I get really bad headaches. Constant, enduring, painful headaches.
Sometimes they are migraines, where I shut the blinds and my eyes tight, and ban strong smells from my vicinity. Migraines can keep me down for days. They are self-perpetuating. The smell of food makes me gag, so I don’t eat, so they get worse. The pain of my migraines can be so bad that I vomit. I have spent hours of my life with my forehead pressed against the cold tile of my bathroom floor. Coolness is calming, relief-giving. When I have migraines I am intimately tied to my own body and my surroundings. The pounding and pulsing and pain in my head ground me to Earth. I cannot escape my body, I cannot escape my pain.
Sometimes they are tension headaches. Starting from my shoulders and creeping up the sides of my neck. They sit in my temples. They nag and pull. I can sit up and talk with these headaches, I can eat and function as a human-being. Though my thoughts are foggy, and my interactions difficult. These headaches make me thankful that my pain is manageable. Sometimes I can escape them with distractions, like reading or watching reality TV. I can stay productive with these headaches, but only because they are exponentially less painful than my migraines. I can sit in the warm tub and get relief, I can sit in class and keep the tears behind my eyes.
Sometimes they are sinus headaches. These headaches are the least painful, most manageable. They start in my teeth, and form a constant block of pulsing pain and tension from my toungue to the bottom of my eyes and halfway through my brain. These headaches make the world seem very far away. It’s like there’s a balloon somewhere in my face, and I’m looking through the clouded, stretched exterior. There is no relief from my sinus headaches. But at least they are only mildly painful.
I wake up every morning with at least a sinus headache. I have a migraine 2-4 times a month. I have tension headaches 2-3 times a week.
I haven’t seen a doctor about my headaches in a few years now. I don’t trust them. They never believe me, they never take me seriously. I’m also terrified that there is something seriously wrong with me. Something that can’t be ‘fixed’. Then it’s real, then there would be no doubt that I was sick, that my pain was serious. Being ‘diagnosed’ seems a hell of a lot scarier than the liminal, not-knowing state of guessing and ignoring my pain.
Right now I think I live in an alternate universe. My vision often blurs and shines. I see shadows of shining particles where there are none. Air itself takes on a visible quality. My world is like a TV station that is coming in just a little fuzzy. I feel, see, and smell more intensely. But I still have to operate in everyone elses’ world. I still have to eat and talk. I still have to turn in papers and go to class. It’s really hard. It’s really invisible.
I live in pain, pain that never goes any further than my neck. Pain that I cannot escape, that surrounds me and everything that I do. Often I wonder what it would be like to not be in pain, I wonder how productive I would be, if my depression would lessen, if I would have an easier time maintaining relationships. I wonder if people believe me when I say I’m in pain. I wonder if people can see the tears I try so hard to keep behind my eyes.