Attempting to study with chronic headaches

As I am sure you can imagine, it is not fun attempting to study with a headache. Most people do not want to do anything with even a mild headache. I, on the other hand, have a constant headache, one which usually never ventures below a 7 on a 0-10 pain scale.

My basic, run-of-the mill headache consists of what feels like a build up of pressure between my brain and my skull on the back left side of my head. This pain never goes away, however it does sometimes (currently) likes to present itself as more of a knife up under the back left of my skull as opposed to its everyday golf ball wedged in there.

So, I have been attempting to effectively study for the MCAT under these conditions. As anyone who has ever studied for any major exam such as this one will tell you, studying under ideal circumstances for this test is still an arduous task. I bring this up, not in attempts to make myself look like Wonder Woman (which would be cool, by the way), but to talk about how hard I am on myself about studying for this test.

If I don’t study at least a little bit every day I beat myself up about it. Some of you may be thinking, “It is ok to give yourself a break, you are in pain!!” but I cannot ever seem to agree with that. I am working with Psychologist on an acceptance therapy program, which I am also struggling with, which focuses on learning to live your life with your pain along for the ride. I am trying so hard to be ok with integrating my pain into my every day activities but I struggle with the idea of this being my new norm for the rest of my life. I am afraid that I cannot deal with this. That I cannot live every day feeling the way I feel right now. That I cannot go out and do the things I enjoy because I do not enjoy them because I am in too much pain.

This is also an exercise in knowing my limits. Why am I so hard on myself when I don’t study because of a headache? Because I tell myself, “You have felt worse and have still done things.” Or all I can think is, “You are always in pain, if you take a break now because of it you will always be taking a break.”

Although I struggle with these concepts I do feel like I have made some small progression. I have decided I do not like the term “acceptance” when it comes to me and my pain. I do not like it because the connotation is brings to mind is analogous with giving up, and I am not ok with that.  I have decided, rather, that I will use the term “embrace.” I will work every day to embrace my pain and move forward. I may not be able to embrace it all day, but I work on a smaller scale– “I will embrace it for this activity and then reevaluate.”

I feel as though my progress has been minimal but hey, it is still progress!



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