One year ago, today, I published ‘THIS IS ME’ on The Thought Factory blog. One year later, I’m here writing a follow-up to that post and things are not quite the same.
I’m not cured. My headache is still there, and now it’s been about 8 and a half years.
Putting everything in context- When I published ‘THIS IS ME’, for the first time I openly spoke about something I’ve been living with for a while. When I was in 3rd grade, I developed a headache problem. My head started hurting one day out of the blue and it hasn’t stopped ever since. I have a headache every day of all 365 days. The conclusion of innumerous tests and doctors’ visits has all been that I’m perfectly fine. Yet, my head still hurts. One day we met a doctor who informed us that what I have is an ‘Unclassified Headache’ and it has no particular cause or cure. He gave me some meds and, for the first time, my headache felt like it was fading away permanently. I felt like I’m going to recover, miraculously. As hopeful as I was in that article, one year later, here I am and there has been no miracle.
After I’d written last year’s post, I continued to take the meds prescribed by that doctor for a few months. Later, the same thing happened all over again. The medicines stopped working for me and having any effect on me. We decided to be off any medication for a while. Even till now, I am not permanently taking any medicines and during sudden emergencies when the pain is unbearable; I take the one medicine that was prescribed to me by the same doc. That medicine gives me an instant relief for a few hours.
But it hasn’t been all that simple. There were days of continuous pain and struggle with no solution. And then one day in March, I had a mental breakdown. I was going through other stuff too and in the middle of all of that; I realized what was already there in some part of my mind. The fact that I might probably have to live with my headache for the rest of my life. It could probably never go away. And as well as I’ve learnt to deal with it over the last 8.5 years, it is still a struggle every single day.
I wrote this on 7th May 2021-
“It hurts so much. Everything hurts. From head to toe, every inch of my body hurts. And I don’t know how to make it stop. It feels like it will never, ever stop. There’s just so much pain, even tears don’t help anymore. Although I can’t stop them from coming. They’re flowing right now, down my cheeks and all over my face. But none of it makes any difference. The pain is excruciating. And it’s not only about my head anymore. It’s my entire face and my shoulders and my back, my arms and my lower back, my legs and my feet. When I said ‘from head to toe’, I meant it. I’m weak and I feel like I’m really going to pass out. I’m in the most helpless state possible. I’m tired, so, so tired of it all. And I cannot help but feel every bit; I’m feeling every bit of the pain right now and it hurts so damn much. I’m ready to beg, plead, do anything that would take this suffering away from me even for a while. Just please make it go away.”
Even though it sounds so dramatic, it is very real. I am still as vulnerable and helpless as I used to be. That miraculous recovery that I had anticipated never happened and now it feels like I’m back to square one. Not moved an inch from there. Everything is back to how it used to be. There’s the pain and the tears and the basic things I do to feel better or distract myself. It is all exactly the same. And maybe it’s going to be the same for a while. Maybe for a long, long while. This entire cycle might keep repeating until it stops, or doesn’t.
I seriously needed to write this all down, follow up on ‘THIS IS ME’ and just vent. But I’m done now. Shed a tear or two while writing this piece as well and I feel much better after getting it all out there. But what’s the next step? What do I do now that I know my problem has high chances of being permanent; that 365 days after 365 days, for the rest of my life, this is going to be my life? Writing each word right now is still tearing me up because no matter how much I try to explain, I cannot put into words the pain that I go through every single day. It is all of me. And it might be pretty clear by now that I’m seriously struggling to drive this article towards a positive ending as is consistent in all my writings. I had ended the article previous to this on such a cheerful note, awaiting full recovery and ready to move on with my life. And I had definitely not guessed that this is what I’d be writing one year later.
The rational thing to do right now, as another doctor had advised me recently too, is to study the timings, triggers and patterns of my headache on my own and try to avoid the usual triggers and take as many precautions as I can, and just get better at dealing with it every day. Of course, it is easier said than done. Fear, pain, overthinking, panic and what not cloud my mind. It is so hard to accept everything that’s happening. Yet, despite it all, somewhere in my heart I also trust myself to get through it.
I mean, come on, this is me. 8.5 years of headache and I’m still here, aren’t I? In all these years, I’ve also gotten through some pretty ugly and tough times and I’m still here. I know myself and I know I survive everything. I’ve experienced such severe pain from my headaches for most of my life and I’m still doing pretty great. A lot of other good stuff has been happening to me lately too and I’ve just been really happy. Touch wood. So, I know that in the coming years too, I will figure it out, you know. Even if this is for the rest of my life, I will really get through it. I am a fighter, definitely a survivor, after all.
I’d like to correct myself too when I said that I haven’t moved an inch from square one, that everything is back to how it used to be. It’s not entirely true. Maybe the headache is, but I’m not the same. I feel different. I look different. And I definitely think different. I feel like I’m growing and learning every single day. The experiences that I’ve been so privileged to have in the last few months are making me a better person. So, a lot of this article focuses on the pain and struggle because I want to be honest about that. But I also want to be honest about how grateful I am because no matter my condition, I still find a way to be happy, which I think has been one of my biggest achievements so far.
So, this is really me. My headache is not my identity. But I am a mixture of my pain and positive spirit. And even though keeping up this spirit is going to be so, so hard on so many days, I know I will manage. I will take the right precautions and follow the right instructions. If I could do it for all these years, I can do it now. All the fear and overthinking- I’m still working on that part. Not too much pressure on myself, so it’s going to be one day at a time.
Tomorrow, on the first of June 2021, as I celebrate my 17th birthday, I think I’m ready to embrace my truest self with all that it brings, and continue to keep moving forward.