When I was recently trying out a new birth control pill, I immediately started showing symptoms that I could not deal with on a daily basis. Then I got to thinking about the long term effects this drug could have and it was then, at 4 days into my pack, that I remembered the dreadful dark depression that I suffered the first time I was on the pill.
That season of depression was now 5 years ago, but it brought to light some on going mental health issues that I still have to live with today. That depression that was either brought on by my first few months on GINET, or my pre-existing poor mental health was catalysed by the drug; turning from chronic anxiety to very suicidal depression.
I only wish I knew that I had a history of anxiety. Instead I put the daily bats in my belly down as morning sickness, or butterflies due to a boy I liked. Back then I had no idea that mental health and mental illnesses were a thing, or that other people in my family were medicated for such problems.
I've been meaning to write a post about my depression for a while. Why? Because this is the place where I can share whatever I want, it's a lifestyle blog, and I find writing things down to be the best way to explain things. Maybe, this is to be that post.
The depression I had in 2013 drove me to fail my final year of high school. I felt totally alone, helpless if ever I didn't understand the assignments, and it made me very sensitive to criticism. So when a friend one day said,"You are so annoying," I spent the rest of the day with thoughts of a murder/suicide. That was the worst day of my life.
My doctor, of course, would have seen this as a problem. Any significant changes in your health and state of mind are things they want to know about. But when I went on ginet I was unaware of what could possibly be monitored. If I knew my situation was so critically unhealthy I would have asked for help much earlier.
The reason I was on 'ginet' was my chronic cystic acne. Yea, I know, gross. It was my mother who was actually more concerned about how bad it looked. I didn't care that when I stopped taking the pill the spots came back. I wasn't insecure about my skin, it had never stopped me from having friends at school. I stopped believing it would go away and I learned to ignore it completely. When my skin temporarily cleared up, I went off the pill. In my mind, I had no reason to keep taking it. Ultimately, it turns out my last year of high school was just the worst time to work on clearing it up.
I now have, not full blown depression but a theory. My depression, though I was on the pill at the time, was also during the winter season. My depression might in fact be Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and I am already bracing for winter.
The things I know for sure about my suggested S.A.D. are:
In the winter of 2013 I had depression.
In the winter of 2014 I spent a month in Europe in July, in the sun.
In the winter of 2015 My mental state took me to the park in the middle of the night to cry and hope that someone might attack me.
In the winter of 2016 I would legitimately lose my will to live whenever I had assignments to do.
In the winter of 2017 it was the same; a wonderful concoction of perfectionism, procrastination, anxiety, and a quarter-life crisis.
I know that this year I will get more time in the sun on my honeymoon. If July here means snow while California is the golden coast, I guess that's one of the best reasons to have a winter wedding. But 'honeymoon' also means I need to start thinking about birth control.
I made up a list of 16 reasons why I don't want to go back on the pill. I made this list because I thought I needed to convince my fiancé. It turns out I was making this list to convince myself, and the man I'm marrying is ultimately supportive of anything I need to do to stay healthy and sane.
This is some of my list, incase I need to justify it to anyone else out there; or if you're looking for support yourself.
11 Reasons Why I'm Not Using Hormonal Birth Control
#1 - My General Sensitivity to New Medications
When I first took escitalopram for my depression, I thought I had the flu, I wanted to vomit and crawled through the flat trying to find a cool wall to put my back against. Then the bleeding nose 10 minutes after taking it came in the next few weeks. That is my general sensitivity to new medications.
The same sensitivity came in to affect when I recently tried going on the pill; migraines throughout the day followed by bawling my eyes out every single night over nothing. As if I were in my first trimester of a pregnancy. Well that's what the pill does, it is designed to trick your body into thinking it is already pregnant so it will not do so a second time. I cannot live like that, a hormonal mess every day of the year, of every year until I actually want to get pregnant. And still it will not be over.
#2 - My Unstable Mental Health
Going on the pill will very likely force a relapse in my depression. I do not want to go there ever again.
#3 - Conviction From God
I simply had a strong feeling that I knew was God telling me not to put synthetic hormones into my body so I won't get pregnant. He's not saying I have to have kids as soon as I'm married, but I also feel like if he wanted to give me a baby this is a slap in the face for him. It's just a bit too much taking it into my own hands, when I have said I want to trust him with every part of my life.
Taking the pill would get in the way of who I was designed to be and that's counterproductive while getting closer to the person God wants me to be is literally my purpose on this planet.
#4 - Potential Change In Psyche
Because the pill makes you think you're already pregnant there's something very interesting that happens to the prospects of men you'd consider as a partner. Usually you are unconsciously looking for a good mate who will provide strong, healthy offspring with more variety in the gene pool, but women that are pregnant prefer someone who will help in looking after the children.
Firstly I don't know what that could do to the feelings I have for my partner, and secondly what else might change? The truth is I don't know what else might change. I know who I am, or I've almost worked it out and I don't want to lose myself again to another drug.
#5 - The Daily Task of Oral Admission
When you're on the pill you need to take it every day and at the same time. I didn't get that right for only 4 days. I've been on medication for my mental health since that winter in 2015, coming up on 3 years. I know I mess up all the time.
The fact is if you miss a pill, you may have your period early. I can at least guarantee that if you stop after 4 days like I did, your period will definitely come early. So it's just a hassle.
#6 - The Disruption of my Normal Cycle
My normal period brings on bloating, failure to lose weight and a few spots and tears. Then my stomach will stop puffing up and my skin takes time to heal. Around ovulation my libido is raised and my temperature probably goes up (haven't tried tracking it yet). And then when I'm about to have my period again I will dream of kittens. True story.
These are the tell-tale signs of my cycle. The bad ones are so manageable compared to being overweight, having chronic acne, and major depression. All things I am very familia with on a larger scale so I welcome these minor symptoms with loving arms.
If I'm on the pill, this all goes out the window. No change; every day the same, just not able to get pregnant. And I like my normal cycle, synthetic hormone free.
#7 - Month Long Disruption vs 6 days of being Fertile
You know how I just said "every day the same, just not able to get pregnant,"? Well there are usually only 6 days out of your cycle where you can actually get pregnant anyway. I just feel like changing your body with synthetic hormones for everyday of the month just so you don't ovulate and become fertile for 6 days out of the month is over kill.
#8 - The Effectiveness of Fertility Awerness
Women cannot get pregnant on just any day of the month, and if you don't have STDs to worry about then you don't even need protection every day of the month. If you knew when those 6 days were, the days when you are able to make a baby, you could try fertility awareness as a method of contraception. If you're careful this can be up to 99.4% affective.
Luckily there are ways to know when you are fertile and when you're not.
- I've been using the app Clue for 3 years and they have an estimate of when I should be ovulating compared to the typical cycle.
- Your basal body temperature typically goes up a few tenths of a degree during this time and stays up until your next period.
- Cervical mucus also changes consistency and becomes thicker.
- Ovulation tests can prove when you are ovulating as they detect an increase of luteinizing hormone in your pee.
#9 - Risk of Weight Gain
I have been working hard to lose weight for my wedding. Why would I allow this to be jeopardised?
#10 - Control Over the Entire Body just to Affect Fertility
I've already said I think it's over kill to take a pill everyday so you can't get pregnant in the 6 days you usually could. I also think it's insane to put synthetic hormones into my body and risk my mental health, my weight, my psyche, and every other part of my body just so I can eliminate my fertility.
My fertility is one small part of my body and the pill is not yet designed to target only that small part of my body. I think it's more worth it to work around my fertile days than to switch it off at the risk of affecting the rest of my body.
#11 - Shorter Cycles
My cycle is usually 5 weeks long. 30 days without a period. The typical birth control pill pack has 21 hormone pills in it and 7 sugar pills, this means my 30 days without a period is cut down to 21, and I would have more periods. Seriously, that's a sure candidate for the worst deal a woman in the first world could make.
I hope by sharing this others can learn from my experiences. Know that you are not alone. I'm certainly not saying anyone should be too scared to take the pill but I sure am. I know I'm going to run into other problems now that I haven't got hormonal contraception to back me up but that's another story for another time.