I get knocked down, but I get up again

For those of us who listened to (or suffered through) 1990s Top 40 radio, the song is already playing in your head. Before I apologize for implanting this earworm, I ask that you actually take a moment to think about that catchy line in reference to your migraines: “I get knocked down, but I get up again.”

The majority of us dealing with migraine disease are fortunate in that the migraine does not keep us bedridden every day. There is a very real group out there for whom migraine never goes away, and I hold such admiration for those patients who continue to seek treatment and live life as fully as they can. I have had long periods during which migraine wiped me out, but I’ve never had my migraines morph into relentless, daily attacks. To you all I express my profound sympathy and encouragement.

Those of you who have migraine-free days (or at least migraine-free hours) may very well be like me: when I am extremely ill with a multi-day migraine attack, I quickly lose sight of what it was like to live a somewhat normal life. “Sitting up without feeling nauseated? Is that really a thing people can do?” I think morosely. “Tidying the house and doing laundry? Could it be I was able to do those things just three days ago?” “Being able to focus on another human being without twitches of pain and blacked-out vision distracting me? Did I ever really have that superpower we call human conversational skills?”

I tend to forget that I may get knocked down (and how!), but that I always eventually get up again. For the vast majority of sufferers, migraine is not utterly debilitating 100% of the time. But when you’re in the throes of a particularly terrible attack, it can be extremely difficult to imagine that you’ll ever feel well again.

Call me a dork for using the phrase “self-talk,” but that’s what I have been trying to use as a tool when I’m feeling my worst. Here are a few things I say to myself inside my head when I am completely wiped out with a ferocious migraine attack:

  1. You will get better.
  2.  You will feel good again.
  3. This is temporary.
  4. You’ve been through this before. You can do this.
  5. It’s okay to take the time you need to get better.
  6. It’s okay to ask for help from loved ones.
  7.  You will get better.
  8. You will feel good again.

The phrases may strike some (especially anyone who has never dealt with chronic pain or illness) as simplistic, but I don’t need complicated reasoning and deep philosophy when I’m already beat down. I need straightforward, encouraging self-talk that will remind me of the basic situation: Yes, I’m terribly ill right now, but I will feel better. Yes, I have been knocked down, but I’ll get up again.

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