My job is the first thing I think about each morning. My work factors into every decision I make, from what I eat to whether or not I have sex. It wakes me up multiple times most nights. I never get a break from it. I can’t leave my work at the office after an exhausting day, nor can I escape it by taking a vacation.
While most people think my job is writing and working with the company my husband and I started, those are dalliances compared to my real job. That all-consuming job? Chronic migraine. (My experience is with chronic migraine, but feeling like migraine is a full-time job isn’t limited to those of us with migraine that meet the diagnostic criteria for being chronic.)
When my migraine attacks were at their worst, I expended enormous amounts of physical and mental energy to keep myself going. Others may have thought I was just lying in bed, but I was using everything I had to be sure I’d wake up the next day. To anyone who finds this melodramatic, consider that the World Health Organization has found severe, continuous migraine to cause the same amount of disability as quadriplegia.
I’m doing better now, but I still work constantly so I can hold on to this improvement (or hopefully, increase it). I spend my time monitoring my diet hawkishly, avoiding triggers, researching other treatments, trying to exercise to build up my physical strength, seeking balance so I don’t set off another attack, processing the enormous amount of grief that comes from spending so many years disabled.
My job will never come with the outwardly visible accomplishments, social stature, and wealth that society equates with hard work. But I’ve put in enough effort to be a self-made trillionaire.