My migraine experiences in the workplace range from defeat to success.
I’ve battled dark moments. I’ve hidden in a dark closet in the middle of the workday, and I’ve asked an intern to drive me to the ER. I once quit my job because the pain took over my life.
I’ve also given presentations to hundreds of people, managed a team, and maintained a successful career. All while in constant, unbreaking migraine pain.
With all this considered, I’m proud of my career today. I’m doing exactly what I want in my professional life.
However, please don’t get me wrong. The many ups and downs of this process have been no easy feat. I’ve missed countless work events, meetings, and business trips due to migraine. I’ve also had to prove to employers that I’m qualified despite my constant pain.
Try mental coaching
It may sound simple. But all day, every day, I coach myself through my pain.
I coach myself up when I feel like I can’t lift my head off of the pillow. I tell myself things like, “You can do this, Dani. You’ve done this before. You can do it again.”
The coaching doesn’t stop there. I often face a glimmer of doubt on my walk to work and part of me thinks, “What are you doing? Get back in bed.” But my legs keep moving. When there’s room to push through the pain, I do.
Be honest and build trust
Trust is essential. It’s the core reason I share my illness with my colleagues. I have no hope if they don’t trust that my migraines are real.
I decided not to wait for my first migraine attack to discuss my condition with my colleagues. Instead, I mentioned my migraine symptoms early on and filled in my colleagues on the complexities of my migraine life as needed.
I feel it’s this transparency that gives them the confidence that I can do my job well.