Is Migraine Part of My Identity?
Who am I? What’s important to me? How do I present myself to the world?
I asked myself these questions to help guide the design of a new logo for my blog. Since the blog is migraine-focused, migraine-related imagery seems the obvious choice. But something about that didn’t sit right with me. Curious about why I was balking at representing my migraine blog with migraine imagery, I considered another question: Is migraine part of my identity?
Who am I?
Answers to the first three questions came to mind immediately. The five adjectives that best describe me are authentic, persistent, curious, optimistic, and loving.
What's important to me?
As part of an icebreaker, I was once asked which five items someone would put in a pentagram to summon me. They represented Seattle, baking, reading, nature, and Dave Matthews Band; all of which I love.
How do I present myself to the world?
Being a writer is such a part of me that I don’t even think of it as my work, it’s simply what I do. Talking long walks is so critical to my mental health that my neighbors call me “that woman who walks all the time.” While I don’t think of “wife” as part of my identity — I’d never list it in my social media profiles, for example— I love being married (and the joys and challenges a long-term relationship brings).
Migraine doesn’t show up explicitly in the list above, yet it lurks underneath everything.
Who I am has affected how I live with migraine
I never would have found an effective treatment without persistence, curiosity, and optimism. My lovingness and authenticity allow me to write about migraine in a way that resonates with other people.
Migraine has impacted what's important to me
Even though I haven’t lived in Seattle since 2009 and didn’t grow up there, I still think of it as home. Yet I can’t live there because the weather is a migraine trigger for me. The four years that migraine prevented me from reading were so horrible that I cried with joy the first time I was able to read a book again.
Migraine affects how I present myself to the world
My best writing is about migraine. A bleakness descends on the days I can’t go for walks because of a migraine attack. From even that handful of examples, it’s hard to deny the extraordinary role migraine plays in my life.
Migraine’s constant presence
Migraine is the most constant presence in my life.
I start each morning by assessing whether I feel well enough to take a walk. Migraine determines whether I can work on any given day, if I can listen to music without irritation, and how social I’m able to be. It determines my sleep and wake schedule, how frequently and what I eat, and even forces me into self-care.
Migraine influences my work
Migraine drives my work. My writing focuses on migraine and it was the impetus for the company that my husband and I co-founded. It often comes up in conversation when I first meet people because it’s hard to talk about my work without talking about migraine.
Considering how migraine has infiltrated my life, it looks like it should be integral to my identity.
A migraine identity?
And, yet, I don’t think of migraine as part of my identity. Is this out of stubbornness? Willful denial? A desire to rid myself of this unwanted companion? Probably to some extent, the answer is yes. But it’s mostly no.
Migraine is obviously part of who I am. It permeates my entire life. But it’s not who I choose to be. It doesn’t bring me joy or fulfillment. In every way I define and embrace my whole, complicated self, I am so much more than migraine. So, no, I don’t think of migraine as part of my identity.
There’s no question that migraine is woven into my life, but the rest of the rich, vibrant tapestry is so much more important to who I am. Migraine is a central part of my life, but I choose not to make it central to who I am.
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