Living With Chronic Pain

Living With Chronic Pain

I'm not asking for your pity, I'm just telling my story.
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I know I do not have it the worst, this article isn't here for me to try and convince anyone that I do. This article is here to help express what it is like living in a constant state of aches, not knowing when a crippling wave could come rolling in. I know I'm not the only one who lives this way, and I hope I can help give a voice to others like me.

I have been diagnosed with chronic migraines since I was 16 years old and am now also diagnosed with sciatica issues which cause muscle spasms and flare ups in my lower back. For those who don't know: Chronic Pain is defined as pain lasting longer than, or occurring multiple time throughout, 12 weeks.

I am only 20 years old, and some days it is impossible for me to sit longer than an hour. Again, I know there are others who have it far worse. But when you have days that consist of 3+ hours of classes in a row and you want to succeed as a student: all you can do is wish you were perfectly fine.

At my age, I shouldn't have to have MRI's of my back and head. I should not have to see spine specialists and Neurologists. I should not need the prescriptions I have: but I do. I accept that I do because without it all I would be hurting and nowhere near how I am today.

At the same time, though, I wish I could practice yoga or eat more salty foods or wear certain perfumes or even just sit through my classes. I wish my roommate didn't have to worry about me because a muscle flare up could end up lasting and lead to a hospital visit.

While I've learned how to manage it and still go on to be a full-time student, with a part-time job, a member of a club, a co-editor for Odyssey, and have a social life: it does not mean it's a walk in the park.

I guess my story is just another example of why we shouldn't judge a book by its cover or make assumptions before knowing the whole story.

Cover Image Credit: http://img.medscape.com/thumbnail_library/dt_150916_chronic_pain_headache_migraine_800x600.jpg

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An Open Letter To The Judgmental People In My Hometown

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value.
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Dear judgemental, simple minded people from my hometown,

I am sorry that I have never met your level of perfection.

Coming from a small town, everyone settles to the norm of the people around them. Unlike you all, I have always been a little bit different.

I've never understood why everyone always seems to feel the need to talk down to the next person. People love to gossip about a situation as long as the situation has nothing to do with them. For every move I made, someone was always there to bring out the negativity in the situation. You all are always sweeping around somebody else's doorstep when I know your doorstep is not clean. Maybe it is time to buy a new broom. I know that I cannot please everybody and that I will also not be liked by everybody. However, I deserve respect just as the next person.

SEE ALSO: Forgiving Someone Who Didn't Ask For It

I hope for the sake of the future generations of our small town, you all can learn to be more accepting to change.

I hope that no one judges your children like some of you all have judged me. I hope that the people that you love and care about are welcomed and accepted for who they are.

If we put as much time into being better people or helping others like you put into judging others, the world would be a much better place.

Imperfections are what gives a diamond its value. Pebbles are perfectly round. I'd much rather be a diamond, one in a million, than a pebble that fits in.

Sincerely,

The one whose every move you criticize

Cover Image Credit: Haley Williamson

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If Hashbrowns Were Heroin, I'd Be Dead

I hit rock bottom with binge-eating on a Tuesday morning before class. I am proof that it can happen anywhere and any time.

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I loved hashbrowns.

My Mom used to make them by cutting up chunks of potatoes and frying them to a crisp in a pot. I never really went crazy on them but they were always my favorite part of a homemade breakfast. Eggs were always a little too soft to be my favorite.

When mornings were really busy before elementary school we would go through the McDonald's drive through and order hash browns and egg McMuffins. Eventually, I started not wanting the sandwich. I just wanted hash browns. I could eat 2, 4, 5? I was only 7? 8?

Hot, salty, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I remember why I loved them.

I also remember holding the bag in my lap until we got to before-school care and seeing that the oil from the food had leaked out onto the bag, and onto my pants, and hoping it would dry. I didn't care. I still couldn't wait.

I managed to stay away for a long time after learning that these kinds of fried foods are just plain bad for you. Like cancer-causing, heart attack-causing bad. Not "bad" like I would be a bad person for eating them, although eventually, I felt that way too.

When my commute to school became over an hour, and I had 8 a.m. classes, I struggled. I struggled with the change, the demands of full-time school and work, and the growing compulsion to eat that came with it. I wonder if when you read this you will realize that this was only a year ago, and that I am still trying to heal from this. I wonder if you will be surprised that even though I am nutrition student, and I've lost a lot of weight, and I've created a life of love and intention, that I found myself in the McDonald's drive-through.

The first time I was starving. It was 7:30 a.m and I hadn't had a lot of dinner the night before. I was stressed, and sad. I was dieting on Whole 30. I felt the intensity of my own shortcomings. I told myself, "Just this one time." If it hadn't been a decision, it would have been an accident.

I wasn't a regular. I just went occasionally. I lied to myself a lot about how often I found myself showing up for hash browns.

I would tell myself the entire drive to school that I would NOT stop. I would go straight to school and find something healthy at the grocery store later. I could manage my hunger for the morning until after class. I stopped. I swear sometimes that my steering wheel turned of its own accord. To this day, I can't really explain it.

McDonald's enters their orders of hash brown in a very tricky way. One "order" of hash browns is two hash browns. The first time I realized that there were four hash browns in my bag, I thought it was an accident. I looked at my receipt and realized I had gotten what I paid for, and wondered why I wasn't even paying attention to what I was paying for. I decided I didn't care. I ate them.

Another time after that, I decided to see what I could get away with. I ordered three hash browns. I wanted to see if I would get three or six. It was like a mental game. I wasn't ordering six hash browns, if I got six it would be a mistake. I had a problem. I was disappointed when I received three. The next time, I ordered four.

That day, I received 8 hash browns. I remembered feeling like if I stretched myself any further across my schedule, I would just rip. I would fray. Shred. My seams would come undone and I would just float away. I think that day it finally happened.

I wasn't there.

I wasn't there when I ate them. It must have taken me all the way from the time I received them, until after I parked on campus, maybe 15 minutes to eat them all. I can't remember. It wasn't me.

I was the one watching the wrappers pile up.

I was the one watching the grease stain spread on the brown bag.

I was the one who was late to class. I was the one screaming to stop and get my ass out of the car.

I was the one who woke up in my car an hour later, ready for class, with a neat plastic bag of trash that included a hidden and tiny crumpled McDonald's bag.

I felt sick. Dangerously ill. I had a headache, a stomachache, a soul-ache. I felt low. Lower than any other time.

I felt like an absolute failure. Every mean thing anyone ever said about me, every mean thing I ever thought about myself, it was all true. I had made it true.

I was alone, ashamed, and sick.

If hash browns were heroin, I'd be dead.

Binge-eating wasn't a big part of my history, but it created a landmark in my life that I will not soon forget.

I think it's important to say that this event was not about the food. It happened because I was not emotionally well. I was not talking about my feelings. I was lonely. I was feeling sad. I was dieting. I was trying to control every aspect of my life to keep it from hurting me. I was hanging on so tightly to everything else, that I ended up losing control and hurting myself.

I was ignoring my mental health and it demanded my attention through disordered eating.

If you take anything from this story, please be reminded that your mental health comes first.

Get help with the heavy stuff. Get help, period.

You can chat with someone from the National Eating Disorder Association online to ask for help.

You can text NEDA to 741741 for help in a crisis.

You can call NEDA at (800)-931-2237.

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