Wrestling With Self-Criticism and “Shoulds”

I should be writing more. I should keep the kitchen from getting so messy. I should call my mom more often. Some form of "should" is a nearly constant refrain in my mind. Thanks to cyproheptadine, the migraine pain is far less than it used to be. The pain tops out at a four or five most days. But the other symptoms still come on in full force and I still get a migraine almost every day, usually when I am asleep. It is nice to not have to deal with the migraines much -- usually I just go back to sleep -- but my days are spent in migraine hangover, physically exhausted and mentally foggy.

With the nighttime migraines and subsequent hangovers, I'm pretty useless until at least 4 p.m. Then I start moving about slowly, sometimes I don't get much better than that, but other days I reach full steam by 6 p.m. or so. I am immensely grateful that the pain is less and that I can often get four or five productive hours in a day. But I have that nagging voice that says, "You're so much better than you were. Why aren't you doing more?" I try reminding myself that "better" is far from great, but I still feel like I'm not doing enough.

I see my husband working when he's in a migraine hangover and question my motivation and work ethic. Then I think about a friend who recently had a migraine all day when she was at work and I wonder why I'm not pushing harder. Reminding myself that they both have episodic migraine is somewhat helpful. I tell myself that having a migraine at least 28 days of every month, no matter how mild, is physically exhausting. Each migraine is a trauma that the body has to recover from and my body barely gets enough time to recover before having another one.

No matter how many reassuring or positive messages I tell myself, I continue to believe my ambition/drive/productivity to be lacking. Meditation has lessened the input from this critical voice, though it won't be silenced entirely. I am writing this post to try to quiet it down for the day. At least I'll have answered one of my "shoulds" for today. But I can't shake the thought that trying to accomplish more only feeds the beast of self-doubt and criticism.

I thought this post would be cathartic, but I'm near tears. If you also have chronic migraine and a not-so-helpful internal voice, I'd like your help. How do you cope with the loss of productivity that accompanies migraine attacks? How do you tame your internal critic?

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