Ik Student
Universiteit Amsterdam
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‘That headache gets in the way of my life’

Difficult choices

‘I’ve always found it difficult to make choices. You constantly have to make choices, but you never know whether they’re the right choices. I often think about that. Was it the right choice for me? I think too much.’

They never find anything

‘I go to the doctor’s literally every year. He then refers me to the hospital. But they never find anything there either. I doubt that they are doing the right things or giving me the correct medication.’

Ebru (21) finds her studies increasingly difficult. And then there’s that terrible headache, which the doctors can’t explain. Could it all be stress related after all?

Ebru is studying business economics at the UvA. The first year all went swimmingly, but now, in her second year, a lot more is expected of her. Ebru: ‘I find this year much harder. It’s more theoretical and we have to do more external projects. I enjoy the atmosphere, but I don’t enjoy the course so much.’

A full head
‘When I open up my book I read and read, but I can’t process any of the information. I do still take notes, but I realise it’s not going well. There are so many things you have to do. There comes a point when you don’t know where to start. It makes me doubt whether I’ll be able to finish it or not. My head’s a bit full at times like that.’ Lack of concentration often causes her to postpone studying. ‘Because I don’t feel like it anymore, I sleep very little as well, which makes me feel very tired at times. I wake up early again and I feel groggy all day. During lectures the teachers often tell me I’m dreaming while they’re telling me something.’

Stupid answers
Ebru suffers from severe headaches which affects her concentration. She’s suffered for many years, but in stressful periods the pain becomes worse. ‘After a three hour exam, my head is throbbing. When I come home, I go straight to bed.’
She becomes angry quickly, over little things. ‘Particularly during periods when I’m very stressed. If somebody asks me something or if I can’t find something, I become angry and aggressive. I start shouting or I give stupid answers. Or I respond bluntly My friends don’t understand those sudden attacks of rage. They ask me whether I’ve lost my mind and why I’m so angry.’ She thinks the anger comes from not knowing what to do about the headaches.

Very happy
There’s no one Ebru can go to with her problems. She lives with her aunt, but she finds it hard to understand what Ebru is going through. ‘She says I just have to go for it. According to her things can be tough at times, but you just have to hang in there. ’Turning to friends for help is also difficult. They do support me, but I find it hard. I can connect with people, but I don’t tell them anything.’
When she has a headache she withdraws to her room: ‘Then I’m on my own and I think a lot.’ That often leads to a lot of worrying about which choices to make. ‘‘I’ve always found it difficult to make choices. You constantly have to make choices, but you never know whether they’re the right choices. I often think about that. If I don’t make a choice, what will happen? Was it the right choice for me? I think too much. There are days when I’m very happy. That’s when I think: what am I so worried about? But those days are scarce.’

Searching on the net
Over the years Ebru has seen many doctors about her headaches, but they have no solutions for her. ‘They’re investigating further what it could be. They say it’s stress related. That may be the case, or not. That’s what I don’t know. But it gets in the way of my life.’
She doesn’t have much faith in doctors anymore. That’s why she often searches for information about her problem on the internet. ‘Through Google I search for websites where you can read other people’s experiences. I read about the medication they’re on and whether it’s the same medication I take. Then I can tell my doctor about that when I see him again.’
Despite all her attempts to find a solution, Ebru doesn’t have much faith in things improving in the short term.

Ebru’s story: ‘That headache gets in the way of my life’
Nathaly’s story: ‘I didn’t pass many exams because I was too tired’

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