Disabled: Migraine in a word
Recently Migraine.com asked our community members to express how their migraine attacks make them feel in just one word. A number of readers shared the same word I chose to describe my own feelings about migraine disease: disabled. This has been a hugely loaded word in my life. Learning to process what it has meant to be legally disabled and therefore unable to work at my chosen career has lead me through some dark times into a place where I am mostly okay with the way things are. This is the story of that journey.
As I've shared before when talking about myself here at Migraine.com and ad nauseam on my own blog Somebody Heal Me, I defined myself by my career as a lawyer while I was still able to work. I worked hard to get into law school, get good grades on the way to a spot in the top 20% of my law school class, pass the bar and land my dream job. I felt I was living the reward for all my hard work by being able to define myself as someone with proximity to power and influence, and I loved every minute of it. Which made my subsequent fall that much longer and harder.
After just three short years in my dream job, I had to stop working because chronic migraines had come to completely dominate every aspect of my life. It was devastating. I didn't know who I was without that job. I didn't know how to explain to anyone (former classmates, family, anyone else) what I was doing with my life without that job and my career. I felt ashamed, guilty, embarrassed and alone. I basically hit rock bottom emotionally and was terribly difficult to be around. I was miserable, and I guess I made everyone else miserable, too.
Through many, many therapy sessions with a wonderful psychologist, I started to learn how to stop blaming myself and start to accept the reality of my situation. My health has disabled me, but that's just one part of who I am. Not only that, but being disabled isn't something you can choose or reject. It's simply a situation you find yourself in and the only choice you have is how you'll react to it.
The really cool thing was that once I started to accept my present circumstances, I found myself more open to little changes that made me feel less desperate and awful about being disabled. I embraced my role as someone who has relevant experiences and knowledge to share with the chronic illness and migraine community, which eventually lead me to a part-time job writing for Migraine.com.
I'm not going to lie and say what I do now feels as exhilarating as what I used to do, but I'm a different person, too, and someone who perhaps now values different things based on my experiences. I know I'm able to help people, and that's a wonderful feeling. It makes me feel needed and vital, and I think that's really essential in life and something I missed from working and helping support my family.
If you feel disabled by living with migraine disease what does the word mean to you? Has that meaning changed over time? Has there been anything good or empowering about it as there has been for me?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?