I'm sitting here wondering if writing this blog post is even a good idea or not. Like, it's the internet I'm writing to, and I'm not entirely sure how many people read this thing. But I decided I'd write on this topic so I will.
Somewhere in March last year, things changed for me. It was a really dramatic change, and to this day I have no idea why. I remember it clearly because it was a public holiday but I was going to someone's house for music rehearsal. Somewhere in the middle of that day I got a headache. There was nothing particularly unusual about this headache, and I'd always been headache prone so I thought nothing of it. But the next day it was still there. And the next day, and the next. After about a month I told my mum I wanted to go to the doctor. She didn't seem to see why I'd want to, but took me anyway. The doctor said that I was just overstressed and that she saw it all the time and I should learn to relax and maybe try getting massages.
When I think back to the rest of last year I remember it as a blur of negative events with the occasional positive. And I held onto that positive. I treasured the time I could spend having fun with friends because for a while I could pretend that everything was fine with me. But things were not fine and I had no idea what to do. I went to a few different doctors and eventually learn what to say so they would take me seriously. Finally I got a referral to a neurologist. I'm particularly proud of that. At the beginning of the appointment that doctor seemed like she was going to dismiss me as a stressed out teenager but I got through to her by keeping calm and defending myself logically. At last, progress.
I wasn't sure exactly what else was happening at that time last year. I think I was being quite self-centred for most of that year and I really hope I didn't offend anyone by not taking enough notice in what was going on with them.
I went to the neurologist appointment in the September school holidays last year. Those holidays haven't really been liking me these past few years. Year 10, I got 8 teeth out, and then medical stuff in Year 11. The appointment was pretty uneventful, except I got told that I didn't seem to have a brain tumour or anything to cause anything to be wrong but I could get an MRI to be sure which I said yes too, and the neurologist said that I probably had migraines and then prescribed some stuff as a preventative. I have to admit I was kinda foggy throughout that appointment so I was only kinda paying attention.
So next problem: my mother. Mothers are supposed to be supportive and all that, but mine just happened to have a grudge about taking medicine daily. She was worried that it would destroy my liver or something. So to be fair, she had my best interests at heart. I had to argue for ages but she agreed that I could take the stuff until after exams. (Yes, I did play the doing-well-at-school card.)
Turns out that preventative worked for me. I was really happy :) With it I was managing to have days in a row without a headache which was great. It helped my desire to study as well.
I managed to get through exams okay, but not as well as I would have liked. Considering everything, I thought I did pretty well.
After exams was Orientation for Year 12, which I missed because I was going on French Exchange :) All was good, except for the fact that my mum wanted me to stop taking the stuff that was making me feel better than I had since March. I didn't want to, but she nagged and nagged and nagged (she is so good at nagging) and eventually wore me down. Yay.
France was fun except my migraines were getting worse. I was annoyed that I let my mum talk me into stopping the preventative and worried about what it meant. Since I found out I had migraines I had been doing a lot of research on it. I found a lot of info, including a few things that completely freaked me out, and I can't remember exactly what they were so I guess my brain blocked them out. Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as knowing too much about some things.
After I got back to Australia I had a neurologist's appointment. I found out that I definitely had nothing visible wrong with my brain (MRI results were back) and he (the neurologist) asked if the preventative had worked. Awkward. I had to tell him it had but my mum talked me out of taking it. He seemed to look at me as if I was very stupid and said something along the lines of 'why would you do that?' My mum was still in Poland so there was no argument when I asked my dad to buy me the stuff. He has a bit more faith in specialists.
It took until a few weeks before midyears for the preventative to start working a little again. It still wasn't enough to stop the week of midyears from being a nightmare. It was partly my fault, as I stayed up late on Sunday night writing something which was a really, really bad idea. On the plus side, this year I knew about special exam arrangements and applied for rest breaks. I really needed those rest breaks during the chem exam and I think it was all that turned it from being a complete fail to kind of okay. It was awkward at the end of the exam when everyone was walking out of the hall and people asked me why I was still sitting there and I was wondering if the examiners would have thought I was cheating if I explained so I just ignored everyone. Hopefully no one took offence.
The next day's three hour exam was surprisingly good, probably because there was a surplus of time. That said, I was exhausted afterwards and had to take the day off the day after. That day was a weird day, where I got into this weird depressed mood because I felt that I failed all my exams. It was temporary and I was fine the next day.
From then on the preventative didn't improve things further. I started looking into triptans and tried one out. I think I may be sensitive to the artificial sweetener in it because I feel worse, then a little better. Now things are really the same, but I'm starting to wonder if I should start telling more people what's been happening, even though it's a potentially awkward situation. I guess this blog post is a cowardly way to start doing that.
So that's the story of my migraines in short. Makes a very long blog post.
I have this new theory that you have to make your own happiness. It makes no sense to just wait for happiness to happen and for there to be this magical moment where everything is great. In reality it never will be unless you work at it.
I'm starting to realise that happiness doesn't have as much to do with the things around you as with how you react to those things around you. You have to be happy about the good stuff and refuse to let the bad stuff get you down for too long. This is one of those easier-said-than-done things, but I'm pretty sure it's achievable. It's not like I'm anywhere near perfecting any of this. I'm only 18, and there is so much that I do not know about the world. Although I suppose it's a step in the right direction that I recognise that.
Now this has been a really confusing and rambling post. But I suppose the main point is that it all comes down to attitude, and life experience helps put things in perspective.
It is now holidays, which in Year 12 really means two weeks where everyone studies but doesn't have to go to school. I have printed off so many practise exams, and may not finish them all before next term.
On the other hand, there is this creative writing competition at my local library which closes next Saturday. Since it's a maximum of 1500 words, I still have time to write something for it, but it will take up quite a bit of time and effort which may be better spent studying. There is every reason why I shouldn't do it, and only one reason for it: I really want to.
The only problem is that I have no idea if I want it enough to justify the energy I would most likely spend writing, and re-writing, and editing. I get tired really easily, so if I decide to write something properly I'd need to set aside a few precious days next week where I don't do much study at all.
The sensible and logical choice would be to be a good girl and study for exams, but I'm getting sick of not doing things because that's the sensible thing to do.
So... should I be sensible, or do something which would be fun and potentially stupid?
I'm of the mindset, that when you're sick or aren't feeling well for any other reason, it's helpful to surround yourself with cute things, and things that make you warm and fuzzy inside. So to help with that, I'm going to try to make a wheat pack! And not just any wheat pack, but an animal wheat pack!
I'm thinking of making one like a simplified version of a stuffed toy animal, but with wheat inside instead of stuffing. I can make it colourful and nice and soft with the right materials.
Hopefully with a bit of practise I can make one that looks cute too.
If anyone is actually reading this blog, you may or may not have noticed that there is a badge with two ribbons on it just under the categories on the right. And they are not just there for decoration. They actually represent something.
Both these badges are symbols of migraine awareness, the purple one on the left for migraine in general, and the purple one with the red stripe down the middle on the right for chronic migraine. To explain migraine in general, I like the information these three posts about symptoms, life impact, and the biology behind it (just click on each topic to see the posts I speak of). Chronic migraine is classified as having migraine symptoms for fifteen or more days a month, for at least three months.
I have a badge with these ribbons on my blog because I want to show my support for raising migraine awareness. Not many people realise that a migraine is not just a bad version of a headache, but involves other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, confusion and many others. Not all symptoms have to occur at the same time, and it is actually possible to have a migraine without any headache at all.
So that's what the two ribbons on the right mean. Interesting that this explanation of a seemingly simple picture is longer than a lot of my other blog posts.
Today I saw this post on the Brave Girls Club website, and felt it was particularly applicable to everyone doing VCE at the moment.
Dear Soulful Girl,
All you can do is all you can do. There's really nothing more that you can do, so fretting over things that you don't have any more time, energy or resources to accomplish is only going to make things miserable when they don't have to be. It's time to slow down, sweet friend. It is ok.
When you have done all that you can, please let it be enough. This means, when you have done all that you can while also getting enough sleep, exercise and time to recharge...this doesn't mean getting all that you can done with 2 hours of sleep, a meal at a drive-through and running as fast as you can everywhere you go....feeling miserable, strung out and cranky.
Life is as crazy and harried as we allow it to be. When we want to make things special for those we love, we need to remember that what they want most is US. They want time with us. They want us to feel good and to be in a good mood and to be present. They want happy memories that include us. Sometimes this means that we must simplify so that we do not fall apart. Some times this means we need to let go of our idea of perfection and just show up AS IS.
So, please sit down with yourself and be realistic. What is necessary and what is not? What is making you crazy and could be let go of? What do you want MOST to give? Prioritize and let some things go...it is ok. YOU matter. YOU are the best gift you can give. YOUR time, your heart, your words, your presence....THAT is the greatest gift.
You are so loved.
A message from your friends at the Brave Girls Club - www.bravegirlsclub.com
I especially think that the bit about putting sleep, exercise and rest in front of doing work is a great reminder. It's going to be so easy to burn out between now and final exams, so it is important to take care both physically and mentally.
Today was World Suicide Prevention Day, and, coincidentally, the beginning of Invisible Illness Week. I find this quite suiting, as depression, which sometimes escalates to someone not wanting to live anymore, is an invisible illness.
To show support for suicide prevention, the year 12's of my school wore some yellow today. I realise that this is a small gesture, but hopefully at least one person affected saw and understood what the colour means, and felt a little less alone in their depression. Invisible illnesses have a way of making someone feel alone and misunderstood, and any thing that minimises this feeling is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this day is a step in that direction.
I think I like spring. It's still a reasonable temperature but there're periods of sun to warm everything up. I even like the wind that's been happening these past few days, because it mixes up the air and makes it feel fresher.
It's the same thing with the rain, as long as I'm not stuck in it. The air somehow seems cleaner after rain.
The world seems to be waking up after a long sleep. The fruit trees in my backyard are starting to flower with pink and white blossoms, a small bit of beauty on their sad bare branches. I even see the occasional dragonfly buzzing around.
The days are getting longer. While this does mean more daylight, it also means that I don't wake up early enough to see the sunrise. Sunrises are preeeeeeety :)
I've been thinking for a while about uni courses and what to do. I can't help thinking that I need to choose the right thing straight away, or else I'm stuck with it.
Now that's not necessarily true. It's always possible to change courses although that would generally mean more time spent at uni. This said, I'd rather get the choice right first time around.
Currently, I am torn between three courses: Engineering and Science Double Degree, Engineering and Arts Double Degree, and just the Engineering Degree by itself.
I know I definitely want to do engineering, but am not entirely certain about which type. I love science, but if I want to do science with engineering, I would need to know which type of engineering I want to go into, which is a big decision to make with the little info I have.
If I did arts and engineering I would not have to choose the type of engineering straight away, but maybe I'd rather do science. Or maybe not. I don't know. I think arts subjects involve essays. I hate essays.
But then maybe a double degree would be too much for me to handle. Maybe I would be better off doing a single degree and pursing other interests in my own time, at my own pace. I don't know about this one. The overachieving part of me would rather do two degrees not one.
There is one other option, a kind of combination of the first two that runs contrary to the third. I could do the science/engineering degree and an arts diploma at the same time. Again, this may be a bit too much to handle.
And all this is assuming I get a high enough score to get into the course in the first place. Maybe I should create a plan E.
Smiling releases endorphins which make the smiler feel happier. Smiles are contagious so smiling spreads happiness :)
That's a kinda random but true start to this post.
I got an idea from HeartOfParadise when she listed 10 happiness bringers which is sort of a cross between that list and something I vaguely remember being mentioned by someone at a wellbeing lecture at school.
So this is it: I will try and write down something that made me happy for every day that I have access to the internet, starting tomorrow. I have no concrete plan, but I figure an idea focusing on happiness can't go wrong.