“I want to find myself and find my inner peace and happiness,” I wrote in my journal one day. “But how will I do that? What will I change and how will I know if I’m doing it right?” I thought about it some more and added, “—only I can do that!” I had to stop blaming other people and my circumstances. It was time to make changes to set me on a journey to become who I was meant to be.
I’m changing a lot of things in my life right now, and it’s a little hard. My recent changes make me feel somewhat overwhelmed—but in a good way. I know what I’m doing is not only better for me but for my family as well. Even though the changes are tough and sometimes downright unpleasant, I am happily committed to doing them. There are still a lot of things that I need to change, but that’s a work in progress. Baby steps.
I’m realizing that what I put into my body really affects not only my physical, but also my emotional health. After years of stomach issues and unresolved medical diagnoses, I’ve changed my diet. After realizing how great I felt afterward, I decided to change my smoking habit too. It’s been three weeks now since I last had a cigarette. It hasn’t been the easiest, but I am doing very well with it.
The biggest change I’ve made is learning how to use a fertility awareness method (FAM). I’ve been on practically every type of hormonal birth control for the past fourteen years. It’s never really been a pleasant experience—for me the side effects were horrible. One doctor told me that the Mirena IUD had given me cervical scarring that might prevent me from having children in the future. After I had the Implanon rod put in my arm, I bled for nine months straight. The Depo-Provera shot gave me terrible nausea and cramping. I felt depressed and didn’t have any energy.
I was sick of all the side effects I was experiencing, so I decided to explore other options. I was told that hormonal birth control could help protect against some forms of cancer, but no one told me that research suggests it also could increase the risk of breast, cervical, and liver cancer. Hormonal birth control is also linked to increased risk of depression.
I was also not aware that fertility awareness methods—which involve charting your body’s biological indicators of fertility so that you know when you are ovulating—are scientific and effective if done right. The sympto-thermal method, the method that I use, is as effective as most birth control pills (99.6 percent effective).The modern methods used today are different from the old calendar or rhythm methods which were used in the past and were not very effective. Plus, there is help available. Places like FEMM offer training and support to women who want to switch from hormonal birth control to a natural method. I like that this method has helped me to understand my body and hormones better.
Now that I’ve been off birth control for a couple of months, I feel more clear headed about things. I am not getting as stressed out or suffering from anxiety like I used to. Getting off hormonal birth control has made a real difference in my mental health. I no longer cry all the time. People who are close to me have noticed the difference in my mood. I wouldn’t have thought that my journey to finding inner peace and happiness would include these kinds of changes—but given that our bodies, hormones, minds, and emotions are so connected, it makes sense to me.