When I'm mentally checked out, it's really hard on my loved ones
Longtime readers of my migraine.com articles (which originally were blog posts on my blog called—you guessed it!—“The Migraine Girl”) know I have had a wonderful, loving man in my life for many years now. Jim and I met in 2006, and I’m thrilled to say that in 2015 we got married. For such a long time it felt strange to call him “boyfriend,” as that term was one we started using just a few months into dating, when we were in love but not yet fully aware of what we were getting into. :) The term “partner” was so dry, and since we are both entrepreneurs, it would throw people off people at times. I’d detect confusion in someone’s face when I referred to “my partner,” so I’d then stumble over myself: “Oh, not my bookshop partner. I mean, not my business partner—I mean my life partner. My boyfriend. Jim.” Awkward. As apt as the term “life partner” might be, it has always felt a little cheesy for my personal use. Starting in 2015, he became “fiancé,” and, as of late May, he’s “husband.” Though I’m still getting used to that new phrasing, I’m pleased to report it just feels right, and it sure as heck doesn’t lead to any ambiguity or confusion when I’m talking to people who don’t know us already!
Jim is a good husband so far, just as he was always a great boyfriend, a great (life) partner, a great fiancé. He’s supportive and helpful and really tries hard to be there for me when I’m not feeling well.
But you know what? It’s really difficult for him to be there for me when I’m not there myself.
What do I mean by that, you wonder? I mean to refer to how loopy and out of it I am during all phases of my migraine attack, from the prodrome to the postdrome. I am forgetful and easily confused. I say one thing and do another. I am “Contradiction Jan,” as he has been wont to call me at times. I don’t mean to be confusing or misleading or annoying, but I honestly am not doing it on purpose. It’s my migraine brain.
That said, I have to admit something to you now: I know that, in some cases, I could do a little better at being aware and being in the moment. I am not at all saying that I am faking my out-of-it-ness or that I can make myself snap out of a migraine attack, because we know that’s not true. What I am saying is that I know from experience that I can often work to be more present even if I am not feeling good and have the sensation that my brain is floating in mid-air about a foot outside of my skull. I can achieve this through regular mindfulness practice, through engaging in stress-reduction techniques like exercising several times a week when I’m feeling up to it, and remembering to eat healthy foods and stay hydrated. Perhaps I can’t beat this beast of an illness, but I can fortify myself more than I do to make sure I am as present as possible for myself and for my partner.
How many of you have noticed how feeling out of it and loopy can negatively affect your family and/or friends? What, if anything, do you do to try to be more present even when it feels like your brain is working against you?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?