Stigma..what is it? According to the English dictionary:
'a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person'
What ever we do in life there will always be stigma attached to that act. It is not simply someone else having a different opinion to you, it is society creating these views that often means people are afraid to talk about or discuss certain things. It can cause heartache and can mean people often struggle to cope with things alone.
They don't want to talk about them because it's not the done thing, people will frown upon them for talking about it, people will be disappointed or think differently because of decisions they have made.
How does this leave people feeling?
It can leave people feeling alone, like they have to cope alone, afraid to talk to people, afraid to ask for help when they deep down they need it and know that it will help. But because of what society has created they don't. They cope in silence and struggle along on their own.
I speak from personal experience, for the last 5 months I've been dealing with this struggle on my own.
At the beginning of September something that has changed my life happened, and I'm sure in the long run it will make me a stronger person, but at the moment I'm struggling and part of this is because I'm too afraid to talk about it, worried what people will say, and worried what people will think about me.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I fully appreciated that, but it still doesn't mean that being judged isn't at the forefront of my mind.
On 7th October I had a termination. A decision that was the hardest thing to make. You may be thinking that this is a very personal thing to discuss, but for me I need to. For the last 5 months I haven't talked about it, even struggling to talk to my family & friends; the ones who have been there for me throughout, about it. It's not easy. Society says terminations shouldn't be talked about, that they happen and then it's over, that is so wrong. They need to be talked about, it's a decision that has changed my life forever, it wasn't easy to make and one that I'm still struggling to come to terms with.
When I found out I was pregnant, even before I did the test, I knew. As women we know our bodies, mine was changing and not how I wanted it to. I'd been with my boyfriend about 6 months, I was on the pill. This wasn't supposed to be happening. But it was and the next few weeks proved to be the hardest ever.
Telling my boyfriend was the hardest, it was the first time I'd seen him cry; and although I know we needed to be together and talk about it I needed my mum. It was one of those times when only mum could make things better. I turned up on my parents door step at midnight in tears. Telling them was so hard, I felt like I'd let them down. But they were my rocks. As well as my boyfriend and my best friends they all helped me, and still are helping me through this.
I'd say my experience was made worse by how ill I was, I thought it was just pregnancy related illness until I was admitted into hospital with suspected meningitis; they really didn't know what was wrong with me; whether I was ill or if it was caused through the pregnancy. I was bed bound for 3 weeks, I just wanted to be better, back to myself. My mum, dad & boyfriend were with me in hospital whenever they could, visiting time really did make my day.
I'd already made my decision, with my appointment booked in; I missed the first one as I was still in hospital and as my appointment was in another hospital I wasn't allowed to travel. And as much as the doctors looked after me; with an occasional nudge from mum; they couldn't make another appointment for another week.
I feel so guilty that I had to put my mum through it, the hardest thing about telling her I was having a termination is the guilt. My parents lost my brother, yet here I was choosing to. But for me it was the right decision, I just struggle with the aftermath. And the reason I'm struggling so much is because I haven't talked about it.
Since October I've felt like I've failed, failed myself, failed my boyfriend, my parents and friends. I've struggled to believe my boyfriend when he says he loves me. I wonder why he's still with me. I often feel guilty for over looking how this affected him, how he's stuck by me through the hardest decision we had to make when he could have just walked away.
My best friends have been beyond amazing and I'm forever grateful for their support, their hospital visits, their constant texts to see how I am.
I've cried and eaten in secret for months, it's taking it's toll on me. And last week I finally made the decision to talk to someone about it. Someone that isn't my boyfriend, or my mum, or my best friends but I've arranged to see a counselor. Again seeing a counselor is something that comes with stigma, people are judged or going. But they don't need to be. They should be proud for going. As the saying goes the first step is always the hardest. Asking for help is exactly the same. But now I have; I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, that I can start to feel better about myself. That I don't need to struggle alone.
Watching this video really brought it home to me:
Part of the reason I wanted to write this post. Not enough people talk about termination and how it affects them. People shouldn't be left to cope in private but should be able to talk and have the support they need.