Until this past year I hadn’t experienced many migraines and I certainly never put two and two together for their cause. In the past I’ve had chronic pain associated with severe depressive episodes, I grind my teeth when sleeping during high stress moments which causes jaw pain and broken teeth and gone through chronic fatigue syndrome right after traumatic events.
It’s been proven by medicine that pain is typically a side effect of emotional trauma.2 What I hadn’t known nor anticipated were the crippling migraines that would follow after working through a severe past emotional trauma. At this point I can’t count the total migraines I’ve had this year, which seems bad, but it’s actually a good thing in my eyes. It tells me that I’m really working hard to get through the really tough shit buried deep in my thalamus4. Those memories that I thought I had moved through before are clearly coming out in my psychology sessions. I’m seeing a correlation though, it’s typically associated with crying.
The crying isn’t a cry like an unfairness, anger or physical pain directed at me. It’s a cry that comes from deep within my soul, that bellows out of me like a grief I had never experienced before. A grief I didn’t know existed until my brother traumatically died this past year from a hiking accident. That loss alone has destroyed me this year and I can’t put into words what it’s like losing him. My own mothers death wasn’t this painful. But I can’t get into his death just yet on my blog, it’s too fresh and too painful.
The grief I felt and still feel losing him, is like the grief I feel when I finally open that closed trauma that I thought I had worked through. Opening that door again and touching that emotion again from the trauma is kicking my ass. My psychiatrist calls it a “body memory”, where my body is helping me process the emotional pain and it’s literally hitting me with physical pain.
After some trips to the emergency room in the evening, trips to my doctor’s office during the day..I finally put the two and two together. The downfall for me is that the migraine is not caused by dilated blood vessels, therefore typical migraine3 medications don’t work for me. The other option is a narcotic, well that’s not a good choice because I had a 3 month addiction to Percocet after a PTSD trigger. My only option has been to go to the doctor and get a cocktail of injections, which consists of Torodol, Phenergan and Benadryl. If that doesn’t work fully they add some Valium on top of it. Knocks me on my ass! Then I wake the next morning to a rebound headache and have to pound water and ibuprofen. Thankfully my doctor found a new combination of meds we’ll try so I don’t have to go in for injections and I can take these medications at home, haven’t tried them yet or should I say I haven’t had to try them yet.
I’m learning through this process that this type of grief goes away after opening that door to the trauma. Death grief on the other hand is an unrelenting asshole and I can’t shake it.
CPTSD is destructive and I believe to be life threatening if you don’t treat it. It’s scary as hell to face, but I would rather face it – fight it – kick its ass, then to let it paralyze me from experiencing true happiness and freedom. So I may have to deal with migraines for a while and drool all over myself from the treatment of them, but it’s better than the alternative of living with that trauma closed behind a door in my thalamus.
The photo used in this blog has been approved by the artist as long as I provide you a link to her work. I find her Jettison gallery fascinating.
jet·ti·son noun \ˈje-tə-sən, -zən\: a voluntary sacrifice of cargo to lighten a ship’s load in time of distress.