Having been on one pill or another for the past 7 years, I’ve experienced both the ups and down of being on it.
I first went on it not long after my 16th birthday, not because I needed it for contraception (I was still a virgin at the time) but for the same reason most women seem to go on it these days; to help me control my periods.
At the time they were irregular and really painful, I would be stuck in bed for two or three days per time and I could even have a period every three weeks!
Now that one did suck, big time!
The option I was given was to go on the pill.
It was presented like a solve all and I’m not going to lie, I snatched it up with both hands without even thinking about it.
Originally I was on the combined oral pill. With this one, you take it for 21 days and then have a 5-day break where you would have a period, then start taking it again at the end of that break.
While on this my periods became slightly less painful but the main perk to this was knowing exactly when I would be coming on and not being caught by surprise halfway through the school day and praying I’d brought some pads with me!
While the pill helped somewhat with my periods, the downside was I started to notice my anxiety and depression were getting gradually worse.
It actually got to the point where I would have a panic attack while standing at the door, trying to force myself to step outside.
Originally I just put this down to all the shit that was happening at school with bullies and such, but when I left school and the problem didn’t go away, that’s when I started to question things.
I ended up switching over to the pill injection when I was 18 for several reasons.
I had finally put two and two together that my anxiety and depression had got gradually worse since starting on the pill, so I spoke to my mum about it.
She suggested trying the injection, as she’d been on it since not long after having me and has never had any real side effects – it even stopped her having periods which was my idea of heaven!
I booked an appointment with the nurse and she said there was no reason why I couldn’t switch over to it, then booked for me to come and have it when I was on my next period.
For anyone who might not be familiar with the injection and how it works I’ll give a quick explication: you have an injection every 12 weeks and you are covered from pregnancy for that whole time.
You don’t have to remember to take or do anything extra, although the responsible adult in me feels I have to say that if you’re having sex with a new partner, please use a condom too as you could still catch an STI.
Plus condoms make things a hell of a lot less messy!
You can still “spot” from time to time and it doesn’t stop them for everyone, but from personal experience, it stopped me having them altogether.
This was one of the main reasons I didn’t want to stop taking it, I really don’t want to start having periods again.
However a few months ago I decided that since I wasn’t seeing anyone and didn’t need it for contraception anymore, I would test out a theory I had; that this pill was starting to affect my mental health like the previous one had.
I’d noticed in the last year or so that every time I was due for my top up injection I would become ridiculously anxious and more prone to depressive episodes.
So I decided to come off the pill for a while and give my body a break from all the fake crap I had been pumping into it for the last 7 years!
As soon as I was due for my next injection (and because I was actually watching for it) I noticed that I was becoming anxious over everyday things like going to uni or even just leaving the house.
If someone didn’t answer me back within a few minutes of me messaging them I would feel like shit and convince myself that they hated me and I was a lonely friendless freak.
A few months after I came off the pill, I noticed I was no longer feeling as anxious and that my depression was starting to ease off a little.
Now I’m not saying my social anxiety has gone (far from it unfortunately) but I’ve noticed since coming off the pill and getting over the withdrawal stage, I’m back to what I’d call my old self.
I can go out more on my own and I’ve even been able to sit in a new restaurant, order food and eat on my own – something I’ve never been able to do before now!
I’ve still not had a period since my last injection about 6 months ago, which I’ve been told is normal and it could take up to 18 months for me to actually have one.
This is the thing that is a bit annoying as I have no idea where and when I’m going to have it, so I just carry pads with me at all times.
As much as I love being on the pill for all the different practical reasons, it isn’t great for my mental health.
While I’m sure I’ll go back on it again if I get into a relationship (I don’t want kids, so just using condoms would be way too anxiety-inducing for me!) I’m enjoying being off it and giving my body + my brain a rest.
I’m really curious to hear your experiences with the pill; have you had the same problems? Or has it had the opposite effect for you and helped you with your mental health? Either way, let me know in the comments below!