In 2009, after my second year of university, I was lucky enough to secure a summer internship at a bank where I worked full time for 2 months. Not long after I started working, the nagging symptoms began to haunt me one by one and gradually became serious. To name a few, I had constant, severe pain in my neck and shoulders, indigestion, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, dry and tired eyes, headache and a numb feeling of the face. It almost seemed as though they were competing to see who could torture me most and none of them wanted to lose out. When someone asked me how I was feeling, my answer always included the word “Tired”, some people even came up to me and said I looked knackered. Personal life after work was unthinkable because I needed to spend the evening resting to be able to cope the next day. The weekends were mostly spent on trying new therapies to help relieve the symptoms which included chiropractics, acupuncture, yoga and sports massage therapy. They were useful but sadly, the effects were only temporary.
After graduating university in 2010, I managed to get a job in an accounting firm and started working as an auditor. Due to the nature of the job, most of my working days required travelling, working long hours and studying in the evening. The first few months were manageable but as time went by it became more difficult to cope. Without invitation, new guests joined the list of symptoms – dizziness, numbness in my hands and fingers as well as abdominal pain. They started to attack my psychological state too. I became depressed and easily stressed.
I made regular trips to the doctors and each meeting comprised of a different theme – one consultation would be on headache, a few weeks after it would be on abdominal pain and so on. After every visit, I would come back with prescribed drugs such as pain killers, tablets to enhance digestion and antidepressants. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the symptoms go away completely.
I even took 3 months off work in 2012, to try different treatments abroad which seemed to be more helpful at first but again the effects were not long lasting. Towards the end of the 3 month treatment, I heard the practitioner murmur “I wonder if this is TMD…” admitting that the treatment might not have benefited me. When I came back to the UK, I remembered what she said and decided to do some research. I found a website which provided quite a long list of possible TMD symptoms and slowly going down the list, I realised I ticked almost all the boxes. I probably had the biggest eureka moment of my life! – Finally! I had found out what it was, a monster called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). All the pieces came together and everything made sense. After a few moments of excitement however, that feeling turned to futility and almost led to anger. Why did nobody tell me? For 15 years I had been searching for clues as to why, no matter how hard I tried to overcome it, I always felt tired and constantly felt pain? Why couldn’t I do what others did – juggle work, socialize, personal life and physical exercise? Why did I have such a short temper and not help but be so impatient? Why would I have to spend 3 hours on work/study which only took others roughly 30 minutes to do?
I had to meditate for a while to calm myself down. I then realised how grateful I should be for at least finding out what the real cause is. All I needed to do now, was find the treatment. However, at this point I was unaware that this was only the beginning of a new battle.