The Support of Friends and Family
While stopped at a red light, I looked over and saw a friend waving from her car in the next lane over. When I rolled down my window, she cheered and said, "Yay! You feel well enough to go out!" I was touched that her instinct upon seeing me was to celebrate how good I must be feeling, not to complain about the traffic or ask where I was going.
People, myself included, talk a lot about how migraine ruins friendships and strains family relationships. We rarely share the stories of people who have shown compassion and understanding in ways that far exceed our expectations. These people haven't deserted us, but root for us even when we're laid up in bed and not returning phone calls. Especially then.
Sometimes the gestures are large. Like the friends and family who gave up a week to come to Boston to help my husband and me settle in, stock our freezer with food, clean, run errands, and, when I was at my worst, make sure I ate and smiled. Or my sister skipping work, arranging care for her busy kids, and driving a seven-hour roundtrip in a day to spend a couple hours with me when I was in a run with level 10 pain.
More often, they are small. The friend who asks, "How do you feel today?" and wants an honest answer. Another who calls regularly, even though I rarely answer, and always leaves a message saying I don't need to call her back. The one who texts to ask my pain level and either commiserates or celebrates when I tell him. My mom taking care of some nagging household chores when she was visiting at Christmas. My mother-in-law and her sister offering to pick up groceries and goods from the farmers' market.
Friends and family frequently say they want to help, but don't know how to. Simply by being willing to listen, offer sympathy (but never pity), and allowing us the space we need to deal with illness in our own way, they carry us through the tough times. Loving us as we are, including migraine and all the demands it places on our time, energy, attention, and ability to be a good friend or family member, is the most important thing they can do.
Who are the people that support you and how do they do so? They may feel helpless in the face of your illness, so be sure to let them know how much they do for you. I'll be giving my people big hugs the next time I see them.
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