This is not about politics or religion. This is about you and what you are experiencing after your abortion. Many talk about abortion in very polarized terms, and that may cause you to think you should either feel devastated or euphoric. While it’s possible you find yourself at either end of this spectrum, we find that most women we talk to are actually somewhere in the middle.
Your experience is valid.
What you are feeling regarding your abortion experience matters. It’s normal for these feelings to be complex and even contradictory, and you may have experienced a wide swing of emotions in a short time.
You may also have experienced pressure during your decision making process. That pressure can affect how you experience your abortion. For example, you may feel that your decision was influenced by:
- another person (e.g. a parent, friend, or partner).
- circumstances outside your control (e.g. school, job, finances, health, relationship).
- your own expectations (e.g. “I promised myself I’d wait to start a family”, “I didn’t think I’d get pregnant with this partner”).
And though you may feel that you would have made the same decision without these pressures, they can still complicate how you feel about the experience.
While every woman’s experience is unique, maybe you resonate with some of these thoughts and emotions:
- I feel confident in my decision, and at the same time feel grief.
- I know this was my choice, but I still feel like I lost something significant.
- I made this decision carefully, but it all feels like it happened so quickly. I don’t know what I think/feel about it now.
- I can’t stop thinking about it, but I don’t know how to talk about it.
- I don’t want to think about it, because when I do it makes me feel sad/anxious/guilty.
- I thought I made the right decision, but now I wish I could take it back.
- I don’t want anyone to know about this.
Let’s talk symptoms.
If you resonated with any of the statements above, or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, you may find it helpful to share your story with someone who can help you talk through what you are feeling. A counselor can help by addressing the underlying emotional stress and helping you to develop coping skills for when the symptoms surface.
Many women find it hard to share their experience with the people in their lives. You may feel like no one would understand or that it would be too difficult. You shouldn’t experience this in isolation, and it’s important to talk about your experience – whatever it may be – with someone else.
Trouble Sleeping or Eating
Changes in your sleep and in your eating habits can be signs of emotional stress or depression. This can be trouble falling or staying asleep and loss of appetite or increased appetite.
Sadness or Crying Spells
Sadness, tearfulness, and loss of interest in things you once used to enjoy can also be an indication of mild to moderate depression.
Anxiety or Panic
Some women experience anxiety or feelings of panic when they think about their abortion. Anxious thoughts may be accompanied by shortness of breath and trouble breathing.
Feelings of extreme guilt can be a huge weight to carry. It’s even possible that you feel you deserve to carry this burden. Please hear us when we say, you can find forgiveness and hope to move forward.
Effects in Work, School, or Relationships
If any of these symptoms are affecting your day-to-day functioning, such as at work, school, or in your personal relationships, we recommend talking to a counselor right away.
Goals for Counseling
Accept Where You’re Starting From
Your experience is real, and your feelings about that experience matter. In counseling, we work to help you own those feelings. We want you to approach your feelings without judgment, getting rid of the “I should feel…” statements so that you can process what you are feeling, not what you think you should be feeling.
Develop Strategies to Move Forward
Once it’s clear where you are starting from, we can help you develop strategies to move forward. Some women find that this experience is something that always stays with them. The truth is, it is a part of your history, but that doesn’t mean it has to define you. This experience may have affected how you interact with your partner, family, coworkers, or with yourself. By developing coping strategies, we can help you step forward into new, more positive ways of interacting and thinking.
Remember or Memorialize (If Helpful)
Many women we speak with find it helpful to establish a way to remember or memorialize this loss. If it’s meaningful to you, consider planting a garden, displaying a significant art piece (such as a figurine or photo), or establishing a specific day of the year on which to remember this loss. These are some examples of ways that women have found to memorialize their personal experience, and your way of remembering may look different. Find something that is meaningful to you.
If you would like to speak with one of our counselors, call us at 734-994-8863, or reach out by emailing [email protected] and we’ll help you make a free appointment. Remember, our counselors are not here to make any moral claims; they are here to help you process and heal. If you’re not ready to see a counselor, find a supportive friend, start a journal, read books on grief and healing after loss, or practice meditation. Whatever you are feeling right now, you don’t need to walk this alone. There is hope.