I was in a long term but very unhealthy relationship when i found out i was pregnant. I adored my boyfriend but this was not reciprocated. This unreciprocated adoration only added to my mental health issues as I battled a crippling eating disorder, anxiety and depression.

I was 21 when we got the positive result on the pregnancy test and we both knew that I couldn’t continue with the pregnancy. I was both terrified of the effect that my bulimia may have had on the initial weeks of pregnancy and terrified of my own mental health. I just knew that this pregnancy could not continue. My boyfriend was also certain that it was the right choice for me, for him and for us.

The procedure was a somewhat painful and lonely experience. But the aftermath upon returning to Ireland – the silence and secrecy- was more painful and lonely than I could have ever imagined. We told no-one for over a year and he refused to speak about it with me, instead just pretending that it never happened. I bottled it up. My eating disorder spiralled while my anxiety and depression worsened and our relationship ultimately fell apart.

Slowly, over the last 10 years, I have confided in friends and I have heard that he has too. Neither of us regret the decision to have an abortion but the shame, silence and secrecy that surrounded it were absolutely horrific. People do not make the decision to end a pregnancy lightly. We did not have a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality, I was not raped, I was not a victim of incest and my life was not in imminent danger but this was the decision that we had to make. Women in Ireland make this difficult decision every single day.

My only regret is that I accepted the shame that this country and its people put on women and have carried it for so long. For too long.

Artist: Carol Treacy.

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