kill pill: part nine – treasure chest
This week’s column is dedicated to things that have been helpful during the first two months off the pill. No need to go chasing the end of the rainbow – a pot of gold can be found right here.
1. Sweetening the Pill: How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control by Holly Grigg-Spall
You’ll want to burn your pill packets and prescriptions after reading this one. It’s a slap in the face; it’s a laugh at your own expense; it’s an almighty reality check.
Grigg-Spall’s book clearly and simply lays out reasons to go off the pill. Chapter headings include: “The Drug”, “What You Don’t Know”, “The Addict”, “The Fallout” and “Corestry”. It questions the pill from every angle and encourages the exploration of drug-free alternatives. In fact, it’s more than a little encouragement in this direction; it’s like a marching band to the doorstep of Pill-Free-Dom: bells, whistles, drums, brass instruments, uniforms, colours and all.
2. Communicate with your partner (if you have one)
This is a must. In fact, it’s an “unavoidable” for those in sexually active Couple-Dom. Patience, communication and a harnessing of core values is at hand and this can’t be done alone. Speaking with my partner about the choice to go pill-free and why has been an essential part of getting through – and making sense of – the last couple of months. Looking at what we can explore sexually sans penis-vagina sex, however, isn’t always done through “speaking”. This area has been more about discovering how to meet each other’s needs without words. I’m a wordy girl, but being open to all modes of communication – physical, spiritual, emotional – has felt very nourishing and worthwhile.
3. Chatting with mum
I’d highly recommend this if it feels appropriate. Through exploring the historical, social and personal context of our birth control choices, mum and I have learnt a lot about each other, as women. We’re very different people. While mummy dearest takes a pill for any discomfort she experiences, I choose to weep at childhood photographs and drink Blessed Thistle. Discussions about these aspects of who we are, over our diametrically opposed breakfast choices – ricotta hotcakes versus super food salads – has helped to cultivate a very deep, mutual respect between us.
Feeling worthy of taking up space and having that said space respected is a huge part of this experience. So, buckle up! Because we’re talking Major Arcana cards here, baby, and meditation makes up the stars in the Empress’s crown. For me, meditation comes in a great many forms. There’s the Sitting Still and Silent For Up to 20-Minutes-a-Day kind, there’s the Visualisation kind, the Making a Cup of Tea With Presence kind, the Eternal State of Gratitude and Living Consciously kinds… The latter two have been the most “effective” lately, though I do like to dabble in the others regularly. But being awake to and appreciative of each moment – confronting, joyous, absurd, ugly, ridiculous, healing – has felt like the quintessential remedy to a great many ills.
5a. The Secret Language of Your Body by Inna Segal
5b. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
Segal’s book is an empowering tool to have on-hand when any physical issue arises, not just those that are post-pill-related. Her writing on the mind/body/spirit connection provides phenomenal insight into the effect that beliefs and behavioural patterns have on overall wellbeing. A few years ago I conducted an experiment on myself – something I am quite prone to doing – and cured some serious knee problems by meditating on “flexibility” and “forgiveness” (which both she and Louise Hay recommend doing) while running everyday for three weeks on cement. The pain in both knees stopped. And since going off the pill, these women’s wise instructions have been a guiding light. When a headache has come on, making time to cry has helped to relieve it. When I’ve been gassy, expressing myself verbally to someone I trust has made things less… smelly. When I’ve seen colours while meditating, I become aware of what area of my life may need some attention (thanks to Segal’s exploration of chakras and chakra colours). Don’t necessarily cancel the appointment with your health practitioner, but make time to meditate, laugh or to cry first and see what happens.
6. Chat with friends / any woman / man open to the discussion
The people around you help to shape the relationship you’re developing with yourself, without the pill. Initially I was frightened of others’ perspectives on this because I was worried that I’d need to defend my own relatively non-existent stance before I was ready to. But being exposed to others’ experiences has been an important reminder of how many different possibilities there are when it comes to contraception and fertility. And the simple act of listening can be enough. I spoke to men who were sure that they’d never slept with women on the pill. I spoke with friends who had never been off the pill, they were born on it – or by god they wish they were – and they had zero plans to change that. Their runes were read and they said “Yaz”. I spoke with women who had never taken the pill or did for a month, then stopped. Some fell pregnant off it, others didn’t. Some fell pregnant on it, others didn’t.
7. Flaxseeds & flaxseed oil (it’s actually linseed, FYI)
Flaxseed oil contains heaps of omega fatty acids and some seriously important B vitamins, which the pill strips the body of and makes it almost impossible to absorb from external sources. For more information on supplements, please look up Dr Kelly Brogan, Dr Jolene Brighten and Fertility Friday.
8. Facial steams
Hot water, a bowl, a couple of drops of essential oil, a towel, ten minutes, and you’re in business. This is great as a form of meditation and is very clearing for your skin if it’s congested. Mine has been come week nine of this adventure and I’m steaming everyday. Apparently vaginal steaming exists, too. That might be more of a week nineteen or ninety experience, but then again…
9. Rule nothing out
Vaginal steaming, vibrators, meditations, books, friends, family, lunar cycles, apps, magazines, podcasts, Facebook pages, going slow, going fast, eating, not eating, sleeping, not sleeping, exercising, not exercising… The choice to go off the pill is the choice to venture into unknown territory, so make it your own and deny yourself nothing.
This is by far the brightest treasure of them all.
Disclaimer: Consult your local sexual and reproductive health clinic or GP before going hormonal contraceptive free. The views espoused in this article are that of the author and not Lip Magazine.