My story really began when I was 27. I had just split from my long term partner. Two weeks later, we discovered I was pregnant. We discussed our options and while we both never wanted or expected that we would be faced with such a gut wrenching decision, we found ourselves there in that clinic.
Never in my life have I felt so conflicted. I cried my way through the entire ultra sound and tried to hold it together in the operating room while the team prepped around me, making small chit chat about the weather and what I do for work. I'll always remember how cold and disconnected everyone working in the clinic was, like I was having my wisdom teeth out, not terminating my babies life.
Out of respect to my former partner I won’t go into our reasoning and justification for making our decision. We did what we thought was right, with the information we had and the mental head space we were both in at the time.
After a month of my partner and I trying to work through what was left of our relationship, we separated ways. I was fine… or so I thought.
I understand now that I found other methods of distraction to suppress my emotions, to save myself from processing the gravity, guilt and shame of what I had done. That way I never had to be confronted with how heartbroken and disappointed in myself I was.
I set my focus on my “health”. It looked like I was doing well, I was eating more, and better quality food and I loved going to the gym. Though the truth was, I had very quickly become obsessed with clean eating and excessive exercise, developing a condition I would consider to be Orthorexia. It’s extremely common for women to develop eating disorders as a way to regain control of their bodies post abortion.
I gave up my 10 year career broadcasting in radio and decided I was going to follow my new passion, Fitness. So I became a Personal Trainer. This strategy meant that I could get on with my life, without the weight of my past bringing me down. I. have. never. been. so. wrong.
A year later I moved home to Perth to be closer to my family.
From the outside, I was the healthiest I’d ever been but on the inside I was falling apart. I was riddled with anxiety, I barely slept through the night, I suffered with poor digestion, I was battling body image issues and I was making impulsive life choices.
I was stressed, not just financially but physically and emotionally too.
I was tired every waking moment of every day but I ignored my body’s signs and pleas to slow down.
Instead I insisted on pushing myself to the max #nopainnogain right?!. I’d train CrossFit every day, do a bodybuilding session and ride 5-10km on my bike.
I was insane with my diet, weighing and timing my meals to the hour. Not allowing a single toxic processed food past my lips. The stress I was putting myself under, simply from shame I’d wallow in for enjoying a glass of wine or a piece of mums irresistible rocky road was just adding to my symptoms.
Over time, I pushed all my friends away to avoid any slip ups in my diet. There was 0 pleasure allowed in my life and that’s how I thought it had to be to get results, to finally be happy. I was totally missing the point.
At age 29 I met my current partner Sean. I knew right away that he was the one and just quietly, my ovaries were bursting with excitement! “I can finally right this wrong” is what I was unconsciously thinking. This triggered deep dark emotions of unprocessed grief and shame within me and my health declined further. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Stress.
Months passed, an MRI on my pituitary glands, a million blood tests and a lot of money spent at the Endocrinologist later, we could not find one single thing wrong with me. Not one.
Yet I would wake at 7am and need to be back to bed at 9am for a nap to make it through my day.
It blows my mind now that not one health professional, took me aside and said, “hey, how is your emotional health?!” It would have undoubtedly saved me a year and a half of anguish, searching for answers to feel better.
So life went on, I completely changed my job so that I could earn more money, get a better sleep routine and relieve some of the stress in my life. Things improved.
But without being aware, I was being triggered. Every time a friend had a baby, announced a pregnancy, had a 1st birthday party or asked me to hold their child, my immune system crashed. Deep in my soul I was still punishing myself for what I had done. I was holding onto to so many undigested emotions that it was having a physical impact on my health.
After dating for 2 or more years, Sean came home one day to find me crying on the floor. I was inconsolable, my cycle was late and I got carried away with the excitement that I could be pregnant. But when I tested, I discovered I was not. The crazy thing was, we weren’t even discussing trying to conceive at that point. I had no idea I wanted a baby so bad.
It was then that I began to piece together the root of all my problems. I had been suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) bought on by my abortion. It suddenly all made sense.
The next day I contacted a Grief Counsellor and I was on my road to recovery.
My message to all couples that find themselves faced with the heartbreaking decision of abortion, is to know that you have options and you have time. I urge that you both at the very least attend one counselling session before confirming your decision so that you understand 100% what it is you are about to go through and how it is going to impact your lives either way. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly, your mental health is at risk. If termination is your decision then don’t be fooled into thinking that you can move on without processing the grief that comes from losing your baby. Seek counsel because if it doesn’t hit you then, I guarantee it will later.
I wanted to share my story because it really demonstrates what my work in Eating Psychology is all about.
All things are connected. Our emotional health impacts not only our physical health but our habits around lifestyle and diet to.
The body will always present with unwanted symptoms and behaviours as messages, screaming to us for help. I’ve known people to suffer for years holding onto the trauma of past experiences, resulting in binge eating, fatigue, disordered eating, chronic stress and anxiety, digestive issues and potential auto immune disease.
There is so much more to our nutritional habits than what you are eating and how much exercise you are doing.
That is merely scratching the surface. I am here to help you uncover your authentic self and break free from self-sabotaging habits that are holding you back from your happiness and self -love today.
I can honestly say that I have come full circle. I have forgiven myself, I love my body as it is, however that may be. I listen to and respect my bodies guiding wishes.
I choose to live a life focused on nourishing my body with whole foods while enjoying balance completely guilt free.
No longer do I weigh or time my meals. I don’t demonise any foods or restrict anything from my diet. My digestion and gut health are rock solid, even my immunity has come back strong! My anxiety I experienced through PTSD is now mild and I have a much better grasp over my stress levels.
I exercise for the pure joy CrossFit brings to me and don’t give a second thought to how many calories I’m burning or if this exercise will give me abs. I feel I have truly found my freedom in love and balance and it is magical!!
Please contact www.hopealiveaustralia.com.au if you would like help in grieving any unresolved pregnancy loss.