I constantly feel like I have to ‘prove’ I’m unwell in order to be taken seriously. Like a lot of invisible illnesses, people don’t believe in things they can’t see. Which I kinda get. You can’t see fairies or unicorns or leprechauns. Doesn’t mean they’re not there. (They exist. Fight me.)
I have TemporoMandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJD), Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Tendinitis in both ankles, and Anxiety. Lemme tell you all about the fun we have together!
I have an upper jaw that’s too small, and a lower jaw that’s too big: together they make one unhappy pairing. My teeth don’t meet, so I can’t bite into food normally. This causes my muscles to work in the wrong way, which causes the chronic pain.
Talking, eating, smiling, yawning are all major triggers for a pain flare up. Also, if I’m already tired, and/or am already having my ass kicked by one of my other fun conditions, this can make the pain worse.
Mostly caused by the variation of medications I have to take for pain management, I get horrible stomach cramps, constipation, diarroeah, wind, and nausea. Usually not all together, but sometimes that happens and it’s real wild. Lol.
I believe this has always had to do with my self esteem and the way I feel about my jaw. When I have an anxiety attack, it feels like the world is ending. I can’t breathe properly, or talk. Everything is the worst it could possibly be and whatever triggered the attack will probably affect loads of other stuff too and it’s all my fault and this immense feeling of guilt will never end and I can never fix it.
Until those feelings pass, and the thing that triggered the attack is usually fixable. So if I suddenly become quiet and monosyllabic, please don’t be offended. It’s probably an anxiety attack, and there’s not much you can do for me other than just be there. Offer to hold my hand or sit next to me quietly. I find riding the wave until it’s over, is the only way I can deal with these safely. Having someone there helps tremendously.
Stupid weak ankles and flat feet. You’ll never find me in anything other than Dr Martens, hi-top trainers, or ankle boots. I can’t wear sandals or ballet pumps or stiletto heels. This doesn’t normally affect my overall health, as I only wear footwear that supports my stupid weak ankles and flat feet.
Unfortunately, when all of these are put together, it means I don’t have a whole lot of energy to spare once I’m finished dealing with all of these bad boys. I relate heavily to The Spoon Theory, and have to be careful that I don’t do too much. I try to plan activities with rest periods on either side.
This is hard for me. I used to be a very very busy person. I’ve worked full time since I was 16, always had an active social life. It sucks that the things I love to do most in the world are the very things that can trigger a pain flare.
However, I feel that once I’ve had my operation and I’m (hopefully) free of pain, then I can get back some semblance of the life I had before.