Just keep swimming: How do you keep going in life when Migraine or another Headache Disorder deals you a difficult set back?
If you’ve been dealing with migraine disease for years now, you’re probably familiar with the ups and downs that are part and parcel of this illness. Sometimes I hear acquaintances say, “Oh, I had migraines for years, and then I tried xyz, and I never had another one!” My immediate reaction is hope followed by a touch of dread just a split-second later. I think back fleetingly to all the would-be near-cures I’ve tried over the years: the preventive medicines, the vitamins, the supplements, the lifestyle changes, the dietary restrictions, and more. For many years (perhaps until I finally got a little jaded?) I would adopt each new treatment with the real and sparkling hope that this—THIS!—might be the solution I’ve been looking for all these years! So far no long-term reprieve has come my way, and it’s certainly a medical fact that there is no known “cure” for migraine.
I’m quite lucky in that I have had one or two sustained migraine-free periods in adulthood. The most amazing one was in my late 20s—I was doing so well I thought for a while there that I may have to abandon my “Migraine Girl” nickname and blog!
But they came back. For me, they always do. And the setbacks are particularly rough when you’ve convinced yourself that maybe migraines are a thing of the past.
Setbacks have been a little easier to deal with emotionally as the years have passed (I chalk that up to experience and my always-in-progress practice of trying to be mindful and stay in the moment), but they’ve gotten more and more complicated, logistics-wise. In previous years, my schedule was relatively flexible and having a migraine knock me out for days meant I missed some part-time work, some free time with friends, and even some vacation days. But now that I own a business that requires me to be mentally and physically present for the entire work week, an intractable migraine episode can lead to cancelled appointments, disappointed customers, and family and friends who are bumped because what little healthy time I have I often need to reallocate to my business.
When you have a lifelong chronic illness (or two, or three, or more!), finding peace may only be possible if you start to face the fact that setbacks are not only possible but highly, highly probable. I make my schedule and my appointments and stick to them as much as I can, but I always know in the back of my head that I will miss as little as 10%, as much as 75% of what I’ve planned.
Wallowing in my frustration and temporary migraine-induced depression during a long attack doesn’t feel very good and doesn’t serve much of a purpose. So, though I don’t try to act too tough or rough with myself when I need to rest, I do try to keep my eyes ahead and keep moving along. I cancel what I need to, apologize to those I’ve let down, and I keep swimming. I try to remember that, even when I’m lost in the cove and it’s dark and cold and it’s likely there are migraine-predators in my midst, I try to keep swimming up, up toward the surface, toward the light. Toward home.
Learn more about the 2013 MHAM Blog Challenge and other MHAM events by visiting: 2013 Migraine & Headache Awareness Month Information Page
June, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is issued by FightingHeadacheDisorders.com
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?