Topic Tuesdays: Raw & Personal

I Stopped Taking Birth Control Because of my Mental Health.

Dear, guys – welcome to Letters From Liz!

One thing I promised myself to do this year is to discuss some real ass shit on the blog without any boundaries, so here we are, coming back on the blog, talking about the most taboo thing no one likes to openly talk about: birth control.

So, I started to take birth control later in my twenties; it was a very stupid thing to wait so long to get on it after years of, you know, but as I was getting older, wiser, smarter, whatever – I started to take birth control. At first, I was beyond scared to miss taking pills to the point that I used to set an alarm to take it with my anxiety medication. I was funny y’all. The months passed by, the periods became something more manageable, I wasn’t too nervous about being late on my period during the stressful times in my life, and well, birth control was just something routine in my life that many people take in their everyday lives.

But, I started to realize something about my behavior and my mind when I was on birth control.

Photo Credit: Refinery29

To give some background on birth control (sex education, y’all), you typically take one pill daily; 28 pills come in a pack because on average, your period cycle is approximately 28 days. The first three rows, or “weeks”, are the actual hormonal pill, the pills have estrogen in them to help do all the funky stuff in your reproduction system. It’s called birth control because it helps control the egg from dropping during ovulation, which prevents you from getting pregnant. Other uses for birth control is to regulate your period cycle for people who have irregular, heavy periods, and for people who have other reproduction system issues. Finally, the fourth row, or a week, is the placebo pill, “sugar pill”, which in certain prescriptions excludes that row, simply because it’s a pill that has nothing inside of it; it’s just a pill to keep yourself on track with and remind you to keep taking your pills.

I was on birth control for almost 2 years before I decided to stop taking it. I stopped taking it for several reasons at first; for starters, I was now not having sex anymore and decided to not want to have sex anymore for personal reasons and for the simple fact that at this time in my life, sex is just not for me. Because I mainly started to use it because I was sexually active, I felt that because I was using it for that main purpose, it felt like I was just taking the pill to take the pill despite me feeling how I felt whenever I was on the pill.

I ultimately ditched birth control after I realized that the longer I was on it, the more depressed I was feeling, to the point where suicidal thoughts come here and there on the months where I was at my lowest. Now, don’t get me wrong, my mental health goes up and down all the time; with major depression, there are parts of my life where I’m not the greatest, but the type of depression I felt when I was on birth control was some of the worst depression I’ve experienced in my life. I would be depressed for half of the month, and only feel like myself whenever I was on the placebo week of my birth control.

But Liz, how did you know it was the birth control and not just the depression? Well, at first I didn’t. It wasn’t until I did some research on birth control and depression and even some experimenting to realize that birth control was just something that contributed to my poor mental health.

I started to see the change in my behavior and my mood when I stopped taking it. I saw that my depression on my lowest days wasn’t as severe or unmanageable as it was while being on the pill. I also realized that I’ve been more of myself for more of the month rather than the opposite, sure the PMS still lives on and I sometimes just need my me time, but I haven’t been at the point where I’m unmotivated, uninspired, unable to get out of bed and be productive. Possibly other things contribute to that now, but I realize I don’t bring myself down or degrade myself as a person as much as I did while being on the pill.

I’ve been off the pill for a couple of weeks now and I can honestly say I’m so happy to be off of it.

I’m not saying birth control doesn’t have its perks;  it helps millions of people get through their cycles and their reproductive issues and I’m grateful to live in the time when resources like birth control and other forms of contraceptive prevention available although they should be more widely and universally available; that’s another argument for another day.

I’m also thankful that I’m not tied down to taking birth control. Again, preventing pregnancy was the main reason I was taking the pill, but now that I’m not sexually active, there are more cons for me to continue taking it rather than pros.

I recommend every to talk to their doctor about taking birth control and please let them know the effects that birth control causes! There are other forms that may be more suitable and right for you! Ask your doctor to discuss the pros and cons of birth control, and don’t just jump into it just because “you’re a ‘woman’ who should be on it.” If you suffer from clinical depression, ask your doctor and let them know your concerns about your mental health while being on the pill. These are literal hormones you are putting in your body, which will chemically inbalance everything else in your system!

Of course in the future, I will be back on it if I’m truly trying to live that no kids’ life, but as of right now, this is the best decision I can make for me and my mental health.

And please, let’s remove the taboo-ness of talking about birth control. It’s life, no matter what people may think.

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