Am I Crazy, or Am I Just on Birth Control Pills?

I was on birth control for years.

I didn't want to be; I avoided it for a long time, but then I started developing cysts on my ovaries which doctors told me there was no way to manage other than by taking hormonal contraceptives. (Lies.)

So, I started taking the pill.

I don't know when exactly the problems began, because I was on different kinds of pills in the 10+ years that I was taking them, but somewhere along the way I started not being ok, emotionally speaking.

I chalked it up to dealing with my childhood trauma. (I was physically abused until age 23 - so maybe more than 'childhood' in this case.)

And that definitely was part of the problem, for sure.

But I started having extreme mood swings at one point, cycling from happiness, to sadness, to anger, to blissful joy over and over again multiple times in the span of a day. It was exhausting, and debilitating.

In the midst of the mood swings, I also had constant - almost daily - bouts of suicidal ideation.

All of that earned me the misdiagnosis of being bipolar, from a male psychiatrist.

I was put on Lamictal which is a 'Medication that treats epilepsy by preventing seizures. It can also treat bipolar disorder. It works by calming overactive nerves in your body.'

I didn't feel any better, but the doctor insisted that I needed to be on it. I continued taking it, because what did I know, right? I'm not a doctor.

However, I wanted a second opinion, so I went to see a different psychiatrist. (Also male).

He said that in his opinion, not only did I need to be on Lamictal, but also on either Prozac or Zoloft, and then some other medication for I don't remember what.

None of that felt right to me; my gut was telling me that more drugs were not the solution. Not only that, but that NO DRUGS was the best solution.

I went to my family doctor and asked him if I could just stop taking everything. Under his supervision, I did.

I stopped taking Lamictal, and I stopped taking birth control pills.

A veil lifted.

I had felt for a very long time as though there was a grey cloud over everything I did; like Eeyore, there was a rain cloud wherever I went.

But now that cloud had lifted.

A bad day was just a bad day, and not a reason to consider ending my life.

Whereas before - when faced with a difficult situation - I had felt helpless and hopeless, I now felt more capable of dealing with it.

I chalk that up to quitting birth control pills.

I'm angry that neither of the (male) psychiatrists I went to see asked me if I was on birth control pills. I was treated very much like "You're a woman with severe mood issues, you must be bipolar" and no other possibility was ever considered.

I'm angry because of the society that allows the notion to pervade that all women are 'crazy' if they're 'emotional' (Because having emotions is BAD. Feeling things is a hindrance to being a productive member of society.)

I'm angry because during the time I was on the pill, I attempted suicide three times.

; ; ;

I'm glad I didn't succeed.

Photo by name_ gravity on Unsplash

Now, it needs to be said that I did have very difficult life circumstances to deal with; had I not been on the pill, I believe I would legitimately have been depressed anyhow as I tried to grapple with the trauma of my past.

I'm just not sure that it would have been so bad as to have me attempting to take my own life.

But having the kind of history I have, coupled with oral contraceptives which messed with my mental state, well it created the environment where I not only considered but tried to end my life on multiple occasions.

I'm not saying that if you're on the pill, you should immediately stop taking it; please DON'T do that.

I'm saying that if you're on the pill, and are struggling with depression, mood disorders, or suicidal ideation, you should go talk to your doctor about either switching to a different pill or finding alternative methods of birth control.

Do you realize that suicidal ideation is mentioned as a side-effect in the fact sheet for birth control pills?

(With all due respect, I feel that goes beyond the definition of “side-effect.” “Hey, so if you take this pill, you likely won’t get pregnant, but you might also feel like you want to die every day. You’re fine with that right?”)

You know that small but thick bundle of paper that comes inside the box? The one that most people (including me) often don't read, or give more than a perfunctory glance at?

Well it says that depression is a side-effect of the pill, and that special monitoring may be required.

Depression: "This medication, like other birth control medications, may contribute to feelings of depression. If you have a history of depression or other emotional problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Women with a history of depression or other emotional problems may be more likely to have a recurrence while taking oral birth control medications."

I was not specially monitored, and I tried to end my life on three separate occasions.

No doctor ever made the correlation between what I was going through emotionally and this drug that I was on that is known to alter emotional states in women who have a history of depression, and that makes me VERY ANGRY.

It's not as though I was on some obscure medication that the medical establishment had no experience with; I was on the PILL, for goodness sake!

According to statistics from the United Nations, as of 2019, 151 MILLION women worldwide were on birth control pills - read: NOT OBSCURE.

And yet none of the doctors I consulted for my depression and mood swings in the 10-years + that I was on the pill thought "Hmm...perhaps you're having one of the well-known side-effects of being on birth control pills."

My point with this post is not to rail at the medical establishment, but to remind all those reading that we all need to be ADVOCATES for our own health.

Doctors don't know - can't know - everything.

At some point we have to take responsibility for ourselves, for our bodies, for our own well-being.

We all need to do our own research and ASK QUESTIONS, and not assume that doctors, because they have medical degrees, are like God - all seeing and all knowing.

Learn to be an ADVOCATE for YOUR OWN HEALTH.

Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash



"Mood-related issues like anxiety and depression are super-common among women on the pill. Almost half of all women who go on the pill stop using it within the first year because of intolerable side effects, and the one most frequently cited is unpleasant changes in mood."

"The women on hormonal contraceptives were twice as likely to have attempted suicide during this time than the women not on hormonal contraceptives. But the risk of successful suicide attempts was actually higher: It was triple that of women not on hormonal contraceptives."


"Use of hormonal contraception was positively associated with subsequent suicide attempt and suicide. Adolescent women experienced the highest relative risk."

Photo by Eric Masur on Unsplash

You might be asking yourself "How does this topic relate to recovery from binge-eating?" What I found is that - for me - finding new ways of thinking about life and its challenges helped me to stop stress-eating, and has been a very big part of my ability to stop binge-eating.

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