Hi, it's me. Your Migraine
I can’t believe you don’t know who I am. I mean, we spend a lot of time together—I know you inside and out, yet you don’t recognize me.
Let’s see. Let me give you some clues as to who I am. Hmm…
Well, we’ve been friends since the early 1990s. Strike that—you don’t think of us as friends, so let me rephrase. We’ve known each other since the early 90s, when you were on the cusp of adolescence. You didn’t know my name back then, you just thought that you had a bad headache. One other early time I remember well, you couldn’t believe how swiftly you acquired the stomach flu (complete with a terrible headache), and how swiftly it went away. You now know that wasn’t the flu—that was me.
I’ll just go ahead and let you know who I am, cause I think you already have figured it out. I’m your companion, your friend, your enemy, your nemesis, your parasite you can’t ever seem to shake.
I am Migraine.
No, no, no! Don’t run away. I want to explain some things to you. I want you to hear my side of things. Will you hang out for a sec while I let you know what it’s like for me?
You, my friend, are an exceptional person. You are intelligent and funny and quite capable. You are special in so many ways, and one of the ways that makes you different from the majority of others is that you are gifted with this spectacularly sensitive brain and nervous system. It’s like you have sensory super-powers. You can smell things (good and bad) from several rooms away. This will probably save your life if you’re ever in a place with a gas leak or something, right? And your eyes seem to see so much more of the world than the eyes of those who don’t know me intimately. And don’t get me started on your hearing—your ears are incredibly sensitive. Heck, I’ve watched as you heard your name being called by someone who was an impossible distance away, and I’ve watched your ears perk up as you noticed an owl was hooting in the woods—no one else heard that. That’s actually pretty cool.
Now here’s the downside. You are so much more sensitive than most people, and—I know you hate to hear this—you are more fragile than those who don’t have me as a life partner. I know you think I hate you, but I don’t. Your brain and I just get overwhelmed sometimes and we have trouble taking it all in, so we have to do something to get you to stop what you’re doing and just take a breather.
Too much sleep or too little sleep. Too much sunlight on a beautiful beach, or one too many beers at your neighborhood bar. Even one-thousandth of a teaspoon of NutraSweet. All of this stuff can make me freak out a little bit. I hate that I cause you such pain and agony. I honestly can’t help it.
I came today to see if we could work out a deal. I’ve come to care about you over the years and I hate to see what I’m doing to you. Let’s try to figure out a way for me to visit less often. You know by now that migraine disease is chronic—there’s no cure. But there are some ways that we can make sure I don’t come around quite so often.
How about you start thinking of me as someone you have a relationship with instead of thinking of me as an enemy? I know it’ll take a while to wrap your head around that, but I think it’s a good tack. It’s likely I’ll be a part of your life forever, so let’s try to find ways to work together and not drive each other bonkers.
Next up, how’s this for a deal? If you eat regularly and drink plenty of water, I will do my damnedest to not bug you too much. When you skip meals or neglect to keep yourself hydrated, your brain and I start thinking that something is wrong, and you know that can end in a lot of pain and disruption. Dude, just keep a water bottle on hand and keep healthy snacks with you. It’s easier than you are making it out to be.
And I know you miss your night owl self, but we both know how much better you feel when you go to bed at around the same time and wake up around the same time. I promise you I won’t show up as often if you try to stick to a sleep routine.
And speaking of routine: how about taking a few more breaks from work now and then and spending more time on yourself? Write a little, call your parents on the phone just to chat, and take a hot bath while you read a book. Binge on Downton Abbey episodes. Just chill out.
Finally, let’s go on walks like we used to. I should be careful saying “we,” as you’ll worry that I’ll show up and interrupt you. But in this case, I just want to assure you I like being outdoors. I vow to try my best to just hang out with you and not cause any trouble if you’ll take me on walks at least five times a week. We can listen to music or audiobooks or whatever you want. Just get moving, get those endorphins going. You’ll feel better and you’ll look better, and I won’t have as many reasons to show up.
Okay, I can tell you’re a little shell-shocked after hearing all this and after hearing from me for the first time ever. In closing, I just want to apologize to you. I’m sorry for the friends’ weddings I almost ruined for you, especially that time you threw up in the bushes right after Jen’s ceremony. I’m sorry you don’t see your friends in Atlanta very often because I always show up when you drive in that awful traffic. I’m sorry I stole afternoons and evenings and mornings and days and weeks from you. I have come to really care about you a lot, and I am going to try to give you some space now. Your brain and I are going to try to not protect you quite so much. We’ll try not to shut down if you try to take better care of yourself. I love you and I don’t want to be hurting you. I’m really sorry. So let’s try to accept that we’ll be in each other’s lives and do our best to not hang out all that much from this day forward.
Okay, I’m out of here. Hope it’ll be awhile before we see each other again.
Have you noticed something that used to trigger your migraine no longer does?