Sunday, 24 May 2020

Trauma Focused CBT: Session Twelve

(TRIGGER WARNING: Details of early medical abortion, and mention of domestic abuse)

This was my last session with my therapist. I felt that I had come a long way, and although I still have the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis, my symptoms are much less severe and persistent, at least in relation to my traumatic abortion.

This session was just to check in on me really, and see how I'd been getting on. I had managed to do more tasks for facing my feared situations, and I was continuing journalling in order to monitor my moods.

One particular thing I needed to do was contact BPAS to voice my concerns about my abortion and ask their advice, or for reassurance at least. When having an early medical abortion, the process was that you would take an oral pill in clinic on your first visit, then a number (I thought 6 at the time) of vaginal pills in clinic on the second visit; in order to complete the abortion.

When looking at early medical abortion advice on the BPAS website, it said to take 4 vaginal pills in clinic, and then 2 a few hours later. I thought I'd taken all 6 at the time, so worried that there may have been complications, which then led to me worrying about potential fertility problems.

I emailed BPAS to tell them about my concerns, and a couple of days later I received a call. When I spoke to one of the BPAS managers, she put my mind at rest. She said that, as my abortion was 11 years ago, the process was slightly different. I would've only been given 4 vaginal pills back then, whereas now it is 4 to take at first, then 2 later on. She also told me that she had spoken to their medical director. She asked me a few questions about how I felt physically when having the abortion. I told her about the excruciating pain, and huge amount of blood at first. She asked if it lessened over the days and weeks I was recovering, and it had. She told me this was to be expected of a medical abortion without complications. As I had normal, regular periods nowadays too, fertility shouldn't be a problem.

We had a long chat, which was difficult and triggering in some parts but overall, I was actually glad to get it all off my chest and speak to someone in the know. She was so apologetic about the way the nurses had treated me, and assured me that training is much more stringent nowadays. Although there are very rare instances of nurses being less than kind, they are dealt with through further training and disciplinary action if needs be.

I felt surprisingly light and relieved after the conversation! It felt as if I'd had closure finally, and although my worries were not completely gone, I felt I had made massive progress and was able to cope with my PTSD over this (for the most part).

In the future, I would love to be a psychotherapist or a clinical psychologist. I would also like to help counsel people who have been through similar situations as me. I feel like I am almost ready to do that!

Back to therapy, I told my therapist about the phone call and my feelings during and after. She was so pleased to hear about the progress I had made! She asked if I felt I needed any more sessions regarding this, but I said I felt I could cope with my feelings etc about this on my own now, and had learnt enough skills for dealing with setbacks.

The next thing we spoke briefly about was the abusive relationship I'd been in. As it had happened at such a sensitive time for me (straight after the abortion in fact) it had become a double trauma, which needed dealing with. She reminded me that we had spoken last session about me contacting Women's Aid to see if they could help with counselling etc. I said I would leave it a month or two, as I felt I needed a break from therapy first. It's also the case that they are inundated with calls from domestic abuse survivors right now, who are in terrible situations (partly due to lockdown) that they need help to escape from. I do not want to take up the line with my feelings about something I am not in danger from anymore. I want to at least give a bit of time before ringing them.

My therapist recently sent me a form to fill in for my own resources, so I know what to do, who to contact etc should I have setbacks. This is very helpful because I often feel lost when in crisis, and need clear instructions.

Right now, I am doing ok though. I still have dreams and flashbacks, but I am able to distract myself most of the time. I'm trying to plan my days too, so I eat a bit better, exercise within my physical limits, and talk to friends too.

When/if I manage to get any counselling sessions with Women's Aid, I will blog about them.

Resources

NHS website: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

Amys Mystery Illness- Am I Triggered?: https://www.amysmysteryillness.co.uk/2014/03/am-i-triggered.html

British Pregnancy Advisory Service: https://www.bpas.org/

Medical Abortion Up to 10 Weeks: https://www.bpas.org/abortion-care/abortion-treatments/the-abortion-pill/abortion-pill-up-to-10-weeks/

Amys Mystery Illness: I'm a Survivor: https://www.amysmysteryillness.co.uk/2018/07/im-survivor.html

Amys Mystery Illness- Trauma Focused CBT: Session Eleven: https://www.amysmysteryillness.co.uk/2020/04/trauma-focused-cbt-session-eleven.html

Women's Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

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