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I get knocked down, but I get up again

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.

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.


  • Zasie
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your words of encouragement.

    Sometimes when I’m having a migraine I feel like I’m literally dying …my whole life is over…and then it’s over.. I get up and go about my life again. I shower first…

    Granted the house is a wreck and I don’t feel like cleaning it for quite a while. Then I go to work and I’m in a fog but I manage to get my job done in spite of my office mate who is a real demon. Bright lights, loud talker, personal heater on high..get the picture?

    But my boss is so understanding of my migraines. I can go home when I’m getting one and if I wake up in the morning and I’ve got one no problem no guilt.

    I go to work when I feel better, and I work maybe some extra hours to make up for time lost if -oh lets face it “when” I run out of sick days and vacation…but it all works out. First time in my entire life that I have had a boss that understood my migraines!

    I wonder what it’s like to use vacation days for an actual vacation instead of migraines, anybody?

  • kmripple
    6 years ago

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I really needed to read this today.

  • StillPortia
    6 years ago

    Thank you so much! I just downloaded “I get knocked down” to my phone. Your “self talk” is so encouraging. I went from being an episodic migraineur to a chronic migraineur and I am having a hard time adjusting. You have no idea how much your post encouraged me!

  • Willow
    6 years ago

    Spot on about self talk. In the midst of a migraine I cannot think properly or focus on anything much more than the next thing I’m going to try to get through the pain. Simplistic is good in that situation.

  • Susan L
    6 years ago

    You picked a perfect time to write this article for me. I am one of those who has struggled with chronic daily migraines most of my life. It’s not unusual for me to have many months with practically no break at all, so I’ve had to learn to live with a totally unpredictable schedule. Since topiramate and the triptans that are gentler than Imitrex have come about, folks like me at least have a fighting chance at some almost “clear” days. And I’ve had some success with 2 Botox treatments – waiting for Medicare’s new code for 2014 so I can get my 3rd. But I’m at a point where I’m never really migraine free. I try really, really, REALLY hard not to feel sorry for myself – even tho I know I have a right to – because that makes the migraines worse! 🙂 So does crying! I DO have a good sense of humor, and a bunch of other crap wrong with my health – nothing “serious” others would say. (My “moderate” arthritis in every joint, fingers & thumbs operated on they were so bad.) You are hitting home for me today because I saw my neurologist yesterday because this particular daily stint has been going on since August, so he upped my topiramate, and I feel better a little today. Hate increasing it, but love less pain. So your lets get on with looking upward and onward because it will get better, dammit! Hit home! Thx!!

  • Jennifer B.
    6 years ago

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m in the midst of a 3 day (so far) bedridden migraine. You are absolutely right about not being able to see a pain-free time when you’re in a bad migraine attack. I feel like I have 2 personalities and I never know which one I’ll wake up to. But, I love the song and your self talk suggestions. Just reading them made me teary-eyed because it’s all too easy to sink down into self-blame. I’m going to print out your post and keep it with me:)

  • jessicamadore
    6 years ago

    I am knocked down on an almost daily basis and the only question is will it be from the moment I wake up or will it come later in the day as I wind down for bed. Relentless in it’s pursuit my migraine monster is always prowling about 24/7. I am ensnared in his grasp right now gasping out these few words of hope, that yes I will get better, I will get through this, I will get back up again. Oh how I miss the days when I could blast Tubthumping by Chumbawamba but you did bring back some good memories!

  • sarah
    6 years ago

    I have had periodic migraines for 30 years, but they became chronic, complex migraines 2 years ago. After a variety of preventative and abortive treatments, my neurologist and I have them down to about 5 migraine days a month. I am currently taking Lamictal, Effexor and Wellbutrin on a daily basis. Finally, I feel like I can safely assume that I will have a normal day when I wake up. After they became chronic, I had to really focus on my triggers, and I can still get one when several triggers occur at the same time. For example, stress from the holidays on top of drastic change in the weather along with not getting enough sleep during my period. I tell you all of this just to encourage you to continue trying the preventatives. If you can find a neurologist who suffers from migraines, too, stick with him/her. They will be able to relate to what you are going through and won’t give up when the first medications don’t work. Take care~

  • Tracy
    6 years ago

    That song is my phone ring tone that way I never forget.

  • Elara moon
    6 years ago

    Migraines make a fraction of the person I really am. I’m often angry and bitter on bad days because the pain sucks my life away. I often find this website a comfort. Thanks for everyone that blogs you say what I can’t.

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