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'I am a survivor of FGM': The Trauma and the Mental Health Impact

Going through FGM can cause anxiety, depression and stress. I am a survivor of female genital mutilation (FGM). I underwent FGM at a very early age. However, when I was growing, I was never traumatised about the experience. The first reason was that we were made to believe that it was something we must go through as a woman. Secondly, I was too young to remember what really happened apart from my mum telling me how scared she was when I had haemorrhage and passed out.

My turning point was during childbirth when I was giving birth to my son. I was traumatised by the experience I went through because of FGM. During childbirth, I was de-infibulated and re-infibulated after my son was born, and the memory of going through FGM reoccurred. The physical and psychological pain was unbearable. The healthcare professionals provided excellent physical treatment, but the psychological help was lacking. I had no professional help regarding the anxiety, depressions and all the post-natal issues related to FGM. The thought of nearly losing my son and life did not sit well with me after childbirth. I used to look into my son’s eyes for no reason and cry.

It took me some time to find my own coping mechanism. I decided to talk about my experience and share it with other people, as I did not have any professional help to overcome my fears and anxieties. So, talking to people helped me gain resilience and stop me from going through a major depression. Also, I would say that I was lucky I had a good support system from my family. They were always there to help whenever I needed them, and they were never judgemental. I am happy now doing all I can to fight against female genital mutilation. Sharing my stories and experiences has somehow became a form of therapy for me; in addition, I know that sharing my experiences with other people will help them to learn more about FGM. Hopefully, learning from my experiences will help them realise the danger they might put their daughters in and therefore help fight against it.

Mental health is as important as physical health. Let’s come together and help survivors fight against the effects of FGM and related stress symptoms. Survivors experience intense emotions and pain. Helping them to gain a positive coping style will ease the problems in those experiencing anxiety and depression.

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