Depression is something that nobody likes talking about, but it's such an important topic in the chronic illness community. Depression alone is a chronic illness and can also accompany other chronic illnesses like endometriosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, PCOS, fibromyalgia, as well as others. The National Institute of Mental Health states, "depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working". The National Institute of Mental Health estimates "17.3 million adults in the United States had at least on major depressive episode in 2017". The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says "depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide". Children can also suffer with depression. Signs and symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health include:
I know what it's like to feel this dark cloud over you and your life, thinking it's never going to get better. I have struggled the most with the after effects of having a hysterectomy. Choosing to have a hysterectomy was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I always thought I would be able to get pregnant on my own to have a family. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed or interact with people. I wanted to isolate myself and kind of did for a while. The world has put the expectation on women that they are to get pregnant and have children. This makes women feel like if they can't or simply don't want to, they are inadequate as women. This is NOT the truth. If you feel this way, please know that you are MORE than your ability to have children and if you don't want to have children, that's your choice and it's okay if you don't want to have kids. Because of my struggles with my feelings/depression, I made the decision to go to counseling/therapy and have been going for about four years. It has helped me learn to cope with my feelings of having a different life than I thought I would because of chronic illness.
I want you to know that you are not alone. YOU matter. YOUR life matters. YOU are important. YOU are loved. YOU are worth it. Please reach out to someone if you need to talk or need help. It's okay to talk about your feelings and depression. It's important that we do so we can help each other and end the stigma.
I hope you find this helpful. Sending hugs and love.
Have you seen commercials or ads promoting birth control delivered to your home for free with most insurances without seeing a doctor?
Even though I'm no longer on birth control because I had a hysterectomy five years ago, I think it's important to talk about why it could be a terrible idea to have birth control pills delivered to your home without a prescription or with interacting with a medical professional online. I understand people don't want to spend time or money seeing a doctor or want to walk into a pharmacy, but this could lead to many problems.
Doctors perform medical exams that have been required for years before they would prescribe birth control pills. There are different types of birth controls available on the market today, so how does a person choose which one is best for them without medical assistance? Pharmacists are trained in medication interactions and potentially side effects. If people aren't required to pick up their birth control as prescriptions in a traditional pharmacy, how will they be able to get medical assistance from those who are knowledgeable and spend years in school to learn this information?
What about those of us who have chronic illnesses like endometriosis, PCOS, and adenomyosis? What if we try a birth control that makes our symptoms worse? What if we experience side effects like a blood clot? Will our traditional doctors still see us even though they didn't prescribe the birth control we are currently taking or will their ego get in the way?
I feel like these are all relevant questions that we should be having as the birth control market looks like its transitioning from requiring prescriptions to anyone being able to purchase birth control over the counter.
The Pill Club
With The Pill Club, you can use your existing prescription or get a new one from one of their doctors. Everything is done online from the consultation to filling the prescription. They also advertise free gifts.
This article was published by the NY Times and details what someone saw at Nurx while working there https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/26/technology/nurx-birth-control-pills-online-womens-health.html
Nurx is a company that sells prescription drugs online, which to me is red flag number 1. Prescription medications, in my opinion, should not be able to be purchased online without interacting with a medical professional in person. There is a reason there are federal and state laws in place to regulate prescription drug sales. He said he had no pharmacy training and that they kept inventory of these prescription birth controls just like a pharmacy does. He also said that their priority was growth.
Since this article, Nurx published its own article about these claims that were made. I understand they are trying to have affordable care for everyone, which is important. I believe everyone should have access to healthcare; it should be a human right. In the article, they state that a pharmacist is part of their team, which I think is beneficial. But what about patient examinations? In the article, they do say that they turn patients away if they feel they aren't a good fit for telemedicine. What if someone just thinks they have heavy periods and haven't been diagnosed with a disease? Will they be turned away or prescribed birth control via telemedicine?
Here is the article: https://medium.com/@Nurx/setting-the-record-straight-34d01beffa37
Doctors can now see patients online, but couldn't this dangerous? I can understand seeing a therapist/counselor online as this can be very beneficial for patients. But how do you see a gynecologist online? Should any doctor be able to prescribe birth control, especially to patients that have chronic illnesses like endometriosis, PCOS, and adenomyosis?
According to GoodRx, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Washington D.C no longer require a prescription to get birth control.
This gives people easier access to purchase. Should anyone be able to buy any type of birth control over the counter? This could mean insurance won't be billed and the cost would be out of pocket.
What are your thoughts on this? Leave them below!
I hope you find this information helpful.
(picture from simplehealth.com/blog)
Samantha Bowick, MPH is the author of "Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options" and "Living with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency" as well as a fellow sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses and patient advocate.