Migraine has taken me on an incredible journey. In the decades I have lived with this condition, I have experienced extremely dark times as well as equally amazing moments.
Migraine has been a roller-coaster ride where the intensity and speed changes from day to day. I can go from having a good day to waking up feeling like my head is being squeezed in a vise the next day.
Due to the nature of my disease, I will keep getting knocked down, no matter how much I try to manage triggers and do the “right” things.
What I’ve realized, though, is that no matter what migraine throws my way, this journey is all about learning how to pick myself up again. That is what will get me through this battle and onto the next.
Here are a few of the important life lessons migraine has taught me.
Having a chronic illness can mean feeling weak and incapable most of the time. Not having full control over my body and how it reacts to external and internal stimuli makes me feel unreliable.
If I look more closely, however, I can see how I consistently fight seemingly unwinnable battles and fulfill my roles as a mother, wife, patient advocate, and writer.
I am not sure how I do it. There must be a hidden strength that I have, because on the surface I feel shattered. Yet, the fabric of my life tells a different story. If I never had migraine, I am not sure that I would be as strong as I am now.
You can’t have strength without perseverance. It is a conscious decision I make every day to keep pushing through. Giving up is not an option, although it is extremely easy to want to.
This life is hard! Migraine teaches you how to move through difficulty and find your way to the other side. It hurts like hell while you’re in it, but you know that there is an end. It is that knowledge that allows me to go through it over and over again.
I have learned so much about who I am through having migraine, by spending a lot of time with my thoughts and mulling over past decisions and perceived flaws.
Being a chronically ill person has made me more aware of my qualities, talents, and skills as well as what my boundaries are.
Waiting is a regular item on this life’s agenda. Every day is another day where I have to wait for something to either start or end. Usually, I’m waiting for pain, discomfort, and fatigue to end. Does it happen? Not always.
I have learned that not everything happens when I want it to. Instead, things come to fruition when they are supposed to — and that could be tomorrow or next year.
Having migraine means I’ve been down this road numerous times. So, I know to sit back and not sweat it. It will happen when it’s meant to.
Migraine has taught me to be kind to myself. In the process of separating myself from the disease, I became aware that I was being very unfair to myself. Being sick is not my fault, and it isn’t something I can control.
My illness isn’t a reflection of who I am as a person or caused by my personality type. I am not the reason I’m in pain. Therefore, I should let myself off the hook.
Now, I’m more mindful of how I see and speak to myself. I deserve kindness and love from within myself, and I try to fulfill that every day.
6. Compassion and Empathy
Knowing how it feels to be in pain, unable to do things others can, and having to overcome many hurdles creates compassion and empathy.
Migraine has widened my heart and opened me up in a way to where I care deeply and immensely about others’ suffering. It hurts me to see other people in pain or in a difficult situation because I know how hard it is and how much it hurts.
7. Appreciate the small things
Much of my time is now spent at home, and I have to be very judicious about what I spend my energy on.
Taking walks or going on a lunch date with a friend mean so much more now because they happen so infrequently. Being able to do laundry or cook a meal is a huge accomplishment. I used to take those things for granted.
Now, getting out of the bed and putting on clothes is a win!
The journey migraine has led me on has brought me to a new level of awareness.
In the past, I wouldn’t ask my doctor questions and would often blindly follow whatever course of treatment I was put on.
Appointments used to be very intimidating for me, and I didn’t feel comfortable bringing up any concerns. When I was at my lowest point and in severe pain every day, I decided that something had to change.
I slowly started to find my voice and became more and more involved in how I wanted my treatment plan to look. Advocating for myself empowered me, and I wanted other people to experience that for themselves.
For more information on how to manage migraine, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
MIG-US-NP-00126 APRIL 2019