“You can be greater than anything that can happen to you.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale
So, I had a cluster-like headache at work last night. It’s the second one I ever had at work.
It was devastating.
The last one I had at work was in October, eight months ago. Luckily back then it was a cool, dark, dreary night and was slow so no one had to witness it. But now it’s Spring/Summer and very busy so when I was struck with it, there were customers at the window. I never want to freak anyone out and I learned to control my reactions to these headaches a little bit better in general, not always though. Sometimes I still scream til I lose my voice.
It’s rare to have a headache during work hours; they usually occur around 2:00 in the morning til 5:00am.
I had to keep hitting my face and clutching my head and trying not to scream.
It takes everything I have in me not to bang my head against the walls. There have been nights I cracked my head for hours over n over against a wall. All night long.
And kept feeling what felt like my brain shaking because of the force.
But I was near insanity.
It’s an incredible sense of loneliness.
When I talk about my headaches, I often explain what they are like because they aren’t “headaches.” They are cruel, vicious attacks.
I have tmjd, not cluster headache (CH) disorder, that I know of, but my condition triggers cluster-like headaches.
It feels like a hot poker being driven through the eye socket and being held there for minutes to hours and can be off and on for hours, days, weeks or months or unfortunately for some, every single day with no remission. There’s no known cure. On top of the severe burning agony like scalding hot water being poured over the side of the face, is the worst throbbing tooth pain and ear pain and pressure.
Like all our nerves exposed and being squeezed
It involves the trigeminal nerve, I heard/read.
They are also called suicide headaches & ice pick headaches(like the head being split with an ice pick). It’s that bad.
There’s no pain that I know of that can be used as a reference point to compare the magnitude of this pain to. Being burned and brain freeze are the closest things.
They can make the eye droop and water and the nose run on whatever side of the face the pain is on. Sometimes my face swells up on the side and turns red or even a purple/bruised color. It feels like and sometimes looks like my face is melting. It’s not pretty. Pain pills do nothing. Not prescription ones, not ones bought in a store. The headaches only occur on one side of the face. It can be either side.
Mine was on the right at work.
I thought I was dying, the pain was so bad.
I don’t know if physical pain can literally drive someone insane but I keep thinking it will.
I wanted to run out of work and run to the bar across the street screaming but I knew my boss likely wouldn’t have anyone to come in work for me and did not want to leave her or the customers hanging.
No matter how much I suffer, I have come to generally be mindful of how my actions may affect others and try to always do what is best for them. I don’t always succeed but generally, I try.
It itself is not a life threatening condition and not like I was in danger of dying or anything.
But some people do attempt and die by suicide because the pain is so immense. It feels unbearable. I don’t really think I will kill myself anymore when I have them. I used to though. During the headaches, I often keep thinking “I can’t take this, I can’t take another second, how much more can I possibly endure….?!?!?”
Take something freezing cold like ice cream or frozen drink and let it against your teeth without swallowing or put mouth wash in your mouth and keep it in over ten minutes no matter how much it burns and when you feel you really can’t take anymore still keep it there, and you can get maybe a fraction of an idea of what these headaches are like. The headaches hurt more.
My cluster-like headaches aren’t
very frequent in general. I can go for months without having one. But just one headache is enough. The first one I was struck with when I was 24 years old, scarred me for life.
Just one of these head attacks, even if you never have another, will scar you emotionally, no matter how strong you are, I can almost guarantee it.
It will break you in a way you can never be put back together. The physical pain is extreme. There are just no words.
If I found out someone was going to have one of these and I were able to experience it instead of that person, I would take on as many as I can so no one else ever has to. My heart sinks and breaks at the mere thought of some poor person having to endure this.
That’s why some people with them kill themselves even when they aren’t depressed, because the physical pain is immense in the moments they occur. It’s like nothing else in this world exists anymore.
Just a world of screaming agony.
It’s like being in another dimension, I often say, a kind of pain that feels unearthly and like it can’t possibly exist. But it does exist.
I have said that I couldn’t dream up this kind of agony in my worst nightmare.
I can crumble just writing this.
They shatter me.
But it’s ok. It’s always ok. It’s all about our attitude, perspective, reaction.
They begin abruptly and often unexpectedly and end just as abruptly. No warning.
One day I was out food shopping with my mom and nothing was wrong with me that day. I wasn’t in pain at all. I reached my hand up to pull the handle on a freezer door and in an instant my face and head was struck hard with the agony. It’s pure, raw horror. Hell on Earth.
I suffered with depression (nothing to do with the headaches) and psychosis for many years, hallucinations and real delusions like truly believing everyone thinks I should be dead or that people were planting negative thoughts into my skin or constantly mocking me or all conspiring against me, I have some hallucinations now that I had since I was a little girl, a lady with long dark hair who tries to take my eyes and a girl who lives in the walls and cries for my help and it breaks me because I just can’t get her out. I hear voices and creepy music that no one else can, I see people and then they vanish. I know it’s not real now but when it’s happening I don’t always realize it’s not real. I was hospitalized, got a 302 paper signed for me by a psychiatrist, taken away by police, thrown into the back/front of police cars for being suicidal, taken to the court of mental health, hospitalized against my consent, locked away for weeks, strapped to a gurney and taken away in an ambulance, sedated and poked with needles against my consent, being chased and pulled back as I tried to run out of an emergency room after being admitted for being dangerously suicidal, talk to people who really aren’t there sometimes, without always knowing, had black outs for years and found myself in strange places I never knew how I got there, walked around campus in college throwing 20 dollar bills everywhere not knowing what I was doing, and then got taken to a hospital …the list goes on…and on…
But I can tell you this….never have I ever been as insane, or crazy if you will, as when I have those headaches.
I am more of a basketcase when I’m having a cluster like headache than when I’m “really” insane. Inside my head it’s all cold and dark and full of despair when I’m depressed/psychotic. But when I’m having a headache I’m overwhelmed in panic and despair and it’s like I’m clawing and scratching at some walls keeping me confined to a hellish world of dark, dark, hysteria and screams of agony. Depression can be like that too but I’m usually not panicked when I’m depressed and usually don’t feel the urge to freak out. I can be still and calm still with depression. I can handle emotional pain better. Much better.
When the headache at work struck me, I tried so hard not to scream and wail in agony .
I decided to muster all the strength I have in me, all the courage and love.
I decided to be mindful of every sensation around me and on me. I held a wet rag in my hands and focused on the sensations against my skin. I focused on the lights in the room and the colors surrounding me. I summoned the love I have for life itself, living beings, and various things…until the headache ceased. It lasted less than a half hour. It was excruciating.
I kept thinking how can I take this experience and use it to help someone somehow when it’s over. And it helped me bear it better knowing that later I would use it to our advantage.
One thing I noticed that is unusual is I wasn’t angry during this headache. I don’t get angry frequently. And when I do it’s usually not extremely angry and almost always subsides quickly. I’m not saying I don’t get angry. I get angry just like anyone. Angry at myself, at others, at my mom, at my dogs, at objects like my phone…lol But not often and not a violent fury, just regular anger that comes and goes on seldom occasions.
But these headaches almost always provoke in me a fury so violent, it shakes my insides and rattles my world to the core of it. I want to break anything I can get my hands on. I want to slash things and break my own bones. I want to rip everything to shreds and demolish buildings with just my hands. I want to break through walls and watch things shatter to pieces like I feel I am, with those headaches. I want to hear glass break and hear everything just shatter and crumble and explode. I want to throw things and scream and break. I want to break every object in my line of vision. I want to search for things to throw and break and destroy like I am destroyed. I want to hit things over and over. It’s a fury so potent it’s frightening.
I am not violent like this and have no inclination to be. Except when these things occur.
I wrote before about how these headaches seem to reduce me to half the woman I am. I become uncivilized and feral.
I have bizarre thoughts and violent thoughts that I never knew I can have until my first headache.
But with this headache at work, there was no fury, no anger, no urge for destruction. Just a strong desire to not scare anyone and still do the best I can and be as loving as I can to anyone I can. To hold onto my life and my sanity. It was so hard. But somehow I managed.
Instead of wanting to break every object I looked at, I wanted to cherish it and be mindful of its beauty. I still felt a kind of gentle calm in the center of me. And I embraced it with all I have in me.
It inspires me to write. My headache inspires me instead of destroy me like they often seem to do.
All I kept thinking is how many others are suffering or in some kind of pain and how I can share my experience here, to help in some way even if it’s just a fraction.
When I think about killing myself now, either because I’m depressed or having a headache, I think how instead I can live and take my pain and inspiration and use it to help or potentially help someone else in some way like writing about it, sharing quotes or photos or anything to bring even just a sliver of consolation or inspiration or feeling of empowerment to someone, somewhere.
I don’t want to kill myself because it sends a message to the uni-verse that that’s the thing to do when something seems unbearable. I don’t want to send that message or end with that kind of negative energy. Suicidal people and suicide victims aren’t necessarily weak people in general it’s just that in those moments, we give in or are tempted to give into the weakness. But we can instead give into the life and strength in us. And help the others who need it.
I’m not usually suicidal frequently anymore but even when I am, it’s usually my compassion and love for others in general, universal love, that keeps me going, not the fear as much.
I have been helped immensely on various occasions by a simple blog post written by someone across the world or a brief quote or message or song shared on Facebook or anywhere and I want to do that for someone else.
Anyway, I wasn’t suicidal or wanting to die with this headache but I did at some points feel that I really couldn’t go on.
And I want anyone else who ever feels that way to not give in and to keep going. Keep going no matter what. Don’t let the pain conquer you. You can hurt and suffer and be exhausted and fall but keep getting back up and lift others with you. You’re stronger than the pain, whatever the pain is. Physical or emotional, doesn’t matter. It has no hold on you if you won’t let it.
I was eating mint chocolate chip ice cream with sprinkles, on a cone right before my head/face was attacked. Then after it ended I was too shaken up to eat it. I had no appetite anymore because of the trauma. I was badly shaken. But then I thought why should I let this make me miss out on anything? Why let it get me? Why let it control or influence me in a negative way?
If I submit to it then that’s not a positive message to the world. How can I help or inspire anyone else if I am vanquished by my pain?
So I picked up my ice cream cone, tasted it, even though my insides were still shaking, and it was delicious again. This experience reminds me to not give up on anything even when I feel the temptation to collapse. Let’s not give up no matter what it is. Whether it’s giving up on life and dying (lol this is a bit dramatic example), giving up going out, or eating something or engaging in something we love. I won’t give up. Please join me and keep going.
“I choose to FIGHT BACK! I choose to RISE, not fall! I choose to LIVE, not die! And I know, I know that what’s within me is also WITHIN YOU.” (Mayor Pappas, “City Hall” movie quote)
I can turn my pain into inspiration and motivation and comfort for someone else.
And so can you.
“Displace the pain
Put it in
Whatever you do, displace the pain. Put it into something positive, creative, loving.
And pull others into your light. Use your pain for the better, turn it into beauty and light and love and other people can draw on your strength.
Much love to you. ❤