I'm going to hold my hands up to something. Two years ago, a few months before I turned 25, as is procedure, I received a letter inviting me for my first smear test. Honestly, I laughed a little about it being an invitation- Club Cervix, cells are freeee- and then just tried really hard to forget about it.
I know that's bad. Trust me, I know. You see petitions circulating all the time, demanding the age for testing be lowered, complete with pictures of a girl in her late teens or early twenties who died from cervical cancer. Yet there I was, being offered the free test, and doing my absolute best to ignore it. But I never quite could.
For two years, it lingered over me. I made a few appointments, which I then cancelled. I refused to open petitions shared by my friends on social media, because I flat out could not bring myself to deal with the guilt I got about stories of women younger than I was who were refused the test, by doctors, that I was now refusing myself. And still, I did nothing.
I'm guessing you can imagine a lot of the reasons why I never went for the test, esp if you know me. For those who don't, just quickly- I was sexually abused throughout my childhood. As you might expect, I'm pretty screwed up. I don't know how many sexual partners I've had, because I used to have to be hellishly drunk to have sex. I didn't like sex. And I REALLY didn't like men. So I punished myself with extremely drunken, only barely consensual, sex. Since I stopped that, about 5 years ago, I've got more comfortable with myself, my limits, and my sexuality. But, it still fucks with me- no pun intended- fairly regularly, even after the masses of therapy etc I have had. Being touched in intimate places can trigger some really dark shit in me.
There's a happy end to this little cervical saga. The last few months have been really difficult mentally, because I've been so physically ill. Infection after infection, bladder issues, major bowel issues (guys: don't abuse laxatives, because even years since I last took them, I have issues. I'll explain more about that another day), mobility problems. I didn't have a massive relapse though, just some hard times. I came out of that mess with a renewed motivation. I'd got complacent in my recovery and it took the last few months to really remind me that mental health is something we all need to commit to taking care of constantly. As is physical health.
In my complacency over my recovery, I forgot that I'm pretty invincible. Nothing that can be done to me could be worse than what my mind has done to itself over the last few years. My mind nearly destroyed itself, before its revolt and revolution. If it can survive that, it can survive a quick test.
So for anyone worried about their smear test. You go into a little room with a nurse, who asks questions about stuff like contraception. Nothing major. Then you get on a table and the uncomfortable bit happens. You open your legs and they use this little device thing to open you up. It doesn't hurt or anything, it's just odd, like a vice opening. The nurse then sticks a weird brush thing in and twists it about a few times. That doesn't hurt either, but it's even more odd that the vice thing. I think because it's not a part that's regularly touched, it feels proper bizarre. Then that't it. The whole thing doesn't even take a few minutes. Done. Nothing more for 3 years.
I wasn't shamed for not having gone earlier and the whole thing was explained to me before anything happened. I can't speak for all nurses, but the one I saw was lovely and did her best to make me feel comfortable with the whole thing. I did take some PRN before it happened, so I was calmer than I might have been anyway, but I had no mental health reactions afterwards, apart from a slight cockiness that I'd got it done, and feeling like a fully fledged Grown Up Woman.
If anyone has any questions, give me a shout!