I had a chance to chat with film maker Dina Fiasconaro about her documentary, Women and Meds. I asked her how she came to start working on this project, given that so few people seem willing to speak openly about the issue and that there is little hard data/information to work with. She wrote such a heartfelt response. I so hope that I can see this film, soon! And that you can, too!
A few years ago, my husband Gary and I began talking about having a child. We were approaching the ‘now or never’ point, in terms of age, and realized that it couldn’t just wait for a ‘happy accident’ because the medication I was taking at the time could potentially cause harm to a baby. Being a control-freak planner, I began researching my options: wean off medication and risk not feeling well, stay on medication and risk harming the baby, or not have a biological child at all. I began scheduling consultation appointments with therapists, psychiatrists and high-risk OB-GYNs. I studied my calendar to make sure everything lined up with my work schedule; as a full-time professor, I could optimize my summer break, and not miss too much of either semester.
Along the way, I discovered that there was a lot of scattered and conflicting information, and no clearly defined path or source of information for myself or other women dealing with these issues. Some of the research material was outdated, or just didn’t exist due to the ethical complications of testing medication on pregnant women. Pharmaceutical companies, even those manufacturing OTC medication like sleep aides, were reluctant to say whether or not their medication was truly safe – so I got passed back and forth between doctors telling me to double check with the companies, and companies saying to consult a medical expert, or, my GYN telling me to check with my therapist, and my therapist telling me to check with my GYN. No one would take ownership or offer a clear answer, which was incredibly frustrating! And, even the most caring and informed of OB-GYNs and mental health professionals seemed to take an opposite approach from one another – the OB was ultimately concerned with the health of the baby, and the mental health professional with my mental state.
I decided that making a documentary film which followed me on my journey and also highlighted the experiences of other women, would be the best way to consolidate what I was learning and communicate it to others.
Ultimately, I want Women and Meds to raise awareness and provide some guidance and useful information for other women and their families. I’m hoping that people walk away with a newfound sensitivity to what any woman might be going through, as mental illness and reproductive issues are two topics people are very hesitant to talk about publicly. I would also like other women to know they are not alone – there are many of us going through this, and there is help out there. I can’t tell you how many people have contacted me with their personal stories, or stories of others close to them who are dealing with the same issue. One high school friend contacted me to let me know she also discontinued her anxiety medication to have her son, and although she was optimistic about not going back on anything afterwards, found that it was necessary. Another friend who recently delivered a healthy baby girl, reached out to me about her decision to stay on Wellbutrin throughout her pregnancy. Another woman’s mother just today just contacted me about her struggle with mental illness. And said another woman, “Stigma is so ugly, and it makes us feel worse in our darkest moments. I know a film about this will be so wonderful and helpful It’s true that stigma and silence only hinder the process of getting well, and the more support from doctors, families and loved ones a woman has, the greater chance of a positive experience and outcome she’ll have.
We are currently fundraising for the documentary, so if you’d like to contribute via our fiscal sponsor (which makes your donation a tax write-off), please follow this link: http://womenandmeds.tumblr.
Please “like” our Facebook page, and help us spread the word about the film!
Here’s a trailer for the film: