5 years ago…

5 year ago today (30th September – is actually the 1st October now as I publish, oops!)  I was rushed to the hospital after a very large overdose. I was done, couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t want to live in pain for the rest of my life, I just wanted it all to be over. It was a large overdose and I had a lot of other medications in my system too as they were my regular meds. I don’t know how long it was between taking the meds and falling unconscious, but I don’t think it was long. Most of the rest is a complete blur, my family found me, I don’t know how soon after it happened but I was in a bad way. They didn’t want to wait for an ambulance as often ambulances there would take forever to turn up, so they carried me down the stairs and into the back of the car. My Dad ran every red light to get to the hospital as fast as possible, my mum was sat in the back slapping my face to try and keep me awake. All I remember is being slapped and me telling her a few times to ‘fuck off and let me die’ before slipping unconscious again. From here I don’t remember much more just a couple of brief flashes in and out of consciousness. My t-shirt being ripped open in A&E, a porter praying over me in the elevator, a catheter being inserted. They put a tube down my nose for activated charcoal but don’t remember that bit at all. I was unconscious in the ICU for quite a while before I finally came to late the next day I think and then I spent another full day in ICU before a night on a ward as well. Other than these few brief details I do not know what else occurred and I don’t bring it up with my family to ask about it. I don’t want them to have to remember it so vividly and live through it again in their mind.

It feels like that was a lifetime ago, that it was a different person. I’ve been in somewhat bad and suicidal places since, but nothing as severe as how suicidal I was before that attempt and haven’t had any plans since my attempt 5 years ago. Despite the continued pain and illness the past 5 years, I’m glad I survived and I don’t want to repeat that experience ever again. And yes there have been bad times since and lots of pain but I’ve had good times too, some happy times and time spent laughing. I like laughter and sarcasm and turning things into a joke, often this can actually help me cope. I have a great sense of humour and feel that if I didn’t have one, what would I have left? It’d be pretty god damn miserable if I couldn’t see the funny side to things and wasn’t able to laugh at myself and at things in life, which is how it has sometimes been in previous years.
I thought I may feel a bit weird or emotional today about it all, but actually I feel okay. I feel happy I’m still here and that luckily 5 years ago my attempt at taking my own life did not succeed.

Currently I feel very stable mental health wise to be honest. I did have a brief struggle earlier in the year with the whole failed ONS situation, but I’m doing much much better mentally now. Which was helped by changing back to my psychologist of 4 years after having a brief break where I had to see the headache psychologist after ONS surgery, which wasn’t right for me. I feel upbeat and positive, right now I feel like I’m fed up of being miserable as it doesn’t help. Which is a big achievement for me, especially given I’m actually very unwell at the moment. I’ve actually been in hospital the past 2 weeks. But despite the pain and being very sick I still feel positive, able to see the bright and funny side of things, to laugh and to joke. I’ve got an excellent team of doctors, I feel positive and optimistic about everything.  I will write more about it all soon, when everything is all sorted out. I’m in good spirits despite everything, which is pretty revolutionary for me.
However I really need to stop being in hospital on the 30th September. Three years out of the past 5 I have been,  last year was my ONS surgery – can you believe that was a year ago?! And now this year too, which is unrelated to my NDPH or my mental health.

 

P.S have majorly conquered my doctors appointment anxiety currently and am feeling very proud of myself about that.

 

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It’s the never ending headache’s 4 year anniversary!

I got a notification today telling me it’s my blogs 4 year anniversary. It’s crazy to think that it’s been 4 year since I started writing on here. I’d been writing similar for a couple of years before but on Tumblr under the same sort of url, but closed it down and started out on here properly.

My reason for starting writing was to help me cope with the challenges of living with this headache, to give me an outlet because I’m not very capable of voicing my feelings to anyone. I needed a safe place where I felt able to express how this condition makes me feel somewhere other than the once a week session in a psychologists office. It has always and still does make me feel so much lighter once I have written down and shared how I feel; it’s very therapeutic! I’d really recommend blogging/writing to everyone, especially if like me you tend to bottle things up and have difficulty expressing and sharing your emotions with people.
My blog has always remained very private to me, as in I don’t tell people who I know in real life and see all the time about it. Most of my friends and family don’t know it exists and the couple that do respect my privacy enough and how I feel about not wanting to share it with them. I just simply wouldn’t feel comfortable being as honest if I knew family and friends were reading and knew everything I write on here.

I know this blog isn’t often too positive or hopeful and in some ways I’m sorry about that, I wish I could be more of that for you all. But I’m not going to lie and tell you that living with this condition isn’t hard or it’s easy just to get on with it, suck it up and continue with your life as if you didn’t have a headache. Because that’s not possible for me and not for a lot of people with NDPH, that being said a lot of people do work and study. Most of us just try to get on the best we can, whatever that may look like or our situation may be. I pride myself of this being a personal honest account of how this condition affects my life, the problems it causes and how it makes me feel. And I hope that is okay.

When I started this I never thought that many people would be interested in reading about my life and the issues I have faced and still currently face with my headache, turns out that quite a lot of people do. To those of you that read my blog and have ndph or a different headache/migraine condition, I hope that somehow knowing that you’re not alone in this or how this may make you feel is of some small comfort.
To everyone those that always comment and are rooting for me, thank you means a lot!
And finally to all the lovely people who have emailed me since I put a contact email on here. It’s been really nice chatting to each of you, I hope that sharing experiences, helping each other feel slightly less alone, and chatting about random stuff in our lives as a distraction helps you guys as much as it helps me.
If you haven’t emailed me but would like to talk to someone who gets it, share experiences etc, feel free to send me an email as I’d love to hear from you.
iamtheneverendingheadache@gmail.com

Thanks for all the support over the past 4 years, I’ll keep writing 🙂

 

My fear of failure.

I’ve been seeing my new psychologist in London every week for the past 4 weeks, to start with I wasn’t too sure about it, but it’s been going okay and I’m getting use to him and his approach. It’s hard going in the appointment but I seem to have actually progressed with this psychodynamic approach as each week has gone on I have got better at identifying my emotions and the reasons behind them and my anxiety. It’s also been getting easier to talk to him, rather than lots of silence.

Last week he asked me to talk about something he read in one of my clinic letters from my neurologist. It was to do with studying and going to uni, so I told him about how I went back to college to try and obtain some qualifications because I desperately wanted to go to uni. My main reason for wanting to go to uni was because I just wanted to be normal, and secondly that I wanted to be a psychologist. However I was unable to complete the course because of my pain and ended up dropping out of college for a second time.
He then went on to ask if I would agree to some homework, he wanted to me to go home and look at some volunteering opportunities in my local area. He suggested things like volunteering for the Samaritans. He asked if I would be willing to do something like that, I said I am more than open to looking, however it’s the actual going forward with it that would be the problem. Don’t get me wrong I would love to do something productive like volunteering however in actual practice I worry that it wouldn’t work out. I’m scared of failure, actually I’m terrified. Everything I have ever started in the past 7 years I have not completed, I didn’t finish school, then college, then I had a job/apprenticeship and I didn’t finish that either, all because of the pain getting too bad that it becomes impossible. I feel like a complete failure and I don’t want to enhance that feeling by yet again having to drop out of something because the pain gets too bad. But I’m stuck in this cycle of never doing anything for fear of pain and failure, meaning I never move forward and enhancing the feeling that my life is stuck. Today I’ve had a look at some volunteering near me and I’ve found a couple of things that I’d possibly be interested in. Both of which I’ve actually looked into before however I’ve never gone forward with either for fear of pain and failure.  I’d like to do either of them but I’m just terrified of how I would feel if I started and then had to give it up because of the pain.

He also gave me a second piece of homework, which was to get out my old college papers which I obtained all distinctions on. As often I get into the belief that I’m not clever and I have never achieved anything. The belief I have that I’m not clever is not true (hence all the distinctions at college), but I guess I try to believe it because I actually am really clever but I never get to use my intelligence and I’ve never managed to achieve anything with how smart I actually am because of my pain. So I guess thinking that I’m not clever is almost like protection from the feelings I get in knowing that I actually am clever but I feel it will never amount to anything worthwhile and meaningful. That probably doesn’t make a lot of sense, but somehow it makes sense to me. Anyway I got them out and had a read through them and I was reminded about how easy and straight forward I found the assignments. I was also reminded about how I felt when I realised I was going to have to drop out of college because the pain was too bad. I was distraught despite knowing yet again in my life that education was not the right thing for me and my headache and that in my eyes I had failed at something again.

This homework task was okay, I kind of figured out the reason behind my thinking that I’m not clever when actually deep down I know I am. It also revealed how much I’d like to do something productive like volunteering, though I don’t know if I will go through with it because of my fear of failure due to pain.

I’m in London twice this week, Wednesday to finally see my neurologist and hopefully get some answers on my extra pain. And Friday to see my psychologist again, which is my final session out of an initial block of 4 sessions, however I would like to continue seeing him as it seems to be being helpful, so hopefully he can offer me some more sessions.

 

Why exercise is my most important pain management tool.

Exercise is my escape, escape from my thoughts and the pain in my head. I know a lot of people with chronic pain and illness are unable to exercise but for me it’s one of the things that keeps me going.
My main source of exercise is Tae Kwon-Do, I’m a 2nd Dan black belt and qualified instructor, when I’m training or helping out in our club teaching it’s the best relief I get from the pain, it’s still there but I’m so distracted by what I’m doing that the pain isn’t at the front of my mind. I also don’t really have to concentrate to do Tae Kwon-Do, I’ve been doing it for 15 years it’s now so natural that it just automatically flows out of me so I don’t even really need to think or concentrate on what I’m doing. It’s a complete escape and the best and only relief I get. However afterwards my pain is often worse but I usually train in the evenings so mostly I go to bed shortly after getting home. Although often it is worse afterwards, it doesn’t put me off training because of how free I feel whilst I’m doing it, so the worse pain after is worth it for some partial relief. I do also go to the gym which also helps, not quite as good as Tae Kwon-Do but works on a similar principle.

Tae Kwon-Do also saved my life, it gave me a focus and it helped prevent me from self-harming as there was no way I could do both. Tae Kwon-Do means a lot to me and so do the lovely people I train with. When I enter the Dojang (training hall) I cast aside how depressed I’m feeling and I immerse myself into Tae Kwon-Do, it’s almost like a type of therapy for me. When I train it’s the one time of the day I feel happy and free, TKD is a main thing that keeps me going and gets me through the day.

I have a  10 year goal, I want to be a 5th Dan Master by the time I’m 33, that is the quickest time frame possible to do it in and there is 3 more gradings to go to get there with a waiting/training period that increases with each grading. I have to take every grading on time and pass first time to reach my goal and I will reach it, I will not let myself fail. I work hard when I train to be the best I can possibly be, teaching also helps me improve and the gym helps me gain more strength and endurance in order to improve my technique.

I know now for most people with chronic pain or illness exercising is near impossible, and I know I am lucky in that I am able to. And don’t get me wrong there are time when exercising is impossible for me too, if the pain is already really really bad there is no way I can go to Tae Kwon-Do or the gym. But when I am able to, boy does it help me feel better. Without Tae Kwon-Do I would be even more depressed than I already am, TKD keeps me going and keeps me sane.

 

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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.

What have I been up to?

So this weekend I did something that has rather excited and inspired me. It had been booked for a while and I was looking forward to it. I went to Bristol (about 2 hours away from where I live in the UK) to the TAGB academy which is the Tae Kwon-Do association I am part of headquarters, for part 1 of my instructors qualification. It was a 2 day course from 9-5 each day, so a very long day a long with getting there each day also. However it was a fantastic weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the course and left after day one feeling very inspired and excited about my future within Tae Kwon-Do. The course content was very interesting and we did some practical on Sunday as well, overall I learnt a lot and had a really great time. The pain was mostly okay whilst I was on the course however once I got home on Saturday night it was bad, but was a bit better by the morning for day 2, but bad again once I got home Sunday night. Though to be honest I didn’t really mind that the pain got bad because I had such a good time on the course that the extra pain was worth it.

I am now a qualified assistant instructor and am looking forward to hopefully taking part 2 in November to become a fully qualified instructor and able to open up my own Tae Kwon-Do school/club. I have to be invited back to take part 2 though, which involved me producing what is almost like a Tae Kwon-Do dissertation/business plan and sending that completed by October, so hopefully I will get onto part 2. At part 2 there is a written exam and a practical exam which I need to pass, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I have been teaching Tae Kwon-Do for years, I have quite a lot of experience teaching, I did a lot of teaching in Dubai on my own and do a heck of a lot at my club here, often entrusted to take full lessons on my own. I actually took last nights senior session on my own as my instructor was away, and everyone commented that it was a really good session, so I was very pleased with that.

I have a lot of hopes for my future within Tae Kwon-Do, should be taking my 2nd Dan grading in October, and hopefully part 2 of instructors in November. I also am hoping to maybe set up my own Tae Kwon-Do school if I pass part 2, so that could be in the works. I feel very inspired to do so after this weekend. Tae Kwon-Do training and teaching is a huge passion of mine, which you could probably guess. So to open my own school would be amazing and I feel very excited at all the prospects of becoming a qualified instructor.

Aside from Tae Kwon-Do, I have officially told college that I will not be returning next year, I went to see my course tutor yesterday and told her. She was understanding and said it was a shame they were losing me because I have been a very good student despite everything, however she said she knew how hard it had been for me. I felt a bit sad about it all again afterwards, it is frustrating because I know I am clever however education is not right for me and my condition at the minute. Going to focus on pain management and Tae Kwon-Do training for my 2nd Dan, have also applied for a couple of part time jobs. So will see what happens with that, if nothing comes of it I will probably just do some volunteering for a while. I need to do something, doing nothing but focusing on pain management will not be beneficial, I need to have some sort of purpose in life, something to get up for and somewhere to go.

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.