We are not feminists. We are not doctors, or scientists, or teachers. But we are women. As a consequence of this, we are prone to the occasional mood swing. Or to sobbing uncontrollably. Or being insatiably horny. All in the space of one exhausting hour. We thought we’d have a think about why…
Women are mental. What with all the cats, having to maintain body hair on a daily basis (I just trimmed up for the spring it took me hours AND two razors) our love/hate relationship with carbs, shedding our inner lining once a month and inappropriate crushes (70-year-old Granddad round the play school) ANYWAY most of this can be attributed to hormones. Bastard things, I’ve no idea of the science behind them but I know if tampered with they are in fact EVIL.
We’re not told this though, women get things like the pill practically pushed down our throats without any warning of what those tiny little baby stoppers can do. From the age of 16 I was taking some sort of hormone thingymajiggy to stop myself getting knocked up. First the pill which made me fat, spotty and angst ridden. Of course this could be contributed to any normal teenage girl behaviour.
Then in my twenties I began to get severe headaches and more miserableness and was prone to forgetting to take them, so I went on the hormone injections. They never said there’d be side effects, I think possible weight gain was mentioned, but that was it. Well it turned me into a miserable, weepy, angry mess. Although life and relationships weren’t great at the time either so again it could be blamed on circumstance. Although I know in both these situations I instantly felt better when I stopped taking them.
Then I had Children so contraception wasn’t needed (everyone knows once you have children you NEVER have sex) I think in the period between having my two boys and my relationship declining I did try the pill again and once again found myself a total mess. I was getting an inkling then, that maybe hormones disagreed with me. What with the internet I was able to see other people talk about the link between hormone contraceptives and mood swings.
Once my relationship ended I didn’t need to be on anything so was a happy little bunny in my first year of being single but then I met someone. So I trotted off to my GP’s this time armed with the knowledge that perhaps hormones and me just don’t mix. So she put me on a pill that had a low dose and told me to see how I got on. Now this time life was good, I was happier than I’d been in a long time, there were no circumstances to blame my moods on. But moody I became and paranoid and generally a bit of a nightmare so back to the DR’s I went.
Marina coil she said, if you were my sister I’d tell you too have that. What about my fucking mentalness I said. Oh don’t worry it’s a small localised hormone that won’t have any effect at all. WOO HOO!!! Ok so I should state here that I know many of you LOVE the coil but this is how it effected me. I was fine at first, periods were lighter, PMT was quite normal at a few days max. Then 8 months in I stared noticing my PMT lasting a week, then 10 months in it became two weeks. Then just before Christmas it really hit me, I was having more bad days than good, my mood swings were horrendous. I began taking it out on my lovely other half, my behaviour was quite erratic and I was showing some classic self-destructive type behaviour. January of this year I reached a real low, some days I had to drag myself out of bed, I was snappy and withdrawn, my sex drive had disappeared and I pretty much hated everyone and everything. So I did a little Google of the Mirena coil and found forums and forums of women talking about the same symptoms as mine. They also said how their GP’s were having none of it and wouldn’t accept their behaviour and depression was down to the coil.
I felt a massive relief reading that and as soon as I could, I booked in to get it removed. I was all ready for a fight with the Dr and had actually ran through my head whether it would be plausible to rip the thing out myself. Luckily she was lovely,and understanding and didn’t disagree that it affects your moods, so out it came.
That was a month ago now and god it feels good. I’m happy and positive. I’ve more patience with the kids, my relationship has improved dramatically, I feel lighter and basically I feel like me again. Now as I said I know many of you have great success with things like the pill and the coil and other hormone contraceptives. That’s great, apart from the fact it turned me into a Psychokiller everything else about it was brilliant. I do think however for people prone to bad reactions with hormones it needs to be highlighted more. If I’d never connected the link between the two I’d still be an absolute crazy miserable cowbag. I dunno I just think if there’s another way then don’t mess with your hormones THEY ARE EVIL AND THEY MADE ME LIKE OLLY MURS (probably)
I also think if you’re in a relationship then make sure it’s a conversation you both have, it shouldn’t just be down to the girl to sort it out. It’s not as easy as just popping a pill and hey presto HAPPY DAYS. Not for everyone anyway. It’s both your responsibility to stay safe and not just from babies either. So do your research, give things a go and don’t be afraid to talk to your GP if it doesn’t feel right for you.
Once a month, like clockwork, I would go a little bit bonkers. Grumpy. Upset. Worried. Chocolate. All of the feelings. This is how it is with The Hormones for a teenage girl. Add to this the anxieties caused by boys, exams, awkward social situations, not fitting in etc… and basically you can attribute most of the ‘struggles’ of those pubescent years to hormonal imbalances. I couldn’t wait to grow out of it, for things to ‘settle down’ and for life to somehow be simpler.
And then I went on the pill.
Now obviously this is a choice. I suffered from horrific period pains as a teenager and in my early twenties too. Some contraceptive pills are particularly brilliant at calming this stuff down. I took Cilest for years and years – after moving in with my first Proper Long Term Boyfriend, and after having had enough of sitting in a bath hotter than the sun for a week just to ease the pain in my abdomen on a monthly basis. Lovely brilliant pills.
I’m well aware that different pills are different for everyone. I’m not talking about everyone. I’m talking about me.
You see the thing is, these general moody imbalances caused by periods, taking the pill doesn’t stop them or change them. No no. It adds a whole new set of symptoms. It’s dismissive to blame the pill outright for this because generally speaking, if I’m on the pill, there’s probably a ‘situation’ occurring with a man. Or that I’m hoping there may be. Which creates a whole set of issues/feelings/moods of its own of course. So whilst it’s easy to blame mood swings, paranoia, confusion etc on the pill, those are also pretty much the same feelings I get when I fancy someone or want to do bad things to them.
A big issue I have with the availability and wide-spread use of the pill ‘these days’, is male attitudes towards it. I’m going to make a massive generalisation here based only on my own experiences. Boys. Hate. Condoms. Which is pretty silly really. Whilst we all know what feels like what and where and when… this shit is important, oui? Men get to say that not only do they dislike a whole bunch of things about condoms, but that they also don’t like to ‘take risks’. So… you don’t want a baby but you want to get rude… So off you go to take these magic little pills that mean you get to have all the sex you like, whilst COMPLETELY changing your body. Taking the pill effects your weight, your skin, your moods, how you think and feel… the works. But it’s OK, because you’re less likely to fall pregnant and you don’t necessarily have to use a condom. The ease at which we accept this situation is completely bonkers when you think about the other issues brought up by taking the pill. Risks of various cancers. Your blood pressure. Migraines. Heaps of stuff.
BOYS! What are YOU doing in this situation, hmm? I’m not generally one for ranting about gender inequality but I know that there are many MANY situations in my recent history where hormones – whether naturally occurring or a result of the pill – have been the cause or root of an argument or some erratic behaviour on my part – words or actions that have no doubt effected the outcome of lots of scenarios.
In the past few years, I’ve swung from the highs of feeling level-headed, fresh and fine whilst taking nothing at all, (but accepting that I must suffer being an absolute bitch with terrible cramps for a short spell each month), to feeling paranoid, depressed, needy and, honestly, a complete emotional mess, regardless of which week in the month it is. Right now, I’m in the 3rd month of trying a completely new pill. Whilst my reasons for taking it in the first place are currently, shall we say, non-existent… (aherm), I feel fine. In fact, a friend said to me the other day “it is SO nice to see you this sane… maybe the most sane since I’ve known you.” – I wasn’t even insulted because she was absolutely right.
But I am taking something.
Which is changing the chemicals in my body.
But I feel okay.
But there are no boys.
So is that why I feel alright? Does my brain produce 4 billion gallons of messy hormonal chaos when I come within 12 feet of someone I like, in some sort of sabotage attempt to force me to stay at home watching Ren & Stimpy whilst sitting alone, in my pants, falling asleep stuffing delicious buttery granary toast in to my gob?