Little Joy, Big Impact
Waking up in pain nearly every morning can make starting the day off with a positive outlook really, incredibly difficult. This is particularly poignant when the regiment to get started with the day includes struggling to get out of bed, taking a handful of medications, worrying about things forgotten because of migraine, and a handful of stressful considerations that tend to follow chronic pain patients like whether one can realistically make it through a work day.
Common feeling of hopelessness
Many with migraine know the feeling all too well: constant discomfort and pain that clouds perspective and outlook. It is honestly just so super exhausting sometimes to attempt to think and feel good each day, when in actuality we are in a lot of pain. These are considerations that I have felt intensely lately, having experienced a handful of illnesses. Waking up with migraine nearly every day certainly adds to that feeling of hopelessness, and to top it all off, I find myself often unable to treat even some of the symptoms of the pain. Even when I have something nice planned for the day, I am finding it very difficult to feel good when I am in so much pain. For that reason, I have really taken an interest in finding a way to supplement what I feel like is an ever decreasing amount of joy and peace, that conversely sits with what seems like an ever increasing amount of pain.
Now I know how absolutely eye-roll inducing some of the recommendations out there are for ‘thinking away’ the pain can be for some of us---while things like yoga and mindfulness practices work, truly, for some folks in helping to alleviate some of the stressors that contribute to migraine, for others of us it can be really difficult to get a full value out of those habits or get into them in the first place. That is one of the most interesting parts about migraine, and about people in general: the differences among us. To that consideration, I am making sure that I am not holding onto any illusions in this journey.
That means for me, being totally in tune with what actually feels good and works for me, at the time and space I am in now. Attempting to focus in on what is working, and not just what is supposed to work or help can make a huge impact. I personally have a really difficult time settling into yoga, for instance, and oftentimes end up having a migraine, oddly enough, whilst doing and after yoga, even though I know it helps a lot of other migraine patients. For me, finding joy and relief is coming to terms with the fact that some of the things thatshould help don’t fit me, but that’s okay.
So, where can I find joy?
Like many migraine patients, I feel like I have tried it all. I have made lists of thankfulness, I have tried meditation to negate some of the inherent stress that comes with chronic pain, I have tried medication after medication, and yet it still feels incredibly difficult for any feeling to outshine the pain on most days. Sure, I have bursts of genuine and thorough happiness, but the majority of my time I feel is dominated by the yucky feelings, and I want more of the good.
I have come up with one way: keeping a record of activities that genuinely seem to help, as well as what doesn’t. Just like a trigger log or a migraine journal where we log our food and activities, I have been keeping a joy log. At this point, I know I can find joy in a nice, warm bath. A bit like mindfulness without as much effort. I also have had success in totally giving in to feelings of joy when visiting a Sauna for a few hours (although I did leave with a heat-induced migraine). Really, finding joy for me has been about acknowledging the small things and letting them take up huge space next to the pain, even if briefly. A simple bath, a tasty treat I make for myself, a few hours laying in a warm room on the floor. Realizing that many days are going to feel really bad has prompted me to focus on all of the small joys I can, and letting them shine.
What little joys do you have? Do you find it difficult to focus on the good because of migraine? Let’s discuss in the comments!
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?