Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Is it all my own fault? Did I bring it on myself? I ask myself these questions often enough to make them nagging.

It's not rational. It's not logical. It's emotion, primarily fear and anger based; the instinct to hunt down the reason for the pain, to assign it a name and place blame where it belongs, assign responsibility and correct and/or punish accordingly to be able to move on. Here's where I may have gone wrong:

1. Too much work? My job was in a call center environment, but my coworkers and the nature of my job kept it from becoming mind numbing. I flourished there, got a substantial raise after my probationary period, and more responsibility. I had also taken a second job, doing data entry at home a few hours a week. It was easy to do in my spare time. I enjoyed working so much. I felt productive and in charge of my life again. But maybe I was doing too much. Even though I was enjoying every second of it, even positive stress is stress.

2. Too much caffeine. They had a fancy coffee machine in the breakroom of that job I had, which I took full advantage of, especially when I worked swing or grave shift. Eight cups a day is my guess as to how much I was consuming on average, with a high of twelve. I had no adverse effects to the caffeine, other than occasional shakiness if drank too much or the standard irritability or mild headache if I didn't have any. But, I could go without it, and always stopped drinking it if I noticed any ill effects, so I never considered my consumption to be unhealthy, just a little indulgent.

3. Maybe it's a delayed stress headache. Six months prior, we had a rough patch of christmas, moving, being penniless, and a family member being 5150'd and going into rehab all happen within one week. That time period always occurs to me when the docs ask me, "Were you particularly stressed when the headaches started?" "Well, no... but six months before..." When I tell this story, their eyes glaze over a little bit, they take notes and I can see my file going into the "stress-case" drawer. But all that drama was six months before the headache started. Delayed? Does that happen?

4. Maybe I've exposed myself to some toxin that has somehow triggered my head. I've lived in asbestos and mold-filled apartments, briefly. I partied quite a bit in my youth. I've worked downwind of a dump and used the same plastic water bottle for longer than I care to admit. I smoked cigarettes for ten years. I've worn new clothes without washing them first. I've been violently ill from bleach fumes. How have I lived this long?

5. I could be a nutter and my crazy started before my pain and I'm just in denial about it. The disability shrink didn't seem to think I was nuts, but I'm going to need a second opinion. 95% of the time, I know I'm not crazy. That last 5% is going to get checked out, just in case.

I don't know if I brought this on myself. It doesn't matter. Even if I knew for certain what triggered my head to start, that knowledge would likely give me no useful information, or change anything. Except maybe it would chase away the guilt. Or make it worse. Maybe I don't want to know.

This is a post that leaves me feeling unsettled and vulnerable. But, I know that someone else has felt this way, or will. So, I've got to put it out there, for the honesty of my experience, however lame that sounds.


WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

Wishing your headaches would go away as quickly as they came.

Anonymous said...

I think ours (migraines/chronic daily migraine/headache) is especially prone to guilt b/c they/we don't know the cause and there is no good treatment. It's not like other diseases where they know more and treat better. So we end up questioning ourselves. I hope that things go better for you. Infiniteknot Twitter

Sue said...

I went through the whole guilt thing for years. It's a huge waste of energy. In the end, the head pain is still the head pain. Here's what I concluded after four years of counseling, doc visits (four neuros, one family doc), OTs, PTs, recreationists, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, you name it:

1. I did not cause this pain.
2. I am not subconsciously punishing myself for anything I've done wrong.
3. My head does not hurt because of some unresolved emotional issues in my past.
4. I REALLY do want to get better, regardless of what some health care providers might say.
5. There is NO secondary gain for me with this pain - it just makes everything I do that much more difficult.
6. It's not my fault that my head hurts.

It's not my fault.

It's not your fault.

Faren said...

I've felt this way. Thank you for your post, and Sue, thank you for your comment. I might have to print your comment out and put it on my mirror. It is something I need to remember.