up the next morning unable to remember the night and unsure of what had happened. I know that he came back to my house but everything else is a blur. However one of the memories I do have from that night is of me saying "I don't want to have sex with you."
"As far as I knew I hadn't had sex and everything was fine."
Fast forward a few weeks and I am overcome with worryingly 'pregnancy-like' symptoms: nausea, vomiting, fatigue and food aversion. After seeing my doctor, speaking to my mom and even pharmacists the general response was "are you sure you're not pregnant?” To which I would laugh and say "chance would be a fine thing!"
However the symptoms continued and worsened and after having time of work when the morning sickness was particularly bad I realised that enough was enough. I would take a pregnancy test for peace of mind.
"I never expected to read a positive result."
I took another test and another test each reading the same horrifying result. How could I be pregnant? I hadn't had sex? Had I?
For me, mild depression and a general sense of unhappiness was already something that was deeply ingrained in me that it was almost taken to be part of my personality. However I was now spiralling into a depressive, anxiety filled state like nothing I had experienced.
I was extremely shocked and had a sense of being completely out of control, which combined with my fluctuating hormones led to what I am now able to identify as anxiety.
Straight away I knew that there was no way I would keep the baby. I assumed that because I was so certain on this decision that the procedure itself would be a relief for me. I was told at the clinic time and time again that "most women feel a sense of relief."
"However, once the abortion had been carried out I was left with this horrible feeling of what now?"
I had never questioned the morality of abortion before but when it comes to your own body you start to think about things differently. I was left with more questions that I could possibly answer and a sense of disbelief due to the complete shock of being pregnant.
I carried on going to work as normal but found myself feeling trapped in the office, experiencing, shaking, chest pain and at its worst a sense of being outside of my own body. I was completely unable to function, I didn't care about anything and people at work had started to notice. It was at this point that I decided to leave the job.
The depression became my only friend in a time when I felt increasingly isolated. I would come home get into bed and stay there until the next day, with just my spiralling thoughts for company.
"I was unable to do anything that I once enjoyed, I couldn't even perceive of the concept of enjoyment."
The worst part was that I didn't see a future and felt increasingly suicidal.
It was then that I decided to seek help. My GP is someone that I have been seeing for many years and so she noticed the change in me straight away and referred me for counselling. A few weeks later I went back as I would have to wait 12 weeks for the counselling and knew I wouldn't make it that far if I carried on as I was. So she prescribed me antidepressants which I have been taking ever since.
My experience with my GP was extremely positive and I have been seeing her fortnightly and she has been a massive source of support for me. I know that others are worried about speaking to their doctor and seeking help after hearing horror stories about some people's experiences. However not all doctors are the same and I really want to stress the importance of persevering until you find that doctor that understands you.
For me, the medication has been life changing. I feel like I have been given a new lease of life and I know that there is a stigma surrounding medication but again, everyone is different and if something works for you then keep doing it.
I am still very much dealing with the aftermath of what happened, however I am getting there.
"I can see a future which is something that I didn't believe I would ever be able to say."
I wanted to write this blog to share my story and let other women know that they don't have to go through an abortion alone and that there is no 'normal' way to feel afterwards.
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