The comfort of community
When I started this blog many years ago, it was my little secret. I had fallen out of the habit of writing a diary, opting instead to write long letters to my friends. (Yes, letters that were handwritten and sent in the mail—I used to send and receive at least four letters a week.) So instead of chronicling my life in a journal, I would tell my friends about what was going on in my life by writing in longhand on stationery. I wasn’t entirely truthful in those letters, though: I rarely, if ever, mentioned the migraine attacks that were becoming very frequent occurrences in my life.
I decided to look into blogging. At first the main reason to do that rather than keep a journal was because of how much more I could get written if I typed using a computer keyboard instead of using longhand on paper. I created a new email address not associated with my real self at all, created a blog, and then proceeded to write whatever I wanted to about what it was really like to live with migraine disease. I didn’t try to fill it with feel-good tips, nor did I dispense medical advice I have no right or credentials to share. Instead, I just talked about what it feels like to have this chronic illness. Any time I felt as if I was putting myself out there too much—any time I felt more vulnerable than was comfortable—I would write a drier post citing something I had learned about migraine.
To my utter surprise, people started to read the blog. I had learned statistics about how common migraine was, but, apart from a couple of friends and family members, I had never really talked at length to anyone else with the illness. All of a sudden this whole new world opened up. I felt less isolated. I felt safer. I felt, in a way, at home, surrounding myself with an online community that actually knew what my life was like.
Fast forward to 2014, and I’ve now spent more years with my blog hosted on migraine.com than I did hosting it independently. Some of the bloggers I read and admired most in my very early days (namely Kerrie Smyres of The Daily Headache) are now colleagues of mine here at migraine.com. I am fortunate to be a part of this community where we support one another and encourage each other to take care of ourselves, to explore various treatment options, to give ourselves a break when we’re being too hard on ourselves.
Each day, through conversations in the migraine.com fora or on the Facebook page or in blog comments, I see more and more migraineurs reaching out to one another. I see so many comments from people who say things like, “I thought I was the only one!” or “I am so glad I’m not alone.” Reading things like that makes my heart soar. I am so glad we have found one another.
If you know someone who is suffering from migraine but seems isolated, consider reaching out to him or her. Let him/her know that you, too, have this illness and are there to talk. You never know whom you’ll touch with just a small gesture of kindness and compassion.
No matter how long you’ve been keeping up with the online migraine community, I want to thank you for making this a safe, welcoming, comforting, and helpful place. We are all better off because we are in this together.
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?