I've struggled with birth control ever since I started having intercourse with men. For a long time I was adverse to the idea of hormonal birth control because I like that I can feel my cycle moving through different stages. It makes me feel connected to my body.
I recently revisited the topic with my doctor, and I also had a long talk with my psychiatrist about it as well. I have bipolar disorder and anxiety and part of my treatment is taking medication. Over the years I have been on more medications than I can count and for a long time I refused to take any at all. Eventually, I was able to find a combination that worked and that didn't have horrible side effect. It took about 8 years.
I do a lot of other things to manage the bipolar disorder and anxiety, but the medication is crucial. I would not be able to be as functional or happy as I am today without it. When I talked with my psychiatrist about how the Pill would interact with my medication, I was reminded that even though I am so happy and stable with my life, I still have these problems. They don't go away. There are some things that I will just have to do different than other people.
The problem is one particular medication, Lamictal. I love Lamictal because it works as an anti-depressant without being an SSRI (like Prozac). SSRIs make me psychotic- a common reaction for people with bipolar disorder. The problem is that the Pill make Lamictal 50% less effective and doubling the dose isn't as option. See, the lone side effect for Lamictal is a very, very rare condition that can occur when there are sharp increases or decreases in the dose. During the week where I would be taking the sugar pill, my dose for the Lamictal would effectively double, putting me at risk.
The condition is a rash where your skin can fall off. It can be fatal if not treated. If I ever got the rash I would never be able to take Lamictal again. My psychiatrist told me straight out that I should not go on hormonal birth control at all.
Sometimes I hear people talking about birth control like it's the easiest thing in the world. Like, you just pop some pills and you're good. I know that is not really true across the board, but I can't help but this about all of the conversations with my doctor and psychiatrist over the past couple months. Or one of my friends whole also can't take the Pill for medical reasons and is also allergic to latex. Or another friend who couldn't keep taking the Pill because it made her really depressed.
It's not a simple thing for anyone, and when you toss mental illness into the mix it becomes really frustrating. The only option I have is an IUD (more on condoms later- that is a whole other post). Even though the decision had been made, I still haven't worked up the nerve to actually get it. Soon.