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? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (12)
  • Vera Dora
    4 years ago

    Yes, my brain gets so mixed up sometimes. I can’t find the right words. It happens to me at work and at home. This is a new symptom. It started a few months ago. It gets frustrating. My boyfriend knows the signs and triggers and understands. So do my daughters. I’ve been teaching them so they are more patient with me. Reading and learning about migraine really helps. Thank you for this site! 🙂

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Vera,

    Thanks for the kind words. My heart is happy to know that your boyfriend and daughters are so patient and supportive. We are pretty lucky.

    Take care, and thanks for being a part of this community!

    Sincerely,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • shine4him
    4 years ago

    The other week I was in the middle of an attack AND trying to calmly explain Migraine to a coworker who knew very little about it. I’m learning to be more aware of this problem, so when I was talking I purposefully slowed myself down and tried to be more careful in choosing my words. I still was forgetting some common words, but at this point I know enough to describe what I mean and then explain that aphasia is another part of Migraine – point made! It takes more effort, but I think the self-awareness is helping me be better understood.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Well said, shine4him: “I think the self-awareness is helping me be better understood.” When I can acknowledge that I’m in the middle of an attack so may be less coherent than usual, it helps to slow down and concentrate really hard on what meaning I’m trying to convey. It’s almost like trying to speak a foreign language without a full vocabulary. I appreciate your comment; thanks.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • moore
    4 years ago

    Love your blog … You are spot on in so many … Unless people around us have experienced a migraine they have no clue as to what we migraine suffers go thru … I too have a great husband, he knows me so well, he has my triggers down to an art he can usually tell before I can that a migraine is in the works, my speech, attitude, etc. change or become impaired a couple of days before! Please continue your blog! I’m sorry so many experience migraines, it helps to have a support group!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    moore,

    Thanks for the thoughtful note and kind words. I certainly will continue posting articles for as long as the team at migraine.com wants me on board! It helps so much to hear that I’m not alone, so thank you for taking the time to comment here. I am grateful you have a boyfriend who is so acutely aware of your condition–it helps immensely to have someone like that on your side.

    Hope you’re feeling well today.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • yirogers
    4 years ago

    Janet, When I feel like my brain is not working, I to try to be extra aware. I can be forgetful on a good day, so I’ve always had a habit of writing things down.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for the reply. I think trying to be extra aware may be the ticket, even if my brain is telling me to turn off the world around me. Sometimes I get out my notepad or calendar and my husband is like, “What are you doing? I’m just telling you something super-simple. We’ve talked about this before.” I have to remind him that it’s much easier on me (and *us*!) if I write things down and lessen the chance of forgetting or getting mixed up on the details later.

    Take care; hope you’re feeling good today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Nicci
    4 years ago

    I had a friend and prospective employee tell me she saw me walking into rooms and forgetting why I was there and it freaked her out to the point that she questioned working for me. This was NOT good for my confidence. A AM work burned out, admittedly, but that also happens during migraine prodrome & postdrome and I can’t figure out if it’s migraine or burnout depression anymore. Being single, I am anxious about getting into a relationship. My nuclear family doesn’t get it, so I avoid them. That’s how I cope… avoidance. Not great. Not doable if you have kids or aren’t self-employed. A real quandary!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    4 years ago

    Nicci and Berkeley,

    I enjoyed reading your comments and replies to one another. Thank goodness we have this community here to talk openly about our journeys with this complicated and life-altering illness.

    Nicci, it sounds like you have made some really mentally healthy choices by distancing yourself from a toxic family. I am confident you will find close friends or even a partner to help form a “chosen family” of loved ones who will be supportive of you and be understanding of your condition. I found this part of one of your comments interesting: “Ironically, the worried friend and prospective employee is ALSO a migraineur. Isn’t THAT amazing… I mean, we personally know how debilitating it can be so we almost avoid working with EACH OTHER! Is that a whole new discussion thread, you think?” I may have to write about that so we can discuss it some more!

    Take care; I hope you’re both feeling well today.

    Sincerely,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Nicci
    4 years ago

    Berkeley, thank you SO MUCH for your encouraging reply. I do hope there is someone “new” out there that can accept and even participate in this migraine journey as a support system. Sadly, I come from a highly toxic family (which is such a tragedy because they are such privileged people) and I cannot rely on their support in any way. This forum is hugely helpful. Having a neighbor who suffers also (I wish mo one did) is also very helpful. Support, I am learning, is huge. Ironically, the worried friend and prospective employee is ALSO a migraineur. Isn’t THAT amazing… I mean, we personally know how debilitating it can be so we almost avoid working with EACH OTHER! Is that a whole new discussion thread, you think?

  • yirogers
    4 years ago

    Nicci, I laughed when I read your first sentence. I’ve been doing the same thing. Firstly, it really helped to know it wasn’t just me experiencing what someone in another story here called “brain fog”. That led to helping me have a more positive attitude (I know, hard right?) You absolutely do not have to be anxious about getting into a relationship. As Janet here can attest to and I myself have been with my husband 20 years today. The right person will be understanding. With family, I just keep feeding them facts and information to help them understand.

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