A few nights ago I was in the grip of a particularly nasty migraine. Much like my Crohn's symptoms, I've had headaches going back as far as I can remember; at least pre-puberty, pre-training bra, but had always just assumed it was another hereditary complaint I would just have to put up with. However the increasingly regularity of these 'headaches' has eventually led me to get checked out properly, and now I know it's migraines I can act accordingly. Seems simple I suppose, but when you are faced with a myriad of health complaints you start to rate them in order of importance, and once a month-3 to 4 day-headaches, weren't high on my personal list.
Anyway back to the night in question. In the grip of this particular migraine, I couldn't open my eyes or so much as hear even my own voice without feeling like someone was drilling into my skull. The pain had me sobbing and vomiting uncontrollably and I felt like I wanted to die.
Yes, I wanted to die.
I'm well aware that now, in the cold light of day, and migraine-free, that all sounds very dramatic and painfully over the top, but it's also pretty terrifying to look at my situation objectively and realise what relentless and excruciating pain can do to a ordinarily sane mind.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear before I continue: I do not want to die. I've got a good and generally very happy life. I love, and am loved. I couldn't now imagine wanting to end my life. Plus I only have TWO cats for goodness sake; there's so much more to come.
But in that few hours I couldn't see beyond the pain. I envisioned stabbing myself with a kitchen knife because it might somehow release the pressure on my head, I considered (and almost followed through with) slamming my head into the headboard in a vain attempt to knock myself out. Then I berated myself because I wasn't even brave enough to do anything at all and cried to my partner and buried my head back into a pillow.
It's not a wholly isolated incident of course. For those of you living with pain, you will no doubt appreciate that these depressing episodes can be hauntingly familiar. Pain is subjective and overwhelming. Much like a disappointing lover it can leave as quickly as it comes. It's instantly forgettable.
I normally wouldn't write on my experiences because I tend to prefer to focus on the positives, and on how to come out the other end of pain and misery. But this time I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember exactly how hopeless I felt so that I can perhaps act more quickly in future instead of waiting until things are uncontrollable. I wanted to change things a piece at a time. Only through realising how devastating an affect, (although temporarily), pain has on my mind as well as my body, I can start to work on avoiding these scary thoughts in future. Perhaps focus on how to get out of the situation practically, without lobbing half of my skull off or pulling my intestines out like a magician with a handkerchief. That can only be positive.
I hope if you ever feel hopeless too, you can cling on to who you were before, and who you will be after, because pain is temporary.
Ending your life isn't.