I got engaged in the summer of 2009. I went to my premarital visit with a Nurse Practitioner at the group that was recommended to me. I started birth control because that’s what you do to avoid pregnancy. I was put on a new low-dose pill. Its estrogen dose is lower than the traditional birth control pills. I didn’t do any research; I just asked a few questions at my appointment and went on my way.
My mom and I continued wedding planning which didn’t go as smoothly as we had originally pictured. We also didn’t have much time; the wedding was scheduled for the end of September and I was starting my final step towards my career: an Out Reach Radiology Program through Weber University. Things were rough but I put a smile on my face and did the best I could do.
After the wedding, things didn’t get easier. I had always heard that marriage was hard but I was surprised to find out just how many differences that my new husband and I had. I became increasingly down but told myself that I was trying to adjust to married life. I struggled in school and had one class each semester that needed to be repeated. It was always an easier class and yet, I would always pass the hardest class, Physics, each semester with high test scores and minimal effort. I also had a professor in the program that believed I was wasting every body’s time by being there and that I wasn’t smart enough to be a radiographer. She let me know her feelings when she would pull me into her office every time I had classes in Ogden. I started believing her too; after all, what college student still needs ADD medication to help with focus and studying?
I knew I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t know why. I decided it was the basement apartment we were living in, so we moved. Our new apartment, three blocks away from my parents’ house, had large windows and was much more light and open than the apartment we had just lived in. Things were better for a while but it wasn’t long before I continued spiraling down my path of darkness. My husband felt like he was continuously walking on eggshells and eventually, family members told him that we needed to move so that I would lean on him to work out my problems and not my parents. That didn’t go over well. We started fighting and I refused to move. I felt as though my mom was the only person truly trying to help me figure out the cause of the depression I was sinking further and further into.
By the fifth and final semester of the radiology program, I was nonfunctional, but I fought it. I stilled tried to function normally. I studied harder than I had ever studied in my entire life and yet, I flunked every test I took. One night, in April 2012, I was working in the Radiology department with an older lady. It was quiet and she turned to me and said, “So, tell me what’s up. You don’t seem happy and that’s not what I’ve heard about you.” I don’t know why, but I told her everything and she listened to me. When I finished, she asked me if I was on birth control. I told her I was and I will never forget her response, “You need to call your doctor first thing in the morning, get an appointment, and change your pill. Of my three daughters, NONE of them can be on the pill. One can’t get out of bed, one becomes suicidal, and one becomes crazy.” I was stunned; my mom and I had started questioning the birth control but here was the proof I needed.
The next morning, I called my doctor’s office, made an appointment, and switched birth control pills. It took some trial and error before we found a better fit but it was a rough road to recovery. I also started counseling. I was no longer me. I was no longer adventurous and care free. I had slipped into depression and failed at one of my dreams. At one point, I even had arrangements made and place to go. All I needed to do was simply pack up my things and not be home when my husband returned from work. How could I be beautiful? But I pushed forward. It was hard and there were many ups and downs.
In participating in this project and photo shoot, I opened some old text books that haven't been opened since April of 2011. The last time they were opened, I was broken. I told myself then I had done everything I could and it wasn't my fault that I had failed. Five years later, after much healing, opening those text books again and seeing how much was marked helped me accept what happened. I hardly looked through them at home though; it was still too painful. It was during the photo shoot that I really looked through one book and acceptance hit me. I am not a failure. I did everything I could do in a terrible situation. I was surprised and embarrassed that I started crying in front of a stranger but she was sympathetic and didn't seem to disapprove of the tears when five years ago the body language of those around me suggested disapproval and discomfort of me feeling my feelings. I did not receive the icy cold glares from stone cold faces. She was warm and seemed to be understanding. It helped me further accept that it was OK to say it hurt to have put so much time, energy, and money into my schooling. I may have “failed” my classes but I have not failed in life and one day when I do go back to school I will go back with more courage, more empathy, more strength and with knowledge that I am beautiful, no matter what.