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It’s Okay Not to be Okay…

whathannahwrote it's okay not to be okay mental health

This was by far a post that I was never sure I would write. I had thought about it a few times, but I always felt it was too personal to talk about. But, if ever there was a time, I feel it’s appropriate to talk about my experience on the contraceptive pill in light of this week being Mental Health Awareness week.

So, where to begin? I started on the pill when I was about 16, because of my struggles with acne. It was kind of a last resort – I’d been flown out to dermatologists, I’d been prescribed all sorts of medication. I was put on one called Dianette, which is basically a really strong version. My acne cleared up within months, and I stayed on it for two years. No problems at all – I was happy and much more confident because my skin troubles were finally starting to shift. However, because of the risks associated with this type of pill, I was only allowed on it for two years. So, at the end of my first year of university, I was taken off them and switched over to one called Yasmin.

I’d heard about Yasmin before. When I was put on Dianette, I did some research on forums (I know, Dr Google). I came across so many women saying that they had experienced all sorts of side effects on this particular brand, so when I was given it, I had doubts at the back of my mind. Nonetheless, I tried them out… and again, everything was fine. I stayed on them for about six months or so; at this point, I was in a relationship, and my boyfriend at the time was working away for months at a time. After a while, I didn’t really see the point in taking them – my skin was under control, and I was forgetting to take them practically every second day. I decided to stop taking them that November. It wasn’t until maybe a month or two afterwards that I had started to notice I felt different… in a good way. Almost as if any struggles I’d been facing before had suddenly drifted away. I wasn’t aware of any difficulties at the time, but I can only describe this feeling as a sudden burst of positivity. I took it as just being a random occurrence of motivation, but it seemed to continue on for months. I started to question the impact the Yasmin pill had on me – was there a chance that I had been affected emotionally while taking them, just without realising? I was never really sure, but I definitely witnessed a positive change upon staying away from them.

Fast forward two and a half years, and unfortunately, my acne issue looked like it was starting to make a return – nowhere near as bad as it was when I was younger, but enough for 20-year-old-me to struggle to deal with it. So, I went back to my GP and asked to be put back on the pill. I talked about how I had got on well with the Dianette, but voiced my concerns over the apparent effects Yasmin had on me. I was given a brand called Rigevidon. Another type I had seen some negative talk on online, but I knew that everyone’s experience on the pill is different, and so I decided to just go with it. First few months, no problems at all. Going into my final year at university, I was relieved that there were no major side effects – I couldn’t afford to have any distractions at that point!

it's okay not to be okay whathannahwrote mental health contraceptive pill

But by the start of December, I’d practically stopped attending my classes. Our university used a scanning system where you had to scan your student card to register your attendance, so I would get a friend to scan me in at least once a week to ensure I wasn’t kicked out. Not that it made much of a difference – I was getting my worst marks since first year because I had no idea what the coursework consisted of when it came to writing reports. It was a scary time, to say the least – I knew I wasn’t just being lazy, but when it came down to it, it was just an issue of not being able to force myself out of my bed. This went beyond getting ready and walking up to university though; often, I couldn’t even get myself out of bed to go and fetch my phone charger. It was an incredibly confusing time. Frustrating, too, because it genuinely seemed like I was just being lazy.

Then came the panic attacks. It all started when I was on my way up to uni for a meeting with my dissertation supervisor, when I had to stop walking out of fear of throwing up. I started getting breathless and everything was spinning, and I eventually even got tearful from freaking out at the thought of walking into the room. I had zero reason to be nervous, and I’d already met the guy before. To this day I’m still not entirely sure where it came from. It lasted for about 10 minutes and I continued on with my day, albeit quite a bit more tired than I was before after such a sudden burst of emotion. This became a bit more frequent, although they only tended to last about three minutes or so. Luckily, a few of my friends recognised what it was before even I did, and found ways to try and calm me down if I was with them.

So far, not great when I was trying to focus all my efforts on my studies. Except, at this point I’d all but given up. What was the point? I’d wanted this degree and worked super hard for it since 2014, but suddenly the thought of dropping out sounded more appealing. I wasn’t even sure that anyone would care, and despite getting on well with people on my course and in my cheerleading team, I was convinced that no one would miss me being there every day because I’d got to the stage where I truly believed no one actually liked me at all, even friends and family. I was emotional all the time, but showing no emotion at the same time, as if I had just switched off. I knew people had “off” days, but this had turned into off months.

I started paying more attention to what people had said about the Rigevidon pill, and began having doubts on how it was impacting me. But – and this is the purpose of this post – I had never had any previous troubles in my life. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have never experienced a close family death, and I’ve had a very happy upbringing. So when I started voicing my concerns, I was met with “but you can’t, there’s no reason to be feeling this way”. I felt that I was being ungrateful for my luck, but I knew this wasn’t me. I was told to get more sleep, drink more water, or better yet, just get on with it because everyone feels down from time to time. The latter is totally true, and I’ve written posts about the importance of doing these things before. But this time I knew it wasn’t because I hadn’t been getting enough sleep.

I went to my GP when I returned home, and explained exactly how I’d been feeling, and to my surprise, I even cried to him. I hardly ever cry in front of people, so to have done that in front of someone I didn’t know shocked me. Straight away, it was identified that everything I was feeling was caused by the additional hormones from the pill I was taking, and that it had gone on to cause depression. It was being termed as “endogenous”, which reflected that it was a result of a chemical effect rather than a reaction to the external environment. I can’t describe the relief I felt to have even had someone simply recognise that the way I was feeling wasn’t just something to wave away. I was taken off the pill straight away, and was given support in bettering my mental health. At this stage, five months on, I feel incredibly lucky that it worked, and I can now look back on it as a dark period of my life rather than one I am still experiencing.

I very rarely tell people about this experience, because I fear that it will reflect badly on me. Only one family member knows about it. I was even warned to consider not writing this in case it had a negative effect on anything I do in the future. But this is the stigma that needs breaking, and keeping quiet would only have gone against everything this week stands for. It is SO important to get it out there that it is totally okay to accept that you’re struggling, and stop this belief that it should be kept quiet and hidden. What’s more, it needs to be recognised that it can hit anyone, no matter the circumstances, no matter the background. You don’t need a tragic or traumatic occurrence to cause these things. My experience happened because I was prescribed something happily, with no worries that it would adversely affect me. You know yourself better than anyone, and if you know you’re not feeling yourself, don’t let others tell you that “shouldn’t be the case”, or assume that there’s a standard pattern that you should be on the look out for. More needs to be done to recognise that there are so many more factors and so many more causes of poor mental health, no matter the extent or the length of time the impact is felt.

I wanted to add my voice to the discussions taking place this week, because for so long I was under the belief that I wasn’t someone mental health would affect. I felt very much on my own when I started worrying about my own well-being, and I want to make a step to change that. I like to think that in acknowledging my experience, there’s maybe someone out there going through the same thing who realises that sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay.

whathannahwrote

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36 COMMENTS

  • Mummy Thomas' Blog

    This is a great post thank you for sharing. It must of took a lot of courage to share. It’s hard sharing our personal experiences. I had a rough time on the pill to. Its a great topic to discuss. I really do think women need more information before they are prescribed the pill. Even if they had discussions in school in sex Ed.There are so many awful sideaffects. #teacupclub http://Mummythomas.blog 🌷

  • Lupe

    I can’t say I’ve ever gone through any of this. I’ve had acne for years but never like this. I’m glad you are talking about this so openly Hannah, good luck with everything you deserve nothing but the best

  • Caroline Agoba

    I think it’s great that you wrote about acne because it’s a very common thing that people struggle with! Thanks for sharing this, I enjoyed reading this x

  • So proud of you for writing this post. It’s crazy the effect that a pill can have on your life and I feel like it’s rarely talked about x
    Morgan // http://www.justmorgs.com

  • Joy abou zeid

    Amazing post, you’re so brave to talk about this issue and i am glad that you are feeling way better! Xx

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Thank you very much! ☺️ xx

  • Emma Rollason

    Such an open and honest post, thank you so much for sharing your experience and starting a conversation about something that affects so many women.

    Emma x
    emmarollason.com

  • Hannah

    Thank you for sharing this – I know how much strength it takes to post something as personal as this and to admit what could be seen as a weakness. I think people underestimate the impact that hormones can have on you – I had a similar thing when I started taking the pill but since I was already taken antidepressants, it was hard to tell what was the pill and what was already there. xx

  • John Aiwone

    Mental health issues are so much more hidden than physical health problems. If we broke our leg or arm treatment would be given to it instantly and more sympathy and attention would be given to injury. If we’re depressed, anxious or unhappy we’re simply told to “just get on with it because everyone feels down from time to time”. Your mind is just an important part of the human body as your limbs, bones and tissues and your mind suffers from its own “injuries” too and needs it’s own treatment too. Everyone is different and have their own world they live in. What seems small to someone might be a big deal to someone else

    I’m glad you’ve come out and done a post on what you’ve been through. To do that knowing only one person in your family is aware is brave of you and knowing you’re not alone can make a huge difference

    Johnny | The Travel Connoisseur
    http://www.thetravelconnoisseur.wordpress.com

  • Tyas

    Wow, I didn’t know that such pills could have that kind of side effect, let alone depression. And I truly appreciate that you shared your experience, thank you for sharing! I have never taken such pills and I will be more careful from now on ^^

  • Laura

    This is such a great and honest post! I’ve heard a lot of stories about the different pills and how they can affect you and it’s so important to raise awareness xx

  • daydreamsandcynicism

    That’s so scary to hear, there are so many experiences like this that make me quite weary of hormonal birth control. Thanks for sharing, especially as you’re conveying such an important message- that you shouldn’t be ashamed if you struggle and that it is ok to seek help 😀

  • Louisa

    I’m so glad you’ve added your voice to all the conversations going on this week. It’s so good to see more and more people being open and honest about their struggles. It’s so important to talk!

    Louisa | http://www.loubeeloublogs.co.uk

  • Sara

    This is such an important post to write about so many woman suffer with mental health issues because of the pill and it seems to be something that isn’t really brought to your attention when you go get the pill and it really should be. So glad they you made action upon the pill causing your mental health issues.

  • florence wood

    I’m currently on Rigevidon, and I have had no major negative side effects from it, apart from gaining a small amount of weight (I can also blame the fact that I actually don’t exercise as regularly now). It is very important to share the effects and especially the affect it can have on mental health!

    Florence | https://beyondimagination12.blogspot.co.uk/

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      That’s the thing, I know so many people who are on it and have had no bad experiences! It’s mad how the same medication can have such a variety of random effects on people! X

  • Bexa

    Thank you for sharing your story Hannah! 💖 I can also relate to this. I remember trying one pill for a few months and felt absolutely awful, tearful, sad and just on edge all the time. I switched to Cerazette and felt normal again. It’s scary how different pills can hugely impact on mental health. This is a really important topic so well done for speaking openly about it 😘 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Aw thank you so much for the comment love! I’m glad you had a positive outcome from your experience! It’s mad how each different one can impact on people! Xx

  • Liz Brannan

    Such a well written blog post on such a n important topic! I’m on ridgevdon too and have been since I was 16, I wanted to come off it about year ago as I feeling how you were but it turns out that I need to stay on it to control my PCOS! I’m glad you got help and it’s important to recognise the effects the pill can have on you!
    Liz xx

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Aw man that’s rubbish that you can’t come off it 🙁 But at least it’s doing something positive for you! Xx

  • Kayla

    I am so happy I came across this post, thank you so much for sharing Hannah. I’ve been on Yasmin for 10 years now, and I’ve wanted so badly to get off of it to see if my mental health would improve. I suffer from panic disorder and anxiety, and I’ve always wondered if it was the hormones making my condition way worse. Your post has inspired me to move forward with the decision of getting off birth control, and it’s a decision I’ve been thinking about for a long time. So thank you so much for sharing your story and being an inspiration for women everywhere!

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      GAL. This comment made me feel so emotional hahaha! I’m no medical expert, but from experience please don’t feel pressured into just ignoring it! If you feel like it’s affecting you negatively, then get off it! Remember that it isn’t even a natural need. Your mindset is way more important than anything else. Thank you so much for your comment, it’s genuinely made my day 😭 x

  • Our stories are so eerily similar, from the circumstances, to the types of pill (Dianette then Yasmin over here too!) to the dismissal of our experiences. This does not reflect badly on you at all. You’re strong, amazing and sharing your experience is incredibly brave and I can relate exactly to how you’re feeling. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone x

    Rachel // kyvbey.blogspot.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Gaaal I’m crying again 😭 you are 100% not alone!! X

  • Jade

    I’ve had to come off the pill completely because of how blackly it was effecting my mental health! I was on the pill injection and I was constantly depressed, anxious and paranoid; the second I came off of it and it cleared out of my system my mental health got so much better. Thank you for sharing your experiences! There are so many people in this situation and it always helps to know you’re not alone 🙂 xx

    Jade | jademarie.co.uk

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      100%! I felt so alone the whole time because I didn’t really know of anyone whose mental health was affected by a similar cause, so in sharing this I hope others going through it realise that’s not the case! I really hope your situation has improved chick! Xx

  • Melanie Fraser

    Wow what a fabulously honest post about such a really important issue. I’m so glad that you recognised what was making you ill and acted upon it, I’m glad you are feeling better now and have found the strength to discuss your experiences.

    Melanie | http://www.frasersfunhouse.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much ☺️ xx

  • The diary of Ellie

    Sounds like such a bad experience but love that you and other bloggers and making this a topic of conversation!

  • Patrice

    Wow! That’s so scary that a pill that they offer can cause this side effects so sorry to hear about the panic attacks I’ve had these caused by anxiety and it’s so hard to deal with at the time and you feel alone.

    Thank you for sharing your story! Xx

    Love P xx

    http://www.pixieox.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      I’m so sorry you’ve felt alone, and that you’ve even had to deal with them! I hope that in posting this, it shows others that there’s so many of us in the same boat! Xx

  • Rainbow imagine

    Wow I can deffo relate to this. Yasmin was my first pill ever. And i would get serious emotional issues at the time i was taking it.
    I do believe the hormones in these pills can have a gigantic effect on us. As of late i have considered just stopping taking them. Because I want to see how I feel without them. I think your post might just help with that. Thank you for blogging this!
    Love,
    Rose – http://www.rainbowsdreamcloud.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      I’m going to pretend the last bit of your comment didn’t just make me cry a little bit there! I’m so glad you found it helpful 🙂 Everyone has different experiences, but seriously if you feel like it’s having a detrimental impact on you then there are so many more options out there! Xx

  • Alys

    This is such an important topic to write about, I’m glad you’ve added your voice to the conversation. It really is valuable! It was very brave to write this, well done lovely! Sounds like a horrible experience, but it’s wonderful that you took control of the situation and found a way out of it xx
    Alys
    https://alysjournals.com/

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Thank you so much, I always said I didn’t want to write anything on it out of fear of repercussions but reactions like yours make me glad I did! Xx

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