Here is my Depo Story.
I would like it to remain anonymous.
On March 1, 2015, at 31 years old, I went in to Planned Parenthood planning on getting an IUD. Due to a mistake made by the call center, that scheduled my appointment at the wrong location, no one was available to give me an IUD that day. But they suggested I sit with a nurse for a hormone coaching session or something along those lines. They said that way when I come back to get the IUD, I would be all set to go. I talked to the nurse for about 20 minutes. I told her I was interested in the IUD because I wanted Low Hormone birth control and it seemed like the best fit from the research I did online. She wanted to discuss all of my options with me so she went over all the other types of birth control available. I felt like the appointment was coming to a close and she asked what I was planning to do for birth control for the next month until I got the IUD. I said condoms, which is what I have been doing for years up to this point and has been working just fine for me. She insisted that she though the Depo Provera shot would be a perfect option for me in the meantime. She said it would probably stop my period for a few months and was effective for 3 months so I could just schedule my appointment to get the IUD then. She said it was controversial because it caused osteoporosis in women who used it for several years. But since I was only going to get one shot I had nothing to worry about. She said I could possibly have some light spotting a day or two but that would be it. She made it sound so good there was no reason not to do it. She gave me two papers to sign when she left the room to get the shot, I did not not read them. Oh how I wish I could go back!! I was on state funded healthcare at the time and I believe they must have gotten some sort of kickback for getting me to take Depo. I can think of no other reason why they would insist Depo is a good option for someone who clearly stated they were interested in low hormone birth control.
The first thing I noticed within 48 hours of getting the shot was my sex drive completely disappeared, I lost all lubrication down there and sex became excruciating. For some reason I didn't immediately associate this with the shot. Next, within a week of getting the shot I started to have extreme anxiety. I could not relax. I did not even realize it was anxiety at first because it was nothing like anything I had ever experienced before. Just getting in my car and driving a few minutes from home I would start shaking and my heart would be pounding out of my chest because everything was making me nervous. I became constipated. Extremely constipated. Then the sweating started. Night sweats. I would wake up in the middle of the night and it was like someone dumped a bucket of water on me. This would happen over and over again throughout the night. Hot flashes. They started to come so frequently I was just profusely sweating all of the time. The anxiety was so intense I could barely eat. I lost 20 pounds in the first month after the shot. Being naturally thin to begin with i was now looking skeletal and sickly. I started wheezing when I breathed and I was coughing up large chunks of phlegm every day. Then the nightmares started. The most terrifying dreams I had ever had in my life. Dreams that were so disturbing I couldn't believe they were created in my own head. Then Sleep Paralysis. I started waking up in the middle of my dreams, paralyzed and utterly terrified, still hallucinating my dreams while awake. I spent all day in a state of extreme anxiety and had panic attacks all night. I started leaving my lights on at night terrified of the nightmares. I slept with my lights on for an entire year after Depo.
A little less than a month after the shot I started bleeding. It was the heaviest most painful period I had ever had. I was vomiting at night because of the pain. On Easter Day, the 20th day of the heaviest period of my life, I went to the ER because it showed no signs of stopping and was now passing massive blood clots. After waiting hours to see someone the doctor quickly told me I was suffering from a heavy period caused by the depo. He denied many of the other symptoms I was experiencing would be caused by the shot. Just the heavy bleeding. A few days later, after doing research online and starting to completely panic that things were going very very wrong I called Planned Parenthood again. I got the same woman at he call center who booked my original appointment. I told her what was happening and she said "oh yeah, with depo heavy bleeding happens like that sometimes." She said it was normal. Why on earth did the nurse not tell me this?!? I said I felt like I should go in to see a doctor because I thought something was very wrong and she said there was no point because a doctor couldn't examine we while I was bleeding so I should just wait until it stopped. My bleeding did not stop for a single second for 6 months.
I continued to do research online and I was now furious with Planned Parenthood for giving me the shot to begin with, and then for reacting the way they did when I called for help. I searched for another doctor to help. A friend of mine knew a doctor who said they had had 2 or 3 clients who had had negative reactions to depo and they could help. I was so excited to go see her. I was shocked by my weight in the office that day. I was withering down to nothing. At this point the extreme anxiety had turned into unbearable suicidal depression. I had no idea how to communicate what had happened to me mentally and emotionally other that I felt like if you have an on and off switch inside, someone had just turned me off. I felt like a zombie, completely dead inside. Suicidal thoughts and thoughts of death repeated in my head non-stop. And the thought, 'you will never be the same." When the doctor walked in the room I started shaking uncontrollably and crying hysterically. She did her best to calm me down. She said this could happen with depo. My body could't handle it and my hormones were basically in "shock." She explained to be what happens when you have such a massive does of Progestins, how it effects all the other hormones. She examined me. She said she was confident that she would be able to get the bleeding to stop with the pill. The introduction of estrogen would balance things out. She wrote me a prescription for the pill and also suggested something for the anxiety and depression. I was very conflicted because I wanted the anxiety to STOP, but I also didn't want to just cover up symptoms of the terrible poison that was in my body. I wanted to know for sure exactly what was happening to me. I said no to the antidepressants but was completely conflicted on weather it was the right choice. I have a history if migraines with Aura. I had written this in my medical history and told the nurse about it. It is a contraindication for taking the pill, it could potentially cause a stroke. It is the reason I was not taking the pill in the first place. I figured the doctor know this but in this case it was ok to take it considering the circumstances. Just to be sure I asked her as I was walking out that it was ok for me to take the pill with my history of migraines. She said she had missed that on my chart and taking the pill was absolutely not an option for me. I was crushed, I thought I was going home with a solution but we had gotten nowhere. She said we were out of time and to schedule another appointment.
A few weeks later when I came back I was at this point two months in to my anxious, suicidal, sleep deprived, sweaty, blood clot, hemorrhaging, phlegm spewing nightmare. They gave me a checklist of symptoms when I walked in asking what I was experiencing. I don't remember what they were but I checked almost every single one. Heart racing, Heart palpitations, shortness of breath, constipation, a tremor, major weight change. And on and on. When they took me back they said since I had checked so many boxes the nurses had to run a lot of tests on me. An EKG among other things. Everything came out fine. When the doctor came in her attitude since last time had completely changed. She said that since I had checked so many boxes on the intake form they had to run all of those tests and now we were out of time. She said she had discussed my options with me last time I was in the office and now it was up to me to figure out what I wanted to do. In my head I was thinking, No you discussed an option with me, the pill, that wasn't even an option. She angrily said that Depo would not cause the anxiety and depression I was describing, she said "it may make those conditions worse, It would not cause them, you must have been like this before the shot." I absolutely was not! I asked her how long the bleeding could last and she said that it could last for as long as a year and there was nothing that they could do about it. I left the office crying hysterically and threw up when I got to my car.
I demanded a second opinion and waited weeks for this appointment only to meet a doctor who said from what they have read the first doctor did all they could do. They also doubted many of my symptoms were tied to depo. So did the next 5 doctors I went to.
I had to majorly cut back on work. I was sweating all over my clients, shaking, looked like a skeleton with two black eyes from losing so much blood. Somebody told me of a bio identical hormone specialist who worked with women going through menopause. I thought maybe he could help. He admitted he had never had a client in my situation and had no experience but he believed everything I told him and he insisted he was going to do some research and find a way to help. His office called me to check up on me for weeks after the appointment, and always said he was looking into options for me and hadn't come up with anything yet, and then they stopped calling or returning my calls.
My relationship I was in going into this, the reason I got the shot in the first place, ended. He said he had not asked for this and it wasn't fair to him. I was jealous he had the option to leave. I had not asked for this and it wasn't fair to ME. I wished I could just leave. I wanted to.
About 4 months after the shot the extreme anxiety lessened just a little. I would say i was finally not in a state of constant panic. But I was still profoundly depressed. I felt completely incapable of feeling anything positive. A beautiful sunset, a funny joke, a good book, nothing could make me feel anything. The only feelings I could feel were hopelessness, fear, dread, deep sorrow....and now anger and Rage. I started to experience anger like never before. I could fly into a rage in an instant. I never knew anger before like I have known anger after Depo.
The bleeding lasted 6 months. It was such a relief when it finally stopped. It was so heavy I was wearing diapers and laying pregnancy pads on my bed. And still managing to get blood stains on every single pair of underwear, pants and sheets and blankets I had. I slipped on my tile floor and twisted my knee when a gush of blood came out and ran down my legs all the way to my feet in an instant.
I spent the rest of the year deeply depressed, extremely angry and obsessively researching Depo. The next few years I moved several times and every time I moved to a new place I would try a new doctor to see if they could help or would listen. But I was always met with doctors who were extremely skeptical that just one shot would have the effects that it did. Some would do a lot of expensive bloodwork in the end to tell me I'm fine. I can not say how many times I was told you don't need a doctor you need therapy.
Four years post Depo, I started researching again online and found the book The Dangers of Depo. I drove a very long way to see Dr. Poppy Daniels. Still feeling like a shell of my former self and like my life would never, ever be the same. I would never be the same. She diagnosed me with Hashimoto's and a hormone imbalance, put my on thyroid meds and bio identical hormones. I would say in the past year since seeing Dr. Poppy I feel like I am making some progress, its a very slow crawl, but forward movement non the less. It is more than anyone else has offered me.
I can't even begin to say the things depo stole from me. I think of my life as pre and post depo. Myself as two different people. I cut myself off from the world, gave up on any sort of social life or romantic life. This birth control given to me so that I could have sex, took sex away from me for YEARS! I'm still praying it won't be forever. I used to run marathons and travel the world and move to far away places on a whim, go on crazy adventures. I have now moved home, don't leave the house very often and just try to focus all fo my energy on maintaining an extremely healthy diet and keeping a calm mind. Trying to find a way to accept that this is my life now. This is who I am, what is left of me. It feels like a full time job trying to maintain balance and health. My relationships with most of my friends have ended and my family relationships have been severely strained. I am terrified of trying to go out and find a romantic partner. I feel like damaged goods.
I have medical debt in the thousands and health insurance won't cover the care that I need.
People say you should appreciate everything that happens to you, the good and the bad, all things happen for a reason. All experiences teach you something. You should have no regrets. I don't know how I will ever stop regretting Depo. Going to Planned Parenthood that day. Letting that nurse talk me into a dangerous medication that was in no way necessary.
I knew a woman once, before my Depo experience, who had always been talking about a drug she had been given years ago that changed her life forever. She talked about it obsessively. She was so angry about it, always talked about wanting to sue the drug manufacturers and the doctor who gave it to her. She seemed a little crazy to me. She drank too much and just did strange obsessive things. I believed her that the drug hurt her but I always thought she should just get over it, move on, let it go. It shouldn't still be a problem so many years later. Now I think about her often. And how I judged her. And it's the same way now how others are probably judging me.
WE NEED TO START LISTENING TO WOMEN ABOUT THEIR HEALTH AND THEIR BODIES! Women hold so much more wisdom than our healthcare system is giving us credit for. We are being poisoned, ignored and, to ad insult to injury, told we are crazy. THIS NEEDS TO STOP! It is destroying so many lives.