I am getting closer and closer to publishing my memoir about postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD. This scene is not making the final cut (I was getting too cerebral and philosophical, speculating about hormones), but I still think it covers an important issue. The birth control pill is not for everyone.
“My periods have been much worse since I started the pill.”
“Well that shouldn’t be the case,” my gynecologist, an old man, said.
“I bleed more — a lot more — and my cramps are worse.”
The gynecologist sighed. “The literature and research clearly show that woman experience lighter periods when they take a birth control pill.”
I cringed. My gynecologist was acting as if he knew my body better than I did.
“But,” he continued, “I can switch you to a different pill if you like.”
“Thank you,” I said, slipping the new prescription into my wallet. I was years away from marriage and motherhood and did not relish the idea of an accidental pregnancy.
My next period was the worst I had ever had: heavier blood flow, stronger cramps, and swingier moods. But my doctor had insisted my period would be lighter so I persevered.
For six months, I felt out of sorts. Walking to lunch one day, I moaned about my period to a friend.
She laughed. “Me too! I hemmorage when I take the pill. I’ve tried three different brands. I can’t take the pill.”
Back at the office, I ran into another friend in the hallway outside the library. “Courtney! How are you?”
“Good,” I said. Then, in a whisper, “I think the birth control pill is giving me mood swings.”
My friend shook her head and said, “The pill. Makes me. Bat. Shit. Crazy.”
For months, I had been an emotional rollercoaster, regularly waking Nathan up at dawn, already in tears, to discuss our non-existent relationship issues. On a rational level, I knew my hormones were making me feel insecure and unloveable and I should take a walk or spend time alone with my journal when I felt a surge starting; but I could not stop myself.
After hearing stories from several more friends about feeling awful on the pill, I took my pink plastic circular case and threw it down the incinerator. The next time my period came, it was as if I had never taken the pill: I ditched the uber-super-mega tampons; the premenstrual cramps went from “devastating” to “mild”; and the wild mood swings ended.