Dancing The Night Away
So, I’ve been dancing lately. Something I never thought I would do in my life. For one, if you’d asked me a month ago to walk in a straight line, I’d most likely have failed to do so. My coordination, even now, is horrible. I am not great at distinguishing between left and right when it comes to moving my body, I am stiff from laying the bed often, and the exercise I usually do involves no sense of rhythm. Basically, I didn’t think I was a candidate to do so.
Chronic pain from migraine gets in the way
I also have chronic pain. Signing up and spending money for a dance membership? Easily a waste if my body doesn’t cooperate. Committing to a class routine, practice schedule, and loud music? A lot to take on when your head throbs...all..the..time.
Finding an outlet for my mental health
But, on the heels of my long term partner and caretaker leaving me, falling incredibly ill, and going through a deep depression, I saw I was losing myself, my voice, and all of my joy. I felt I needed to escape into something challenging and new. I was spiraling and knew I had to get out and fast. Dancing is something I always wanted to try, but never felt capable of.
Feeling limited by migraine
So often, I think because of the very real limitations I’ve learned I do have (I can’t drink, and have had to halt playing really loud music with my band for starters) due to migraine, I just assume there are a wide array of other activities I just can’t do.
Fear of triggering migraine when trying new things
I fear triggering a migraine and I also hold onto self-doubt about my abilities and for so long I put off doing things I thought were simply out of reach. It was only a few years ago that I started to run for the first time, and as liberating as it is to be able to do so now, it was very hard to learn how long and when to run safely. I made the decision because I wanted to finally do it after thinking about it for so long. With dancing, things were a little different.
Losing my caretaker
Losing my caretaker was one of the hardest things I have ever experienced, and in ways, it shifted the way I will think about pain forever. Not only did I lose a partner, I lost support. I lost an environment of safety. I lost a pillar which I thought would always be there to care for me, and I have had to learn rapid-fire that I have to push myself to take care of myself better and more seriously because now I do not have that person taking care of me when I can’t take care of myself.
Signing up for dance classes
I always wanted to dance, but like many activities relegated it to ‘things I probably can’t do’ ...I just never tried. After experiencing the loss of my caretaker, almost like an instinct, I signed up for dance classes. It was about two weeks after struggling to see any light in my life following this new change. And as I suspected, I was horrible. And I didn’t feel good afterward. But I kept going back. The alternative of giving up seemed worse.
Pushing through the pain of a migraine attack
Honestly, for me, beginning to learn to dance and pushing through pain to do so started off as a balancing act of different pain. I could be learning to stretch, to move my body, to loosen up, in an encouraging environment...or I could be at home in similar physical pain, in a deep and overwhelming state of despair and loneliness. I’ve had to miss a few classes because sometimes there is simply no way to push through the pain of a migraine attack...but on the days I’ve gone, it is a reminder that I keep getting up and trying through the darkness. And I have actually gotten better. I can now do a body roll. A small and groovy victory.
Living with migraine is more than living with pain
Sometimes, I feel like folks think of living with migraine disease as solely physical if they haven’t ever experienced what it is like. It is so much more, it is social, emotional, and psychological. Many in the community know what it is like to live with limitations due to their pain, many know what is like to lose friends and loved ones while dealing with this awful disease, many know the deep and dark loneliness it can leave you with.
Balancing migraine pain with dancing
For me, dancing and pushing myself to show up and learn has helped me to mitigate some of the pain and has made me proud of myself: I am doing something I thought I could not, again. Slowly, sometimes in pain, but surely I am balancing my desires with taking care of myself. Some nights I now find myself just dancing...in my room...to soft music, just enjoying being alive even through the pain. Onward, every day.
Have you ever surprised yourself by doing something you thought was impossible while living with migraine? Let's discuss in the comments.
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?