Don’t Do What I Did!!
I want to spend some time talking about hormones, Testosterone, and going off of meds without first speaking with your prescribing doctor, which, my friends, we shouldn’t do. Let’s talk about why so that you don’t do, what I did.
I often get asked if I have started back up on Testosterone since having Wilder and if so, when? The answer is yes, but then gets a bit more complicated. And here is why.
I went off of Testosterone two and a half months before conceiving Wilder only because it was getting hard to give myself a shot once a week and due to being in relapse mode, my self-care went out the window. When that happens, the first to go with it are my shots. Four and a half months later, I found out that I was expecting the miracle of a lifetime. Do you remember how I found out I was pregnant?
I was incredibly ill just after getting well from having COVID while one month pregnant. As it turns out, my body can rock a birth but pregnancy, that is a whole other story. I had sever hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which means that I spent my days sometimes throwing up 20+ times, multiple ER visits, dehydration and bedrest. My hormones were all over the place, as you’d expect with pregnancy, which meant that after giving birth, I wanted to give them some time to settle before throwing more Testosterone into the mix. So I waited, and then decided to keep waiting because my hormones postpartum were just as they were during pregnancy, all over the the place.
I finally decided to try going back on Testosterone six months after giving birth to Wilder. After speaking with my doctor, we both agreed that it felt like a good time, and I still believe it was that is, in hindsight.
After starting Testosterone, I noticed that my depression and anxiety getting much more intense. I attributed that to the new hormone in my system. I had bits of memory from starting Testosterone the first time, almost nine years ago and increased anxiety was one of them. So, since I noticed them getting worse again now that I was back on Testosterone, it made sense that was the cause right? And perhaps it was, to an extent. I also noticed that this is when I started to have my intrusive thoughts around Wilder. They didn’t surface often yet at this point, but they only had to surface once to scare the crap out of me. In my head, I thought that the intrusive thought I had experienced during that month while on Testosterone, was a product of the “increase in aggression” that we often hear about while on T. Again, I remember starting the first time around nine years ago and needing to exercise daily as an outlet for all of my extra energy and frustration, and I was so full of fear that because I didn’t have that this time around, that was manifesting itself as intrusive thoughts.
Now, while all of this was happening, I wasn’t talking about it. I never once told my doctor that these things were happening in addition to other things, like the feeling of my skin crawling sometimes when my baby touched it at night. Or how my ears and head would throb at the sound of any kind of crying or loud noise. Or how I was stuck of a fog of pacing and sobbing all day long. Or how every night the smell of a dirty diaper would wake me, only to find a sleeping baby with a clean diaper. Or how the sound of a radio would keep me awake all night, a radio that no one else could hear. I wan’t telling my doctor about any of these things, many of which because I didn’t even know I was experiencing yet or had words for. But, instead of talking about how things were getting harder and worse, I just stopped taking the medication that I thought was the culprit. I didn’t ask, I just did and that, my friends, is a mistake I hope you don’t have to learn from like I have.
What I’ve learned over the last few months, is that it wasn’t the Testosterone that was fueling all of these dark thoughts and feelings inside of me, it was the Postpartum Depression/Anxiety/OCD and Psychosis. Sure, a new hormone is going to have some impact on these things, but when I suddenly stopped taking my Testosterone again after being on it for that one month, things started to really fall apart. The things that I thought I was experiencing because of the T were only getting worse and I more scared. I didn’t have the knowledge of what postpartum psychosis was or how it shows up in someones life. I knew PPD was a thing and that I was very much struggling with it, as I always have with depression. But that’s not what I was experiencing and I knew it on a cellular level. I also want to be clear that the Testosterone did not cause the PPP. It may have amplified it, but was not the cause, my brain was.
Stopping Testosterone was a turning and triggering point for me in my postpartum journey. It’s fueled some pretty deeply rooted dysphoria, one that I never experienced once while pregnant. It’s always created a sense of chaos and crisis in my life, ironically once a month. The night that I almost jumped off of a bridge, the day after I started my cycle and it all made so much more sense. I’ve found myself wondering what these last six months would have looked like had I not made the mistake of taking myself off of a medication my body needs and desires to thrive, especially with all of the loss its brought. But the one thing that I don’t have to wonder, is if I’ll ever make this mistake again.
Talk to professionals before making a decision one would base professional knowledge on before making.
After taking to both my therapist and doctor, I’ve decided that today I’ll be start back up on Testosterone! And honestly, it feels as exciting as it did almost ten years ago. After being off of it for almost two years now, I finally feel like I’m coming back home to me. I’m ready to have my body back.
In celebration of this shell that’s gotten me though the last two years, I’ve been belting Adele’s “Easy on me” in the highest pitch singing voice possible, an old friend who I know won’t be visiting for much longer. <3
Danny (and Wilder)