If the Too Much Information fairy gives you the ‘icks‘, this might not be the post for you. If you’re interested in mental health, maybe give it a go.
I’m in my mid-thirties and (to my mother’s horror) have not reproduced yet. Most people who know me will know I have mixed and contradictory feelings about becoming a parent, which may come over as ambivalence, but is actually a result of the tension between the rock and the hard place inside my head. What few people know is that in addition to the deep moral contemplations about whether I could cope, whether it would be irresponsible to ‘give it a go’ without knowing I could cope, and the, quite frankly, cold sweats over the combination of my pain sensitivity and labour, I am scared of returning to what my life is like without synthetic hormones in it.
I had two very good reasons for getting a coil fitted, even though I had not had a child (they prefer to fit them in women whose cervixes are not clamped shut like the Stargate Iris): 1. Fairly severe hormone-related migraine; 2. Fairly severe hormone-related depression. I had unknowingly kept both in check for over ten years by being on the pill, but the escalation of my migraines after I stopped taking it prevented my doctor from restarting it, despite my pleas of accepting any extra risk to get my normal life back. Because for every three weeks of being and living as myself, I had one week of being and living as someone else. Someone I didn’t like or recognise, who, between fits of crippling migraines, was trying to dismantle my life. Ending relationships I liked, taking risks, quitting jobs I liked, drinking too much, trying to get back with unsuitable exes… Like some sort of mid-life crisis crossed with a teenager whose parents are away for the week and left them in charge of the house with a full drinks cabinet and a debit card. Then after a week, back to reality – the regrets, the cringing, the ‘what was I thinking’, and sometimes the relief that I hadn’t acted on my very-real-in-the-moment feelings.
After trying various unsuccessful solutions, I somewhat hesitantly conceded to trying a coil, because it couldn’t hurt (actually it really did hurt, but that’s not what I mean). I can only say that it has been the best thing that ever happened to me. If it hasn’t saved my life, it has certainly turned it around – stable job, stable relationship, stable stableness, with much more manageable mood changes and migraines. But now, the time has come to take it out. It’s been running out for nearly a year. I’ve been struggling more and more with migraine symptoms, and a gradual increase in low mood. Even if I have another one fitted, this one still has to come out. To transition me, I’ve been put on the mini-pill, which from memory didn’t do anything magic before, so I don’t know what I was expecting.
Having said that, what I wasn’t expecting was to be plunged straight back down the pit. In the space of a few days I’ve gone from being on top of everything, to disliking my job and not wanting to leave the house. I certainly haven’t missed the crawling into bed after work to cry, where nothing interests or excites me, and I don’t want to see or talk to anybody. I know it probably won’t last, and that I don’t really feel like this, and that things will go back to how they were, but it feels so real, so hopeless, so permanent. I try to cling on to my cognitive meta-awareness of my previous happiness. I KNOW I like my job, this is an illusion. I remind myself that I am lucky, some people feel like this all the time, or at the very least for months on end, and it must be so hard to keep up the hope that things will get better.
But, this brings me back to my fear, and my childlessness. If you look at the stats, a fertile couple can still take up to a year to get pregnant. One whole year. Even assuming (best case) that pregnancy suited me, and I didn’t get post natal depression afterwards, that’s one whole year of epic unpredictability, and let’s face it, how much damage could I do to my life in a year? Quite a lot. I’m not sure it’s worth the gamble.
© Catastraspie, 2013.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)