You Have a Friend Request
You have a friend request from Katie. Even though we’ve never met, our lives are similar in many ways – we both have Migraines. Although we probably don’t live in the same city, we have an abundance of friends in common – friends that suffer like we do. We both want the same basic thing in life – to feel better. You may not realize it yet, but we both belong to the Migraine community where we can share our stories and gain support from others who have gone through the same experience. I am joining the Migraine.com team as a regular contributor. My credentials are basic. I have Migraines. I write to help cope with my condition. I hope to contribute a positive view on living with Migraines. I think we can relate to each other through our struggles.
I believe that every Migraineur has gone through The Five Stages of Grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance) at some point in their lives. Maybe even experiencing all five emotions each time a new Migraine hits. I was in serious Denial when my Migraines became chronic. I had Migraines since age five, but at age 29, suddenly I couldn’t recover from one before another would hit, knocking me out of commission for weeks on end. I assumed the symptoms would subside after a few days like they had in the previous 20+ years. When the headaches didn’t stop, I figured there was no way this could last longer than a few months, ok, maybe a year at the worst. Unfortunately, next month will mark three years of constant pain.
With each unfruitful doctors appointment or failed treatment, an Anger built inside of me. Every time I had to decline an invitation or cancel on a friend last minute, it was a painful reminder that the Migraines now controlled my daily activities. I had to carefully allot my time, including time for my job. I had to significantly cut back my hours. My mental capacity was not as sharp as it used to be. I’d forget the small stuff and in my frustration, I easily became angry at those around me.
Then I thought I could Bargain. If I tried meditation, gave up my beloved soda, stopped using opioids, napped less often, then surely I would eventually be cured. Bargaining also came in the form of wishing for more pain free hours. If I slept all day today and didn’t schedule anything taxing for tomorrow, then I should have enough energy to go to work for a few hours today. As I threw everything in the book at the Migraines, they stubbornly reminded me they weren’t going away.
Years went by without much change, despite Botox, a cocktail of medications and serious lifestyle changes. Overall I’ve kept a positive attitude about my situation thanks to all the support I have, but I have moments of Depression. Being in bed for weeks on end with no energy to socialize or even talk on the phone can become a very lonely place. Spending time managing medications, appointments and insurance issues can be all-consuming. It’s painful to realize your life is hindered by this disease.
The last stage is Acceptance. After close to three years of chronic Migraines, I can now recognize that there is no magic cure for me (although I will keep looking for one!). Maybe one day they will stop just as suddenly as they began. Until then, I’ve shifted my focus from finding the cause to learning to co-exist with the pain in my brain. Through this blog, I hope to share my trials and triumphs, and learn from you as well.
When I first mentioned the idea of writing for Migraine.com, my long-time boyfriend hesitated, which surprised me. He’s been amazingly supportive with my condition and I know he believes in me. His concern was because he was struggling to accept that I was part of the Migraine community and this disease is going to be a part of our lives indefinitely. He’s experienced the Stages of Grief in his own way too. By acknowledging that blogging about my condition was the right next step for me, he had finally reached Acceptance.
The truth is that from my very first Migraine at age five, I belonged to this community. And more importantly, our care-takers, loved ones and friends belong here too. Our stories are all different and how we approach this disease is unique for each of us, but we all speak the same language. Whether you get a Migraine once a year or suffer on a daily basis, we’ve all experienced the Five Stages of Grief in our own way. This site offers education, resources and a judgment-free place to share our journeys. I find it comforting to read that someone else has had a similar experience and that I’m not alone in this. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved in the Migraine community and interacting with fellow Migraineurs. We can learn a lot from each other.
Do any of these Five Stages of Grief sound familiar to you? How has the community given you a new perspective on dealing with these stages?