Tag Archives: birth control

Of Groundhogs and Loathing

I just finished watching the last 30 minutes of Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, and, well, this is a weird one, but I think it’s one of my favourite romantic comedies.

Right now, I long for a little kissing and lighthearted fun. That’d be nice. Not to be had, but it’d be nice.

Something about Groundhog Day hits the spot today. I’d realized earlier this week that I’d sunk about as low as I’ve ever sunk. I’m not accustomed to being cruel or mean or angry, and I’ve been feeling that way too much of late. I really, really hate feeling negative things, but acting on them, why, that’s just as low as it gets.

I’m not above fallibility. Wish I was, but I come with the full range of human emotions, from dishonesty through to loyalty, they’re all nestled within me. Normally, my moral compass overrides the bad shit ‘cos I’m typically a very good person. Lately, it’s felt like night and day, depending on my mood.

I seem to be starting to stabilize more. I’ve made the choice that I’m getting off birth control after a couple friends have suggested that this week, which, for some reason, just totally escaped my consciousness as a choice. Throughout ALL the shit that has come down, I’ve been on the pill, and while I consider myself one of the toughest, most resilient people I know, I’ve been anything but that of late. I want to have something to blame, and maybe the pill’s a good thing to use in that capacity. Maybe, though, it really is to blame.

(And while I’m being all hard on myself, don’t think for a minute I’m not impressed with my ability to get through certain things that came my way since June… I’m quite proud of myself in some regards, but I’m disappointed that, in the end, I did start to sink beneath myself.)

I’m supposed to resume the pill tonight, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’ll take a break and let it flush out of my system. Once fall passes and winter dawns, I might decide to resume the pill.*

At the moment, I’m not sexually active, but I still consider going off the pill to be a major pain in the ass because I typically get first-day-of-period cramps that leave me fetally balled on my couch, wincing in agony as my body proceeds to fully explore the potential of cramps. I get the world’s worst first-day cramps. I was once in enough pain that I thought of going to the hospital to get a sedative. I’d really rather not return to those cramps…

…but if the alternative is beginning to hate myself, then I know the choice I need to make. It’s been a week since I’ve had a pill, and since then, I’ve slowly started to climb out of the depressive cesspool that has been home for the last three months — which is coincidentally the length of my last cycle, thanks to the brilliance of trying to suppress my period.

Today’s to be a cycling day peppered by a four-hour stint of work. I have a project to do, and when I’m done, I’m gone, even if that’s less than four hours. I don’t care. Right now, I’ll do what it takes to enjoy myself, because that’s where I find the self-love. If I can have a good time on my own, I can enjoy myself anywhere, any time, and hopefully with anyone. It’s that simple.

Groundhog Day‘s great because Bill Murray also hits self-loathing bottom in that movie. He does everything destructive he can, and then, when that’s through, he seeks to improve himself. Me, I’ve been pretty destructive this past month. One ANGRY woman, man. I’m glad I’ve done nothing drastic because there were moments I was a little nervous for myself. The further I get from it (and I’m not that removed from it yet), the more dark I realize things had been for a while there. I too now wish to improve myself. Steps are being taken and I suspect positive results are already beginning to show in small, inconsequential ways.

I’m sure there are people out there who are forever on an even keel, and I hate them because I’m jealous of them, because I’m not one of them and likely never will be. I tend to be a little more even than this, but there’s often a potential air of volatility to me. That’s a negative, but I often overcome my negatives with my positives — of which I like to think there are many. I’m starting to embrace this difficult time instead of loathing it, because I think I’m heading down the right path — setting up counselling, lowering my expectations, focusing on the little things that need doing so the big things don’t loom so large.

Right now, everything’s worth doing if only it means I stop seeing shadows, you know? Whatever you do, don’t call me Punxsatawney Steff.

*Don’t ever just stop in the middle of a pill cycle or you could fuck yourself over worse than the pills have done to you. Always consult a doctor. I finished my cycle; I’m just choosing not to resume. Despite knowing that I can indeed do this, I’m still seeing my doctor Monday to clue him in and touch base on the evil shit that’s come down in the last few weeks.

On the State of the Steff

It’s official. I’m depressed. Next Thursday, I’m seeing the doc to go back on meds for the first time in a few years.

I started the birth control pill again last October, and it has been fucking with my equilibrium since. (I’ve changed several brands, but the first one sent me spiralling into a deep depression I had to claw out of, but never really emerged from.) I was beginning to get a grasp on it the old-fashioned “I’m too tough for depression to beat me!” trouper kind of way, but then life reared up and got ugly, and I’m losing my grasp.

Depression’s a terribly stigmatic thing to admit to suffering. Just admitting it makes you look like an incapable pussy who’s running from a scary monster. There’s too much ignorance about depression as a disease, and there’s too much misunderstanding of what it can (and does) do to its sufferers.

Me, I hate admitting I can’t cope. I hate admitting that, right now, I’m weak and having a real, real hard time just fighting the good fight. The realization hit me yesterday that, if something else were to befall me in the “happenstance” category these days, I just don’t think I could wage that war. I’m too burnt out. The energy levels, gone.

So, then, what do I do? Pretend? Put on a smilie face and hope it all looks better than it feels? Oh, that’ll work. Or do I give into the agoraphobia and lock the door? Yeah, that’ll work. Maybe I try to find balance? Hey, there’s an idea, but what is balance anyhow? Who says, “Yep, that’s balanced!” Is there a dinging bell I’ll hear when I finally have it right?

And that’s the thing. There’s no tried and true method for beating depression. It still confuses medicine and practitioners. It’s not like the weight loss secret of, “Eat a little less, exercise a little more.” Its roots come from a dark place that’s physically impossible to shine a light on.

Depression is perceived as a systematic sign of weakness and this society has little, if any, patience for it.

It doesn’t matter that I could make you laugh within five minutes of meeting you, or make you feel like you’ve known me for years. It doesn’t matter that I’ll understand most problems you bring to me and be able to give you worthy advice on it. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been through more in my 32 years than most have. It doesn’t matter that I’m about as resourceful as any person you’ll ever meet.

I’m still suffering from depression. I’ve been fighting, and I was winning, and now the tide has turned.

So, I’m swallowing my pride, telling you where I stand, and promising to keep a light ongoing record (I’m toying with a depress-o-meter passage at the end of postings after I get back on the meds, to kind of keep a record of the small but steady changes in mood, primarily for those who are having a hard time deciding if they need help out of their own private hells or not).

I’m not the kind of person you think about when you think “depressive,” but the truth is, I’ve dealt with that demon off and on since my late teens. Most of the time, I’m pretty good. I know what to look for and know how to fight it — me time, indulging myself, exercise, healthy outlets, punk rock music, heh — and so forth, so this is why I’ve suddenly decided to change strategies in my fight, and why you may hear more of it.

Anyhow, great concert last night, but I fear I’m too tired for my party tonight, so I’ll be taking a “me” night in. Since I’ll soon be on meds and won’t be able to enjoy a bottle of wine solo anymore (shouldn’t really drink on meds), I plan to instead cook a mighty meal fit for a king and drink incredibly good wine to celebrate my lowering of my defenses and accepting my humanity. My fight has changed this week in that I’m kicking my ass physically with cycling and working on a healthier diet. I just know I won’t get the results I want soon enough, and who really wants to live in the dark any longer than necessary, huh?

Happy Friday, kids. My week’s looking up.

School Me, Babe: Relationship Education

Had I actually been a guest on Sex with Emily last Saturday night as planned, question number one from them was, “Why is your blog so popular?” Why, indeed?

If I had to say why I wish my blog was as popular as it’s proving to be, I’d say it’s because I’d like to think I’m real. But that’s a pat little answer, isn’t it?

The thing about sex writing is, it’s so easy, in theory, to write about dripping, hard cocks, about the fury and the fumbling of two people coming together in sexual union – the passion, the intensity, the fun, the excitement. The pulsing of hearts, the throbbing of members, the vaginal swelling… we’ve all experienced these things, we’ve all been on both the receiving and giving ends of pleasure, and so it’s easy to relate to when we read about others’ experiences. And if it’s not something we actually can relate to, then it’s something we live vicariously through.

Not a lot of sex writers try to tackle the emotional content under it all, though, and the ones who do tend to inspire more loyalty from their readers. I tend to focus more on the emotional aspect of it – not just the emotions we show, but those we hide. Perhaps this is why y’all dig me. Or maybe it’s my irreverence, or my honesty about my own insecurities and desires and fears and dreams. Who knows. But these are the reasons I would like to believe my blog is popular.

And it’s something I thought about when I saw this “breaking” news on the BBC site. Apparently kids find sex education classes too biological. Gee. Really?

They’re right. It is far too biological. Everything about sex originates in one place: the brain. The brain powers our emotional response, spurs our physical response, and then our juices flow, action proceeds to happen (or not), and the rest is messy history.

Funny enough, in England, the biology of sex is a mandatory class, but “personal social and health education” is optional at the institutions doing the teaching. This latter course brings education about relationship and emotional health into play.

I must have missed the memo where relationships and emotional health were optional in my own life.

In a time when divorce is the norm, moreso than happy marriages, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the ways in which we approach relationships. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the psychology/self-help departments of bookstores are the most popular non-fiction sections for a very good reason: We’re all so fucking clueless about how to deal not only with our own problems but any of the problems that might arise in our relationships.

I have a history of running from relationships when things get tough, which is why I’m stunned I’m even hanging around my present relationship at all, considering all the life-induced chaos within it. My first running-from-adversity relationship happened with a young guy named “JH,” my first real boyfriend. He fell, and he fell hard. He wrote me songs, played his guitar for me, and felt like the king of the town whenever I was around. I dumped him as soon as I saw that a divorce was imminent with my parents. I never told him why I was fucked up because I was too ashamed to admit my parents’ failure, and more ashamed to admit that I was weak emotionally.

I pulled the “but we can still be friends” bullshit and instead learned what it felt like to break someone’s heart. The guy fell apart and wrote a “you tore my heart to shreds” song for me, handed it to a friend to deliver to me, and within the week, stole a car, got arrested, and then never, ever spoke to me again.

Maybe if I’d had a better emotional upbringing I wouldn’t have fucked JH up as much as I apparently had. Who knows. I do know that I didn’t have a clue how to open up, how to trust, or how to react when the fit hit the shan. Instead, I’ve spent the better part of two decades slowly learning these lessons through bump-in-the-night, daytime talk shows, and brief flirtations with both self-help books and actual therapy.

And I’m not an exception, I’m the norm. Isn’t it time we change that?

As for “sex education,” it’s really a misnomer. I know that nothing I’ve ever had to deal with was taught to me by anyone with any authority. I learned through necessity.

I’ve had the fear of a condom breaking with a boyfriend before the age of 20, having to stroll self-consciously into a Free Clinic in order to get a morning-after pill, something I’ve had to take three times in my life. I once was so freaked out I was pregnant that I remember doing a pregnancy test ASAP after purchasing it – in the bathroom of a Subway sandwich shop. I never learned about the possible negatives of birth control pills until the last few years, because I was already so fucked up in so many ways that it just never dawned on me that my depression must have been exasperated by pill usage.

In short, everything I’ve ever learned about sex has come as a result of a need-to-know, and-now education, not before-the-fact. It has been a hard road getting to the place I’m at now, considering I was raised by sexually ignorant parents who weren’t comfortable talking about sex, and schooled by a high school that didn’t teach sex ed. Of my friends, I was one of the first to get laid, even though I was 17, and none of us ever talked about sex. When I lost my cherry, my only education was that provided by television and movies. I had no idea why the hell there was a wet spot, and it scared the crap out of me.

I didn’t understand all the emotions that came with sex, and I didn’t understand that a kiss was just a kiss, not an undying declaration of love. I wasn’t hurt by love; I was destroyed by it, and all because I was ignorant of the power relationships could have over us.

Teaching us the biology of sex does little to prepare us for the emotional overload that comes from relationships. Teaching us about human relationships and the dynamics of emotional response would far better prepare us for life and love, and it’s damned well time schools began to embrace that reality.

In the final paragraph of the article I’ve cited, some talking head spouts this sentiment:

“We trust teachers to use their professional judgement to decide which organisations can support teaching and learning in the classroom and which resources best support schools’ sex and relationship programmes.”

Jesus. Let’s not trust the teachers, okay? Let’s convene some people in-the-know to talk about what needs to be learned by kids today, and then create a program that includes all those essential facets, so as to stem relationship problems, improve self-esteem, and build emotional resilience. Violence in schools is greater than ever, bullying is at an all-time high, and divorces are skyrocketing.

Isn’t it time we learn about emotional health as part of our curriculum? ‘Cos we’re clearly fucked without it.

One pill makes you smaller: Birth Control

A couple weeks ago, I started back on the birth control pill after five or six years off of it. There’ve been times when I’ve been on the pill, but I’ve never taken it for extended periods. That’s just because I’m the kind of person who’s hesitant to get into chemicals of any kind. (Herbs, though, I’m down with.)

It’s been about two weeks since I started, and it went all over the place at the beginning, since I’m shitty at following a regimen. But in the last week I began to notice some mood swings happening. Stress hitting me harder than it should, and things bothering me more than they should.

I think I should be over the moon. I had an incredible let’s-stay-in-and-fuck-all-day kind of weekend last week, and at the end, felt pretty damned smug about it. Then he walked out the door, I received a depressing email, and for the rest of this week, I’ve been riddled with fears and paranoia. For several days now, I’ve been mired in a depression I can’t shake, that’s causing me to move towards some pretty intense agoraphobia.

There was a time in my past when I dealt with depression… for a long fucking time. With it comes that total lack of desire to live, the lack of energy, the lack of passion. Depression is lack. That’s all it is. Overwhelming lack. It’s when nothing brings a sense of value to you, and it is one fucking horrible thing to dwell under.

And it’s coming back. The only thing I can point my finger at are those pills. I have lost weight in the last month, since my jeans fit me snugger in all the right places, so that’s something to be pleased about. My dire financial cloud is lifting, again, a thing to be pleased about. And I’ve been laid time and time again in the most divinely delicious ways in a long time, so, yeah, that’s a good thing, too. But here I am, short of breath, panicking, and freaking right out. Over what? A phone call? A missed client appointment? A little rain? What the fuck’s under my skin? Some questions don’t have answers. Others have pills. But my pills are bringing the questions on, and that just ain’t so cool.

I had an email, coincidentally, from a male reader concerned about whether his girlfriend should go on the pill since they have a history of condoms coming off. Honestly? That’s not something I’m qualified to answer. So, I won’t.

I will, however, say that educating yourself by reading up on the internet is a must-do before you make such a change in your lifestyle. Know all the negatives, all the potential mishaps that may arise, before you move in that direction.

Personally, these kinds of things have never really affected me a lot — pills, drugs, et al — so I’m somewhat surprised to have fallen prey to this so damned thoroughly and quickly.The pill can come with any number of side effects, from serious health issues like blood clots all the way through depression and lack of sexual appetite and headaches. This is a great thread on a discussion forum about women’s health, and it really illustrates one pill-user’s experiences on the birth control pill.

Me, I think it increased an already-active sex drive, but has caused very serious depression. Fortunately, I know the signs of depression and it’s only taken a few days to realize that Something Isn’t Right. I have booked an appointment with my MD for Monday, and intend to discuss the issue in detail. I’m confident that getting off the pill will lead this Steff back to the land of sunshine and bliss. Or I’m as confident as feeling depressed will allow me to be, at least.

If you already suffer from depression, you may want to rethink the pill. If you’re susceptible to chemicals of any kind, you also may want to rethink the pill.

HOWEVER, if you’re aware of what might happen, you know the signs to look for, and you monitor any changes that arise, and you discuss all those changes with your lover, so they’re watching out for you as well, then why not try it? If it doesn’t affect you, being on the pill can really contribute added security and enjoyment to your life. Just don’t go into it blindfolded, is all I ask.

Allegedly, the side effects tend to quiet down in two to three months. The question is, can you live with them that long? Depending on the severity, it’s entirely possible it’ll be but a blip on your life. Not so for me. Personally, I spent too much of my life in the dark to go back in it again. I’ll be looking at other options or trying other brands.