not calling dibs

written by alison

A funny thing happened about one year into this never-ending headache debacle — people started treating me like I had called dibs on headaches. Like I owned them and no one else could have them. I can confidently say I did not pee on headaches to claim them as my own, and the last thing I want to do is call dibs on this.

I would hear things like “I supposed you don’t want to hear about my headache cause it doesn’t compare” or “I shouldn’t be whining, this pain has only been around for the last few hours.”

As my first experience with chronic pain, I’m guessing (but don’t know) that this is normal. Once you’ve suffered for a period of time that your friends and family deem ‘way too long’, you get dibs on whatever is going on. You are the monopoly baron of pain and if anyone lands on your squares, they are going to owe big time.

On one hand, I honestly dug it at first. Yes, I so wanted my friends to share their issues with me, that will never change. But I also dug that while they couldn’t feel what I was feeling, they recognized it has hard shit to deal with. However, in typical Alison fashion, I would blow it off. I would explain that I didn’t have a patent on headaches and that mine “weren’t terminal” so we didn’t need to talk about it.

And now I’m left wondering if that attitude is why I’m approaching year two of daily headaches and migraines.

Should I have embraced the suck and thrown pity parties on the regular? Was I supposed to behave like it was terminal to get to a solution faster? Did I not learn my ‘lesson’ so my body continues to wage it’s war?

I realize now, me saying it’s not terminal is the exact same thing as someone saying they can’t complain about their headaches to me. Unfortunately, we all have the capability to feel pain. And while the pain scale may exist for a reason (a reason which I understood after about 3 months of this), we don’t need to diminish our pain because it ranks lower on some sort of unseen scale.

While I’m not promoting wallowing and never-ending pity parties, I am promoting feeling the feels.

You should know that if you are ever struggling with some form of pain (emotional or physical), I will listen. Just like I hope you’d let me ugly cry to you about how I hate my body so much for not letting me be in control anymore. Because sometimes just uttering┬áthe words of what you are feeling is the best type of medicine you can take.

There’s a saying at the gym I hold a permanent membership at┬áthat “the only way out, is through.” After a few days of ugly crying over my situation, I think that’s my new mantra for this. For those days that my neck muscles say “hey girl, you shouldn’t be looking side to side, that’s not necessary”, I’ll don my favorite neck shaped heat pack and promptly park myself on a bed or couch to chill the fuck out. When my eyeballs say “we quit!”, I’ll turn off ALL electronics instead of just all but the one that has fun games on it. For the days that I hurt, I’m going to stop pretending I don’t and trying to function as my former perfectionist-wicked-fast-productive self.

I’m going to give the pain a chance to move through me, while I try to move my way through it.