Months pass by and the regret and what if’s often crept into my mind. Now that sense of relief has turned into “what have I done?” At the time, I didn’t realize how much this would affect my mental health in the future but this was definitely something I had to overcome. After going through this traumatic experience, I found myself struggling with something known as sleep paralysis. Here's a graphic explaining exactly what sleep paralysis is:
Sleep paralysis is something that is caused by factors such as insomnia, stress, anxiety or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After my abortion, I unfortunately experienced all of these symptoms. At the time, I had no idea what was happening to me. I would wake up in the middle of the night with no control over my body and was only able to open my eyes to look around in my dark room. Sometimes I would see figures at the end of my bed that would scare me. I remember trying to scream but nothing came out of my mouth. It was a temporary loss of control of my body. This is something that happened to me on and off for two years.
There are other things I experienced, such as derealization which involves a persistent or recurring feeling of being detached from one's body or mental processes. It felt like an outside observer of one's life but sleep paralysis was the main thing that haunted me during this time.
Years later, I wondered what exactly caused me to have such long periods of sleep paralysis and now looking back, I know why. It was because of the confusion my brain was experiencing from a traumatic event which was my abortion. My brain essentially was trying to block out this upsetting experience, which caused me to have new issues such as sleep paralysis and derealization.
Although both of these experiences were traumatic, it is a part of my story. A story I feel that I can talk about today without embarrassment or judgment.
This is a story that I hope will encourage young girls to speak out if they find themselves in a similar position. It's important to know that you are not alone and that you shouldn't feel ashamed for making the decision to have a safe abortion. It's your body and it should be your choice. I feel that it's important for schools to make young high school women comfortable to speak about sexual education, pregnancy, and all available options. If they are going through these things, schools need to offer safe spaces and people to talk to so they don’t feel alone.
The reason why I wanted to write about my story was to give my perspective on what it's like to go through an abortion. There were many after effects and surprising mental health issues that crept up on me. My goal is to educate the public on how it's not easy to just have this experience and act like nothing has happened.If I got pregnant today with the right partner, unlike my sixteen year old self, I am now old enough and educated enough to follow through with having a child. People still ask me if I could go back in time, would I change my decision. I always tell them no. The answer is no because although I may sometimes think of myself as guilty, I was a young child myself. I was not ready to bring another life into this world and that's okay. I believe that everything has its timing in life and I’m excited for when it is my time.