Guys, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about which I haven’t mentioned much here on the blog.
And no, despite what my make-up and Photoshop free self-portrait above would suggest, I haven’t been arrested.
(Just in case you were wondering.)
All kidding aside, the past three months have been some of the most challenging of my life. I’m sure that doesn’t come as a surprise if you’ve been following along, a lot has changed. But one thing I’ve been dealing with on top of the elopement, new apartment, wedding, puppy, family events, and career change is the fact that I changed my birth control.
Though I might have mentioned it in passing, I didn’t think that the fact that I changed my prescription the same day that we moved into the new apartment would be important.
In fact, part of my mind still thinks it sounds silly to bring up. But the truth is that despite all of my preconceived notions about the effects of birth control, I have been seriously affected by my new prescription. To the point that not mentioning it here makes me feel fake talking to you day in and day out going forward.
I’m also not sharing this in order to rail against birth control, but rather explain what I’ve been going through lately which has affected me deeply.
Three days into the pill switch (which I take for PCOS), Mr. Lively noticed a marked difference in me. And it wasn’t a good one.
While I thought that having my period only four times a year would be wonderful, what really happened was far from it. For six weeks I had huge mood swings and emotional melt-downs. Though I’ve definitely had mood swings on PMS in the past, this was on a different level. And instead of just getting upset about something (usually not worth that a Class One freak out), I got angry.
And though I might be prone to being sensitive and stressed out, I am not prone to anger.
But that was one of the marked changes right from the get-go.
With everything in my life literally changing week by week, I was steadfast in my belief that it was stress and change that was upsetting me so much, not the pill, as Mr. Lively immediately suspected.
I assumed that birth control could not make that much of a difference in me. I was determined to take accountability for my actions. Even when they were far from normal. “It’s the move/puppy/family party preparation that’s stressful, not the pill…”
While Mr. Lively got the brunt of my reactions, I also lashed out at one of my dearest friends.
Eventually, after many melt-downs and the fall out with my friend, I called the doctors office and asked them if there could be any correlation to my freak outs and new prescription. The nurse assured me that I was not crazy, and that I indeed was most likely experiencing a negative side effect from the pills and urged me to wait out a full cycle. Which for my prescription was 12 weeks. She assured me that the symptoms would most likely subside as the weeks wore on.
Knowing that I could have intensely negative outbursts for another eight weeks was devastating. I finally had the humility to realize that I could not “proactivate” my way out of my emotions only to realize that it would continue to be this way for two more months.
Rather than do nothing, or act like it wasn’t really affecting me (like I did early on), I did the one thing that seemed to help: I ran every other day. And while I’m not stranger to running, it’s been a part of my life since cross country in high school, my running routine lately has been one of the most inspired of my life. Each run helped me feel just a little less likely to have an unwelcome meltdown.
I’m happy to say that the running routine paired with time did help the massive mood swings and anger. Meanwhile I still continued to experience a fair share of anxiety, low libido, and a bit of acne.
However, the past nine days the mood swings (including a dozy on Christmas night) have returned and I have since decided to return to my original prescription once this cycle ends, this weekend.
As you can imagine, I am beyond relieved to be going back to my old pill which was stable for several years.
But the fallout from the past three months has taken it’s toll. After my reactions over the past nine days I find myself at a pretty drained place. Emotionally I have taxed myself to the max. I feel immense remorse for my previous behavior and though I now recognize it was somewhat outside my control, I still am the one that said what I said and acted the way I’ve acted.
Though I’m thankful to say Mr. Lively has been incredibly patient with me through this process, it has hurt my dear friendship (which I hope to repair going forward), my confidence in myself (it’s hard to feel good about oneself when one feels out of control of reactions), and my confidence in my career.
But regardless of all the negative that I’ve shared, I have found a few silver linings and spiritual opportunities.
One, is that I have a renewed humility about myself. As I go into 2013 I have wiped clean any self-importance and have a fresh, humble perspective on myself and my future. I have to let go of what I have done poorly, and forgive myself for those negative egoic outbursts.
And I similarly trust that any of the blessings that come my way going forward are also not completely within my control. I can celebrate them without claiming that my ego was the main cause. Great things can happen through me, but they aren’t originating from my ego, so my egoic sense of self shouldn’t get the credit.
If I can absorb this lesson completely, it will be a profound turning point. Though it is hard to understand why such a difficult time in my life happened, the fact that I have this new level of openness and humility is incredible. Though I’ve never been completely wrapped up in myself before, I now truly feel like an empty vessel. Which is a wonderful state to be in, one that Buddhism encourages.
Further, in regards to how this phase of my life will influence my consulting and workshops. I now understand that if this situation in any way feels like it is hindering you from knowing me, then it is not something that would truly help my vocation.
I also now realize that what I went through is something that others may have gone through, or something some of you may yet experience (though I pray that not be the case). And if this story can help others reject the “I can am always in control of my reactions, not matter what else might be at play hormonally” idea, that is a good thing.
Though proactivity is incredibly powerful, it is not powerful enough to always overcome an intense hormonal reaction.
And it is also a story that shares my own humanity, life lessons, and challenges. I don’t promise to be a guru with my life together perfectly. That’s not why someone should work with me or come to the upcoming workshops. What I do offer is a true, honest, and hopefully helpful depiction of what an intentional life can look like.
Not only will I share the challenges I face, but also how I overcome them or work through them, like I have today. Plus, I have a new found compassion and empathy for others who face similar situations.
I don’t need to be in perfect harmony every day my life to help others in significant ways. I just need to be myself, share my story, and be of service.
Thank you for listening.
PS – For some comic relief, please enjoy this relevant SNL clip.