Jo Eckersley: We need to talk about the pill

  • 2 min read

A recent study has indicated hormonal contraception can be linked to depression. Jo Eckersley, who works for Sheffield Flourish, describes how she felt on reading this news story.

The pill

When I saw the recent news that there’s a link between taking the pill and depression I wasn’t surprised, because I remember what state I was in the last time I took it.

I went on the pill for about four months back in 2014, when I was going through a bit of a difficult time. My group of friends was disintegrating, and I’d rented a room in London for £600 a month that I couldn’t even stand up in. When my electricity blew the only way to get light was to feed an extension cord from the front room through my bedroom door. I’d lie awake, stressed and upset, with the sound of Top Gear blasting through the chink in my door. Clarkson does not have a therapeutic voice.  

I was finding it difficult to keep it together – I’d try and start the day positive but by about 10am I was in tears at my desk. I was stupendously lucky to have a good friend at work and an informal workplace – once I started to well up my friend would grab me by the arm and give me a stiff walk round Fitzroy Square Gardens, listening patiently to all my wailing and complaining.  

I was having a hard time, no doubt, but I couldn’t understand all the crying – constant crying, like I was born to cry, like it would never stop. So I tried to think through what had changed in my life – and eventually I realised it was the pill.

I made the (slightly extreme) decision to avoid hormones completely, and equipped myself with a copper coil. It hurt like hell at first, but after all those tears I was excited by the mere possibility of feeling better. I invited some friends to dinner to celebrate, we clinked our glasses to coils, and as the weeks added up to months things started to calm down; mentally as well as physically.

These days I make a point of talking about contraception whenever I can. The pill works for some women, but it definitely doesn’t work for everyone. I was lucky; I knew enough about the hormones to realise what they were doing to me. But, with limited advice from doctors, it can take years to self-prescribe the problem. And, there must be countless women who’ve never even thought to question the effects of their little white friend.

Related Stories