Sometimes it’s hard to express what living with migraine feels like. Migraineur Danielle Newport Fancher and friends use 6-word stories to help better understand their condition.
I attended a migraine event a few weeks ago where a speaker asked us to write down our migraine stories in just six words. The speaker was inspired by another six-word tale that’s famously attributed to Ernest Hemingway:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Whatever the origins of that particular story, it manages to say a lot in just a few short words.
To write my six-word migraine story, I noted the first words that came to mind:
Although it only took a few seconds to write, my six-word story captured everything I need to say about my migraine experience:
I have chronic, intractable migraine pain. I wake up in pain every day. I go to sleep with pain every night. There’s never a minute’s break.
My pain has lasted for years. Surviving it never gets any easier. It often feels like an endless battle.
Migraine has broken me down to my core. Nothing has ever challenged me like migraine pain. It’s changed my identity and caused me to miss countless life experiences. I even had to leave my job and life in New York City for some time.
These last two words are the most important. They show that I haven’t let my migraine win.
I was out of work due to my pain. I coached myself back to working full-time. I work incredibly hard. I’m currently living the life that I want to live. Is it harder to push through the pain than to stay home in bed? Absolutely.
I do everything possible to keep going. That requires constant mental coaching and a great support team.
This short exercise helped me to distil over a decade of my life into one poignant line — my challenges and my resolve to keep going.
Other people’s 6-word migraine stories
My story doesn’t stand alone. Migraine affects around one billion people worldwide. Each person has a unique perspective on what it’s like to cope with a chronic, invisible illness every day.
To better understand other people with migraine, I asked my friends on my blog and on Instagram to share their own six-word stories. There were tales of loss and frustration, but also strength and survival.
A pain that only few understand.
Wishing it was “just a headache.”
I’ve also felt misunderstood in my pain. It’s as if people don’t believe my pain is real, because migraine is rarely discussed.
Lost life experiences
Stolen days. Stolen nights. Stolen life.
I can’t commit to any plans.
Thief of happiness. Deliverer of pain.
As people living with chronic migraine, we often miss out on so much that we’ll never get back: dinner dates, parties, work, and life events. I completely relate to feeling that life is “stolen” at times. I struggle with this feeling today.
Looking for answers. Can’t find any.
How bad will it be today?
Never-ending. Debilitating. Life-changing. Excruciating.
Fear of being this way forever.
There’s nothing more hopeless than searching for answers and never finding relief. Many of us feel hopeless battling migraine. It’s nice to know that we aren’t alone.
Pain and more pain
Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. Pain.
It’s a living hell… totally sucks.
Miserable beast living in my head.
Childhood through adulthood. Unexpected. Unwanted. Gruesome.
We sometimes overlook pain when we discuss migraine. The pain can make every second hard. No one ever teaches you how to beat pain.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Refuse to let it define me.
Migraine will NOT ruin my life.
It’s hard to feel hopeful. I love seeing other people maintain hope despite migraine. Hope makes me happy.
These short stories paint a clear picture of how migraine impacts lives. They’re raw, honest, sad, and, sometimes, uplifting.
Trust me. My pain has not gotten better over the years. Every single day is hard. I can fully relate to feeling negative, dark, and defeated.
With time, I found the positive in my experience. I found strength in my pain. My hope is that the people who shared their stories will, too. I hope that they find positive endings in their future six-word stories.
If you enjoyed these stories, write your own with whatever words come to mind. It just might feel cathartic to put your feelings down on paper.
NPS-IE-NP-00500 October 2022