Abortion Issues and Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS)
Abortion has two very different forms in today's society. The first is the political debate where large groups of people will tell you either that there's nothing to feel sorry about, or say that abortion is morally wrong and taking an innocent life. This is the political and religious side. The second side form is the intensely personal journey each woman makes after electing to have an abortion. Your emotions and feelings are yours and yours alone. Feeling a rollercoaster of hormones and emotional chaos before or after going through an abortion is common and expected. You may feel as if you've made the right decision although you are currently suffering from some negative emotional responses. Or you may feel very guilty, and even though society tells you that your choice was just fine, it doesn't change the feelings of confusion or dread. By having a deeper understanding of these emotions and properly addressing them, you can learn how to accept yourself and make progress towards enjoying life again.
As a life altering decision it's common to have second thoughts. Throughout this period of time your hormones are conducting changes within the body. You may be more likely to feel negative due to social stigmas and lack of support. You may feel judged and concerned about having a child in the future. With abortion issues you should be able to express negative feelings so that you can have a deeper understanding of what's actually happening inside of your body and in your emotions. If you're experiencing a range of chaotic feelings after an unplanned pregnancy there are ways to find help and absolution.
When Abortion Issues Cause You Harm
The onset of trauma or depression before or after an abortion is not uncommon. If the trauma begins to reach a severe stage resulting in depression and obsessive behavior, the feelings can begin to harm us and get in the way of current relationships. A given amount of time for healing is necessary but if it has been an ongoing emotional and spiritual battle you may need to consider counseling. Post and pre-abortion feelings and disagreements can easily break a couple's relationship.
If a sort of psychosis arises and leads to obsessive behavior you may be suffering from a chemical imbalance. The event may have changed the hormone production within your body due to stress and worry. If this issue has taken over your life and is preventing you from moving forward then it may be time to reach out.
Sometimes women may regret their decision. A mother may choose to terminate because she is afraid of being a parent, or worried about supporting a child. She may choose abortion pro-actively or reluctantly. For example, there are times women may choose an abortion grudgingly, after feeling pressure from family members or a spouse. Regardless of the reason or circumstances, many women do end up feeling mixed at some level, anywhere from slight doubts to complete regret. And to make it worse, the "political arm" of abortion will then compound those emotions with new emotions of its own. She might feel pressured by "progressives" that there is no reason to feel guilty (i.e. "You did the right thing, don't feel bad"), and yet still she feels regret. A woman who is pro-choice may have second thoughts and feel deep regret and too ashamed to admit those feelings to her pro-choice peers. Conversely, the other side is also true. A woman may feel pressured by "fundamentals" that she is a terrible person and deserves punishment. The onslaught from both sides telling a woman what and how to feel can leave her confused and thus she buries her true feelings out of embarrassment or fear of being judged by others.
This pressure to push back and erase heavy feelings of confusion or regret can actually can end up burying the emotions, bringing no real resolution or release. When we bury feelings like this, it only sets us up for more emotional difficulties later in life. If a woman genuinely feels guilty after an abortion, she should not be made to feel like she is "wrong" for having guilt. Political dogma may say "you have nothing to seek forgiveness about", but such a statement can invalidate a woman's genuine feelings. It is important to accept and validate the uniquely individual emotions each woman may feel without catering to what a others might say. Abortion for many is politics and activism. But for a woman who is dealing with the decision, it is often very personal and spiritual, and not political at all. If a woman does feel guilt, the appropriate response is not to simply bury it or tell her "don't feel guilty", instead it is important to forgive oneself and to let go. If she follows a particular religion, she may find release through prayer or meditation within her beliefs. Guilt is often best treated by forgiveness and acceptance.
On the other side, a woman who has already found resolution within herself, but still deals with stigma from others who look down on her and harshly judge her can also lead to many harmful effects if she does not find the right tools and help for her life. If you have made this choice in the past, you may relate to some of this. The point is, that whatever feelings you may be having, do not let someone else dictate your emotions to you. Your feelings are your own, and no one else's, and they should not simply be invalidated by others.
Abortion Issues and External Relationships
It's common for relationships to fall apart after an abortion although the ones that remain together may still suffer from grief. Relationships can be destructive if one person or two people are suffering from abortion issues. This is a decision that can cause anger and bitterness toward one person who wasn't supportive of the child. There's also pressure put on the relationship when you hide your own feelings. In external relationships this can be a problem with men who don't know how to express themselves. Both men and women are affected by abortions. This is definitely a problem when the abortion was kept as a secret from the other partner. Abortion within a relationship that is hidden, especially when the other person would have wanted the child, will very often lead to break up and can easily be regarded by the other person as something worse than infidelity. This is a situation that certainly requires therapy and counseling. Just the act of keeping secrets from the other person can result in a devastating relationship. There is some mental distress that can result in a severe anxiety, depression, or substance abuse (among others) after an event such as this. Fortunately, there are ways to save your health and your relationship by dealing with the situation in a clinical setting.
How Therapy can Help
Making the decision to terminate a pregnancy is complex and it often requires experienced help from an unbiased counselor, willing to explore the decision, religion, and mindset of the patient, and do so in a manner that keeps the politics of the therapist out (whether pro-life or pro-choice). A good therapist will be very careful to tread lightly and allow the client to work through the feelings without casting judgment. A good pro life therapist will not heap on condemnation over the decision just like a good pro-choice therapist should also not minimize or invalidate feelings of guilt. Although this may feel like a traumatic life choice - know that this is a conflict that you can heal from with time. It might be a good idea to ask your therapist up front if he or she is experienced in dealing with post abortion issues.
If you have had an abortion and still feel underlying emotions, it's likely that you've been keeping some feelings locked up for one reason or another. By releasing them and confiding in a therapist who will speak to you about them, you can begin to find relief and understand your own self and being your journey of self acceptance and forgiveness. Counseling at the earliest possible stage is going to help you recover from a decision or future contemplation. There are clinics that have trained counselors who want to help you get through this stage of your life. Therapy will help you explore your own needs and the needs of your partner. Being that we all have different values and ethics we might go about dealing with the loss differently. How you feel after or during this decision is not invalid.
Regardless of how you feel, confronting the pain is the only way that you are going to move forward. Therapy will bring up these repressed emotions that are preventing you from becoming whole again. Losses happen and any concerns that you have can be expressed toward a nonjudgmental therapist who will help you find strength and acceptance. If you and your partner are having a difficult time moving forward, therapy will address the issue. Expressing thoughts and emotions is important in creating a mutual understanding. With a rational therapist present you'll both make sense of this pain and learn when coming to a closure. It doesn't matter how much time it takes; every patient heals at their own rate. Find comfort in knowing that if you choose to get clinical help you can overcome the hardship and come out of the therapy sessions stronger than ever.
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