You were very young when you got admission into the university. It was not that you were foolish, you were naive and you listened to anything your friends said. They laughed when you said you had never dated anyone and so, they decided to bring you out of the shackles of singleness. Your friend introduced you to one of her friends in engineering. He was cute, funny, intelligent and quite the whole package. You liked him instantly and things began to move too fast. To cut the long story short, after two missed periods,you knew you had to do something. You told him about it and of course, he insisted on an abortion. Your friend took you to the “clinic” where you had the abortion.
Maybe your story does not follow this exact pattern but the point I am trying to make is that you got pregnant and you had to have an abortion. Eight years later, you are happily married with one daughter and a baby on the way. The only thing is that you are plagued with constant feelings of guilt especially around the date of the abortion. You feel like you did the necessary thing but you would have had an eight year old child now. It is done already, forget it and move on, you tell yourself. It is not that easy, you are one of the many women suffering from post abortion depression.
Women experiencing post abortion depression are unable to work through their emotional responses to abortion. They usually do not share their experiences openly because of religious and societal influences that create stigma around abortion. The many signs of post abortion depression include grief, guilt, regret, stress, loss of self esteem, denial, flashbacks, anger, uncontrolled crying episodes, nightmares, fear of infertility, interruption of bonding process in future children. Treatments could come in form of support, talking therapy and drugs. Support could be provided by understanding relatives and friends. Talking therapy involves talking to a trained psychologist for psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy.
Counselling, especially with counsellors who have experienced post abortion depression and groups of other women in the same condition are particularly helpful. Medication given are mainly antidepressants, especially if the woman has moderate or severe cases of depression. Self-forgiveness, especially if the woman feels guilty most of the time, is necessary. Helping other people trying to make the abortion decision could be a coping mechanism. Nobody is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. Post abortion depression is more common than you think. Always remember, you are not alone and you can overcome this.
Written by : Galadima Gimbiya