In what was a very healing and important post for me, see Blending, the subject of headaches came up in the comment discussion. Someone asked if it was a common issue for people who struggle with dissociative identities, and others chimed in saying it was. So, I thought it would be worthwhile to talk directly about the issue. To be honest, it is not high on my list of symptoms I have to worry about, but as I have thought about it, it has shed light on some other issues for me.
Probably it is not high on my list because I do not consider my pain to be all that bad. This is ironic, because I know full well that pain, whether it is in my body or head or neck or throat, can be absolutely debilitating. Headaches tend to be the most frequent source of pain, but also the least disabling. Body memory pain with its associated flashbacks, by contrast, can have me writhing on the floor and crying like a baby.
My personal take on headaches, for those of us with any chronic dissociative issues, is that they are related to degrees of switching states. There are switches that we flow into and are kind on our system, and these do not usually generate headaches. These, for me, are switches that takes place when we, for example, end up being more playful or funny with our children. As such, they are not really full blown switches, though they can be, but more usually are more of the blending type I talked about in the post I referenced at the top.
But, most switches are highly stressful. And headaches are clearly linked to stress. Psychologically, I label these headaches as switching headaches. The medical language would be tension headaches. The pain can be severe. Sometimes I just go right to medication, depending on what is going on, I will take as a first line, the variant of Fioricet without the caffeine. And try some techniques like guided relaxation and a heating pad on my neck to relax the muscles.
There appear, to me, to definitely be degrees of pain. If the internal stress is bad enough, it feels as though my whole body collapses, and this leads to what I think are migraines. These are the times when I cannot see well, become nauseous, cannot think at all, and the head pain is a different league. These can last a day or more for me. I have heard from others that migraines can last a week or longer. Thankfully, that has not been my experience. I usually can get by with medicating the pain, and forcing myself to sleep. That usually means I take a cocktail of Percocet, Flexeril, and Klonopin.
As I have healed, I have found that these really bad states happen less and less. This leads me to the interesting piece. What is interesting, for me, about all of this is that there are things I can do to solve these pain states without any medication at all, and quickly. I am just not that good at doing this yet, but I am getting better. There have been many times I have ended up in a really bad switch state and in bad headache pain (which is usually accompanied by other somatic body memory pain, like neck or throat pain) and ended up phoning "My Healing Guide." She almost always tries to help me get grounded, and there is always resistance. The miracle is that getting grounded works and solves the pain. And often the solving of the pain happens as quickly as the switch itself.
Now one could look at that data in a couple of ways. One could say that the pain is contained in a part (or parts) of me, and that my getting grounded as me, Paul, still could keep the pain in the part, with the part suffering. I do not subscribe to that theory. I think that becoming grounded helps the whole system, and parts of the system become more at peace (sort of like what I was trying to get at in the "Blending" piece).