So the other day I posted about hope and chronic pain/illness and today I’m going to write about anger and chronic pain/illness. Like with the feeling of hopelessness there is a lot of anger that comes with chronic pain.
For me my headache just came out of the blue and there was no known cause or anything, no one knew what was wrong with me and no one seemed to be able to help. I went into hospital in Dubai a week after my headache became constant 24/7, I spent a week being given various medications but none of them worked and eventually they discharged me even though I was still in pain and they didn’t know what was wrong with me. At this point I was already angry, angry that no one knew what was wrong with me, I mean they are doctors isn’t it their job to figure out what is wrong with you and get you better, but with chronic pain often there is no better, years on end suffering in pain.
I started to get very angry pretty much soon after I was discharged, and at that point I had no one to talk to about it and no way of expressing all these overwhelming feelings and anger I was experiencing. In April of 2010 4 months after my headache started I picked up a knife and cut myself for the first time, the relief was amazing, and I found that when I was cutting I didn’t feel the pain in my head, which is why after a while I became addicted to that feeling of no pain and relief. I got sent to my school counsellor shortly after this began as my PE teacher figured out that something was wrong and I broke down and told her I had cut. Seeing my school counsellor has possibly been one of the best things that could have ever have happened to me at this point, though at the beginning I didn’t give her much and found it really hard to talk as I just wasn’t use to talking about my feelings as I had never really done it before.
But the anger increased as time went on and nothing got better, I was in pain I had no diagnosis, no answers to why I was in pain and no treatment. I would feel overwhelmed with anger, and would punch walls to feel some relief from the anger I was feeling, it happened in school a lot, I would go into the bathrooms when no one was in there and punch the walls. This was before my diagnosis and before any treatment. I’d go to school every day without failure, I wasn’t very productive, but when I got home I was so worn out by the pain and the anger I was feeling among other things, that I would tell my parents I was going for a nap but really I led in my room crying for hours until dinner was ready, then I would clean myself up, put on a front and go downstairs for dinner.
I once exploded on my dad at dinner, he was complaining of a headache, he wouldn’t stop complaining about it and I just sat there getting angrier and angrier at my dad complaining of having a headache for half an hour when I had had a severe one for months and never got to complain about it at all. I was just so angry all the time about the shitty hand I seemed to have been dealt, no one understood how I was feeling, friends started to disappear as my illness carried on and I was no closer to getting any answers as to why I was in pain all the time. An old close friend of mine, once accused me of faking my headache, she told my best friend she thought I was faking and he told me, safe to say I exploded big time, who in their right mind would fake this sort of thing, I was so angry we had the biggest argument and haven’t spoken since.
That was all in the first year of getting my headache but the anger continued building as time went on, it never really got any easier. I eventually got a diagnosis but the diagnosis I got didn’t leave me with much hope that things would get better. Angry that I had a diagnosis that no one really knew much about, that there wasn’t much treatment for and no one really knows the cause of it, and more to the point I felt like no one cared about people that got constant headaches like NDPH, or for that matter any headache conditions, people seem to think that it’s just a headache and is no big deal, that we should just ‘get over it’. When really it’s so much more than that. For me cause I have NDPH that means I have a severe headache 24/7 people have a hard time understanding the fact that I am ALWAYS in pain that it never goes away. They refer to me as someone who gets headacheS, which really infuriates me, headacheS implies that it does away that you have some pain free time, I would love to get headacheS at least then I would get some sort of a break. People just can’t seem to get their head around someone having a constant headache 24/7, which makes it hard for them to understand why I have been so depressed because they just think a headache is no big deal.
At the end of the school year of 2010 (the year my headache struck) I somehow managed to acquire a boyfriend, and in the beginning it was great, I really liked him he really liked me bla bla bla etc etc. We did long distance over the summer as we were both going away for the summer and it was all fine, but then eventually all we ever did was argue, and we were arguing about the fact that I was always in pain and he wasn’t very nice about it. Seemed to think it was my fault I was in pain and depressed, he would pretty much verbally abuse me about the fact that I was in pain all the time. He accused me of thinking my problems were more important that anyone else’s which is not true at all, I was and still am always there for anyone to talk to vent to and be there for them, always have been. If anything I was completely the opposite to what he was accusing me of. And it made me very angry, the whole relationship made me very angry, the way he treated me. Eventually I got fed up of the verbal abuse I was getting from him all the time that I broke up with him.
After this everything just went even more downhill, my depression got way worse because of the pain I was experiencing. Eventually all my friends disappeared, no one spoke to me anymore, no one was there for me I had no one other than my school counsellor. I went to school every day, in free periods and often lessons because I was skipping a lot of them I was in the nurses office sleeping. I was angry; angry that I was sick, angry that all my friends seemed to have left me when I really needed them. After school I would go home and tell my parents I was going for a nap when really I was led on my bed in my room crying for hours. Other than school and going to the doctors I didn’t leave the house for anything social in about a year. I had no one and it continued this way for a long time, until the next school year of September 2011 when I got moved down a year to repeat year 12 as I didn’t manage to complete it the first time round. All my old friends had left me, all be it they were still at the same school just now in the year above me, I still saw them around school but none of them spoke to me so I didn’t speak to them. After about 4 months I started to make some friends in my new school year, these were a lot more accepting and understanding of my illness’ and I still speak to them now and see them when we are all in Dubai, which isn’t very often, but they have mostly stuck by me. Well most of them.
About a year ago I had an old best friend from when I lived in England pop up and talk to me on Facebook, we hadn’t spoken in over a year. We kept in touch the first year I was away and then I saw her a fair bit when I was over the summer of 09; the year before my headache struck. And then we were in contact a bit the second year I was away and around the time I got sick, I came back that summer and tried to meet up with her several times, but she didn’t seem interested in seeing me, so I gave up eventually and we didn’t keep in contact after that. But in 2012 she popped up on Facebook saying she had seen the scars on my arms and was I okay, so I was like thinking ‘oh this is nice an old friend getting back in contact’ so I told her a bit about my illness and stuff. And then she proceeded to say in so many words that I had no right to be depressed when others have it much worse. I was outraged, how dare she say that she had no idea of what I had been through and what I was still going through. We had a massive argument where she told me I was overreacting, when in my opinion I wasn’t overreacting to what she said at all. I then told her not to bother speaking to me again, and we haven’t spoken since and are no longer even friends on Facebook.
I’ve had a lot of anger going on in my life since I got sick, about being sick and in pain, about how people have reacted to me being in pain, about tests that came up negative for anything they tested me for or scanned me for when I was desperate for something to show up so that they could fix the problem; instead I am fighting something that no one really knows the cause of, that is just basically a label put on a symptom/condition, that has no effective treatment set for it, there is little awareness or research for and that all makes me angry. About treatments, medications and procedures that never helped and just left me feeling more angry and not to mention helpless.
I now channel my anger into more positive channels than cutting (anger wasn’t the only reason I cut, I cut mainly to take away the pain in my head but it helped for anger too) and punching walls. I’ve always done Tae Kwon-Do, well since I was 8, so 12 years now, been a black belt for nearly 7. I now go to training 5 or 6 nights a week, it helps to control and express my anger about everything. I don’t beat people up at all, Tae Kwon-Do isn’t like that, it’s a martial art and a lot of it is about control, but it’s a positive way of releasing my angry emotions. I am hoping to grade for my next level of black belt which will be 2nd Dan next April. I am now leading a more positive accepting life, where yes there is some anger still but generally a lot less than the past few years.
If you are like me and are suffering from chronic pain/illness and are very angry, I really recommend finding a way to channel your anger through a hobby. I like Tae Kwon-Do and writing it really helps. Find something you like that is positive and helps release your emotions.