"tension headaches"



            I feel as if I am in some kind of painful void, beyond the reach of any helping hand.  My heart pulsates just enough blood to pass through the already saturated, blood-swollen tissues within my head to spark only a few hundred synapses, instead of say thousands, no millions, or how ever many may exist, to get me through the day. This feeling, that I have grown to hate with the greatest of emotions, happens everywhere at all times. After I sluggishly complete a task as synaptically exasperating as writing a paper, taking a test, or just studying, I feel pretty good overcoming my troubles.  However, I do not wish to write about that inner voice that pushes me to my sore-sought vision of completion, but, instead, to languish over my painfully stupefied pace, caused by some anarchy in my head.

            These "tension headaches" centered around my slow-wittedness has affected me personally and socially.  They have left me feeling paralyzed and immobile most of my adult life.  I have found that these hellhounds need to exhume most of my energy to only accommodate their own greedy purpose.  I also feel alone with this ailment, not having met one, single, solitary individual, who has had the severity of my tension.  Sometimes I have some difficulty just trying to spit out a sentence or to complete a thought.  People may think I may be related to YODA or that I know "pig Latin".  My wit has also become affected.  It is all wet.  A more noticeable affect may apply to my less than resilient facial muscles due to this uneasiness surrounding me.  Also, at the end of a day, I sometimes have to wear a hat size a notch or two more than when the day started.  Damn these anarchists.

            Socially, I am at an impasse, not knowing whether to run or hide from my failing looks and paralyzing state of mind.  I have had the dubious honor of being called "psycho" by people who can, at least, put up with my somber outtake on life.  However, whenever I am put into a rather innocent social situation, such as eating in a school cafeteria, or doing some clubbing around town, I look and feel stressed/whacked out pretty much of the time.  Sometimes, I will catch a reflection of myself as I pass a window and notice my stressed-out self.  The area of where a smile should be located is often replaced by an uninteresting grin.  The eyes are bulging to their brim.  The swagger of my walk has become more frankensteinish than need be.  Many a time I would rather stay in and not put up with myself, but sometimes my testosterone level is a little bit higher than my pain level during the weekends.  My overall persona tells people to stay away.  This anxiety, personifying itself through me, is a babe repellant.  Noticeably, people usually want to surround themselves with a much more energetic crowd.  Someday soon, I, again, hope to be a part of this same crowd.

I have also noticed that, if not treated or handled in its infancy, this stress or tension may lead to problems further down the road such as diabetes and depression.  I have been down both of these roads.  There is some difficulty backtracking from depression and unfortunately, the former road, labeled diabetes, is only one-way.  Needless to say, I have very little to smile about after a day of such seemingly endless torture.  It is one thing to know that if I am having pain now, I can deal with it, but it is an overwhelming feeling knowing that it may never end.

            I can remember first experiencing these monsters in the fall of 1985.  It pretty much was like any other fall.  I'm sexy.  I'm seventeen.  I just dropped out of high school the previous year.  I'm repeating the eleventh grade for the second time in a different school.  I suppose I was still in shock, trying to come to grips of dropping out of school.  Roughly a month or two, after milling around the new school, feeling rather awkward, inward, and tense, I began to feel some difficulty just looking around at anything.  This difficulty would only escalate while sitting in class.  Whenever I would try to look up, either at the teacher, the blackboard, or another student a huge surge of pain would start to surround the lower part of my forehead and then sit itself around my eyes.  The only immediate relief would be to look down at the book in front of me.  Does that sound bizarre or what?   But to try to describe the feeling to anyone, all I could really say is, "It's all pain, baby.  Nothing but pain."

            After a few weeks of this agonizing, crucifying, excruciating, harrowing, tormenting, unending pain, I knew I had a real problem.  So, in the mean time, I had to resort to certain tricks like tying a bandana around my head super tight or to like notch up a baseball cap until I could feel the pulse in my head reverberate back to me.  Also, covering up an eye with an eye patch for about twenty minutes and then switching back to the other eye gave some immediate relief.  In order to complete a task, I usually would need a deadline to get me motivated or else my seemingly comotoasted brain would keep me stuck in neutral.  Some momentary relief also may come from exercise, but everyone knows what a grueling experience of running two to three miles a day can be.  A girlfriend would also help me lift my spirits, that is, until I would start to make her as balmy as me.  A good joke can ease some of my heaviness.  I welcome any type of humor, if only momentarily.  Alcohol also helped a great deal in trying to neutralize this pain, but, just like wearing a tight bandana or an eye patch, these methods would only be crutches to whatever ails me.  Until I could find some outside help, I had to pretty much go out of my way to alleviate this pain anyway I could in order to function somewhat normally.

            I have spent most of my time running around from doctor to doctor for the last 14 years just trying to find out what was wrong with me.  After the first year, I had become very wary of this intrusion.  It looked like it was here to stay, and stay it has.  For the next two years I have sought out help from some optometrists since a lot of the pain dissipated, either by taking my glasses off or by wearing an eye patch.  Their choice of remedy involved increasing the prism strength to both my right and left lens.  Every month I would return, repeating my tail of pain.  And every month they would adjust my prism strength.  So, after some time, we mutually got tired of complaining to one another.   My next move was to ask an opthamologist.  They have had patients who complained, with as much vigor as I, about their headaches which was comforting to know.  The opthamologist put me on a six month course to work on some vision therapy.  Well, to no avail, I still have my unwanted guests.  So, now, after spending a good fortune and after pretty much talking to the people I thought could help, my headaches were as merciless as ever.  For the next two or three years, I would go back to my old ways of trying to cope.  I then decided to try a change of scenery.  What would be a better place then Miami Beach, right?  Well, the move from Pennsylvania to Miami did not help.  After seven months of sun, sand, and headaches, I decided to check out a psychiatrist, a person who deals with chemical imbalances in the brain.  Neither venture with Paxil, Zoloft, nor some three other mind altering/balancing drugs brought any relief.  The psychiatrist then recommended another "specialist". 

Oh joy!  However, this "specialist" seemed to know his stuff.  He used the term "tension headaches" with some authority, not just a buzz word.  He gave a pretty good analogy of a clenched fist to what I was experiencing and I will try to paraphrase it.  Around each part of your body exists bone surrounded by non-muscular tissue and then muscular tissue.  If you clench a fist, more blood will flow to that area.  After some time, the muscular tissue will tire, but the brain is still receiving messages that the hand is still clenched, which it is, so, the blood continues to flood that area.  However, this time there is nothing holding back the non-muscular tissue from expanding.  Thus, there is an extra amount of pressure being exerted on this non-muscular tissue which causes the pain.  If you relax the hand, then the muscles will relax and the brain will stop receiving alarming messages from the hand area and blood will begin to flow normally to this area once again. Halleluia!  Finally, I found somebody who can relate to how I am feeling.  After his assessment of me, he suggested a few visits with a psychologist may help.  Well, after a few consultations with this shrink, a.k.a. "doc", I gained some insight on why I happen to feel the way I do.  Obviously I had stress, but what was triggering it?  He seemed to think the stress was noticeably caused by a barrage of negative thinking.  So, after only say thirteen years( 1985 to 1998 ), I finally found something a little more than hope, something more concrete, that may help take this hell away.

            A few possible remedies are out there.  Some remedies, of course, may be more effective than others.  One may include moving to Gilligan's Island.  Kick Gilligan, the skipper, Thurston Howl, his wife, the professor, and Mary Ann out, and let Ginger and few of her girlfriends hang out.  That is, if the year was 1966.  Another idea is to drink lots of coffee.  Coffee may help if the pain is below a certain threshold.  That is, if the day is still early and the pain has not snowballed.  Otherwise, neither twelve rhinoceros-strength Tylenol nor large dosages of aspirin will help.  Also meditation, exercise, and to think more positively were on the "doc's" agenda for a better me.  He also suggested a book titled Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns, in which I found pretty informative.  Well, I have had these "tension headaches" for so long that it most likely will take a while and lots of effort to possibly overcome it.

            So, after so many years, I finally feel I may now have an upper hand in my fight for a normal life.  To give my undivided attention back to all of my five senses.  To parlay no more with the likes of Holmes' Dr. Mourier.  That I may now begin to take up where I had left off at the age of seventeen.  I am not quite there yet, but I will give it some time.