It’s a process

My biggest struggle is my head – in more ways than one.

My head has always had a mind of it’s own, ironically. It thinks up crazy dreams and sometimes lies and a lot of times really great, creative things, but ever since its inception it’s just been running in every direction.

I’ve struggled inside my head since I was little. When the tags on my shirts had to be cut out, so they wouldn’t tickle against my skin. When we had to buy seamless socks, so I’d stop throwing a tantrum in public places, ripping off my Mary Janes to perfectly align the line of stitching running across my toes.

And then later on in life, my head would talk to me. Told me I wasn’t good enough as I was.

In a nutshell, I’m a person with a head that plots against me sometimes. In recent years, it’s been the migraines. Mom gets them, and grandma, too and they sting at my temples and force me down to unwanted rest and darkness.

So when I got a migraine back in October, I just thought it was my head – up to it’s old tricks.

And I guess in some ways, it was.

Maybe you remember me frantically searching for answers on my new journey battling this chronic pain. I went to chiropractors and acupuncturists and neurologists and massage therapists. The pill bottles in my cabinet stacked up like old knick knacks to take up negative space, when they were really just negative beings taking hold of my positive space.

After almost four months of pain that kept me from life, I turned on the root of the issue. Picked it up and examined it under a microscope, stared it down to its core. My eating disorder was taking me down slowly but surely. Eating at me as I ate less, and, for me, it caused this blinding pain that deterred me from the real manifestation of the problem.

I am not special. I am not the first person to look down at their legs and wish they were shaped differently. I’m not the first person to diet or cleanse or restrict. I am¬†different in the sense that my disorder left me in a physical pain that became too harsh to ignore. And while some days I’ve cursed this fact there’s other days where I try to remember to give thanks because after all, I think it was very well just what saved my life.

My head.

The same one after all this time.

There was pain so drastic it couldn’t be ignored, and even though I wavered for weeks and weeks and still refused anything of true substance and nourishment, I grew closer to realizing on my own that the only way to stop the hurt was to face the thing that was hurting me the most inside.

And once I started to really feed and really live, the pain got better.

The pain even acted as a gauge for me. My body lets me know I haven’t eaten enough, slept enough, drank enough water, etc. Even though it’s a pain…(quite literally so)…it’s also a bit of a gift because if you know anything about eating disorders, then you know my hungry cues are w h a c k e d out, so that little twinge on the right side of my face that grows and grows as I get weaker lets me know that I need to eat when I need to.

Funny.

So these headaches – the magical, mysterious little ones that act as a built-in glucose meter…they’re¬†better…it’s not the best. It’s not gone.

The longest I’ve gone without a migraine since October is 5 days.

That was last week – 5 days I was able to get up and go throughout my day and eat my meal plan to a T and feel no pain. It was nice. But temporary.

It’s hard to maintain a level of comfort. If I slip just a little but eating just one little bite less than I should or waiting a little bit too long to eat a snack or a meal, the pain sinks in on the right side of my right eye, crawling it’s tendrils up and around to the arch of my brow. It sits there, menacingly for a few hours or days depending on how quickly I can course correct with food, rest, and medication.

I told myself I wouldn’t get bummed when I got a migraine again after my five day streak, but the truth is, it’s hard. It’s hard to keep the light on when you feel pain that you’ve been feeling for months. But I’m determined to make my next streak longer and then the next one longer, and so on and so forth until they’re gone forever. It just takes time and effort like all the finer things in life.

But this is all teaching me something so valuable. A lesson I’ve been misunderstanding for so long – that having compassion for yourself on days where you feel down or not so strong is vital for a healthy life.

In recovery, those days will happen. Whether it presents itself in a headache or a black cloud of depression or just a day where you feel a little lost in your way. It happens, it’s normal, and it is a way to practice compassion for yourself in the present moment, not judging where you are.

I think it’s taught me a thing or two – this head of mine. I’m getting better and learning with it, but it is, after all,

a process.

X,

Cristina