Dear friends and family: sometimes I cancel plans when I feel good (a confession)

Dear friends and family,

You have been so extraordinarily patient and understanding with me over the years, especially in relation to my migraine attacks.  You are supportive of my Avid Bookshop work and understand when I can’t make it to your afternoon party because of a bookstore shift. When I worried that having so many migraine episodes might mean not being able to run my own business, you helped me find ways to take care of myself while still achieving my lifelong dream of owning a bookstore.  You might not realize it, but I know that, at least at times, you probably resent my illness since it steals away time we could be spending together. You are angry with migraine for its negative impact on my health, and I agree with you: it is a thief, a kidnapper that whisks me away even when I want nothing more than to be present in the moment with you.

I have a confession to make that may surprise you, though: sometimes when I cancel plans or simply say “no” to an invitation, it’s not because I feel bad.

I say no sometimes because I am feeling so good.

Wait just a second, you think. If you’re feeling so good, isn’t that the perfect time to socialize and spend time with me?

In a perfect world where time and energy are limitless, I’d agree with you. But let me explain why I sometimes skip out on social time with you when I am feeling really healthy and strong.

You see, migraine takes away so much of every aspect of my life, from hours I could be working to afternoons I could be reading to weekends I could be hanging out with you. One night I may create a to-do list for the next day, hoping to spend the first half of the day writing. When I awake, it turns out my migraine brain has different plans and I can’t write at all due an attack.

So when I am feeling good, really good, my first inclination may be to finally call you back and cash in that rain check from when I was sick the week before.  We could go for that swim or grab that happy hour cocktail.

But, about a third of the time, I use my time in another way: I catch up on other aspects of my life.  While I’m sick and unable to work or play, my responsibilities don’t exactly disappear. Instead, they stack precariously, one on top of the other, until the tower leans and threatens to crash to the ground.  On this tower is every type of task you can imagine: paying bills, responding to emails, writing essays, reading books, cleaning the house, booking doctor appointments, running errands, making dinner, and hanging out with YOU.

Sometimes I have to just take care of other items in that stack before I can get to you, and that’s no reflection on how I feel about you. In fact, tending to other must-dos helps me calm down and re-center, which means I am more at ease and relaxed when it comes time for us to finally get together and catch up.

I hope you’re not mad hearing this.  Living with frequent migraine, migraine that has lately hovered right on the border between episodic and chronic, has been hard on me and has made me far less productive than I want to be. I want to be a more prolific writer, a better sister, a more present daughter, and a loving wife. I want to spend enough time alone to feed my inner introvert, and I want to spend enough time with you to connect in the ways that help make our friendship so special. And I want to find the time to connect to my work as a bookshop owner, something that brings so much meaning to my life.  There’s just never enough time, and I’m doing my best, promise.

I love you.

-The Migraine Girl

Do any of you readers out there identify with this? I expect this post may rile some of you up, and I say bring it—I want to have an open conversation with you guys about the problem/blessing of having migraine-free time and too many things to choose from to do in that time. Please comment below! 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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