Reddit, a popular news and social media site, took on an unexpected role this week — post-abortion counseling center. A Reddit user identified only as runningfromy0u posted her story on April 17, the day after getting an abortion. She terminated her pregnancy with twins after she and her partner decided they weren't ready to be parents.
"I do feel different today," she wrote. "I feel sad. My boyfriend and I went to a cafe for coffee and sandwiches and the tears started flowing."
Most adult women don't have any lasting mental health problems after getting an abortion, but feelings of sadness, grief and guilt are normal directly following the procedure, according to the American Psychological Association.
This point was underscored by the women who flocked to runningfromy0u’s post to share stories about their own abortions. The raw re-telling of their experiences drove home the APA’s message: Feeling sad after an abortion is normal, but for the vast majority of women, it will get better.
"It has now been 1 full year since I had my abortion, and I know for a fact that you will be okay," one commenter wrote. "...Some days I cry and feel pangs of longing, but others I am confident and proud of myself for making such a difficult decision."
Despite her emotional response, runningfromy0u says she never questioned her decision. But the next day, she did feel down while thinking about the life she could've had with her twin babies.
Ultimately, however, she knows she made the right decision.
"I know I did the right thing. Having a baby right now would screw up not just my life, but four lives," she wrote. "…It's OK that I'm sad. I'm allowed to be sad. It's important for me to remember that I made this choice so that I can be a better parent to my future child.”
The poster, who asked to remain anonymous, told Revelist that she shared her story online because she didn't feel comfortable talking to family or friends.
"I really needed to get my story out," she told Revelist. "...I was a little worried about people being hateful, but everyone was incredibly supportive and shared their own stories with me. It made me feel a lot better and I didn't feel nearly as sad after I wrote it out."
But the comments her post inspired are more than just supportive messages: They are an open, honest look into an issue that is too often turned into a political battering ram. These are not statistics, slogans or bible verses. They are the real stories of women who made difficult choices — and they need to be heard.
"Your feelings afterwards are normal and common, be it sadness or relief or anything in between."
"I really struggled after my decision with worries I wouldn't be able to have kids ever again, and when I talked to my doctors they said this was common. I had so few people to talk to about it other than a doctor and my husband. I told my husband about my feelings and fears and I'm now 9 weeks pregnant with our planned child. We have a house and a lot of loans paid off and he just received an amazing job offer. Your feelings afterwards are normal and common, be sadness or relief or anything in between. I went through a lot afterwards and I hope you get a lot of support and love from those you decide to tell." - Reddit user secretaire
"I aborted so I could continue to be a good parent for my two living children."
"As I get closer to when my child from my first abortion would be one I get very weepy and sad. I aborted for the same reason as you - though my children are already here. I aborted so I could continue to be a good parent for my two living children. I don't regret it, but I am sad about it and often wonder what the children I didn't have would be like." - Reddit user Pucca_banrion
"It gets to a point where you make peace with it. (It takes a while.)"
"I totally understand your breakdown, and used to have those same thoughts back after having an abortion a few years back. As others have said, you did the right thing for you, your partner and the potential kid(s). If you're not ready, you're not ready. It is a tough decision but you made the right one, and it gets to a point where you make peace with it (It takes a while). But this time 6 months, a year, 3 years from now etc. you will look back at this decision and realize it was for the best. Had I ended up having a child, my life would look 100% different and I would have missed out on a lot.
Lean on your partner when necessary, take care of each other and don't beat yourself up, you did what you had to." - Reddit user lameygee
"You will be OK."
"It has now been one full year since I had my abortion, and I know for a fact that you will be OK. My situation was almost identical to yours. You will have more moments of the 'what could have been' thoughts and you will be sad sometimes. You'll feel relieved, sad, happy and all kinds of other emotions that don't exactly feel "normal" about having an abortion.
For me, those feelings and moments will never go away and I've accepted for what it is, and I allow myself to feel those emotions freely when they surface. Some days I cry and feel pangs of longing, but others I am confident and proud of myself for making such a difficult decision that was truly the right one for me and my partner. My heart is with you. You will be OK." - Reddit user corgicat101