It’s been four months and twenty four days since I went off the contraceptive pill, but for the purpose of a short and concise title, I’ll say five. I was going to save this post for the sixth month mark but I’ve been getting so many messages regarding how I’m doing since coming off, that I thought I’d do a post a bit earlier.
It’s been almost five months since I removed the contraceptive pill from my life. Five months of learning about my body, of accepting my flaws (trying to) and embracing my womanhood. One hundred and thirty nine days of trial and error, of figuring out what works for my body and what doesn’t. It’s been a series of emotional breakdowns but also emotional triumphs where I’ve felt more in control of my body and mind than I ever felt on the pill. I am learning about my skin, about what contributes to the breakouts, and what helps clear them up. I’ve even made it to the point where I don’t cover every pimple before I go out, because I really don’t give a fuck if anyone sees them.
But let’s go back to my first month off the pill; January. I started on my post-pill detox regime immediately. Nothing really changed; my skin was still clear, and I got my period exactly a month later. I downloaded an app called Flo, which tracks your entire cycle. It’s really useful because it also helps you record your ‘symptoms’ such as period pains and acne. Based on the information you give it, it analyses and calculates an estimated date for when you start ovulating and when your period will start. It’s like a calendar on steroids!
February came and went with no pimples to report, just a very delayed period. By the time my period was ten days late, I thought it could be one of two things; I was suffering from amenorrhea – an abnormal absence of menstruation, or I was pregnant. Thank goodness it was neither because I got it a few days after. I did some research and apparently my first period post pill was a ‘withdrawal’ period and the one after that was in fact my first natural period.
March was my birthday month so I didn’t follow my post pill detox regime as strictly as I had during the months before. I drank a lot of alcohol, ate a lot of crap, and suffered the consequences. I broke out all along my forehead and neck. What kept me from freaking out was knowing why it was happening and how I could fix it. I started the detox again, and the pimples gradually faded away.
I have been shedding more hair now; I’ve read that this is a common side-effect of coming off the pill, but your hair growth should return to normal once your hormone levels have balanced out. Another symptom of hormone imbalance is an itchy scalp. My scalp got crazy-itchy, to the point where it burned from me scratching it so much. I initially thought that it could just be a dry scalp condition; it was my first couple months in Joburg and I thought my skin wasn’t used to the dryness and it will get better over time. For a while it didn’t. I’d get Dan to check my scalp for dandruff or flakes, especially because I had been scratching so much. There was no dandruff and he said my scalp looked perfect; it wasn’t even inflamed. So I researched it, and apparently it’s because of a lot of things, including hormone imbalance. The itchiness has subsided now, but I try do a coconut oil treatment on my scalp and neck at least once every two weeks.
April brought Easter and chocolate eggs; I can’t bring myself to abstain from Beacon’s white, hard-shelled chocolate eggs. I mean, you only get one chance a year to buy them! So I over-indulged in sugary treats and once again got myself a breakout on my forehead and neck. It’s quite amazing to see just how quickly your body responds to a bad diet, which is what most of the Western world has. Fast food, sugary drinks, too many animal products, and then we wonder why we’re overweight and suffer from acne.
May was a stressful month. Money was tight so supplements were a luxury. I went without zinc for two weeks, and without probiotics for three months. I’ve maintained a monthly vitamin B Complex injection, and lemon water in the morning is an essential (and affordable). I haven’t been exercising as much as I should, but have recently been going for morning runs which I’m starting to enjoy.
There are moments like right now where I have no dietary reason for breaking out, but am breaking out nonetheless. Sometimes it’s unavoidable during the first year off the pill. I took the following pictures last week but didn’t have the time to post them. They are unedited images of how my skin looked a week ago, five days before my period started. I originally didn’t want to post them because I felt very vulnerable and exposed. It’s difficult for me to let my guard down and share something that I’ve spent so many years being ashamed of. But I have a lot of self-love and I know that my skin does not define me. I have never had a low self esteem and I’m not about to start now. So here it is world, eat your heart out!
My forehead has fallen victim to many breakouts, but mostly due to poor diet. According to Chinese face mapping, a breakout on your forehead is due to issues with your digestive tract and intestines, because of difficulty in breaking down certain food groups such as sugary foods. It is also due to stress; Dan and I are travelling to Europe soon and up until Monday I really thought we weren’t going to be able to go because of all the visa issues we were experiencing. Dan luckily received his today but I haven’t, so the stress continues.
These two pimples on my neck are the worst yet. They appeared out of nowhere. Seriously, this happened overnight.
And who can forget, backne? I have a terrible habit; I pick. Whether I’m reading a book, watching a movie, or talking to someone, I pick and scratch my lower neck and back. I’m doing it right now while I type this blog post. It’s terrible and I constantly have to tell myself to stop. It’s worse when I’m stressed. This is the worst it’s been so far, and hopefully the worst it will get.
I haven’t written much about my periods, or anything related. Truthfully, there’s not much to tell. I’ve had pretty regular periods, and with the help of Flo, I can usually predict when they will arrive. My periods have actually remained quite light and only last four days. But this can change with time, and I’ll be sure to update you. I’m fortunate to not suffer from cramps, backaches or PMS. I do get the occasional swollen breasts, but other than that it’s been no different to being on the pill. I actually experienced all those symptoms I just mentioned, as well as bloating and fatigue while I was on the pill!
With regards to my anxiety and sanity, I feel like I’m more in control of my emotions and I often talk and rationalise with myself which I couldn’t do before. I still feel down sometimes (who doesn’t?), but I’ve learned to talk myself through it, and if I can’t, Dan definitely will. I can’t explain it as well as I wish I could, but it’s almost like someone has defogged my mind.
I hope this post answers all your questions. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please get in contact with me! Comment, send me an email, message me on Instagram, anything, I’d be happy to help!