In this week’s guest blog, T shares her experience of post abortion counseling.
Please note, she was not a client of our centre, but has allowed us to share her experience.
I actually found myself having post abortion counseling by accident! But it was one of the best accidents I could experience, and it changed my life!
A local church was running a ‘Freedom from Abortion’ day, and it caught my attention because they said people who had miscarried or had other form of pregnancy loss could also find it beneficial. I had miscarried in the years following my abortion, and knew I wasn’t ‘over it’ so thought I would go along.
The day started with teaching explaining what abortion is and how we are more than just physical beings, and how abortion, therefore, impacts our emotions, mind, etc. They taught us about blocked grief and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how women who have an abortion sometimes experience Post Abortive Trauma. Several women shared their stories too and how counseling helped them. I was surprised to find myself recognising most of the ‘symptoms’ of post-abortive trauma in myself. I had no idea that an abortion ten years before this session could still be impacting me, or be the thing behind some of my symptoms!
All the participants filled out forms where we gave information about our history, why we were attending, and what we had been experiencing that led us there. I was still reluctant to talk about having an abortion and wondered about leaving it out. After all, surely miscarriages of children that I wanted were a bigger issue anyway than an abortion I chose? I realised though that to get the best help I needed to be honest, and listed it. We each got matched with a counselor and the work began!
Through talking with my counselor, I was able to see how I felt a lot of anger and resentment about the abortion which I had suppressed – but it was still impacting my well-being. I felt I hadn’t been given all the information I should have at the time. I was angry that I never asked what I wanted by anybody in the medical profession when I had been hoping they would help me. I felt that I had been coerced into it too and that it hadn’t been my choice. Most importantly, I felt a lot of deep, deep shame about it, which had led to a massive amount of other problems. These included staying in an extremely abusive relationship, as my self-esteem was so low!
Following the abortion, I had started to hate myself and if people said anything nice to me, I would later self-harm because I was so angry at myself for having ‘deceived them’. I had never pinpointed why I had started to feel I was such a bad person, but through counseling, I realised that having an abortion had played a big part in that. I also discovered that I was experiencing symptoms of blocked grief, which is very common after abortion compared with miscarriage. People often either don’t think about the baby as being a person to grieve or assume that because they chose the abortion, that they shouldn’t feel sadness and grief.
It took a few sessions, but even in that first session, I found SO MUCH FREEDOM from things I didn’t realise I had been carrying! Working through things with a counselor gave me the opportunity to talk about things that had been weighing me down for a long time. I was able to stop judging myself. The pervading sadness eased. I was able to forgive other people involved. I was able to make better life choices as I saw myself as someone worthy of respect. I no longer felt gripped by anxiety, self-hatred, or sadness. I was able to talk about all the children I had lost as real, actual people, and use their names without being afraid people would think I was being morbid or overly dramatic. And being able to talk about them, helped me grieve and release them.
I wish I had known sooner about post abortion syndrome/trauma. I wish I had known when I had the abortion that it had been a possibility! But I’m thankful that I heard about it when I did, and not after decades and misdiagnosis as depressed, bipolar etc as some women do.
Having post abortive counseling truly changed my life and freed me from issues I didn’t know were related. It wasn’t like I hadn’t been trying either! I had tried medication, other therapy, self-help books galore…..I had been desperate for change!
If any woman has had an abortion and finds herself experiencing depression, anxiety, unexplained shame, self-hate or guilt, struggles to engage with kids, has flashbacks to conversations and experiences related to abortion, struggles with addiction, suicidal thoughts, or more, I recommend pursuing post-abortion counseling. Obviously, there may be other factors and triggers, but I think this is often an avenue we don’t explore. It changed my life, and I hope every woman gets to experience that same freedom.
Thank you to T for contributing to our blog.
If you recognise any of the things she talks about and want to pursue post-abortion counseling, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to make a free appointment.