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Embracing the good days

Today the Migraine and Headache Awareness Blog challenge is to read and comment on the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou as it relates to migraine and headache disorders.  As I read the poem, one particular section stood out:

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

As I read and reread this section, I began to think about all the times we experience disbelief from friends, family, co-workers, and even health care providers.  It is the curse of the invisible illness.  If we look too good, we take the risk that people will question our illness.  If we appear poorly, then we risk being accused of being an hypochondriac. We often wonder, “What does it take for people to believe that we really are that sick?”


It is as if by being sick we are not allowed to enjoy the pleasures of life. Yet embracing and enjoying the good things in life keeps us sane.  It is the antidote to all that is hard about living with migraine.  Having a good day when we can feel the sun on our face and the breeze in our hair is priceless.  Enjoying the company of good friends without pain is a precious gift.


Why spoil such a gift by questioning the veracity of our illness just because we are having a good day? Why not rejoice with us? Why not enjoy the good time? We get so few moments, why risk our relationship?


I’ve come to the conclusion that I want people in my life who can celebrate with me on my good days and support me on the bad ones.  The nature of this disease is one of ups and downs. In order to be a part of my life, loved ones must be able to ride the peaks and valleys with me. Fortunately, I have a lot of amazing friends who can do just that.


I offer this challenge:


For just one day, let go of concern about what others think.  If you feel well enough, then smile. Put on your favorite outfit, fix your hair, apply some makeup, and let yourself embrace the moment. Ignore the whispers of your detractors.  A painful day of darkness and quiet will come again soon enough. Give yourself permission to experience joy.


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


  • migrainestl
    5 years ago

    I read this as I sit outside in my favorite sundress enjoying a nice breeze…albeit wearing sunglasses even tho it’s overcast. Usually my blinds are shut, but as I’m having a “good” morning I decided to embrace this moment…

  • MigraineSal
    5 years ago

    I have taken up your challenge !

    I lost friends / colleagues and family when I started with migraines and got very upset and frustrated but then turned it around and thought if you think so little of me and cannot see in my eyes that I am really not well and that things have changed, I don’t need you in my life.

    Work was particularly difficult as it felt as though I had been sent to Coventry because of the time I had had to have off, initially when the migraines struck and then while I adjusted to the side effects of Topiramate and the life of a migraineur. The only way I could get people to see the pain I was in was to take off my mask ( make up ) and change my appearance ( go more in comfort wear ) and this did seem to do the trick as people did then appear to acknowledge that I didn’t look well. It was a very drastic move and one which had an effect on me as I took pride in my appearance . . . putting on a nice smart outfit and doing my hair and make up was part of who I was and it made me feel good as making the best of what you have can have such an uplifting effect.

    I reduced my working hours in the end as my diagnosis identified that my migraines are triggered by a neck problem that is aggravated by sitting at a desk 5 days a week and the stress of being treated so badly by colleagues who did not believe I was really ill. Colleagues are now commenting on how much better I look . . . that is due to a combination of the diagnosis, which has allowed me to better manage my triggers / reduced hours / meditation / pain management strategies I have learnt and a whole different outlook on life . . . I don’t expect too much of myself these days . . . if I am well enough to do it, I do, if not I sit it out ! I only take on limited household chores on a Friday when I know I have 2 days to recover before going back to work ( to allow for neck pain / triggered migraine recovery ) . . . not easy to get the hang of at first ( because of the guilt ! ) but it has made such a big difference to my life as it has taken a lot of the frustration away . . . the house may not be as clean as it used to be but I am not in as much pain, which is much more important these days.

    Think I am finally ready to put the full colours ( make up ) on again when I feel good on a work day and I can always go back to no make up on a bad day so that my colleagues can see the difference and don’t just think that I am ” fixed ” ! It would be sooooo much nicer however if colleagues just believed and understood what a nasty disease this can be and how you can ( and do want to ) be your old self but you just never know when it will strike.

  • Luna
    5 years ago

    Definitely agree with your conclusion and I live your challenge daily. Thanks for the reminder.

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