Two weeks ago I had the Mirena put in and while I was prepared for a lot of the unpleasant side effects there was one side effect that I was completely taken by surprise by and that knocked me very badly – depression and oh my word did it knock me for a sixer.
Why I Had The Mirena Put In
Since the end of 2019 I’ve had problems with my menstrual cycle – lots of TMI stuff there that I don’t feel I need to go into in this post, but it was so severe that at the beginning of 2020 my gynaecologist told me that the best option was to have a hysterectomy, I was sent home with a lot of information to think about.
Apparently there are a number of ways that a hysterectomy can be done and you can have a full hysterectomy or partial. So I was sent home to research and decide on my options. I was about to head back to the gynaecologist to put things in motion for my hysterectomy when the pandemic hit.
I was stuck with taking the pill which is what I was put on to try and control the situation until I could get a hysterectomy. The pill did help quite a bit initially but as the months went on and became a full year later it was not being very effective anymore.
When I called my gynaecologist in Cape Town at the beginning of this year to see if I could make an appointment I was greeted by a message that said he had retired. What a huge disappointment as he delivered both my babies and he is a fantastic doctor.
I made an appointment with the gynaecologist in my area that saw me in hospital when I had my miscarriage. Surgery is still not an option during covid-19 unless it is an emergency, plus my gynaecologist is not keen to do surgery unless it is absolutely necessary because I’ve had 3 3 c-sections already.
She advised that I have the Mirena put in and we made an appointment for the insertion.
What Is The Mirena?
The Mirena is a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) that provides birth control for up to 5 years. It is a T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into the uterus where it releases levonorgestrel. This thins the uterus lining and thickens mucus in the cervix making it hard for sperm to move or survive in the uterus.
Due to the fact that it thins the uterus lining it can also be used to treat heavy periods, such as in my case.
Mirena Side Effects
Before having the Mirena put in my gynaecologist explained some of the things that I would experience during and after having the Mirena put in and I also did some research on it. However I was not particularly worried because I have had the Mirena before in my twenties and while it was painful to put in I could not really remember any bad side effects.
Of course my recollection of how things were in my twenties is hardly reliable as I was in active addiction, bingeing on drugs and alcohol regularly. Thankfully I am now 12+ years clean and a very different person.
So back to the common side effects that can occur when putting in the Mirena:
- Feeling dizzy or faint during insertion and for 30 minutes afterwards
- Cramping, bleeding and pelvic pain after insertion
- Breast tenderness
Those were all the side effects that I was expecting and that I experienced.
There are also other more severe complications that can occur such as perforation, expulsion, ovarian cysts, breast cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease or other pelvic infections.
Mirena Side Effects Depression
While I experienced the common side effects, five days after having it inserted I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a bus. I was not sick, but I felt so demotivated with no energy and no enthusiasm for anything. I felt like my face would crack if I so much as tried to smile.
I’m no stranger to mental health issues since I am an addict in recovery and I have bipolar disorder (I’m on mood stabilisers). I also struggled with postnatal depression after my first child was born. The difference with the PND I had with my daughter is that it descended upon me so slowly that I was not even aware that I had depression.
This experience came out of nowhere. I went to bed feeling normal and woke up in such a bad state. It took a day or two for me to process my mindset and figure out what was happening and while going through what was different it hit me – the Mirena. When I Google the Mirena and depression I immediately hit on the problem.
While researchers disagree whether there is a link between the Mirena and depression I can say from my personal experience that there most definitely is.
Thankfully I am very aware of my mental health and when I came to realize what was happening I made a decision to contact my support network to inform them that I was struggling. I also made a decision to be kind to myself and go slow to see if the problem would resolve itself. I promised myself that if nothing improved by the next week I would go and see my doctor.
Half way through day nine after having the Mirena put in I started to feel slightly better and each day has been an improvement but I am now on day fourteen and while I am feeling so much better all the time I am not yet my normal self. I had four days of severe depression followed by five days of improving a little each day.
Natural Ways To Combat Depression
I’m not sure if I came out my depression naturally or if the tools that I have learned over the years to cope with my bipolar disorder and depression helped me to overcome this challenge. These are things that I have to do on a regular basis to keep my mental health in a good place but when I fell into this depression I made a concerted effort to up my game with these things:
- Walking – exercising and getting outside is a massive when it comes to overcoming depression. The hard part is that when you are feeling depressed you just don’t want to get out and move, so you may need to force yourself to do it in the beginning but I promise you that this will be your biggest natural weapon against depression.
- Eat healthily – what you put into your body can affect your mood. Eating badly can play havoc with depression and eating the right foods can help lift you. Stay away from sugar, preservatives and processed foods.
- Create a gentler routine for yourself – you need to find the sweet spot between pushing yourself to do some things and being kind to yourself and allowing space to rest and a bit of wallowing if you need it.
- Focus on self-care – do something that nourishes your soul. My favourite self-care thing to do is have a long bubble bath, sometimes I even do it twice a day when I’m in a bad space and it works!
- Listen to upbeat music – music can really change the way we feel, so put on your favourite upbeat tunes and if you have enough energy try dancing too.
- Journaling is a great way to help you process what you are feeling. While you may be down in the dumps and writing about those feelings try to include a gratitude list in there.
- Get enough sleep – yes it may be hard to sleep when you are feeling so down but make sure to implement a good bedtime routine for yourself and to include things that are conducive to good sleep such going to sleep at a decent time, having a bath before bed, no screen time before sleep (read a book instead), drink some chamomile tea and use lavender oil (in the bath, on a tissue on your pillow or massage your face with it).
- Smile – as much as you don’t feel like it there is proof that smiling can make you happier. So fake it till you make it.
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling. You don’t necessarily need to have a conversation about it, but just telling someone what you are going through and leaving it there can make a huge mental impact. It means you are no longer keeping it all to yourself. Telling someone will make you feel like you are not so alone. In fact it is interesting to note that with my experience I’ve shared here I shared what I was feeling with my support network (my mom, my hubby, one of my cousins and someone in my recovery group) and a few hours I started feeling better. I don’t know if that is directly related or a coincidence but it is interesting.
And lastly if you are feeling depressed and it is not going away on it’s own or your depression lasts for extended periods of time making your life very unpleasant please seek some outside help. Going for counseling does not make you a weak person or a failure in any way.
I’ve been in counseling (and some hardcore addiction treatment too) on and off for the last 13 years and it has changed my life for the better.