Some of us feel heavy hearted, and that’s a surprise.

by Anonymous

January 27, 2023

Background: I had my abortion over five years ago now, as I was turning 30. I was dating a nice guy, though I knew he wasn’t the one for me long-term. One morning, we stupidly had unprotected sex and within two hours to get the morning-after pill. Job done, I thought. Then a few weeks later, I sprained my ankle and ahead of getting an x-ray at the hospital, I was told I was pregnant. I was beside myself. How could I be so irresponsible and how could this happen? My initial girlfriends who I told were unsympathetic. They told me to not tell the guy seeing as I didn’t see a long-term future with him anyway, and so I shouldn’t “ruin his life” with this news and burden him. They told me to get an abortion. I knew it was the right decision, but I believe that being of a non-practicing Muslim, there was a small part of me that didn’t feel right about it. I was surprised by that feeling. Plus, the hormones, and what felt like shame I felt following my girlfriend’s cold reactions, left me feeling isolated and alone in dealing with it.

I ended things with a sweet guy, who probably would have held my hand through the procedure, and went through it all feeling hysterical and lonely and ashamed. And with no one to talk to, I put it behind me and threw myself back into life. Nine months later I had a breakdown. I was losing my possessions, my memory, I was becoming anxious, getting panic attacks, feeling very low, I had no idea what was happening, I thought I was going mad. The doctor referred me to a psychologist and it was she who diagnosed me with PTSD post-abortion. And after consistent therapy, and a whole lot of downs (bouts of anger, depression, anxiety, emotional turmoil), I got through the other side,accepting and less ashamed I also felt, particularly through the two/ three years following, I was struggling with being vulnerable with men I was dating, pushing them away. I came out of that abortion really hating myself and telling myself I was unlovable. I have no idea why? It was a shock to me how cruel and unkind I was to myself post-abortion. I think it’s because I realised that while I am pro-choice and so are my friends, when you are actually in the scenario, you find it’s still a very taboo subject, with unconscious projections of shame and secrecy. And also, with very little actual knowledge of what abortion entails and the weight it could carry.

While we talk about the feeling of relief, which is true, it isn’t to say that feeling can’t live in parallel with a sense of loss, of failure, of sadness, of grief. And that actually, for some people, it’s a huge mental undertaking, and that we aren’t all okay after it’s done and skip on our merry little way with relief and nothing else. Some of us feel heavy hearted, and that’s a surprise. It could also be from the rapid drop in hormones, who knows?

My advice for others: please see a Psychologist for support asap and have them help you untangle your thoughts, feelings and manage your grief. And if you can, find kind people who will let you be vulnerable and listen to you talk about your grief. Don’t keep it to yourself and weed out the cold people if you can, with a support group that make you feel safe. Talk therapy can really help break the feelings of guilt, shame, loss… whatever it is, from your conscious. And good luck, my dear. I wish I could give you a hug and tell her you’re safe and one day it will be better.

Remember that our stories are ours to tell. We’d love to hear your story too!