Thursday, June 23, 2011

The last birthday of my 20's and some TMI (WARNING! GIRL STUFF WITHIN!)

[Most of this post was written last week, before my birthday. I've since edited it.]

It was my birthday on Sunday--the big 2-9. The last one I'll ever have before turning thirty. And for once, I didn't have an had only a minor anxiety attack over getting a year older. In fact, I handled this birthday a lot better than I've handled almost every other birthday in my twenties.Go figure!

As I sat down to write this post, I tried to figure out why I was so much less stressed about this June 19th. Is it because I'm finally at a place in my life where I feel comfortable with myself? Is it because I have such a rad boyfriend and awesome friends and supportive family and spent my birthday at the fair where games were played, competitions were won, fried food was eaten and babies were held? Yes. Yes to all of that.(Baby Scent might be my favorite smell in the world, by the way.)

But also (and this is the TMI part, you've been warned!) I think it has something to do with the fact that I recently stopped taking a certain mediation. A medication that is supposed to prevent a thing called BABIES. No, I'm not with child, and no I'm not "trying." (Despite that thing I said about Baby Scent. Mmm babies...) I stopped taking anti-baby pills because they were making me crazy. Literally. The following is a first-hand account of how birth control has messed with my head so badly that the thought of being back on it scares the shit out of me.

Last year I started seeing an awesome doctor who discussed many different birth control options with me. I decided to try one called Seasonique, the one that's supposed to allow Mother Nature to come a callin' only 4 times per year, because hey... who likes periods EVERY month? But in order to effectuate that process, the pills release an incredibly high dose of hormones into your system--a level I apparently could not handle. They made me absolutely crazy. And I don't just mean emotional, I mean irrational and out of control. I would get angry at friends who didn't tag me Facebook photos. I left stores because I couldn't handle interacting with people or because I got fed up with perky saleswomen following me around and asking if I needed help. I once found myself driving home from work, stopped at a stop sign, tears streaming down my face and pounding my fists against the steering wheel because a pedestrian was crossing the street and I had to wait. See? CRAZY!!

The night of that incident with the pedestrian, I left my doctor the first of two voicemails telling her that I was feeling unbelievably depressed and out of control and that I wanted off the pills NOW. I asked her to please write me a prescription for the birth control I'd taken in my early twenties, a low dose of the tried and true Ortho Tri Cyclen. I started taking Ortho the following month and everything went back to normal. The mood swings stopped, the anger faded, and I was me again. I still had pretty consistent changes in mood and got overly emotional and sensitive, but it was ten times better than the hell I'd gone through with Seasonique.

Fast forward to about a year later. Time to see my awesome doctor again for my yearly check-up. I'd gotten fed up with remembering to take the pill every day and wanted to try something I didn't have to worry about. I had heard rave reviews about the Nuva Ring from several friends and thought, hey. Why not? I'll try that. And so I did. My doctor gave me two free samples on the spot.

So I tried the ring and everything was going great. I was keeping a careful eye on my moods and sleeping habits, watching out for the wild mood swings and deep depression I'd had while on Seasonique. No symptoms like last time. I was doing great... at least I thought I was.

One day, about a 6 weeks after I'd started the Ring, I was in a pretty foul mood. It was the second or third day I'd felt this way, but I attributed it to PMS or just a bad week at work. Then my roommate asked me how the Ring was working out. Was I feeling ok? Was I experiencing the same symptoms as last time? Was it making me crazy? I started to answer that I was fine, that I wasn't feeling anything NEARLY as awful as I'd felt on Seasonique. But then I stopped and thought for a few minutes. Why was she asking me this question with such a concerned look on her face? Had I changed? I was feeling awfully depressed. I hadn't been in a very good mood for over a week. I was hungry ALL the time and gaining weight. I'd been going to bed at 9:30 most nights. Something was definitely not right.

After some internet research on the side effects of the Ring, I decided to stop using it. The depression, along with some other gross side effects I won't go into, outweighed the convenience factor for me. So I finished out the month and stopped taking birth control completely. I was so paranoid about what the hormones were doing to me that I didn't even want to go back on the Ortho.

That was in April. It's now almost July and I feel absolutely fantastic. Better, in fact, than I've felt in years. No hormones, no pills, and no crazy. I can't remember the last time I overreacted to a situation or felt too depressed to get out of bed. And I just moved in with my boyfriend! You'd think that if something was truly not right with my brain parts, moving in together would have triggered some sort of wild reaction. But nope! I've had one panic attack over a couch, and nothing since.*

*This last paragraph and everything before it was written last week. It was before I'd started taking a new birth control called Tri-Sprintec, a generic version of Ortho-Tri-Cyclen. I took the first pill on Sunday night and woke up the next morning and almost vomited. The nausea was so bad I actually skipped work. I spent most of the morning in bed feeling like I was going to die, while Rad Boyfriend hugged me and brought me water and looked at me with his big eyes and said, "I hate that the pill is doing this to you."

I hate it, too. I've only been on it for 4 days and I'm already starting to feel the side effects. Or at least I've got it in my head that I'm feeling side effects. Why else would I slam doors and cry for no reason? Why else is my first reaction to an invitation to an event sheer anxiety?

Here's another good question: Why did I start taking oral contraception again? If all I do all day is think about how much I resent being on it, if it makes me so damn miserable, why do I do it to myself?

Because I'm now living with my boyfriend and it's the responsible thing to do. That's all I got. It's the adult thing to take a pill to make sex more convenient despite the fact that it's killing me inside.

Does that make ANY sort of sense to you? 

It sure doesn't to me. Which is why I made a deal with myself this time. First, I'm waiting on a call back from my doctor to discuss a low-dose version of the stuff I'm on now. Secondly, despite the outcome of that phone call, I'm giving this jagged wretched little pill exactly one month. And at the end of that month, I'm going to sit down and take a good, hard look at Danielle and her behavior for the past 28 days.That will determine whether or not I continue on any kind of hormonal birth control. If I don't feel like "me," if I'm crying because I burnt dinner or because Ikea refuses to restock the pillow I want, I'm done. No one should have to deal with not being in control of their emotions as a side effect of birth control. No one should be depressed and anxious and feel uncomfortable all the time in exchange for a spontaneous sex life.There are other options. And maybe it's time for me to explore them more thoroughly than a WebMD page.

End TMI.

Here's a picture of a wiener dog to make you smile after this horribly depressing post:

1 comment:

Sabrina said...

First of all, Happy Belated Birthday!
I hope you are able to find a method that works for you, be it with medication or otherwise. I was on the pill when i was 18 and it made me crazy too. I went off of it and have never gone back.
All I can say is, To thine own self be true...
Best of luck!