Whether you're a thrill seeker or someone in search of a relaxing vacay, Byron Bay has it all!
Begin your day with a sunrise hike to the Byron Bay Lighthouse. You will be surrounded by locals and visitors alike as you watch the sun rise over the ocean, from the most easterly tip of mainland Australia. This is something you do not want to miss!
On your walk back to town, grab some brekkie (breakfast) at one of the cafes in town. If you walk back along the water, the place to stop is The Pass Cafe. Here you can enjoy some of the best views that Byr has to offer.
Other breakfast hot spots include: Dip, Byron Fresh Cafe and Bay Leaf Cafe. If you're a fellow coffee-lover, do not miss trying a Flat White. Seriously, they're the best.
If you haven't already, midday is the time to hit the beach and ensure you grab yourself a spot. Byron is no Copacabana in terms of crowd size, but it does get fairly crowded in summer time. Remember to bring sunblock and your shades - the strength of the Aussie sun is no joke. The red and yellow flags mark the swimming area, so if you plan to swim or even boogie board - be sure to abide by the flags and lifesavers' instructions and/or whistles. If you plan to surf, you should head outside this area. Boards of all shapes and sizes can be rented at many places in town, for the 1/2 day, day, multiple days, etc.
Other beach activities in Byron include snorkeling as well as paddle boarding and kayaking with the local dolphins. For those seeking some adrenaline, you can go hang gliding and sky-diving, weather permitting. There is also the possibility of a day trip to Nimbin, a rather notorious, freedom-loving, hippie town that offers the opportunity for a very green experience - for those seeking it.
For lunch, there are several options. For Mexican: Chihuahua, Seafood lovers: Beach Byron Bay, Asian/Vegetarian: Foxy Luu's, American: BayGer, Middle Eastern/Mediterranean: Orgasmic.
We suggest you welcome that post-lunch siesta under some shade. If you're not used to it, the heat and sun can catch you off guard and wipe you out. So it's best to stay hydrated and rested.
As it nears sunset, head to the beach or another lookout - if you're super adventurous, the lighthouse again, for some of mother earth's most spectacular performances. I have journeyed to many places in this world and I have seen innumerable sunsets - alas, none compare to those found in the Australian sky. So, kick back and toast to another glorious day around the sun.
When your stomach starts to grumble again, you can usually hit any of the lunch spots, for dinner in addition to: Miss Margarita, The Sticky Wicket Bar and Bay Kebabs.
Night life is always what you make of it. Are you a backpacker in search of your fellow travellers or maybe just on a budget? Most if not all hostels will be offering unbeatable drink and dinner deals. For those seeking a club, you have La La Land or Cheeky Monkeys, the former being more upscale than the latter. Railway Friendly Bar is more laid back and offers live music and outdoor seating. Desiring craft beer? Byron Bay Brewery is the place. And of course there's also the chance to stargaze while listening to the sounds of the ocean.
Whatever you are looking for, we guarantee Byron Bay will leave an imprint on your heart.
Let’s not waste time with what brought you to Cape Town for a mere day, if you’re down this far south you only have one responsibility: enjoy this amazing city to the fullest extent!
For the early birds...
Start your day off, outdoors. If you’re feeling up to it,, enjoy a hike or even a run up Table Mountain. For those in search of an even greater challenge, try Lion’s Head. The mornings in Cape Town offer the coolest temperatures that the city will experience all day so you’ll want to take advantage by spending these hours outside. If Table Mountain isn’t something that interests you, there are usually free yoga classes on the beach near the waterfront or you can join one of the many yoga & pilates studios around the Cape.
For those who wish to slow down...
Check out one of Cape Town’s beautiful cafes. There is the famous Insomnia coffee if you want to jolt your heart into action with the strongest coffee in the world. There is also Scheckter’s Raw for our vegan and more healthy-minded readers. After you’ve loaded up with some tasty breakfast, you can take a slow stroll around the V&A Waterfront or along Sea Point. Hopefully you haven’t stayed in bed too long, and it isn’t too warm yet.
For those who plan ahead . . .
You could be riding out to Robben Island, where you can talk to a former prisoner who will lead you around the prison. Nelson Mandela was once a resident of this famous island, so don’t miss a chance to engage with this incredible part of South African history. Want another historical tidbit? Visit Mount Nelson Hotel for High Tea, where you can follow in the footsteps of other famous historical travel writers and indulge in a South African Milk Tart.
For those seeking relaxation outside of the city. . .
Luckily, Cape Town and its surrounding areas are host to beautiful wine resorts. Throughout Stellenbosch and its beautiful gardens like Kirstenbosch National Garden , you can relax with a glass of world-renown South African wine and soak it all in. At many of these gardens and wine resorts, keep in mind that many host movie nights or concerts that you can find out about online - so do you research! Don’t forget to try local South African cuisine while you’re there! This includes Biltong, South Africa’s version of beef jerky.
For those city slickers . . .
Cape Town’s downtown is crazy busy with activities to do. You can visit local historical landmarks while you walk down the famous Long Street. There are local bookstores to visit, cafes to try, more coffee to drink (that’s right - Insomnia Coffee is in the area) and graffiti to photograph. If you want to head out a bit, try Bootlegger Cafe, a cafe famous for their delicious food, drinks and very free and fast wifi for you millennials.
For those looking to treat themselves . . .
Head to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for a special dinner. Some of the most delicious restaurants are based here. After your meal of fresh seafood, end the night looking out over the ocean from high above in the ferris wheel, under the stars.
For those in need of a pick-me-up…
Of course it depends on what you’re looking for when you read “pick-me-up.” There are local yoga classes you can take until late in the evening to get your namaste on, or you can head out to a club in downtown Cape Town to spice things up.
Just make sure you get back to your hotel and get a good night’s sleep for your plane ride tomorrow! There’s a million other cafes and food markets to visit in this South African city, but you did as much as you could - so take comfort in that fact… and book another flight back as soon as you can.
I have been in Moscow three times in total, since 2014 and each time, I have had a different experience. Moscow is surprising and unexpected. Sometimes scary, but amusing; interesting and mysterious. The fact that I have traveled to and lived in Russia for a couple of months has often provoked a lot of mixed reactions. Why Russia? Why Moscow? Russia has often a bad reputation abroad, Russians are seen as cold, distant, unfriendly people. And Moscow is not really a typical touristic getaway.
I actually did not go to Moscow for tourism. I first did a 2-week-long cultural exchange with a Muscovite family. Then in 2016 I went back for a couple of days after finishing my Erasmus program in the Caucasus and I have recently spent three months working there.
To be honest, my first impression of Moscow was not really that good. I felt like a tiny human lost in a flow of people I did not understand culturally or linguistically. Fifteen million people live in Moscow. That is more than the entire population of my country! And few of them speak good English of French, which means that it can be quite hard to be understood if you don’t try to speak Russian.
Moscow is such a big city, I felt overwhelmed by the hugeness of everything, from the 10-lane roads to the giant buildings, the monumental Orthodox churches to the numerous statues you find on every corner. Having lived there for three months, I still cannot say that I know Moscow very well. I can find my way in my own neighbourhood, but overall I have probably only been in five percent of the city. However, the more I discovered about it, the more I loved it.
Architecturally speaking, I find Moscow absolutely gorgeous. What I particularly like about the Red Square is that it is not only one cultural landmark in the middle of a random place or the only beautiful thing in the neighbourhood. The entire surrounding is astonishing. You will find the very luxurious commercial galleries on its left, and the historical Kremlin on its right. The National Museum of History is in front of it and the newly-opened Zaryadye Park behind it. The famous Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is only a ten-minutes walk away. Everything comprised in the first ring is worth seeing: the Bolshoi Theatre, the Arbat, the Gorky Park, the Lubyanka area, and the numerous pedestrian streets.
The heart of the city also has a vibrant and dynamic vibe. You will find countless restaurants, karaoke-bars, and cafés where people dance until dawn and enjoy life, even when it is -25 degrees outside! Even if real estate prices are unaffordable and probably as high as in London, for example, eating and drinking is still pretty cheap. You can easily have a good meal for less than 10 euros (12 dollars), drink included. Many restaurants often offer lunch deals for 5 or 6 euros.
One more thing you should definitely not miss in Moscow is its incredible subway. First, it’s stunning, and second, it is one of the deepest in the world. You will experience a long ride down to a complex underground network on such deep escalators you’ll think you’re about to fall from them.
Moscow is well-known for the Red Square and the Kremlin, but it also has some hidden gems that I find underrated. So remember to check out the Izmailovo Market, the Kolomenskoye Royal Estate, Tsaritsyno Palace and the Novodevichy Convent.
Moscow is also a capital of culture. Classical operas, ballets and countless museums that feature the finest of classical and contemporary artworks will exceed your expectations. Although Saint-Petersburg is a bigger cultural center and has more to offer culturally; Moscow is more an expression of the Soviet Union’s past.
Regarding the people with whom you will interact, keep in mind that Russians have a different culture, a different past and different habits. They might indeed seem cold, distant or rude, but try to put your cultural standards aside and try to immerse yourself in their world. Of course, you can always meet extremely nice people or jackasses everywhere, but generally speaking, Russians aren’t excessively nice, or “polite”. Overly-apologising is not part of their culture and neither is being ashamed or embarrassed. Don’t get offended too easily if they speak loudly to you or seem annoyed.
Wherever you go, I can only recommend to bear in mind that you are the stranger entering someone else’s world. Be patient and respectful towards any culture different than yours, and if you feel uncomfortable, take it with humour!
To sum up, I know some people who immediately fell in love with Moscow and with the Russian culture, and others who simply hated it. Personally, I needed some time to truly appreciate it. But Moscow was definitely a nice city to live in, to have fun, to learn and to confront yourself with a different world.
They say some places never leave you - for me, Byron Bay is one of them. Located in the state of New South Wales, Byr offers those beaches – you know the ones you picture when you hear “Australia.” Not only does Byr offer some of the most gorgeous beaches, but it’s home to a plethora of activities – from kayaking with dolphins to surfing, from skydiving to paragliding to whale watching – this town has something for nearly everyone.
Byron Bay lives and breathes the Aussie motto of “No Worries.” Everyone does their own thing and frankly, no one cares. All different kinds of music can be heard while walking down the beach or streets – from techno to reggae. Walking barefoot in your bathing suit is the unspoken dress code. You will also be greeted with the sounds and smells of blenders whipping up fresh and fruity smoothies, grills sizzling up burgers, that “pssh” of beers being opened. Sure, you’ll hear that sexy Aussie accent, but Byron is quickly becoming a hot destination for people around the world. So, you’ll be sure to hear Spanish, Portuguese, German, and so on.
Whether you party all night or choose to rise early, there is one thing that brings everyone together – and that is the magnificent sunrise. The lighthouse of Byron Bay offers the most easterly tip of continental Australia. So what’s the big deal? This means that you catch the sunrise before the rest of the country. It’s practically a sacred ritual that locals and tourists alike partake in. The unspoken, but understood silence as people wait for the sun to peak its way over the ocean is only broken with the hoots and hollers when it does finally rise.This routine may seem small in nature, but the idea and practice of celebrating the gift of another day here on earth is humbling and meaningful.
If the beauty and contagiously happy vibe of Byron Bay doesn’t get you there, perhaps the town’s way of reminding you to never take a day for granted will.
P.S. Chris Hemsworth and his family just moved there, so that’s an added bonus.
It is a capital city without the hustle and bustle. Its small streets are decorated with vibrant colored cafes and impressive street art. Perched on top of the city is the architectural masterpiece, Hallgrímskirkja - a cathedral with a tower that can be seen from anywhere in the city. Reykjavik is a small city that is emits and attracts, creativity and spunk.
Hailing from a small mountain town, Reykjavik connected with me. On a winter Tuesday morning before the sun was up, at 9 A.M, locals and tourists assembled into coffee shops and breakfast eateries to chat over coffee whilst the snow danced its way to the ground outside. Everyone was clad in huge scarves and even bigger smiles as they sipped on hot drinks and started their mornings with Iceland’s own renowned rich and creamy yogurt, topped with a mountain of honey, baked granola and a mountain of berries.
Once the winter sun finally rose, the mountains across the peninsula were illuminated and the ocean’s hue transformed from lead into cobalt. The city offers an intense contrast to this monochromatic wintry landscape. Reykjavik’s buildings pop in comparison, with their hues of red, orange, yellow, and even aquamarine.
From cute cafes like Cafe Babulu, which is so popular that it receives postcards from around the world to quirky bars featuring board games and from the simple but mouthwatering hot dog to Icelandic fine dining, Reykjavik has a bit of everyone’s funk.
Iceland’s capital may be cold, but it truly is one hot destination! It is the epitome of city located inside the snowglobe - where everything and nothing happens and all is at peace. Whether you are on a stopover going to or from Europe or you’re intending to solely visit the this trans-continental island nation, Reykjavik is your place. It is the perfect point to kickstart extreme outdoor adventures, and it is most definitely, the spot to end a week of breathtaking Icelandic tourism by soaking in one of the city’s many hot springs.
For a personal travel itinerary for Reykjavik and the rest of Iceland contact us!
When I first visited Cape Town in the warm summer months of December, I had no idea the city would quite literally steal my heart. After getting over the weird sensation of wearing shorts and dresses in what I consider a winter month, the city quickly became one of my favorites in the world. The beautiful views from Sea Point and challenging hikes to Lions Head are only two of the untouched parts of South Africa’s landscape that stun and astound. Whether you walk down the Victoria & Albert Waterfront with its eclectic mix of beautiful restaurants or stroll down Long Street, you won't be able to resist trying everything the local vibrant culture has to offer.
Since I visited in 2016, I've been back three times and I’ve experienced just how different the Cape can be. If you want to relax, there's Stellenbosch - where you can visit vineyard after vineyard. More in the mood to breathe in that fresh Atlantic and Indian ocean air? Go for a hike up and around Table Mountain, visit Kirstenbosch National Garden or one of the many other parks. Even the foodies amongst us (myself included) cannot choose what to eat because there's just so much! If you crave healthy salads and fresh fruit, there are markets along the seaside and more sophisticated cafes in the city. High tea? Check. Fancy dinners to scratch your urges for steak? You're covered.
More interested in assimilating? Visit Insomnia Coffee to try the strongest coffee in the world . . . yes you read that right, the strongest coffee in the world! While you're buzzing, you can visit local indie bookstore, The Book Lounge, and pick up a book by local South African author, Zakes Mda.
Cape Town is one of the world's “in” tourist destinations right now so don't be surprised if the crowds are large. Don't worry - they're all conserving water just like you are (hint: Cape Town might be the world's first city to run out of water so be conscious when using water in your hotel room).
South Africa is well known for its apartheid past so don't miss visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Endlessly fascinating, you'll find commemorative museums and statues of this national hero all around the city. For the history buffs in your friend group (aka all of us here at Sub-Stances), it's an illuminating paradise.
Once you've hiked all the trails, walked all of the streets and eaten all of the delicious Cape food, one thing will stick out: the people. Each time I visit this stunning city, I meet the kindest and most generous people who want to share their homes and lives with me. Disclaimer: I did meet my boyfriend here so I may be a bit biased. It gives weight to that old adage - “it's not the place, but the people that make any place truly home.” So whether you’re in search of a party, outdoor adventure or simply to check another city off of your list, you'll find that Cape Town has a way of sneaking into your heart. And don't worry, it's not going anywhere.
Procrastination might be seen as extreme laziness for some, for others, it is a real curse and one that ought not be underestimated. For all of you out there who don’t understand how people continue to procrastinate and complain about it, you should know that procrastination is usually involuntary behavior. Otherwise, duhh, we wouldn’t be crying in a corner everytime we have to finish a university dissertation in one night while everybody else finished it weeks ago.
I already hear some of you thinking “Just move your lazy ass and do some work.” It is not that simple. I feel like it would be the same as telling someone who’s sad “Just stop being sad and you’ll feel better.”
I’m voluntarily putting some irony and sarcasm into this article, but as I myself suffered from procrastination for, basically my entire academic career, I know what I’m talking about. I use medical-related vocabulary to give it more credit. Not that I consider it a disease, but it certainly is some kind of trouble. Many people exhibit it at different levels; however, some people don’t even know what it is.
Four of my closest friends come into mind when thinking about people who simply don’t understand how procrastinators’ systems work. These friends all organize their work very clearly. They work on time and productively. Something that, to this day, has remained a mystery to me. They explained to me how they organize their time and it sounds really good. But it simply doesn’t work for me.
Trust me, I’ve tried them all. I can’t seem to make it work. I simply cannot stick to a calendar. My brain is not always in a mood open to work. And if I plan to focus on one subject, chances are that my brain will want to study something else. Then, when I start working on that other topic, my brain will decide that it is more interesting to go to the random article section on Wikipedia and learn something I didn’t know. Or to visit a DIY website to learn how to make origami boxes.
I sometimes binge-watch series, like everybody I guess. But you know what, I’ve never really binged-watched anything during holidays or weekends. Nooo. You know that period before and during final exams at university? In Belgium, we call it “the Blocus.” Well, that’s the time my brain chooses to spend hours watching series that I have (even probably) ALREADY watched. Why am I doing that? I don’t know. I don’t enjoy that time. I usually feel guilty for not working. I start wondering why I’m living that way and why I’m such a piece of trash. I start to develop guilt and self-hatred feelings that hinder me from working productively, of course.
The problem with procrastination is that all the time wasted reading random Wikipedia pages or watching stupid Youtube videos cannot be traded with something that is actually enjoyable. My parents would sometimes tell me, “You spend so much time doing nothing, why don’t you actually use that time to go to the movies, or to go spend some days on the seaside, or to do any kind of real leisure activities”. And you know what I would answer? “ I don’t have time for that! You don’t realize how much work I have to do!”. Quite contradictory isn’t it?
On a more serious tone, procrastination has really put me into dark places. The fact that I was unable to work in a healthy way frustrated me. Especially when you see other people being such at peace with their schoolwork and duties. I would always have to go through dark emotions, self-hatred feeling phases to achieve something. Last minute stress became my motivation and my only way to finish my work. However, I always hoped that eventually I would be able to work differently. Whenever I was assigned a new task, I always thought that that time would be different, that I would be able to start it immediately and finish it several days in advance. Well, I was always wrong. It only awoke deep interrogations about myself, sometimes life reconsideration, regrets and a decline of my self-esteem. Because I was unable to do something that seemed simple...
One good thing though, that I have developed throughout these dark years is what I call productive procrastination. You know how everything sounds more interesting when you have a tight deadline to finish something? Well, I call productive procrastination the moments of procrastination that I spend doing other things, that aren’t very important of course, but that end up being useful or somehow interesting. Still not ideal but better than fakely laughing at stuff on 9Gag to hide your tears of self-deprecation and anger.
Example: Last summer I had to write my Masters thesis. I tried this “planning” thing, but of course it didn’t work. So, during the times of the day that I was supposed to spend working on my thesis, I would usually do other stuff. For example, I started drawing again, which is quite nice. I loved to draw as a kid and I’ve always really enjoyed it. However with school work and university duties, I hadn’t really drawn anything in years. Well, during that summer, I did. And it felt good. So, in the end, I didn’t work on my thesis as much as I thought I would, but I spent some time doing things that I really enjoyed.
Because one of the perks of productive procrastination is that you don’t feel as guilty as usual. You feel like you’re actually doing something, even though it is not a priority. But that’s not the only thing I did during that summer of course. I’ve hated school system for as long as I can remember but I’ve actually always loved to learn new things, even useless ones! So, apart from drawing I also learned how to finish a Rubik’s Cube. That’s right. Why, you ask? I don’t know. Never knew how to do it, now I know. And I practiced until I reached about 1 minute time. Then, just for the fun of it, I decided to remember the first hundred decimals of Pi in order. True Story. Again, useless talents, but I prefer to see them as “New Skills Unlocked”!
One real argument that kept me from trying to make big changes in my life is that, however painful it is, it works. Procrastination has not prevented me from being successful at school. It made me unhappy most of the time, but it did not make me a failure. As far as I can remember, I failed only one exam in my entire academic career, and that one was not even because of a lack of study, ironically. So in the end, I knew that my methods worked. My sick brain developed a way to work for 8 hours straight, even in the middle of the night, sometimes without any break and without the help of any drugs either. So, I finally came to a point in my life where I simply accepted my condition and tried to work with it. If I want to see the bright side of this bad situation, I can point out the fact that I have developed a way of working very efficiently and under pressure, which is quite a useful skill.
Now that I have finished my studies, I feel more at peace with this subject. Because it is not as much a problem as it used to be, I feel more comfortable talking and writing about it. If some of you can relate, please leave a comment or tell us your experiences and if you found a cure to the curse of procrastination, please, let us know, because I still haven’t.
And if you’ve never watched this Ted Talk, please do; Even if it means you procrastinating from doing something else: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU.
With the advent of social media and the ever-increasing stride towards digital lives - a strange thing has happened: the world has become lonelier. More people are reporting feeling sad lonely or depressed and as of yet - there hasn’t been a solution put forth. A 2017 report even said loneliness was as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Where does that leave us? In the midst of a health crisis?
The answer in Great Britain was to appoint a Minister for Loneliness. Tracey Crouch was appointed to tackle the issue. She acknowledged that lonelieness wasn’t just linked to social media - it was also specifically linked with the elderly population. Around two million people all across England who are aged above 75 live alone. This might seem unproblematic, until you realize that many of these people can go for days or weeks without any social interaction at all. Particularly in the winter, many people stock up on food and avoid leaving their homes. This isn’t even necessarily a tactic of social awkwardness. For many, it’s simply being smart. As they get older, it might be painful to move around.
One of the ways that Tracey Couch will be useful is to see if a National Strategy will help. There are many different small NGOs and organizations that fight mental health stigma and loneliness across local communities - but there aren’t countries that specify it as a main strategy in their health policies. Maybe it’s time for that to change.
Loneliness can affect anyone - and it’s easy for people to hide. In our society of being on phones and choosing to text rather than meet up in person, it’s not surprising to see this issue come to the forefront. Being active can be hard and if you’re an introvert like me, it can be even harder to get out there and work to be social. It can be downright challenging. But people who aren’t lonely live longer, tend to be happier and live fuller lives more presently with the people they love. And if you happen to be an introvert, just remember that enjoying spending time alone and being lonely are two separate things.
Here are some ways you can reach out to lonely people in your community:
Throughout the years some, of us have conveniently misdiagnosed the cause of the unforgettable but preventable attacks on America’s schools. For a long time, several influential but misguided people have blamed school shootings and other attacks across the United States on the right to bear arms (a portion of the 2nd amendment) and shut out the aspect of mental health initiatives or lack thereof. Recently several school protests and “walkouts” have occurred all across America. The message or goal of these demonstrations of protestation is to restrict gun rights in our country, but will that really have a positive effect on our society? If these regulations were passed, law abiding gun owners across the United States would riot in the streets. Instead of focusing all of our efforts on to taking guns out of the situation (a completely unrealistic goal) maybe we should focus on helping our students and citizens in general with the state of their mental health.
Several people said that shootings such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland were not preventable but others argue that taking away the right to own guns would’ve stopped all of this from happening. Instead of using irrational or unrealistic arguments, we can all agree on a more positive and efficient solution. Dozens of schools tend to let their counselors give a speech on bullying, give the children a packet, and never say anything again to the students. This recurring issue has led to several kids being bullied so badly that they act irrationally and violently. According to stopbullying.gov, approximately every 1 in 3 students are being bullied everyday. At first, bullying will bother kids and hurt their feelings but once it gets bad enough the children can become radical and cause harm to innocent people. If schools were to push mental health and wellness initiatives, reaching out to kids would be more productive and effective. If we can identify the students who are in need of mental support we can decrease the risk of violent activity in schools.
I had a personal experience with this issue last week when a large number of the student body participated in a walkout with a goal of ending gun ownership in America. I chose to not participate because their ideas and goals were unrealistic and against my beliefs. Even if the government were to pass a law to get rid of all commercial gun purchasing, citizens would turn to the black market and the United States would slowly but surely become a country ridden by chaos. Instead of angering both parties in this conflict the “problem solvers’’ need to focus on a plan that keeps the protesters and the anti-protesters happy while also incorporating an aspect of mental health and wellness. This country has been, is, and always will be a strong nation. Events like Parkland, Orlando, and 9/11 have always brought us together as a country. Instead of pushing apart we need to be joining together to find an efficient, effective, and full proof plan to protect and honor the citizens of the United States.
Aidan C. Stolz
8th Grade Student
Fort Collins, Colorado
For years there had been no definitive research carried out to see if those who are on hormonal birth control, are at risk of depression. Most people were self-diagnosed or simply changed to a different dosage to see if that would fare better with them. Mood changes did occur but it was found to be solely tied to birth control, rather society continued to see the benefits of birth control outweigh the effects it had on mental health. One Buzzfeed article even says that if your acne goes away and you no longer experience extreme cramping, of course your moods ought to get better. However now, there are real statistics and qualitative data that note that those on any form of hormonal birth control are at higher risk to mental health issues - including depression, anxiety, and/or increased mood disorders.
A recent Danish study conducted between 2000 and 2013 looked at women aged 15 to 34. It must be noted that those with preexisting psychiatric conditions along with others who could not take hormonal medication due to risk of clotting, were excluded. To give the study a further element of credence, immigrants, who have been proven to show higher rates of depression, were also excluded.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, contributing editor and doctor, Monique Tello, said, “The researchers analyzed hormonal contraceptive use and subsequent depression in two different ways. They evaluated women who had received a diagnosis of depression as well as women who had received a prescription for antidepressants; these analyses were run separately, and they obtained statistically equivalent results.”
The results showed that all forms of birth control lead to higher risks of depression or serious changes in mood, in a small percentage of women. The highest rate of those at risk are individuals who take “progesterone-only forms, including the IUD.” Dr. Tellow continues to say that the research concludes that “this risk was higher in teens ages 15 to 19, and especially for non-oral forms of birth control such as the ring, patch and IUD. That the IUD was particularly associated with depression in all age groups is especially significant, because traditionally physicians have been taught that the IUD only acts locally and has no effects on the rest of the body.”
Birth control continues to serve as a very positive contribution to our society. It gives women and couples the opportunity to enjoy sex without the burden of having a child or worse - having to decide if a child is wanted or not. Birth control has many benefits, but all of its side effects need to be known. Just like every type of medication, the side effects vary from individual to individual. It is crucial that each person knows the risks that they may face as a result of what they put in their bodies.
A personal note:
Growing up with a father who played the dual role of mother and father, I often went blindly into the area of womanhood. My dad, who is an expert at making pancakes like Cinderella and was my coach for nearly everything, was never an expert in female anatomy. And hell, I can’t blame him —he is a man after all. But damn, did he do his best. From asking me if I had become a woman to taking me to get birth control knowing that I had become sexually active and that my cramps left me crippled, my dad was always there.
The first birth control I went on immediately caused me to become lethargic and very quiet during the fall of my junior year of high school. I then switched to an alternative that was a much lower dosage. For years this worked as it did not seem to affect my mood or hinder me athletically and it definitely helped my cramps that had previously left me bedridden. Unfortunately, after a few years, I started bleeding for weeks on end. Throughout my freshman year of college, I had my “period” for weeks. After doing some reading, I discovered that this is commonplace once one's body become acclimated to one form. So, I went to go change my birth control once more.
This time, the doctor prescribed me something slightly higher but was essentially comprised of the same components. For the most part, I felt fairly normal, but I began to notice that my lows became lower and I would often cry for hours on end. I would like to think that I was so lost in what was happening in my life at the time that I could blame all of my extreme emotions on exterior things, but looking back I just can’t. Yes, I dated some bad guys. Yes, I was frustrated in how I couldn’t translate hard work into things on paper. And yes, I was officially cutting my mom out of my life. But months later, when I no longer needed contraceptives in my life, I found immediate changes. I never cried, and I was consistently happier. I didn’t find myself getting upset over the small stuff and collectively, I was stable again.
Up until recently, a part of me still didn’t believe that a little pill that could affect me so much. So, after not seeing my boyfriend for ten months, and not crying in nine of them, I started the pill once more. I took them for three days and on the third day, I yelled at my boyfriend about a movie. I stopped taking it the very next day. I have come to the realization hormonal birth control just does not work for me or my body.
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