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.

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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

Compassion.

I like to believe I’m a compassionate person, well actually I’m told fairly frequently that I am. I was told as recently as today, by someone who I love a great deal, who I respect and deeply value her opinion and the advice, help and support she gives me. I truly don’t think I would be here today without her, she has talked me round off the edge a number of times and without her I don’t know where I would be. Don’t get me wrong I’ve put in a lot of work to get here, but if I didn’t have her support I don’t think I would have ever been at this stage in my life where I feel pretty okay despite pain.

Yes I’m a compassionate person, I care deeply about other people whether they be family, friends, people I’ve only just met, or people that read my blog. I’ve only spoken to a few of you but if you read my blog then you must have found it for a reason, you must have been searching for something most likely headache related, as that’s what my blog is about. But if you’ve been searching that means you’re looking for help, possibly guidance and most probably to help you feel a little less crazy (you’re not by the way!) and less alone. I hope reading my words help on some level, because that’s an aim. This blog isn’t purely for my own benefit but for yours too. I care deeply about helping people, and it’s what I want to do with my life eventually. I care a heck of a lot about people struggling with anything no matter how big or small it may be.

The problem is, I’m not very compassionate to myself, like at all. I’m just not very nice to myself, I say things to myself I wouldn’t even dream to say to someone else, so why do I tell myself these things, say these not very nice things to myself? What does it achieve? Well the answer is anxiety, anger, disappointment in myself, all negative emotions that aren’t good for my journey with acceptance.

The lovely woman who told me yet again today that I’m very compassionate has also often told me that I’m not very nice to myself and compassionate towards myself. My psychologist has noticed it as well and says I need to develop my inner compassionate mind. When I last saw her she sent me some recordings that will help me develop it more and be maybe just a little nicer to myself. So self-compassion is something I am working on.

I feel like this is probably a problem for a lot of people in chronic pain, are you self-compassionate? Or are you like me who tells myself things like I’m rubbish, no good at anything, can’t achieve anything, that I’m stupid, that I’m unworthy, that I deserve pain when in fact I’m not any those things at all. I am good at things, I can achieve things, I’m not stupid and I don’t deserve pain; however that is what I’ve got and I’m learning to accept that. I have high expectations of myself and am a bit of a perfectionist, nothing I ever do is good enough for my standards and it’s a bit of a problem. Even if I achieve something there is always a voice in the back of my head that I should have done better than I did and that voice needs to go.

I know I need to be more self-compassionate but I’ve recognised that I need to improve on this area of my life so now I can begin to take control over it.

Stressed.

Saying I’m stressed would be an understatement, I’m beyond stressed so much so I had a bit of a breakdown last night to my mum and was in floods of tears. I very rarely cry, often I feel like crying about things but the tears never seem to come. However when I do very occasionally cry it’s because something is so overwhelming, and I need to make a change because something is seriously up.

I’ve been trying really hard over the past week and a half to put things in place in order to try and feel better and help my depression. My pain management techniques, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation etc etc. That part was going okay, and I started to enjoy and look forward to my mindfulness sessions each day and I started to feel a bit more positive about everything. However college work kind of took a back burner, I’m unsure of how to manage everything in my life, how to do all my pain management and all that involves and attend college and get the work done outside of college. I don’t know how to do it all. I want to feel better and that’s a priority but how do I do all that and college work, I feel like I can’t do it all and I am so stressed about it. I also find it extremely difficult to get work done outside of college as well, pain gets in the way and I don’t feel able to do any of it most of the time, and I’m so focused on trying to get better depression wise that I’m finding it difficult to manage everything else I have to do.

I have a mountain of college work that needs to be done but how do I manage it all effectively with incorporating pain management; meditation, relaxation, pacing, self care etc etc. I just don’t feel able to do it all.
Yesterday I had college, I had already emailed my teacher to tell her I hadn’t been able to do the homework, it was an issue of priorities. I hadn’t been able to get it done in the two weeks we were given to do it because of the pain, it came to the day before and I still hadn’t done it and the pain was bad yet again. It was either push myself to do the 1000 word homework and not be able to attend the lesson the next day because of the pain or not do the homework and attend the lesson. My teacher said it was fine to extend the deadline so I had an evening of rest and managed to attend the lesson yesterday. Not only do I have the homework on my mind that needs to be done, I have two law assignments to do by the 25th of this month and I still haven’t decided on a topic to do them on, so I have that hanging over me as well.
It doesn’t seem like a lot but when you consider that this time last year I was doing nothing and bed bound the majority of time, it’s a lot! Yesterday I was in the lesson and I was so stressed about the amount of work I have hanging over my head and the fact that the pain is bad I left the lesson early and went home. Where I eventually ended up having a breakdown to my mum and was in floods of tears.
Today I had law at college, still stressed about everything but made it through the lesson, however it was mostly just our teacher talking to us about cases for assignment topics and not much work was involved. Was then meant to have a one on one with my teacher about our assignment but time ran out before he could get to me.
I then had my weekly appointment with a lovely woman who listens to how I’ve been each week and tries to support me in any way she can. I told her I was extremely stressed about all this and she suggested speaking to my teachers first and also coming into college on a Friday to try and do some work in the inspiration room which she runs for select people who need a quiet place to escape or work. So I’m going to try and do that on Friday, I also have an appointment in the afternoon with my law teacher to discuss my assignment and my difficulties. Today when I got home I emailed my psychology teacher as well to tell her about the current issues I’m having with all this, she knows some and that I’m sick etc etc. But she emailed back a nice email saying she understands my dilemma, that she wishes there was something she could do to help, that I am doing well and meeting deadlines better than a lot of other people in my class and that I have potential; which was nice to hear. She said that if there was anything she could do to help just to let her know, and not to worry too much about deadlines or leaving class because she is fine with it and understands the reasons behind it. So that was okay.

I’m still feeling very stressed and not sure what to do. I can’t quit because that is failure and I can’t deal with anymore of that; I have to do this, I need to achieve and I need to be able to do something meaningful, I need purpose.

The issue is that last spring/summer when I managed to get myself to a better place I had little to no demands, I could focus all my time and energy on getting to a better place. But this time although I know that I can do it because I’ve done it before, I have college to keep up with and focus on as well and it’s proving to be very difficult and stressful and I’m not entirely sure what to do or how to cope with it all.