Just keep swimming 

I’ve had good days, I’ve had bad days, and I’ve had days where running to the nearest bridge feels like the best (and sometimes only) option. As many of you know, I’ve been suffering from chronic headaches and debilitating migraines for about ten years. For the past year or so they’ve been so intense that it makes it hard to get out of the bed in the morning, and once I do, my energy for the day slowly starts to dissipate. By the time I get home from work, around 5:45pm, I’m shot – I have almost no desire to cook, shower, or do anything other than crawl into bed.

I’m otherwise healthy, I live an active lifestyle, eat very well, don’t smoke, rarely drink (how can I will all of these medications?), have 20/20 vision, and a clean MRI. And yet I still suffer from the worst pain I’ve ever had in my life – my headaches trump the kidney infection by a landslide. The worst part is that on the outside, I look normal and healthy. I look younger than 26. I look like I should be full of life. And because of that, people make assumptions that I’m just moody, unsocial, or suffering from a chronic case of resting bitch face.

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook called the Spoon Theory and that was a huge eye-opener. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, I urge you to read this post, which explains it in full. But the basic premise is that you start the day with a certain number of spoons and each task you do, even brushing your hair, costs you one spoon. By the end of the day you might have 10 things to do, but you only have two spoons left. You have to make a choice, a sacrifice, because you just don’t have enough spoons. You can also think of this in terms of energy or battery power – the only way to recharge is to get a good night’s sleep. You only get more spoons or battery power in the morning when you wake up. It doesn’t matter if you have lupus, back pain, Lyme Disease, headaches, or something else. This is what it’s like to live in chronic pain.

One of my doctors recently asked if I was depressed. Depression, she explained, can be the underlying cause of many unexplained headaches. Hmm. I would say that I have a touch of depression, but only as a result of feeling like the walking dead almost every day. It’s hard to feel happy when you are consumed with pain. It’s hard to get people to understand what it’s like to never feel 100%. Fifteen minutes of washing dishes exhausts me. A 30-minute workout leaves me lying on the floor to regroup before mustering up the strength to take a cold shower, and even then, sometimes only a bath will do because standing takes more energy. Energy that I don’t have. It sucks. And a lot of people just don’t get it.

Up until a few days ago, my daily routine involved taking a cocktail of medications (pictured above) before bed. Something for sleep, pain, blood pressure, and a muscle relaxer. My poor liver.

The other night I was lying in bed, nursing one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a while. Nothing, not even my trusty bff Excedrin, was helping me get through it. It reminded me why I started blogging about food, exercise, and healthy habits: I want to let people know that they are not alone. I want to help them find products and a lifestyle that works for them. I want to heal myself and help others heal themselves through good food. And maybe, just maybe, sharing a piece of my own journey could inspire of help someone suffering from one ailment or another.

So, if you’re struggling, know that you aren’t alone. And know that I get it. Because sometimes just knowing that can make a world of difference.

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