Aunty Flo?

When I first came off the pill it took months for my period to even show up and when it did (TMI alert) it was brown and very light. I had been on the mini pill for about five years which, as it is taken continuously, without the usual one week break a month you take on the combined pill, meant I literally hadn’t had a bleed in years. I had also been on the pill, on and off, since I was 14 (prescribed for heavy periods and acne). So I guess it wasn’t surprising in hindsight but at the time I really was freeeaked out.

And of course in my time of need, where did I turn, but to none other than Dr Google. Big mistake. Within twenty minutes I had diagnosed myself with fibroids, PCOS, cancer and or physical abnormalities (including a second womb or no womb just a vagina, more common than you’d think, but relax there’s defiantly one in there and only one, I made the real doctor check). Delightful little notions that got caught up in my repetitive thought patterns for months and to be honest I didn’t get rid of them until ages later when I was scanned as part of the infertility testing we are currently going through (but more on that later).

You may have already guessed but coming off the pill had sent my anxiety disorder into melt down and caused all sorts of physical symptoms that left me a sweaty, greasy, crampy mess (and the acne, oh god the acne!). Never mind the emotional mayhem. I have always been very sensitive to my hormones, going through multiple brands of the pill before I settled on one that made me the least mental. But coming off the pill was frankly shit, I cried all the time for no reason and I had real trouble focusing. My work suffered and my friends started to have quite words with me because I was acting so oddly. I remember driving a friend home from a party one night, and getting lost three times on the way home. I know where she lives, she’s lived in the same place for years, very near where I bloody grew up, I just couldn’t get my brain to concentrate on anything. This took over a year to pass fully but the first six months were the worst.

However, I digress – periods. It had disappeared, Auntie Flo was no where to be found. I went to see my GP after trying for a baby for about six months, I explained my concerns (and self diagnoses). She quickly confirmed it was perfectly normal for it to take anything up to two years for your period and cycle to re-regulate after being on the pill for as long as I had but was much more interested in how anxious I was becoming again, suggesting I take a break from trying so I could go back on medication. I decided against this but knew things couldn’t go on as they had been. I promised I would make some life changes instead and she agreed we would begin the testing process if nothing had happened by the following January (which would be a full year from when we started trying).

So off I went on my merry way to sort my head out. I got more seriously into yoga, and started practicing mindfulness. I even went to a naturopath who prescribes herbs and diet changes. I did an online CBT refresher. The mindfulness I’m still working on, I really like the Headspace app and have found it does help me relax but I do struggle to disengage from my thoughts and to regularly make time to a session. Yoga I love. I’ve done yoga as a form of exercise for years, dipping in and out of different styles, but after seeing the doctor I went back to my usual teacher and started rebuilding, my practice from the bottom up. Practicing mostly Ashtanga and focusing on my breathing and the intention behind my practice (sorry that sounds so wanky, but I don’t know how else to say it). All of these things helped, I didn’t get pregnant but I slowly started to feel better. I went on holiday with a friend and finally started to come back to myself.

The thing that made the most remarkable difference however, in regards to my period was acupuncture. Don’t ask me why sticking pins in your body works or even feels good. But it does and it so does. It feels amazing. And a week after my first treatment I got my first real post pill bleed. It still took over a year for it to come back properly and even now, eighteen months after coming off the pill, my cycle isn’t totally regular. But aunty does now stop by regularly.

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