For many years I have not only struggled with an eating disorder but I have also struggled with amenorrhea. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation brought on by low body weight, low body fat, over activity, disordered eating, and sometimes non-functioning hormonal related activities. In my case it was everything but the non-functioning hormonal activity. I haven’t been really open about this because I feel embarrassed. Not only do I have an eating disorder that I cannot control, I can’t have a period. Having a period is what makes a woman a woman not a child. Sometimes I felt/feel less than because I have to rely on medication to make me “function”.
As long as I can remember I haven’t been regular. I started way late and top that with taking ballet classes five days a week for years that can do a number to a young girl.In high school they came and went, not regular but ok. It wasn’t till I really drank the anorexia Kool-Aid that my little friend left me completely. When I was in my senior year in high school and starting Freshman year in college I dropped a lot of weight and no more monthly visits. I didn’t think much of it until I went a year without seeing my friend. I had to tell my mom, go to the gyno, then out comes of the beans of my eating habits/low weight/have to gain weight (sorta did) and the dreaded birth control. I remember saying I would rather eating bread (which I didn’t eat at the time) than take the pill. I didn’t want to gain weight, get boobs, and all the other junk that came with it. But, I had to. It wasn’t just any regular birth control, I had to take progesterone for a while then move onto regular birth control. I remember the first time I had to go pick up my Rx at the pharmacy and a friend of mine was working the counter. I was sooooo embarassed because “what would he think?”. “Would he know that I can’t have a period? Or would he think I was taking it for acne? What would this say of me?”. Luckily he never mentioned it and it was a huge relief. But that still didn’t make me feel better about taking the pill.
As time goes on I kept trying to get off the pill. Take a month or two off….nothing happened. I would go back on the pill and get very sick. This was my situation for at least two years. Couple this with increasing anxiety, small bouts of depression, a bad relationship, Melvin (my ED) was at an all time high and even birth control stopped working. I had to get the strongest stuff. I longed to get off the pill but I refused to gain weight. I refused to stop exercising. I refused to do anything healthy. I knew better but in typical ED fashion, I thought I was in control and the fear of weight gain was worse than anything else in the world. Years go on and it is the daily cycle of white pill, light blue pill, dark blue pill, green pill. Weeks became white week, blue weeks, and green weeks. My morning routine was birth control, asthma medicine, fiber pills/laxatives, calcium supplements, ibuprofen or what other NSAID I was on during the time.
Eventually I got so tired of this way of life, I had a great boyfriend who helped me get treatment and life began to change. During one of my first therapy sessions I made a list of things I want to accomplish during recovery. Little goals. Number one was to get off birth control for good…..
Fast forward five years later and I can say I am off birth control. It happened unexpectedly. A few months ago I ran out of my Rx refills and I didn’t want to go get it renewed. Also, I would be turning 26 and getting closer to the age where the pros of birth control are outnumbered by the cons. With all that in mind I just decided to go off it, and if I had periods fine, if not fine. It was nice to not measure my days and weeks by the colors of the pill. Recently I had a visit from a little friend and it was the most amazing thing ever. Most people would not understand the enjoyment out of having a period, but when you realize that your body healed itself and your wish of not being medicated came true….I will admit I did have some not so great thoughts arise, “you got fat”/”you are ugly”/”you let yourself go”…..while I am still battling those thoughts, I do enjoy taking one less pill in the morning.