If people would stop asking…

Every time I have to talk and explain to people (especially the SAME people) what my headaches are like, it not only is annoying, but it hurts too. Just because they don’t know what it’s like, they easily forget what I say about it. Because they can’t “understand” me? Because they don’t care enough to listen when I tell them? Because I don’t show my pain on the outside?

I have a freaking headache that never went away since August 2013. The neurologist has diagnosed it as New Daily Persistent Headache. I don’t even want to tell people about it, in case it changes their perception of me. But then I have to make excuses when it acts up. In school, I use Access and Diversity to communicate with profs so that I don’t have to elaborate and everything. They might not even “believe” my condition. So what does it feel like? I wish I could just copy and paste this on my forehead or something. My headaches are normally at a 2-3/10 for pain every second of the day like a tension-type headache. Then, there are times when the pain gets worse and it becomes like a  migraine in nature with pain that goes up to 10/10 and I even get lightheaded from it. I don’t get nauseous or vomit, but I would be unable to think, unable to do anything, unable to sleep even. And with school and work, I try so hard to get through the pain and endure it so that people won’t look at me like a patient. I want to finish school and become a pharmacist like any normal person can. I don’t want to be looked down upon because I suffer from chronic pain. But at the same time, I wish I could be understood when the pain gets too much for me. Because I can’t help it. There have been so many times when I just want to bash my head against the wall and rip my head open. Medications don’t work, or they have side effects that are even worse than the pain itself, not letting me function. So I endure it. I just hope that one day, no matter how long in the future. One day, I can have freedom from the pain. To have no headache, I don’t even remember what that is like anymore. It’s like someone’s put a steel lock on my head that the key cannot be found for.

Talking to my mentor, she thinks that surviving the headache and migraines and being able to live like I do is because I’m strong. I’m not. Ever since I was in elementary school and got headaches after playing outside in the sun, I would call my mom to take me home. It happened often. And now, I would skip class and go home. I would cancel appointments and commitments. I wouldn’t want to go out with friends nor care about them. It’s like a jail for me. It makes me give in and sucks all the energy in me. It stops me from so many things: studying, spending time with people I care about, enjoying things, just living a normal life.

My parents always asks me about my headache. It’s like…what do you want me to say? The whole spiel over and over again? Yes. I have a headache. I will never NOT have a headache. It hurts, leave me alone. But because I don’t want them to worry, I don’t keep complaining about it. It doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Like a shadow, it’s always there. I try so so so hard to live a normal life. I went out with my family this weekend and spent more time out of my room with them. My head gave me unbearable migraines, but I held it out. Even when they took a long time at the loud restaurant when I had already finished eating and was just waiting for them. Even when they wanted to go places after places after places. Because I wanted to be able to show them that I love my family. That I don’t isolate myself from them because of them. But because the pain locks me in and I just can’t do anything else. I collapsed after the outings, but I think it was worth it. To just spend time with them is precious. So I hope that they can one day understand me. That they can understand my effort and suffering. Because I don’t think I can hold it out for too long. It’s much too draining. I’m tired. My mind, my body, is tired of this headache. But I’ll keep trying, because some little part of me holds on to the belief that it’ll get better, and that I CAN live through this, no matter what this “normal life” for me becomes.

Literally just trying to survive

These two weeks have been crazy, in their own different way. Two weeks ago, I was hit with the worst of my migraines/headaches (it’s all messed up and constantly there so I can’t even differentiate between them anymore). The pain stayed at 9-10/10 for the whole week. Normally it goes up and down and peaks only once or twice a day, normally only up to 8/10 and would go back to a 3-4/10 baseline background headache with medications or just time and sleep. Nothing brought it down. I couldn’t sleep. I would wake up because of the pain. I couldn’t study. I couldn’t do anything. And my supplemental exam was that week. The timing is ALWAYS perfect when life is messed up. Then Thursday that week, I had a mental breakdown after doing bad in a lab session. It was just way too much to handle and I had suicidal thoughts. Funny how on that day of all days, my dad kept asking if I was okay. Of course, I’m still alive and did not go through with my thoughts. One of the reasons being that I did not want to ruin the reputation of the doctor who prescribed me the sleeping pills. Like who thinks of that? The goody-two-shoes. Or more like I just wanted to find excuses to live. Because I knew they were stupid thoughts.

So Friday (the next day), I stayed in bed all day, beating myself up over even thinking of suicide again and going crazy with the headache pain. Finally that Friday night, I was able to talk to my family about it. They already knew about the headaches and some parts of my depression, but I think that was the first time we talked in detail about it. I told them I wanted to drop out of pharmacy. I didn’t think it was worth it. To be in so much pain, to have depression/anxiety, to be under so much stress just for a degree and a job that I don’t even know if I’ll be happy doing. It especially wasn’t worth it considering that one day I’m so scared that I’ll actually go through with the suicidal thoughts and plans because I just can’t reason with myself anymore or something. I guess I’ve just wanted to hear it from them. That it was okay to give up because I’ve already tried my best. That my health was more important. That my happiness was more important. And that night was the first time that I heard that from them. After 3 hours of crying and talking, I think they could finally understand me. To understand the extent of my pain, that I really was trying my best to fix my life, and how badly I tried to not disappoint them. It also helped me to understand them (especially my brother). That he wanted to care for me the same way that I cared for him, but he didn’t know how to do it. He was also able to help give extra-optimistic perceptions on my situation (e.g. I passed 8/9 courses last term so this term I can pass 8/8 courses). I WILL beat those negative thoughts.

So after our long talk, they still tried to persuade me to just give it my all and not withdraw unless I fail out of it basically. I was torn. Between wanting to be a good daughter and giving myself that rest I knew I needed. Of course, being me, I’m still hanging in there. But now, I have a super strong support system and it’s not a lonely uphill battle but an all out war. My brother has also volunteered himself to be my personal trainer for a regular exercise regimen (which is horrible for someone like me who doesn’t exercise at all except for walking). So hopefully that’ll help. And they’ve been forcing me to eat more healthy (aka eating vegetables that I normally pick out of my food). My intestinal tract hates it as much as I do, but being healthy as a whole is important. Also, the day after, I was able to bring the headache down back to baseline pain level (yay!) with a new medication (fun fact: metoclopramide which is normally used for gastric motility/GERD is used in migraine emergencies with IV administration). So although it was taken orally as a tablet, it worked as a temporary solution. And now my migraines/headache is back to the regular peak and trough (double yay!).

And this week, school has been crazy. I had to contact professors for classes missed, catch up on materials I had neglected due to studying for the supplemental, and prepare for 2 midterms. I have no idea how, but I was able to sort it all out. My mom was commenting on how strong the mind can be because she asked how school was and I said it was okay now when just a few days ago it seemed like the end of the world. I just hope that if another situation like that hits again, I’ll only get back up even stronger. It doesn’t matter if I fall down a hundred times, because it’s only important that you get back up after each fall. Because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Literally. Whatever you’re faced with that you don’t think you can ever overcome, you CAN overcome. Sometimes we don’t know how, but it’s one of life’s amazing mysteries. And you can only find out if you stay alive. So I’m going to give it all I have and stay alive.

(Oh and for those who care to know, since I haven’t posted since finding out about having the supplemental exam, it was hard writing it with a huge migraine/headache, but I think I should pass. The marks haven’t come out yet. I shall update the good news (knock on wood) when it is out).

A need to escape and a bunch of random mumble jumble

Recently, I’ve been getting little to no sleep and staying up studying, doing all the pre-readings that no one else reads, or just busying myself. I go to sleep thinking what it would feel like if I passed away in my sleep. Due to the lack of sleep and the stress I have from school and from myself, my migraines are back. I kind of just accept them but they can be a real pain in the butt. The good news is that they’re not as intense and constant as they were the last time thank God. Otherwise, I really think I would have to withdraw from school and start finding a way to start selling those polymer clay things I make. But honestly, I worry about the headaches. I don’t think I’ll be able to survive the rest of my life with them..and to think of things that may be even more stressful to come. Oy, I don’t know what to do. As I do whenever I feel stressed out or defeated, I withdraw.

This time, I chose to withdraw from reality and immerse myself into music; to be more specific, c-pop. Chinese pop. Ask me a few months ago and that would be the last on my list of favourite music genres, well maybe second to last in front of heavy metal. It just didn’t sound “right” and would be kind of annoying. And I guess as a kid I was just trying to fit in with the norm of English music. I don’t know why but I’ve become so addicted to listening to Chinese music…it weirds me out too. Well, I AM asian…but what drew me in first was Leehom Wang. He mixed Western with Eastern styles into what he calls “chinked out” music. Maybe because I’m a Chinese Canadian, but this type of music really hit the right spot with a Western feel with Chinese lyrics. I then explored a bit with some R&B type of Chinese songs. It didn’t hurt that the singers were hot too! My understanding of Chinese has also improved as I try to figure out what the lyrics mean. I feel as though the inner part of me is using this to try to understand myself, finding my identity as a Chinese Canadian student pharmacist. I really don’t feel as though I fit in anywhere. 

I’ve been told that I’m antisocial. It’s pretty subjective I guess. I’m viewed as “quiet” to people who don’t know me or don’t take the time to know me. My best friends and family know me as the crazy bubbly girl who’s thoughts get pretty wonky. Thus all these weird blog posts eh. But as I’m trying to win this mind game against myself for the want to escape and withdraw, I purposely set up hang outs with my friends. And no, I’m not antisocial, thank you very much. My parents were against it but I need to do it for my own sanity and well-being. So today I just ended up shopping with a friend and let me tell you, retail therapy DOES work. Same with ice cream. I can’t wait for more hangouts this coming week!

However, life wasn’t so awesome today before the hangout, since life is like a Yo-Yo. You know that feeling when you feel so defeated? Not only are you harboring a tornado inside from your emotions from relationships and conflicts but now you also get mocked by your results. I got my midterm mark back and this is the first time I did below average and I feel so disappointed in myself. Almost as if I failed the test. I failed myself. I failed my parents. Funny thing is that there always seems to be a very fine line between wanting to do better and just wanting to give up. Being someone who never gives up and would do anything to prove it to myself that I can do better, of course I won’t give up. But I doubt myself. I feel so overwhelmed with everything and I’m so tired fighting against myself…I just want to escape. The date with my friend today, ice cream, and shopping really helped and I feel like that little bit of energy and support is just enough for me to keep going.

Like the little engine that could, I think I can go through this and if I think I can, I can…something like that?