It’s been 3 years…

Today marks 3 years since the suicide attempt that nearly killed me. It was my third attempt that week, though the first two were more like practice runs to gauge how much medication I needed to take. I had prepared for that day for months, I had spent hours on a suicide note, wanting my last words to be exactly right, everything was ready and I was ready to die.

My memory of it is fuzzy, I remember only brief flashbacks. I don’t even remember getting all the medication out the packet and taking it, the first thing I remember is being slapped in the face in the car by my mum to try and keep me awake on the way to the hospital. I remember a Muslim porter at the hospital praying over me in the lift as I was taken to intensive care. And the next thing I remember is waking up to see my school counsellor at my bedside, the first thing I said to her with tears streaming down my face was ‘why am I alive?’

The pain had pushed me to the edge and then it pushed me off, I felt like there was no other way out, I felt like I had no choice. If I wanted to get rid of the pain my only option was to die and that seemed like the best option for me.

Since that day 3 years ago it hasn’t been easy, I try to keep my head above the water however sometimes I start to drown in the negativity I am so prone to. Though there has been periods of time since moving back to England 2 and a half years ago that I have felt mostly okay despite pain, that I have felt happy despite pain, that I have felt able to cope. So I know it is possible and I just have to keep working on it constantly and try not to drown in darkness that is sometimes oh so comfortable.

My journey with my never ending headache has been hard it’s been over 5 and a half years now and it’s unlikely that I will get better. But I have survived this far and I don’t want my headache to win, because I know I can be happy despite it so I will keep fighting for that.

I will leave you with my favourite quote which helps ground me on bad days:
On particularly rough days when I am sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 3

Small headache and migraine hopes – what small thing gives you hope for living with headaches and migraines? 

My phone with all my mindfulness recordings; they help me cope and I have recordings for many different times of the day, many different lengths of meditations. Mindfulness meditation is the thing that is most beneficial to my pain and condition, probably the best relief I get (along with Tae Kwon-Do) and helps me cope with the difficult emotions that arise often for me. Mindfulness is about being in there here and now, focusing on only getting through that particular moment, not focusing on the past or the future. Letting thoughts come and go without paying them too much attention. It is now widely known that mindfulness can help with chronic pain and illness’ and I can tell you for a fact for me it does help my pain as long as I consistently practice it and it helps me maintain my mood and therefore my hope for living my life despite my pain.

MHAM blogging challenge – Day 2

A person who helped you hope:

There are a few people over the years who have helped me hope through support. The main few being my family who have stuck by me no matter what, through my darkest times have always been there to support me. With my condition there isn’t much hope that I will ever be pain free, for years there was hope that each treatment I tried may alleviate some of my pain however unfortunately I ran out of treatment options because everything I tried didn’t help. I felt like hope was hard to come by for a long time. Until two people one being my old school counsellor who helped me cope for years, who inspired me to be better, who understood how and why I felt the way I did, and my latest psychologist who showed me that with work on acceptance using meditation and natural pain management techniques that I could be okay despite pain as long as I put what they taught me into practice. Showing me I could hope for a good and full life despite pain. For a long time I was too scared to hope, it was like everything I ever hoped for got taken away by the pain, but then my eyes were opened towards acceptance and hope for a better life felt much easier.
I no longer hope to be pain free, which sounds odd I know – I wish I was pain free, but being realistic I am probably never going to be. Instead I hope to be okay despite pain to live a full life and make my pain and everything I have been through since I got sick over 5 year ago matter. Without the help of my school counsellor and psychologist showing me that hope was okay, I would forever be stuck in the place of hopelessness that sometimes has consumed me.
I hope one day I can give hope to someone in the way people who have helped give me hope throughout my journey with my condition.

After having some time to reflect.

I have been so absent from here recently, it has been a difficult few weeks with a lot going on and a lot of thoughts going through my head. Sorry for the lack of posts but am hoping to be back blogging more frequently again now.
I have had some time to reflect this week and really think deeply about what I am going to do. I don’t think university will be right for me I think it will be detrimental to my health both physical and mental, someone I care about and value their opinion told me today that what would be the point in a degree if I end up dead. Blunt, but true. So that brings up the question of what do I do instead and this has really been getting to me as I feel like I have to do something meaningful and I feel like I need to be working towards something.
I am currently in Dubai and on the flight here I really had some time to think about everything. I feel like I need some time out of everything, time to focus on getting my pain under control naturally again, time to get consistently stable with my health, time to work on my acceptance. I have had periods of being stable and okay over the past year, so I know it is possible as long as I put the work in. The problem is that they have been short lived and I feel like I need to get it so that I am consistently feeling okay before I move on and do something with my life. I feel like I will be unable to move forward with a job and a career unless everything else is under control, and if it is not then I know I will not succeed in what I want to do. So I am going to spend some time however long I need to do this, maybe even up to a year, whatever it takes to reach my goals in managing my pain and stability. Putting into practice everything I have learnt, making it a routine and sticking to it consistently.
After that I might look at slowly introducing some other stuff as well as my pain management, maybe some volunteering to get some life experience and then maybe a counselling course to become a counsellor.
Being in Dubai, today I saw my favourite person; my old school counsellor. I discussed all of this with her, she probably knows me best in the world and always understands my feelings about the pain. She agreed that I need some time to get myself sorted before starting anything again.
I will not be returning to college next year to finish my course, and therefore will not be going to university for now. Instead I will be focusing on getting back the good place I have been in before however have not managed to stay there consistently, but I will get back there with time, work and effort and hopefully I will manage to stay stable indefinitely. And then I can start to move forward towards what I ultimately want to achieve from my life, but my pain management techniques along with my acceptance have to be made a priority in my life, above all else – this is what I have failed at before and I need to work to succeed in this for the sake of my health and well-being.

Two years ago.

Two years ago tomorrow I came back to England from Dubai. I was incredibly suicidal and yet again it wasn’t safe for me to be in Dubai where mental health care is lacking and suicide is illegal. Having only just got away with it in September 2012 when I overdosed and ended up in intensive care. I didn’t want to come back to England, actually I loathed the idea. I wasn’t expecting to stay longer than a few weeks, so when I was told by the mental health people I started seeing here that it would take way longer than that, I was distraught. Dubai was my home and I hated England.
The mental health team were useless anyway and didn’t help so eventually I got rid of them and found a private psychologist who specialised in treating people with chronic pain. I hit the jackpot and she was/is great. She has helped me immensely with being accepting of my condition and learning to live a good and happy life despite pain. Taking every day as it comes, and incorporating mindfulness and pain management techniques into my life, which help a lot.

I never thought any of this would be possible for me, for me to be in pain but to be okay, to be happy. It is highly likely I will be in pain for the rest of my life, but that’s okay because I can cope, I can be happy and I can live a full life despite chronic pain. I still have bad days, bad pain days, flare ups which last weeks/months, days where I’m in a bad mood because of it. But that comes with the territory of chronic pain and not every day is bad.

After dropping out of school back in September 2012 after my overdose I never thought I would be back in education ever again. But I am, I’m at college and I’m doing well at college and hope to go to university after I finish my course in a years time.

I’ve come so far over the past two years, there has been many ups and downs and it has been an incredibly hard journey over the past five years since I got sick to get to this place. However I hope that maybe I am a better person for it. For what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come.

None of this would have been possible for me if I hadn’t moved back, if I didn’t have the support from the people I do, my family, my school counsellor and my psychologist who support me every step of the way. In order to move back we had to split my family up, my mum lives in England with me and my Dad and sister in Dubai, it’s been hard on my parents and it’s been hard on my sister not having my mum there with her all the time. I feel bad about it but I can’t appreciate what they have done for me enough. I would never have got to this place without moving back and I can’t thank them all enough.

I am the never ending headache, but I have accepted that.
I may always be the never ending headache, but I can live my life as best as possible despite it.
I can have NDPH and be okay, I know that now.

Forever proving myself wrong.

Just over a year ago now I was hording medication to kill myself with, I was ready to end it all again, to end the pain and suffering and to just not be here anymore. It was around this time last year that something changed in me, all the work I had done with my psychologist finally made sense and I wanted to get better emotionally. So I threw away all the medication and decided to try and turn my miserable life around into a life of acceptance and peace despite pain; though it has been a bumpy road that has had many ups and downs.

This time last year I applied to go to college and to my surprise I got in to do an Access Course to get me qualifications to get into university on. After dropping out of school in 2012 after my overdose I never thought I would be able to go back to education, I never thought I would get anywhere in life. I thought I was doomed to spend the rest of my life in bed living off my parents due to pain and depression. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding going back to education, about whether I would be able to do it, would I be able to cope with studying and the pain. In September I started my course full time (4 days a week for 1 year), I found it to be too much to handle so made the sensible decision to drop to doing it part time (2 days a week for 2 years), which has suited me much better at the minute.
I doubt myself a lot, the problem is I don’t believe in myself, I don’t believe I can achieve anything. For years my life was a string of what I saw as failures, for example, I was unable to complete my A levels 3 times and I ended up dropping out of school. Those being my two biggest issues, so my fear of going back to education when I hadn’t had much luck or success with it in the past I think were pretty valid. I also didn’t believe that my brain worked properly anymore, I didn’t believe I could learn because of the pain, I felt stupid and didn’t believe I would be able to achieve good grades in going back to education. I still struggle with this despite proving myself wrong at every turn.
As it turns out I have got the highest grade there is on nearly all of the assignments I have done, and the one where I got the second highest grade I only just narrowly missed out on the highest one. I didn’t expect to get grades as good as that, I doubted myself and didn’t believe in myself and my abilities, every assignment I expected to fail, so you can imagine my surprise when it turns out not only did I pass but I got the highest grades possible in the majority of them.

I have proven myself wrong in that I have been able to cope with college and that I have been able to achieve high grades despite never thinking I could do this with the pain.
My old GP in Dubai who is a lovely woman and I am actually on a first name basis with, once said that I am not an ‘average joe’ that I am incredibly insightful, intelligent and mature and that I have a hell of a lot to offer the world, that I have something special that a lot of people don’t have, and she said she hoped that I could one day show the world what I am about. Part of me is inclined not to believe the words she once said to me, but that’s because I doubt myself so much and have a lack of a belief in myself. People tell me all the time that I’m strong, that I’m special, that they are proud of me, that they have great hopes for my future, however I tend not to believe them. Everyone else seems to believe in me, so why can’t I believe in myself.

I need to start having more faith in myself and my abilities because I am capable of achieving things despite pain, and it has become clear that I am forever proving myself wrong. I have come so far since this time last year when I never thought that any of this would be possible for me.

Sometimes all it takes is a decision.

Shortly after the onset of my headache depression hit me hard, and I continued to suffer from severe depression for years. I couldn’t cope with the pain and the way it made me feel all the time; miserable, angry, bitter, lost, pretty much every negative feeling out there I was feeling it at full force. For a long time I coped with my pain through self-harm, it was my coping mechanism, however not a good one. After a while I just didn’t want to live anymore, I saw no future for myself but pain and misery, I didn’t think there was any other way, so I tried to kill myself and got close to succeeding.

It’s only been in the past year that  have discovered that there is another way, happiness can be found despite pain, my life can have meaning, I can achieve things and more importantly I can live despite pain and be okay with it. The path wasn’t easy, it had many bumps in the road and still does, but I believe the first step is making the decision you want to feel better. Because before I don’t think I really wanted to get better emotionally, it was easier to let the depression consume me but I didn’t know there was a way out.

The most successful therapy I’ve had has been ACT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, geared towards pain management of the natural kind; no medications. It was a hard road and in the beginning it all sounded like nonsense, I thought it was stupid and impossible that anyone could accept their chronic pain, be okay despite pain and live a happy and full life despite pain. Eventually it was like a switch in my head had turned and I understood it and wanted to work towards accepting my pain and feeling better. That was the turning point for me, and I worked my ass off to get there. I will admit to falling off the wagon briefly, however that is because I decided to take on the world and had stopped all my pain management techniques. I eventually got back there though, all be it I needed a bit of help along the way.
Now feeling pretty okay again the majority of the time, have bad days now and again, the majority of which revolve around the pain being bad.

I may never recover from chronic pain, I will probably always have a headache, but that’s okay because I can cope, I can still achieve things and more importantly I can be happy despite pain.
Some days are bad, but most are good despite pain.

If you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain and you think I’m completely crazy and what I’m saying doesn’t sound possible. I want you to know that that’s okay, because I use to think it was crazy and impossible too. But I do want you to know that it’s not, it is possible, it is achievable, and I hope one day you may get to this place too, but I am always here for you whenever, through the good, the bad and the ugly.
Contact me on: iamtheneverendingheadache@gmail.com