The Pill and Depression
Words by Poppy Fitzpatrick
Come with me now on a journey through time and space… Sounds like the intro to a colourful episode of The Mighty Boosh, right? Well, not quite. Let’s take it back to March 2016, the beginning of an exciting new chapter in my life: university. I exited the cosy embrace of high school and was launched into the slightly less coddling, but incredibly enticing arms of tertiary education. With this big step came the anticipation of new friends, new scenery and a whole new influx of knowledge.
Lots of things changed all at once: fun hangouts with old friends became less frequent as we went on our separate paths, routine was no longer as easy to maintain as it had been only months ago, and the whirlwind of fun and enthusiasm that comes with finishing high school had come to a screaming halt.
All of these things, to my usually fairly positive brain, seemed much more ominous than I was expecting. Had I peaked in high school? Was everyone delusional when they said that these years would be the best of my life? Where had my joy and zest for life disappeared to?
I looked back and couldn’t quite remember at which point I had lost the ability to take pleasure in the everyday. It was such a slow and relatively unnoticeable progression, until I started to struggle with the most basic of daily tasks. I binged, I slept, I cried, I withdrew, I was irritated.
It was after the billionth time I had bitten my mother’s head off and she brought my short fuse to my attention, that I admitted I had no clue why I felt so frustrated with the world.
The first step was a trip to the doctor to talk about how down-right shitty I was feeling, not long after Triple J’s ‘Hack’ program had discussed a link between the pill and depression (thanks a bunch Tom Tilley). We talked about all the things I could do and decided that I’d first and foremost try going off the pill for six weeks, to see if that made any difference to my headspace. Immediately, I fretted at the idea of giving up the pesky daily tablet that had kept my unfortunate spread of red, bumpy skin at bay for well over a year. But I was willing to try anything if it meant I could feel like myself again.
So, I cut myself off cold turkey from the morning pill-taking routine to which I had become so accustomed. As far-fetched as it may sound, in a matter of weeks it felt like the huge black cloud that I thought was just a part of growing up, seemed to be lifting.
So, let’s travel back to present time, to the present me. Here I am, with slightly more zits decorating my face than I’d probably like – and pretty gosh darn awful PMS if I’m being honest – but overall a heck of a lot happier and healthier than I was two years ago. My creativity finally shows its face once in a while, I have the energy (sometimes) to get my bum out of bed and I’ve rediscovered my excitement for the world that had gradually become so distant.
If you’re on any form of hormonal contraceptive and it works for you, then that’s fantastic and I encourage you to take full advantage of the options you have. But, if I had known that my year would play out the way it did, under such an unnecessary cloud of doom and gloom, then I would have thought twice about my decision – or at least paid more attention to those fine-print package warnings.
So, whatever choice you make in terms of contraception, just make sure it’s well-informed and that you check in with yourself every now and then. And of course, if you feel like you’ve been down in the dumps a little too deeply for a little too long (even if it has nothing to do with your contraception), please speak up. Life is far too short to tolerate feeling like shit, even if it means tolerating a few extra spots.
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