This story is anecdotal, and the author is not a physician. For more medical information on the IUD, you can visit Planned Parenthood, and you should discuss contraception with your doctor.
I recently came across a story entitled "I Love My IUD" on this site. I read xoJane every day and am inspired by the courageous and, at times, jaw dropping things women so openly share. But when I saw "I Love My IUD," I felt like vomiting.
I, too, loved the idea of an IUD. Birth control for 5 years without having to remember to take a pill? Hell yes! Sign me up. I had a Mirena put in as soon as I could get in to my lady doctor. That's when things got bad.
Around the time I had my IUD implanted, I started having trouble at work. That is a whole other story. Let's just say it was a "Devil Wears Prada" situation, but my devil bought her shoes at Payless. I began having massive, vomit-inducing panic attacks. I would stay in my bed for days and missed so much work that the devil called a meeting with HR to berate me about it.
Each night, I woke up feeling like I was having a heart attack. My doctor's solution was to put me on so many benzodiazepines that I was a walking zombie. I'm sure that was fun for my husband and 5-year-old-son. Then one morning, after my usual early morning pseudo heart attack and vomiting session, I began to cry -- sob, actually. I couldn't stop. My husband freaked. He called my mother. She came to our home and sat on the bed with me and held my hand. They both pried at me with questions but I couldn't stop crying long enough to answer them.
I was whisked in to see a counselor -- the same counselor I'd been seeing on and off since high school. She suggested it would be good for me to get away. Wouldn't I like that? To escape for a while? I feebly nodded my head in agreement. Anything but my current situation.
Soon, I was on an airplane to New Mexico. As I descended the escalator, a woman stood at the bottom holding a sign with my first name on it. I felt like a celebrity -- that is, until I saw the junker van she drove. There was no radio in the car, so she had a boom box with big, metal bunny ears to provide us with some tunes as we made our way up in to the mountains. The scenery was beautiful -- breathtaking Aspen trees turning gold set against lush green mountains.
We arrived at the facility. It was a small drug rehabilitation center that housed 17 at the most. Why a drug treatment center? Because my options were a full-on lock down psychiatric ward where they dope you up with more meds or a drug rehab center nestled in the mountains of New Mexico where we got to do yoga and received weekly massages. Not a tough choice. Also, after speaking with the intake coordinator at the New Mexico facility, I was assured that whether I was a drug addict or not (and let me be clear that I am not), all those problems stemmed from the same place. We all had the same issues deep down. I bought that theory whole-heartedly.
I went on to spend a month in this facility. I was surrounded by meth and cocaine addicts. My roommate drank Listerine at work to get drunk. Outside of this facility, I would have looked down on these people. Here, I embraced them. However, I lied to them. I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone but my roommate that I was addicted to nothing except worrying. I attended an AA and NA meeting once, sometimes twice daily, and at each meeting, I would say "My name is Lyndsay and I'm an addict." I was a fraud.
I have so much more to write about my time in rehab. It was beautiful. The people were beautiful. It was heartbreaking and sad.
I came home. I went back to work. The devil was even more devil-like. I took more extended time off. I just couldn't get out of the cycle of anxiety and worry. I was literally crippled by it. I felt like it hit me out of nowhere and I couldn't shake it.
Then one night, my husband sat down next to me on the couch and said, "You know, I've been thinking about it and your troubles with anxiety began right about when they put your IUD in." I looked at him like he was crazy. My IUD was to blame for the past year of hell? I opened my laptop and did a quick search of Mirena and anxiety. I sat in quiet awe of the thousands of posts by women who had mentally tanked after their IUD insertion. But how could this be? I had told four doctors that I had an IUD. Surely they would have caught it and brought it up as a possible cause if there was any science to support it. Right?
I called my lady doctor right away. Luckily, I graduated high school with her, so I have her cell phone number. She told me that no, she didn't think that my IUD was causing me this trouble, but if I wanted, she would do it first thing in the morning. So now I was up to 5 doctors telling me that my IUD wouldn't cause life-crippling anxiety.
I had it taken out the next day. Was it immediate relief? No. But within one week, my anxiety had decreased a bit. By two weeks, my anxiety was cut in half. After a full month of having the IUD out of my system, my anxiety was completely under control and I was back to my normal, pre-IUD self. I made adjustments at work to remove myself from the presence of the Devil. I became a wife and mother again after being mentally absent for a very long time.
Not too long ago, a co-worker asked me to lunch. She was curious why I had missed three months of work the previous year followed by two months of work early in this year. I told her my story and explained about the IUD. She looked back at me in awe.
"The same thing happened to me," she said. Well, she didn't go bat shit crazy and spend a month in a New Mexico rehab, but she became severely depressed and had suicidal ideation. Then she had the IUD removed and she immediately returned to her pre-IUD happy, productive self.
For every story I hear of women who love their IUD and haven't had a period or cramps in five years or had to worry about getting pregnant, I wonder what woman is lurking in the shadows, her life falling apart, not even aware that it might be because of her choice of birth control.