Remembering that I’m not the only one affected by my migraine disease

In times of particularly bad health, I tend to get hyper-focused on myself and the ways migraine and other chronic illnesses are impacting my life. When my migraine disease really flares up for longer periods of illness (which happens a lot when the seasons change, when I’m under tremendous stress, etc.), I kind of shut myself off from the world. I stay at home most of the time, I say no to invitations to socialize (if I answer at all), and—if the flare lasts long enough—I start to feel a lot of self-pity. (Full confession here: it’s been awhile since I had a really prolonged period of serious migraine attacks, but I know that chances are very high that I’ll be knocked out again like that in the next year or so.)

I’m not one to assert the idea that you should just buck up and push through pain and illness. Though self-pity can be excessive at some points (in others and in myself), I think it’s good and healthy to have patience with and love for oneself. Migraine disease can really suck, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that idea and feeling a little bad for yourself. Sometimes I even need to remember to be more patient and kind with myself, especially as I start to stress out about how much work and how many commitments I’m missing because of migraine. But, especially during in really rough bouts of repeating migraines from day to day, I feel alone and really bummed out.

Here’s the thing I tend to forget when I’m having such an emotional migraine low: my loved ones have a rough time with it too. I don’t know why this is such a hard concept to remember, but it is something I lose sight of until I see my sister’s brow furrow with worry or notice how Jim is agitated at not knowing how to help me. I forget that, though I am the one at the center of this migraine drama, my family and friends have a truly difficult time seeing me suffer. That this illness can sometimes be heartbreaking for them as well.

How do your loved ones react to your illness? Does it seem to take a toll on them as well as on you?

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