How This Creative Stopped Taking The Pill And Designed Her Own Health
An elevated practice that helps you live your best life? That’s a ritual. We've asked women we admire to share the daily rituals that make them who they are. Discover their secrets and try a new ritual for yourself.
One day, while on the phone with a friend, I was explaining a project I was working on that I was really excited about. She told me it all sounded great but my tone of voice didn’t, and asked “is something wrong?” Over the next few weeks, I questioned if anything was actually going wrong. I realized that this was happening often; my emotional climate wasn’t matching the circumstances around me or how I truly felt.
I explored a few reasons why, settling on the hypothesis that I wouldn’t know if that was me until I went off the pill. I had been prescribed the pill at a young age because of a history of ovarian cysts, which was making it hard to understand what might be character traits I taken away from puberty and what was a side-effect from birth control. Here’s how I dealt with the transition off the pill and the journey of learning how to master myself.Image: Valentin Chenaille
Get plenty of sleep
We all have a few bad habits – one of mine is late nights. Creativity can come at odd hours and it took me a few years as an adult to teach myself how to go to bed, especially once I was working for myself. Once I did I was surprised to find that not only was my productivity higher, but my mood was more sustainable.
A full night of zzz’s both combats stress and serves as the reset your body needs in order to keep hormones at healthy levels. Plus, it’s hard to tell what is low energy or a mood swing when you’re not setting yourself up for success every day. Try your best to get a full eight hours every night by setting a bedtime alarm. Luckily, the iPhone has a sleep app built-in just for this.
Keep track to stay on track
Expect that your body is going to need time to adjust. I wasn’t patient at first and gave up on my first try. On the second go-around, I knew I had to really commit to it for longer than one month to know what the benefits or drawbacks would be. After that month, I cleared up and so did so many other things.
So no matter what you’re transitioning off of: find a way to take note of small changes. For me, that meant keeping an eye on my irregularity and mood. My favorite app is Clue, it’s great for easily tracking symptoms and has been a powerful prediction tool. The more data you add, the smarter it gets. You can also journal, or add notes into your calendar as you go along; choose whatever monitoring tool adds itself more naturally to your day-to-day.
Keep your magnesium levels up
When you’re spending so much time listening to your body, it’s important to also think about what you’re putting in it. I took a look at my diet and wondered what I could add or change to help myself through the taxing ups-and-downs that can come from going off of the pill.
During all of this, I was designing Ritual. Naturally, I had to learn a lot about nutrients. So, it caught my interest when I learned that upping your intake of the hormone-regulating mineral magnesium can keep unwanted symptoms like bloating and cravings at bay. It’s especially important during your period because — as estrogen and progesterone are elevated — magnesium is depleted. I started taking it as rainy-day insurance, and I felt more consistent in my moods after I did.
Ask someone you trust for feedback
Here’s the thing: sometimes when we feel irrational or not like ourselves, we can also feel justified in our negative feelings. What I mean by this is that, when your irrational emotions take over, you can feel like you have good reason to feel as upset as you do, even when nothing is actually wrong.
A big side effect I felt from the pill (and what made me decide to go off of it) was a sense of emotional imbalance. I asked the closest person to me, my mom, to give me ongoing feedback on my behavior as I transitioned off. When you’re designing, feedback is a big part of your job. But to hear it on a personal level can be taxing. Choose someone who you can trust to give you feedback on how you feel, as it relates to your actual circumstances; remember that they have your best health and self in mind as you talk through your feelings, so that you aren’t so hurt if they disagree with you.
Adopt this Ritual for yourself
Michelle Mattar is the creative director at Ritual and a builder of brands. As a designer and director, she’s worked on establishing creative for large companies and startups alike: Adidas, Nike, Epicurious, and Snowe, to name a few. In the past three years, she’s helped 30+ start-ups raise capital and go to market. In her spare time, Michelle has volunteered at public schools across New York City, teaching students in grades 7-12 how to turn their ideas and passions into businesses. Michelle travels between New York and Los Angeles, and her dream project is to design a playground.