Like many young women today, I’ve spent a good part of my life on the pill. For me, it began at a very early age. I was just fourteen years old when my doctor told me that I should go on the pill to control period pains. More than a decade later, and I’m realising what a terrible choice that was. The first few years were wonderful – I popped this magic little pill into my mouth each night before bed, and it would take away all of my pain… what was the harm in that?
I never imagined that my depression was actually more than the average teenage angst that we are all supposed to go through. Looking back, I can clearly see how that magic little pill is to blame.
Now, I’m not blaming all types of pills, and I’m not saying that the same pill will have the same affects on each person. How a pill affects us depends entirely on how we are built as individuals, but honestly, anything that is designed to trick your body into believing that you have already had a period – now that’s going to cause havoc to your hormones.
I was in my final year of university, when my doctor told me that the pill I was on wasn’t the right one for me, so I was switched to Cerazette. I remember feeling really pleased at that appointment, because this new pill was even more ‘magical’ than the previous one, in that I wouldn’t take a break from it – no more periods! I’m sure that a lot of women would be thrilled at that thought, right?
It’s been almost four years since I switched pill, and it’s been four years of hell. I really don’t even know where to begin when I think back on how it’s affected me: endless amounts of tears at the most ridiculous things, feeling highly agitated, paranoid and extremely anxious. Four years of a life I couldn’t understand. Everyday only ever brought new feelings of emotional sadness, and despair. My friends or family didn’t recognise this new person I’d become, since I’m always so very angry at the world. I used to be a happy go lucky kind of person. I used to go to parties, and enjoy travelling, and socialising.
About a year ago, my doctor diagnosed me severe depression, and panic disorder. I was given three different types of antidepressants and was told that these would help. I refused to take them. Aside from the pill (which I had always trusted), I try my best to avoid medication at all costs – I use a herbal stick on my forehead for headaches, as opposed to painkillers, so yeah… three different types of antidepressants was not going to happen. My doctor, and several other doctors, and the psychiatrist they had sent me to were all highly frustrated with me, as I was repeatedly told… “How are we supposed to help you if you refuse to help yourself?” Admittedly, they make a good point – change begins from within, and while some people may need medication to fight depression, I couldn’t believe that that was the right avenue for me.
So I stuck to my belief that I didn’t need medication, and I continued my downhill spiral into depression. Things became so much worse for me, as I found myself not wanting to live anymore. Each day was a new battle. I was more depressed than ever, and felt conflicted between terrified of being alive, while feeling dead inside, and then terrified of… actually dying. All I know is that I didn’t want to be here – not as this new person I had become.
One very emotional afternoon, about two months ago, I found myself at my lowest point yet. I sat there on my bed with the pill box in my hands, and began crying hysterically. Luckily for me, I didn’t allow myself to delve any deeper into those thoughts, and I threw the box aside and called my doctor. Humiliated, and beyond embarrassed about the words that were leaving my mouth. She arranged for a care team to come visit me. One hour later, and after several questions about my state of mind, they left. I felt somewhat calmer, but still terrified.
The very next day, a friend began telling me about her experience with depression, after confiding in her about what happened, and hoping to seek some advice. It came as a surprise to me when she mentioned that her pill had been the cause of her depression. She had told me all about how she had stopped the pill some years back, and now feels like a completely different person. I immediately took to Google, and began to join the dots together. These suicidal thoughts, the depression, the overbearing hatred that I had towards myself – it all began when I switched to this pill. I began to recall all of the times I asked my doctor over the past four years if my pill could have anything to do with my depression – all I ever got was laughter, and a “Of course not!”
It’s been seven weeks now since I stopped the pill. I didn’t notice any real change until a week after I stopped taking them. All of my negative thoughts about myself, my image, my views on life were replaced with happier ones. And while I’m not fully able to accept myself for being… me, I do see hope. It honestly is like a huge grey cloud has been lifted from my head. I no longer fear tomorrow. I go to bed actually looking forward to the next day, and this is something that I haven’t felt in years. I am a new person off of the pill. A person that is actually happy and grateful to be alive. Stopping the pill not only changed my life – it saved it!
What’s probably most concerning about the pill and its link to depression is how medical professionals do not treat it with the severity that it deserves. Many women are being labelled as mentally ill, when in fact, they are simply suffering from some pretty severe side effects of a medication – that’s just not right! So many lives could be saved from the crippling depression and anxiety if the medical world were to enlighten their patients on the actual risks of the pill. While in theory, it all sounds wonderful being on the pill, these levels of excess hormones which are being forced into your body are often doing much more damage than good. And while, I don’t believe that the pill shouldn’t be an option to anyone that should want it, I do believe that switching pills to find the right one for you, and your body is.