Those are some awsome questions! I am all about asking questions! LOL!
As for how lupus generally starts out, I think it's different for everyone... I didn't have ANY joint pain... Now all of a sudden I'm geeting more aches and pains than I know what to do with!
As for specific medication questions, I'd ask your doctor, because they will know better what will be better for you... Because just because something works well for one doesn't mean it will work well for another... I think that's especially true of this disease.
Since you are having problems with your birth control pills, I would also ask your doctor about having children. It's not something any of us like to think about, but, basically birth control pills make your body think that you are pregnant, so if you are having problems with the pills, there is a possibility that you could have problems during pregnancy... Maybe not, it could just be the specific one you are taking isn't working with you properly, but, it's better to ask and know for sure.
The depression is normal to a point... I think that's pretty subjective too, though... I know that I have GREATLY distanced myself from everyone... But, at this point I think it's a situational thing... But, I'm also pretty stubborn... Is there ANYONE that you feel like you can talk to, that knows you fairly well? Maybe ask what they think.
I understand not wanting people to feel sorry for you, but not wanting them to blow it off either... And, at the same time, you almost wish that they COULD HONESTLY tell you that everything would be okay... It's almost like you want someone to protect you and tell you they won't let anything bad happen to you... But, at the same time, you don't want to be protected, you are still a fuctional human being capable of taking care of yourself... At least, that's how it is for me... Let me know if I'm totally off base...
Anyway, I hope you find the answers to all of your questions!
Let us know how your dr's appt goes!
"All sounds are potentially dangerous.
All sounds are potentially medicinal.
All sounds are beautiful." ~Yoko Ono