chronic pain, Mental health

Ugly Truth 31: What My Chronic Pain Actually Feels Like


“If I only could explain 
How much I miss
That precious moment 
When I was free
From the shackles of chronic pain.”
-Jenni Johanna Toivonen

My chronic pain summary – for future reference and all my fellow pain warriors who suffer from invisible illness.

•Car accident – June 2015
•Orthopedic surgeon referral and slipped disc(s) – June 2015
•Electrical vibration with sound in skull/loss of consciousness – June 2015
•First paralysis episode – August 2017
•13 chiropractic sessions – April of 2019
•Car accident – September 2019
•Cat scan – September 2019

Findings to Date:

Anterior Head Posture (Leaning forward due to an imbalance of muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper back.)

Kyphosis (Abnormal curvature of the spine.)

L5/S1 Disc Herniation (Spinal injury that causes unremitting and severe pain, muscle spasms, nerve damage, lack of coordination, numbness in the extremities, overactive reflexes, muscle weakness and at it’s most severe – loss of bladder control.)

Spinal Stenosis (A condition where spinal column narrows and compresses the spinal cord.)

Lumbosacral Radiculopathy
(A disorder that causes pain in the lower back and hip which radiates down the back of the thigh into the leg. This damage is caused by compression of the nerve roots which exit the spine & can lead to sciatica – this is the pain that causes temporary paralysis.)

Migraine with Brainstem Aura

From the American Migraine Foundation:

Migraine with brainstem aura is a migraine-type that has aura symptoms originating from the base of the brain (brainstem) or both sides of the brain (cerebral hemispheres) at the same time. People who experience migraine with brainstem aura also experience migraine with typical aura symptoms, including:

  • Visual (Examples include sparkles or zigzag lights in the vision that may move or get larger. Generally on only one side of your vision).
  • Sensory (Examples include numbness or tingling that travels up one arm to one side of the face).
  • Speech/language symptoms (Examples include trouble producing words even though you know what you want to say or trouble understanding what people are saying).

In addition, people with migraine with brainstem aura get brainstem aura symptoms such as:

  • Dysarthria (slurred speech)
  • Vertigo (feeling of movement/spinning of self or environment)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
  • Hypacusis (impaired hearing)
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Ataxia (Unsteady/Uncoordinated movements)
  • Decreased level of consciousness

Follow-Up:

Neurologist and MRI

If you or someone you love lives with chronic pain, share your story in the comments below!

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!

Mental health

7 Truths About Mental Illness Related Fatigue

“I often wished that more people understood the invisible side of things. Even the people who seemed to understand, didn’t really.”

Jennifer Starzec, Determination (5k, Ballet, #2)

Dear Readers,

Fatigue is one of the most stigmatized topics in mental health. Often times onlookers suspect an embellishment or falsehood of some kind. Even more often, age discrimination becomes real. Things like, “Be grateful you’re so young and healthy…” or “You just slept 12 hours, how could you be tired?…” or “Why can’t you get out of bed?…” really drive a knife into my side. Afterall, how could I possibly be advantageous enough to educate someone who just doesn’t know any better when I can’t lift my own legs?

Fatigue, or excessive exhaustion resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness, is a complex issue and often manifests itself differently in a wide range of circumstances. The same can be said within the realm of mental health alone, as exhaustion varies and fluctuates from one individual to the next. See below for the various ways fatigue presents itself in my life, and how different symptoms require different coping skills.

1. Insomnia

The inability to fall asleep.

2. Sleep Disturbances

The inability to stay asleep.

3. Anxiety

The ever energy-consuming disorder that is the physical manifestation of a psychological event. Symptoms include shaking, nausea, changes in cardiac health, disproportionate fear, crying, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, numbness or tingling in the extremeties, trouble breathing and chest pain.

4. Bi-Polar Disorder

Mania

Racing thoughts, increased energy, pressured speech, grand ideas with no real execution, psychosis, decreased need for sleep – all from which there will be a hard-hitting physical crash.

Depression

Loss of interest, loss of appetite and general apathy all lead to feelings of fatigue. Ironically, depression can be a saving grace as it often results in a significant paralysis that leaves you unable to execute self destructive behavior.

5. PTSD

Nightmares, hypervigilance, guilt, flashbacks, sensory input and overstimulation all contribute to an inflamed sense of stress and insomnia.

6. Chronic Pain & Migraines

Inflammation, swelling, paralysis, joint, bone & nerve pain related to a slipped disc in my spine resulting in sciatic nerve compression, trouble walking and episodic pain flares. Migraines consistent with auras, tension, nausea, light sensitivity, and writhing pain.

7. Medication

Medication side effects may include restlessness, insomnia, drowsiness, or sedation.

It doesn’t take a scholar to understand how draining these experiences can be. Add to that morning exhaustion a full plate of daily obligation and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a total nervous breakdown, complete with snot bubbles. So, what’s my answer to all this?

MAKE SELF-CARE A PRIORITY.

INTERRUPT THE BLAMING, SHAMING, SELF LOATHING CYCLE.

KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP OR SAY NO.

SLOWLY RETURN TO THE THINGS YOU LOVE.

EMPATHIZE WITH YOURSELF.

My hope is that this post will serve as a resource for those who may not understand the sleepy behaviors of their loved ones, as well as promote awareness and tolerance in otherwise difficult situations. Additionally, may it serve as a validating referral for those of you who suffer.

**If you’re a mental health survivor or mental health provider and want to tell your story – please email me at contact@deskraven.com!**

For more excellent insight and entertainment through a collaborative approach to all things mental health, including a guest post from yours truly, visit the Blunt Therapy Blog by Randy Withers, LPC! For additional perspectives on suicide prevention from master level mental health providers visit, 20 Professional Therapists Share Their Thoughts on Suicide!

In collaboration with Luis Posso, an Outreach Specialist from DrugRehab.com, Deskraven is now offering guides on depression and suicide prevention to its readers. For more information on understanding the perils of addiction visit, Substance Abuse and Suicide: A Guide to Understanding the Connection and Reducing Risk! In addition, for a comprehensive depression resource guide from their sister project at Columbus Recovery Center visit, Dealing with Depression!