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Women's reproductive health, and all of the real messy parts of it, are still very much a taboo subject in mainstream media; this includes the widespread, intense side-effects caused by hormonal birth control and other contraceptives.

SUGAR PILL will work to create noise with those who have felt ashamed, broken, hurt, helpless or silenced by life-altering issues caused by contraceptives. Let’s build a community so full of support and compassion that change can be made. Pain seen as ordinary will not be tolerated.

SURVEY CLOSED: SUGAR PILL AUGUST 2019


My story

I went on birth control when I was 15.

After 5 years of an 8am alarm, clear skin, and dozens of trips to my local Rite Aid my insurance changed. This meant a new prescription - one in a pink package instead of lilac purple.

This new pill made me feel not quite like myself. In class I’d suddenly turn red as my hand would raise, I’d break into hot flashes and then cold sweats. My stomach felt bloated and queasy as soon as I’d wake-up. My body felt heavy and lethargic and nothing seemed to matter anymore.

And then I thought - wait I can stop taking these…

So then I did and I thought it was all done. (This is where the fun starts…)

After a year of no period (yup, an entire year…) and then another filled with skin changes and hormonal imbalances, I am still dealing with side-effects. The journey has felt long but I learned a lot about myself as well as gained a heightened sense of compassion for those who have dealt with hormonal and contraceptive related issues.

After going to google my first year coming off of the pill (I’d very often google “Is it okay to not have you period for X months after the pill?” hoping to commiserate with someone) I’d often fall deep into a rabbit hole of reddit posts. I realized there were others out there facing similar problems. There were also many stories that shared side-effects that were so raw and intense I was absolutely shocked. I was stunned that I wasn’t made aware of these possible side effects or heard about what many woman go through on a daily basis from mainstream media (tv shows, movies, celebrities, social media, books, etc.)

Then I thought

•Woman are so strong and powerful…

•Why is this not talked about more?

•Kind of scary how young many girls go on the pill with little to no knowledge of short/long term effects!

•Where are the studies to create more options of BC for woman with less side effects and where is MALE birth control???

•How can this tiny pill do so much damage yet also do so much good?

•How can I make art with this and increase visibility of this issue?


First steps

I reached out to a small group of 30 woman (mainly friends) asking when they started birth control, for what reasons, increase / decrease of libido, change in mental health, and if they’ve dealt with negative experiences.

I immediately received stories ranging from slight weight gain, and lowered libido to intense depression, anxiety attacks, and psychosis. The fact that these stories came from just from 30 voices made me wonder how prevalent these stories are in a a larger context. Many of these woman were friends yet I had never heard about this side of their life - how many woman stay quiet about intense side-effects from both hormonal birth control and emergency contraceptives?

(I cannot say thank you enough to those who helped with the initial questions - your support and openness means more than I can express!)

Next steps

I will be creating a photo series that combines digital photography and graphic design with your stories and experiences.

More this vibe - portraiture with more intense photo manipulation.


PSA:

I feel like I sound like a huge birth control hater… trust me I am not. It is such an INCREDIBLE thing and I am so grateful for it!!

The fact that these terrible side effects are hardly ever discussed is BAD.

The fact that many don’t understand the toll that a women’s body goes through w/ BC is BAD.

Feeling alone, hurt, broken and voiceless is BAD.

But birth control is not.

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