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Migraine: 5 Steps To Constructive Venting

Migraines make me feel a lot of things, and sadness, anger and frustration are just three of those negative feelings that sometimes act like steam in a tea kettle for me. It’s in my nature to be an upbeat optimist, but negative feelings happen and everyone needs to let that steam vent or eventually it’s gonna blow.

Even glass-half-full people sometimes need to get a little somethin’-somethin’ off their chests. We’re people with the same weaknesses and challenges as every other Migrianeur. We’re all human beings.

Being an online advocate is tougher during these times, because in the online world it is more difficult to keep the *filter* in place and make sure I don’t overstep my bounds. With the lack of face to face contact it’s tough for all of us online – across the board – because it’s so easy for something to be mis-read or mis-interpreted negatively when either the reader or the writer weren’t in a good mental place at that moment.

I realized a long time ago that there were a few tips I needed to remember so that my venting would be constructive instead of destructive whether I am online or in real life:

  1. Explain my problem and the need to vent first, if not publicly then at least to those around me. I apologize for the negative mood and vibes and ask for patience as I get through my feelings.
  2. Give myself time to think about the situation before venting verbally. It’s vital to remember to put myself in the shoes of the other person (if that applies) and see the problem from the outside looking in, instead of singly from my own perspective.
  3. Give myself a time limit to be frustrated and angry and vent as these are normal emotions that need to be expressed, but not dwelt upon the situation as that can be more stress inducing than the event that caused the original turmoil.
  4. Forgive. Myself or another person, group, etc. Even my disease. Forgiveness is as much or more for the person doing it than it is for the other person. Forgiveness frees you from the hold the negativity has on you and on your life.
  5. Hold myself accountable for making things better when my time for venting is over. If I don’t think I have the self discipline for this, then I tell someone else and ask them for help in holding me responsible for it. This is what our support systems are in place to do for us, so we might as well use them.

Making the frustrating situation better is not always in my hands, however my response to it is something I do have control over.

Looking back, I think my biggest revelation about this came when I discovered the power of a time limit.

Yes, I actually think, verbalize and sometimes even write down that I am going to allow myself to be sad or mad about the situation until day X then move on. I thought it might be a smothering feeling to do that, but the reality was that it was very freeing. I get to the business of letting that steam decompress without feeling guilty. I let that steam go quickly and adequately because I’m concentrating on it instead of trying to deny it or move along past it which will all but ensure that I will still be frustrated much longer.

Life is too short and precious to spend it being mad, sad or frustrated.

I always feel better when I can get back to the business of being as functional as possible. It might not work for everyone, but this little trick is what does it for me.

What tricks do you use to decompress when you are angry or frustrated about your life with Migraines?

What suggestions would you have for others who are looking for ways to handle this kind of stress better in their lives?

This is a post written for the October 2012 Headache & Migraine Disease Blog Carnival. This month’s topic was “Venting About Migraine Disease: How do you vent your frustrations about living with Migraine disease in a way that’s helpful to your healing, both emotionally and physically?”

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.


  • Diana-Lee
    6 years ago

    Even though I work really hard to reframe things in a glass half full way myself, sometimes it’s really, really hard.

  • tucker
    7 years ago

    My coworker and I were just having a similar conversation today. She has rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia and is getting over a severe bout of gastritis that landed her in the hospital and out of work for a month. It’s very hard for other people to understand our constant pain and why we need to sleep so much or why we can’t do this or that or cook dinner right now or whatever. She is also raising a young grandson so that puts more pressure on her while at least my kids are old enough to manage on their own. Our families on the whole though just get frustrated with us and we in turn get frustrated with them, ourselves, our bodies, etc.

    Today we were able to tell funny stories about our problems and laughed so hard we could barely answer the phone. So laughter is great. But we only work together once or maybe twice a month. Sometimes I am SOOOOO miserable at work I have to cry but at the same time, it’s there that the people that are going to make me laugh are. They are the people I see every day and have fun with – really – otherwise it’s family and sleep mostly! I am very fortunate to have great and funny coworkers at all 3 of the locations I go to.

    My other outlets are sleep, esp when no one else is home and the house is quiet – no TV and if I’m lucky the dogs aren’t barking at thin air. And if the moon and my body are aligned, I love walking. Lately it’s been cold and dreary and I’ve gone back to bed in the morning until I have to get ready for work, but I really need to get back out there – my body hurts, I’ve already gained about 5lbs in a month and my dogs are depressed!

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Tucker, I’m really glad you are still working as that tends to be a wonderful outlet and something to keep you from feeling depressed. However, please be sure you aren’t feeling depressed yourself, as “extra” sleep can be a sign that depression may be setting in. If it is, nipping that in the bud right away is very helpful. It’s easy to get depressed when we deal with so many health conditions, especially those related to pain. Often others don’t understand because they can take something for it and not think twice, where we have to consider everything we use so we can avoid MOH. Walking is fabulous! That is one thing I miss terribly myself!

  • Julie
    7 years ago

    Well, I found that after awhile after posting and blogging when I could not get a hold of my best friend was a good outlet. Or another was to rant to an empty space and toss and punch a pillow-sounds sort of crazy now, but at the time it was sort of theraptutic, especially if you were picturing the pillow being the target of your rants-like the head or that monster I call it behind my eye that gets out his jackhammer and just tries to hammer his way out from the back of my skull-things like that. Or if I’m upset at someone this past couple of months I have taken poetry back up and started writing poems about it. Once I got it down on paper I could express it and let it go-as well as online. But I think the writing, journaling, and the poetry seems to be working the best-you get it written, then you can see it, mull it over, read it outloud to yourself and somehow that seems to make it better. I don’t think I’ll be doing the pillow thing again, my dog thought I was absolutely nuts. But if there are things that you want to keep totally private I would suggest the journal. Or if it’s something you don’t want to keep to look at later, write it down on notebook paper, maybe read it a few times and let it out until your satisfied it’s out of your system and then burn it (if your allowed to burn paper trash in your area like we are) or run it through the paper shredder). That way no harm no foul. Or, if your up to it go for a walk or run and if your in a safe area w/a trusted friend and vent it out. Or pick up the phone and vent it out w/a trusted friend.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    All good things I think Julie! I’m picturing your dog watching you with the pillow though and it makes me smile. Have done the pillow thing, and gone out in the woods and just yelled. Can’t do that with a Migraine tho. When I was a kid and had good joints, I would run. And run. And run. I think the main thing is not to internalize and let it out somehow. However a person needs.

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