Trigger Warning: This birth story contains details of a Pap Smear and Anxiety. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
It’s real. I’m sure every woman doesn’t like getting it done. For those that don’t mind it. I use to be one of you. But for those with sexual assault history or birth-related trauma, we have a whole new level of fear for the pap smear. A tower of fear and it just grows a floor with every level of avoidance.
Triggers are something survivors try to avoid. For me, I’ve been avoiding this procedure for nearly 2 years. My reminder…apart from all those letters that keep getting sent to me in the mail…is my baby girl. She’s nearly two.
Two years have flown by. I actually didn’t think I would ever be able to book in an appointment for this two years ago. I thought and believed I was destined, to never open my legs again to another health professional. See my trauma and my triggers are related to the trauma that happened after my birth. All those triggers, the light, the bed, the position, the language, the sheet and especially that dam speculum, have made me choose to defy against having this procedure done. I have avoided it like the plague. But I want that to change. I am changing. I want to change.
Running from my fears, including the pap smear fear is a fight Birth-Related Trauma survivors face. For a long time for me, I didn’t have a choice. My mind just said no. I just gave up and surrendered to the triggers that made me disconnect. That made me feel awful and frightened inside. Avoided them at all cost. Then after I avoided them, I ignored them. Out of sight out of mind principle. That’s how I handled my smear fear.
But I needed help and through that help, I’ve helped my mind to say yes. To change the present to accept the past. I’m choosing to face my fear smear: not for another baby, not for medical reasons (although that probably should be higher on my list) and not to be that one that defines the odds. But for me. For me to be okay with what has happened, to let my body grieve and to move on.
It will be hard. It has been hard. Two years of constant therapy, alternative healing methods, yoga, and medication has got me here. Probably the hardest thing I will have to conjure up all my courage and strength for. To ground, to breathe, to feel supported and to feel safe. To stop my legs from shaking. To stop my mind and body from dissociating from the present.
Crazy, I know…I have had a baby! My only explanation is that my mind and body feel this anxiety from my birth-related trauma. Pap smear fear is real. It’s a whole new level of fear real, since my last pap smear. But I can’t and shouldn’t compare past smear experiences to now, because this is my now. I’ll always have heightened anxiety to a pap smear now. But I’m determined to face it and manage it. I don’t want to fear the smear like I do. I’m done avoiding. I’m changing my status quo. I want me back and I want my mind and body back.