themighty logo

What It's Like Being a High School Senior With Chronic Headaches

It is 7:46 on a Friday night. As I write this I can feel the icy cold of the ice pack on the back of my neck. I’m resting and silently begging my chronic headache to ease so I can get some work done. I came home from a full day of school and completed a quarter of the work that I had set for myself earlier in the day, when I was more optimistic with lower pain levels. It’s Friday night and instead of going out with my friends or relaxing while binge watching Netflix all night long, I am lying here in a dark quiet room with an ice pack, trying to lower my pain levels. I am in pain that words cannot begin to describe and I’m exhausted beyond reason.

This is a portion of my life. This is an average day for me. Some days are better. Some days are worse. Sometimes the pain builds up and I know that a bad pain day is going to hit soon. But I often don’t know when. Sometimes I have barely any warning at all.

I have lived like this for over two years now. This year is my final year of school. I should be out celebrating and partying with friends, making memories with people that I may not see again after I graduate. Or binge watching Netflix till early hours of the morning. Or being studious, doing extra work and studying practically 24/7 to achieve those high marks. Instead, I am typically unable to do any of these things.

As any high school student knows, the closer you get to graduating, the more people ask what your plans are for after you graduate. This is enough to stress out the average high school student who doesn’t have concrete plans for the courses they want to study and their ideal occupation. Now, I have some idea of areas that I’m interested in and would like study, but I’m unsure if I would be able to cope with the many hours of work and study involved with university. I’m burdened by expectations to study when I’m unsure that my body would be able to cope with the intense studying and long hours of university. This is something that no one else seems to understand.

It is 6:52 on a Saturday night and I am tired. Two weeks of holiday from school means that my pain is at a constant level for now, not getting any better, but not getting any worse. But this I can cope with. This is my “break” from the escalating pain that affects me during the school term. My exams are in five weeks. My friends at school have been studying during these holidays, taking advantage of the break. This is something I cannot do. All I can do is rest to keep the pain levels down, get an almost decent amount of sleep and go about my day of rest at home with only a standard level of pain, instead of excruciating pain that only escalates.

It is 11:27 at night and I’m still awake. I’ve been lying here for hours. I don’t sleep well at the best of times, typically due to an endless rush of anxiety-filled thoughts. However, tonight is different. Tonight, my thoughts are quiet. But my pain is loud. The pounding of my headache prevents me from sleep – the only brief escape that I have from the pain.

It is 10:34 on a Sunday morning. I’m in church, trying to continue standing in the service as I can’t bear to draw any attention by walking out of the worship songs. My sensitivity to light and sound that have developed with the chronic headache even make church difficult. The flashing lights blind me and the loud sound of the drums and the music makes my head pound even more. I feel myself becoming hot, feeling faint as my pain levels continue to rise.

These are just snippets of my life. A small bit of insight into the life of me. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to explain what this is like for me. I shouldn’t have to live like this but I do. This is an insight into my life as a student in my last year of high school, with daily chronic headaches.

Getty Image by seb_ra