Who am I, really?

This isn’t a confession post, where I tell you that Ive been blogging under an alias or anything! But it may strike a chord with anyone who’s been on any hormone based contraception or anti depressants for any length of time.

I’ve been thinking recently, for a while actually, that I’ve been on “potentially mood altering” prescribed drugs for so long that I don’t know who I am without them, if that makes sense?

Let me explain.

I first started taking the pill – Microgynon – when I was 17. Far from an adult (certainly in mind), not experienced in the world and not really properly mature. I was living at home with my parents, still at school studying A levels, working a Saturday job in a clothes shop. Life was pretty easy.

I was lucky with my pill, it suited me from the off. No spotting or breakthrough bleeding, no bad skin or mood swings, or any noticeable change in me. Or so I thought. But what if the hormones changed the future me? What if they blocked something in me that would have become apparent as I matured, started working, became financially independent? What if the change was subtle enough for me not to notice it, but it did make a difference somehow?

I had to change my pill a while back, because of my age (urgh), so I’m now on the mini pill which I take daily, instead of having a 7 day break (you can read what I found out about hormone based contraception as you get older here). Again there was no discernible difference. But lately I feel tired and not interested in going out. What if I’m blaming that on winter, and getting older, but really it’s the effect of the pill and I just haven’t put two and two together?

Similarly, with my anti-depressants (read my depression story here). I have come off them a couple of times, without my doctor’s supervision (don’t do that, by the way), and at those times I’ve returned to Mrs Angry-with-Everything-and-Everyone but that makes me wonder then, is that the real me? Are the anti-depressants just masking my true aggressive nature? Or did the depression make me that way and the anti Ds just put me back to my normal level headed self?

What if my pill was the trigger for my depression? What if, had I never taken the pill, I’d never have had depression and almost 20 years of being on and off medication for it?

The point is, I’ve been putting hormones and SSRIs into my body for such a long time, and from such a young age, that I don’t know who the real me is. Stripped down, no medication or contraception, me. What would I be like? Would my personality change? Would I hate myself? Would other people hate me?

And in that respect, my thoughts start to run away with me, and at times I wonder if I’m living a lie. Which is crazy!

It’s too late for me to ever find out, obviously. But I know that there are thousands, probably millions of people out there, like me, who’ve followed their doctors advice for many years and now blindly, repetitively, habitually take what they’ve been prescribed “just because”. I’m not saying that doctors have acted irresponsibly. Just that it’s something worth thinking about.

I’m too scared to take myself off my anti-depressants to find out what would happen, but at some point as I get older I won’t need the pill anymore, and it will definitely be something I take note of, to see if there are any changes in reverse that I was too young and naive to notice at 17.

I’d love your thoughts on this! Am I overthinking things? Have you seen big changes from long term medication? Leave me your comments.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Hormone based contraception when you’re over 35

I’ve been on the pill since I was 17. I’ve been happily taking Microgynon, which is an oestrogen and progesterone pill for 21 days in a row, then having a 7 day break and repeat.

During a recent check up I asked a nurse when it would need to be reviewed, because I’m aware of my advancing years (ick). She told me I would be fine until I reach 40. As I have no intention of reaching 40 (at 39 I’ll start counting backwards) I worried my little head not.

When I put my last repeat prescription request in, only 1 month was returned instead of the usual 3, with a note that I needed to see the nurse. Assuming this was for a standard blood pressure test I thought no more about it.

Arriving at my appointment, the nurse said “I assume you know why you’re here, we need to change your contraception”. Cough, splutter, what? Why? I don’t want to! “Well, you’re over 35 now, and that’s the boundary we set on combined pill taking.” And off she set in outlining the alternatives.

The most straightforward swap is onto a progesterone only pill – the “mini” pill. This is taken every day with no break. You probably don’t get a period and only have a 12 hour window in which to take it (with Microgynon it’s 24 hours). Now, call me bonkers, but I’m quite fond of having a period every month. It lets me know that nothing untoward is going on in the womb region, and no little critters have been fertilised and implanted themselves (I know there are the odd exceptions to this, but generally it’s peace of mind). I’m incredibly lucky to have never suffered with my periods, they’re very light, very pain free and I don’t get PMT (unless the P stands for Permanent, in which case the husband may disagree). Plus my Mom reckons it’s healthy for your body to do it’s natural thing (albeit unnaturally as forced by hormones but, y’know). And, to my shame, I’m sometimes a little bit tardy with my pill taking. Maybe I’ll forget to take it in the evening and do it next morning. But perhaps its the weekend and I have a lie in. A new pill needs a new regime. What if I forget and then don’t have a period to set my mind at rest? And then, horror of horrors, what if I end up like one of those women in Take a Break magazine who think they need the loo and a baby drops out? No, no, noooooo!

Alternative one is a contraceptive implant. I’m not sure about this. The concept behind it seems pretty wishy washy (although I’m sure it’s not) plus they have to cut your skin to get it underneath. I’m not squeamish with things like needles and ops, but they like to put it in the opposite arm to the one you write with, and no way am I having my tattoo cut in anyway! Plus I’m a picker and a messer and I know if there’s something I can feel under my skin then I’ll play with it. Yes I’m a 38 year old child.

Alternative two is an IUD (the coil). My initial reaction to this was absolutely not, as I know my Mom had lots of issues and complications when I was young. But the nurse said problems were generally associated with the copper coil, and there are very few issues with the new plastic one.

So, I leave the surgery with a 3 month mini pill prescription and a couple of leaflets.After a quick perusal I decide I’m going to make an appointment for an IUD, which I share with the husband. “Really?” he asks. “You know that you can feel the strings, don’t you?” This is news to me. I’m not sure how he knows this, since he was quite obviously a virgin at the age of 34 when we got together but he assures me that sometimes the man is able to feel the strings during shenanigans. Google research confirms this and I’m shocked. This seems like a rather odd state of affairs (is it just me that didn’t know this and think it’s incredibly odd that women all over the world are tickling their sexual partners from the inside?)

My Mom further adds to the anti IUD argument. “They’re not very reliable, people get pregnant on them”. So I look at the reliability statistics on the leaflets that I’ve so far only given a cursory glance, and the difference is staggering. There’s a less than 1 in 500 chance over 5 years of getting pregnant if you have a coil. Say what? Those odds still seem pretty high to me. What if I was the 1 in 500?

Unwillingly, and somewhat uneasily, I’ve switched to the mini pill as suggested.


I’m assured there are less mood altering side effects than the combined pill, which is a good job, because I really value my marriage and I’m not sure it could stand a change in my mental welfare, as things get pretty horrible when that happens.

I’ll let you know how I get on!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x