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A Lower-Key Me

A few days back, one of my supervisors at emailed me the link to an article I wrote nearly six years ago to the day.  In it I describe staying in on Halloween (which, even considering my health issues, continues to be a rare thing, as Athens, Georgia has what might be one of the top Halloween nights in all the world—even my sick self takes every step not to miss it!).

It was odd to read the article and remember writing it so clearly—it was more than a half-decade ago, yet I remember sitting at my computer and composing it.


But you know what part I didn’t remember?  The conclusion, which I’ve shared again below:

And you know what? I’m not sorry I didn’t got out. At this point, the night is over for most folks in town and I’m sure they had a great time. So did I. I continue to get used to this lower-key Janet who chooses to stay in when she used to be social, social, social. I hope I stop questioning her choices so much and trust her to do the right thing.

In fall 2014 I wrote an article for this site about how even social butterflies like me need to say no to parties and concerts and gatherings in order to take care of our heads.  In leafing through my other articles on this site, it’s now clear to me that this theme has come up many times without my realizing it was something I thought about so much.

I look back to my 2008 self, the one that said of “lower-key Janet”:  “I hope I stop questioning her choices so much and trust her to do the right thing.”

That sentence really hit me hard, but in a good way.  Because you know what?  I realize I have changed immensely on this front.  In this particular facet of self-care, I have become a pro, making few errors in judgment as I evaluate how I’m feeling, how I’m likely to feel, and what my head and body can handle.

In the old days, my work schedule was really flexible compared to most people’s jobs.  I could risk a late night out on the town, because the next day if I woke with a migraine, I could afford to take the morning off work.  Nowadays I have more commitments, including a business that I need to run.  In addition to that,  I now know that, at least generally speaking, 34-year-old Janet doesn’t bounce back from migraine as quickly as 24-year-old Janet did.

Tonight is Halloween, and I do plan to go out (though I doubt I’ll have any alcohol, and I hope not to stay out too long past midnight).  I have made sure that I have no time-sensitive work commitments due tomorrow or the next day (it helps that Halloween falls on a Friday!), and I will have earplugs with me.  I also know that by not drinking, I will be able to get myself home safely should a migraine make an appearance all of a sudden.

The more I talk to my friends, it seems this is a part of growing older, not necessarily a part of dealing with chronic illness. But I do wonder:  do those of us with frequent migraines need to get more regimented and responsible a little faster than those with better health?

How has your behavior changed over the years? Do you attribute these changes to living with migraine, or do you think you’re simply maturing? 

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.


  • Jen T
    5 years ago

    I have learned over the years that I can better manage my migraines by maintaining a consistent regimen. I am motivated to do this because I want to be “migraine free” most days of the month! I’ve had to learn not to cram too many things in one day, or on consecutive days, because this can trigger a bad migraine episode. Scheduling “down time” is important.

  • Anne
    5 years ago

    Definitely – I think when horrible pain and fatigue can be avoided by an action I take, I tend to take that action. Pain is a great motivator. I know that migraines have made me focus on my own needs, something I wasn’t raised to do.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    5 years ago

    I think when you’re living with chronic illness you do learn to make this adjustment earlier than others your age without chronic health issues. We just have no other choice! I find I feel less guilty when I have to cancel plans. I had to recently, and it was less of a fuss (in my head) than would have been in the past. I just made the decision to rest, and I rested. I felt that was a moment of growth for me and felt satisfied I could give myself what I needed.


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