And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Birth Control and Depression

For those of you bored by all my talk about having depression, just skip this one...

I quit taking my birth control pills about 2 weeks ago. It wasn't really a planned thing, just my script ran out and I haven't been in to get it renewed.

I don't think I want to, now.

I have noticed that the last few days, I have been lighter than before. I don't know how else to describe it. I don't feel as if every breath has to be drawn through a straw, I don't feel the weight in my chest as badly. I can breathe, I can smile and laugh. I am finding the Sprouts fun and sweet.

I can't say for sure that stopping the pill is the cause of this feeling, but I can't say the opposite, either. For all I know, the whole thing is in my head...but it feels real.

One of the hardest things about Depression is that it is so difficult to make people understand how it feels. How do you describe something that is so all-encompassing and yet is so similar to a feeling that every person in the world feels at one time or another? It is like a weight that presses down on you constantly, wearing you down and making you feel diminished. It is like looking at the world through dark glasses: you can see the colors, but they are muted and bland. It is like moving through mud. The anxiety is like living as a chicken in a fox den, or a mouse at a cat show. It is miserable.

For a really long time I thought that the way I felt was normal, that everyone felt as afraid and as sad as I did. It was such a shock to find out that I was wrong. It hurt to find out that not everyone lived in the same world of fear and shame I did. It was frightening to discover that many of the things I believed to be true about the world were really just constructions of a mind out of balance. It made me angry to realise that things were harder for me than for others. It just didn't seem fair. What had I done that was so bad that I needed to be punished like this?

Sometimes I wonder if my clients feel that way. Angry that they are trapped in a world where figuring out how to tie their shoes will always be a struggle, sentenced to a life of having to use all their problem solving skills to get their shirt on front-forward. Or are they, like I once was, blissfully unaware that their daily lives are so different from "normal" folks'?

I get a little mad at folks who say that depression and anxiety are not diseases. I understand that there are people who probably are not clinically depressed that are just too lazy to tough out natural down times and deal with life as it is. For some of us, though, having Depression is like being at war every waking moment. You have to fight the feelings of hopelessness and despair constantly just to do simple things like shower or eat. It is exhausting.

I was talking to the Sarge one time about my depression, and she said something that really changed the way I think about myself. She said that I was a very strong person for dealing with my depression and anxiety (as well as some environmental factors that have since been removed) without treatment for so long. I have always looked at myself as being weak for needing meds in order to function. Now I think that maybe she was right.

And that's about all I have to say about that.....for now.


Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Barefoot, depression is as real as a broken limb and usually more debilitating, the fact is though that there is no plaster cast to be wrapped around the problem and so it goes unnoticed by most people. The associated anxiety and panic attacks are 100% real, the fact that others are unable to see this and lucky enough not to experience the way that you are feeling in no way negates your personal emotions, if they are real to you, then they are real. The lows and highs that you have experienced are draining and exhausting, but the fact is though that you have fought against the lows, and so many do not.

Someone once said to me that a brave person was a coward who did it anyway. Depression can make a coward out of anyone. It would be so easy to give in to it and hide away from the world, but it takes a special kind of courage to fight against your own emotions and try to get on with life as normally as you can when often the attitude of many is “Can’t you pull yourself together?”

You have obviously been fighting for some while now without ever really giving up... May the way you feel now last for the rest of your life.

Fixing My Life said...

I read your blog all the time but this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. When my pills ran out I was in the process of switching insurance and ended up without them for three weeks. I'm had severe depression and anxiety for years and I know things improved for me when I stopped taking my bc pills. It's been a year and I haven't looked back! Good luck! I'm really enjoying reading your story, it's incredibly inspiring!

Kati said...

I can understand because I recall well how I felt after my surgery & going off my depo. I don't think I've ever had depression the way we generally think of it, not a constant, major cloud over my head, but even so.... It feels so much lighter not to have those chemicals rushing through my body, bogging me down.

Not sure what your plans are, obviously, regarding more children, but I'd definitely recommend sterilization if you & the hubby are sure you don't want any more kiddos than your two beautiful sprouts. It's been so nice to enjoy being intimate with my hubby, without having to worry about birth control or unwanted pregnancy. And, barring complications like I had, a tubal can be done laproscopically & as an outpatient procedure. (They found a cantelope sized cyst on my left ovary that required the ovary's removal, and I was sliced open as if I was having a c-section, which made the recovery a good bit tougher than it was origionally supposed to be.)

I hope you find an option that works for you & your family, while allowing you to feel lighter & not so bogged down by depression. (((((HUGS)))))

Oh, and your simple "i'm sorry" means so much. Though they are just words, and they can be trite at times, the comments that just said "i'm sorry, and don't give up on this" mean SOOOOO much more than "I'm sorry, but something better will come along!" Because THIS is my something better, it actually HURTS when folks try to tell me that something better will come along. At the same time I know that I'll have at least one other opportunity in the near future, but that opportunity is going to be lacking in some of the chances it offers me, the way this opportunity did. So, again, your simple "I'm Sorry" DID/DOES help! Thank you!

barefoot gardener said...

Fr. Peter-
Thank you. Honestly, thank you. I am more humbled and soothed by your words than I can express.

I am so glad you commented! I have been on and off bc a few times, and noticed this same thing happening before. The doc keeps telling me it's all in my head, but even if that's true I would prefer to be off and feel better than to stay on and keep trying to convince myself that the doc is right.

I just hopped over and read your blog. I gotta say I am so proud of you! What you are doing is truly a leap, and I know you will feel so much better as things continue to improve. Good luck!

barefoot gardener said...

OUCH!! I can't imagine going in for something that was supposed to be simple and easy, and coming out with a big old incision across my belly. Glad things worked out, though.

Mr. Barefoot and I have been discussing our options, and hopefully soon we will make a final decision. I only know that since I got to be the one to give birth, I am not going in for another surgery ;)

I am glad I found the right words to say. I feel so bad that your dream wasn't realised, and I agree with you that it doesn't help to be told that something else will come along. Not when what you wanted didn't happen.

I still wish I could get you some cheesecake...

Jacki said...

You're so good at describing what a depressed person goes through. That's all I really wanted to say :)

barefoot gardener said...

I am so glad to hear from you! I thought you had given up on me, it has been so long since I have heard from you. I have been checking in over at your place, and I like the new look...

Wendy said...

I never considered myself depressed, and while I was a solitary (not lonely, mind you) and introverted kid, I was always happy, and always looking to the bright side. Once, when my parents were complaining about money, I said to my father, "We're rich! Because we have each other." It wasn't until I started using Depo Provera and then, after my fourth daughter's birth, the pill, that I ended up in this abyss. It was horrible, and for a very long time, I thought it was me. I thought I had just changed into this clingy, needy, jealous, bitter, and hate-filled person.

After several years, I started doing some research, and I found that a lot of women experienced what I had felt using hormone birth-control methods. So, I no longer do that. I have a hormone-free IUD. I haven't had any problems, and after five years of being au naturelle, I can say that I am a happy person. It really feels good to not be living in that dark cloud.

And my IUD is eco-friendly and sustainable :).

Gina said...

I agree: you described depression very well. This is from another clinically depressed woman trying my best to keep off the meds (I haven't been on them since last summer).

I was sterilized after Lyndon was born and have regretted it ever since. If you are absolutely positive no other kids are in the future it is the most sure way to avoid pregnancy (1/200 fail). However, I really wish I had tried an IUD for a few years before instantly deciding. Just my two cents!!

Glad you have a little parting in the clouds.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

OK, I'm a man so I am at a great big disadvantage here, so please, please excuse me for being simplistic and/or speaking out of turn, but if you'r in a permanent relationship and you don't want any more children, why doesn't the male half of the partnership have what is a minor (snip) operation? I read Kati's post and my toes curled!

barefoot gardener said...

I was on Depo for one year, and that was the first time I had a "severe depressive episode". That's what they call it when you can't get out of bed for weeks at a time, you know.

I always worry about IUD's. I mean, they are sticking something in you that is just gonna hang out there. It seems wierd. Glad it is working for you, though.

I have worried that I would regret sterilization, but the reality is that Mr. Barefoot is over 40, and I am not that wonderful with children. Between the two of us, we have 4 kids which is plenty enough. One of his kids has already started providing us with grandchildren, so I really don't think there need to be anymore kids for us...

Fr. Peter, I agree with you whole-heartedly! Mr. Barefoot and I have had this discussion many times, and it boils down to the basic fear all men have of having any sharp objects near certain parts of their anatomy. Of course, I believe that if the MEN of the world had to give birth a whole lot more snipping would be going on.

Kati said...

for Fr. Peter Doodes.... I DID elect to get the surgery myself. It wasn't a lack of willingness on my hubby's part, but a determination on my part that I never, ever be put in the situation of having to choose between bearing or aborting an unwanted pregnancy. Just because my hubby might be sterile (which he's not, because I had it done), doesn't mean that I couldn't still get prego through rape, should that voilence ever befall me. That is why _I_ decided, for ME, that to have myself sterilized was the best option. I wanted to be the only one with any choice in my reproductive abilities.

Had the Dr. not found the cyst (which wasn't felt when he palpated my belly prior to making the tiny incision for the microscope, due to the cyst's make-up), I would have had 2 or 3 small (less than 1 inch long) incisions and would have been back to work in a week. As it was, I took 2 weeks off work, and spent another 2 weeks on light duty, post-op.

SO, it wasn't a fun experience, but it was purely my own decision to undergo it. My husband wasn't being a coward, I was being as proactive as a woman can be, barring having my whole uterus removed.

barefoot gardener said...

Whoah, Kati. I was the one who called men cowards for not getting snipped. Peter was just putting an option out there that hadn't been mentioned yet. Quite frankly, I think he had a good point that too many men leave all birth control up to the female.

You made the right choice for you, and after reading your reasons I am more likely to consider it than I was before. Please don't think anyone here was belittling you or your choice. I don't allow that here, since I am a non-confrontational kind of gal. I love each and every one of my friends equally (unless they send me cheesecake, in which case they are in a totally different category), and I hate to think of anyone having bad feelings.

brad said...

Doing nothing about depression gets you nowhere. You have taken control of yourself if you're doing something to deal with it.

What about a vasectomy for Mr. Barefoot? You have two sprouts already, so he can "shoot blanks" now and you can keep your clarity.

Kati said...

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply that anybody here HAD called DH a coward, I was only trying to explain that it was completely my decision and that I didn't want anybody to think it was DH being cowardly or any such thing.

Again, I'm sorry. I really did not mean to upset anybody. This isn't the first time I've had folks question my reasoning, and maybe a little bit of the past grumbliness from that carried over to my explanation this time, though I certainly didn't intend it that way. Please accept my apology if I hurt any feelings.

barefoot gardener said...

If you can convince HIM, then I am all for it! *smile*

It's all good, darlin'. The written word can be tricky sometimes....

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

it was a generalisation about my gender that I was making regarding the discussion as a whole rather than a personal critisism of you or your relationship. If it read that way, and re-reading it again with my comments at the end I can see that you may have thought that, then I certainly do apologise. So often my gender does, as Barefoot said, leave it all up to the female to do what is required. I have experienced situations where men have refused to discuss this whatsoever with their partner and left it all up to the female, an attitude I personally do find more than confusing, but then again, that's me, and we are all different.

Kati said...

Peter, I certainly didn't think you meant anything untoward by your comment. I took it as a general statement of you being the only guy in a conversation being dominated by women.

Honestly, I think there are pros & cons of a guy leaving the decisions to his wife. On the pro side, as my husband said, it's my body & if I wanted to have the surgery then it was my choice. We did discuss him getting the job done previously, but at that point his insurance (before we got insurance through my job) wouldn't cover sterilization procedures. By the time we got my insurance, I'd already started weighing the decision to have myself sterilized instead of asking the hubby to do it. (Not that I'd have a problem if he did, that'd be double insurance against unwanted pregnancy.) But, my hubby said that it's my body and if I wanted to be on birth control for the rest of my life, it's my choice. If I wanted to get sterilized, it's my body. If I wanted another baby (not that there was any question between him & I as to that being an option), that'd be my choice. If I wanted him to get sterilized.... Ok, but don't expect him to be jumping for joy over it. *wink* Basically, he left it in my hands because he knows that whatever decisions are made about me being pregnant again, I'm the one that'd have to carry the pregnancy or abort it, not him. It's my body, ultimately, that would be involved much more so than his ever would.

On the other hand, as you've said, there are plenty of guys out there who think it is solely the woman's responsibility to account for birth control, and heck, she should even have to ask him to wear a condom if she wants that protection from pregnancy. *nods* Yeah, I personally think those kind of guys are jerks. Thankfully my hubby's not one of those guys.

Glad to see that we're able to get past any commenting confusion & have an interesting discussion, even if it does co-opt BG's comment section. *grin*