Depression and ‘the pill’

8 August 2016.

I was on the contraceptive pill for almost four years and in many respects, it cleared my “period” of almost all symptoms. Of course, it is only withdrawal bleeding, but it would always arrive on time and be relatively painless. There was one major drawback which eventually led me to stop taking the pill: depression and anxiety. I have always been an anxious person and have a very sensitive nervous system. The pill multiplied this effect, a lot.

It started as anxiety but eventually led to full blown depression for several months. I would be feeling cheery and then all of a sudden completely low for weeks, to the point where I could barely speak or be around people. I had these bouts of intense anxiety several times and sought help. It all culminated in being depressed and on the verge of suicidal for a few months. I felt empty, didn’t enjoy anything, and kept wondering what was the point of living.

At the time, I had no idea what was going on but once I got out of the haze and found out that the pill can immensely impact your mental health, it all made sense. I looked at the timeline and all the periods of anxiety corresponded with the times I was put on the pill. After two and half years of being on a certain type of pill, I switched to a different one, with higher dose of hormones and that is also when things really started to go downhill. I am absolutely certain that the pill was instrumental in how my mental health developed over those few years – which is why I eventually stopped taking it.

Once I went off the pill, I was surprised (or, perhaps I forgot?) to find how many symptoms and health issues go hand in hand with my period. Just to name a few that I have experienced over the last year or so: regular diarrhoea  before and during my period, vomiting at the start of my period, feeling very weak and barely walking on the first day of period and almost fainting, bloating before the period, sensitivity to smell before and during the period, and so on.

I even get cramps during / after ovulation. Strangely enough, I am pretty excited about experiencing these symptoms. I got a lot of them under control with the right diet, sleep, stress management and exercise and I also know that a lot of them are normal. Through tracking my cycle, I discovered what is normal for me and I can now easily spot anything unusual.

-Anonymous, UK