Migraineurs: The Most Rigid, Flexible, Spontaneous People You’ll Ever Meet
Last updated: February 2023
Life with chronic migraine can mean existing in an odd intersection between rigidity, flexibility, and spontaneity. Learning to navigate these various and sometimes conflicting dynamics can be a key part of proactively and successfully managing the condition.
Managing migraine with care generally means a life of many rules and restrictions. From limiting our diets, to ensuring we have sufficient hours of sleep, we control our environments to decrease the likelihood that we will trigger an attack. While many migraine attacks are triggered by stimuli outside of our control (weather and hormonal changes, for example), others (certain foods and drinks, bright lights, loud noise, and an irregular sleep schedule) can sometimes be avoided through careful planning.
Learning our limits and restrictions
We might need to take a certain chair in a restaurant so that we aren’t facing a bright light or window. Perhaps we may abide by strict diets to avoid a food intolerance that might set off an attack. Maybe we gather socially only in the early part of the day due to a pattern that brings escalating pain, brain fog, and other complex neurological symptoms in the afternoons. Whatever the case, we learn, through trial and error, and pain and patience, that it’s well worth living carefully to sidestep avoidable triggers.
Conversely, we have to be incredibly flexible in each moment and responsive to our symptoms and pain. We have to be prepared to treat an attack the moment we feel the first sign. As we all know, an attack is more likely to stop in its tracks if treated early. Therefore, if an attack begins to show itself, we have to stop in our tracks to respond. Our plans for the day get canceled, rescheduled, and turned on their head. How many events and celebrations have we missed due to migraine? No matter the special occasion, we must clear our schedule as much as possible and take our rescue medication in hopes that things don’t go from bad to worse. We can therefore never hold on too tightly to what we had hoped to attend or accomplish.
Have you had to cancel social events because of migraines?
Finally, if we want any semblance of a life outside of migraine, we must embrace our moments of wellness whenever they arise. This can mean dropping everything in favor of experiences that will invigorate and inspire.
Shedding our habits of protection
Chronic migraine often leads to a life of quiet protection in which we are homebound and doing our best to avoid activities that may escalate or exacerbate pain. If we have a break in that pain, we may struggle a bit to temporarily, and quickly, shed ourselves from the well-worn habits of self-protection in order to experience something new, memorable, and nourishing. A walk in a meadow? A day trip to the beach? A meal with a friend?
Living a life of worry
There are so many experiences for which we thirst when living in a limited capacity. However, being adventurous and spontaneous can be intimidating as migraine triggers lurk around every corner. Will we inadvertently trigger an attack in the process of celebrating a pain-free moment? How long do we have before another attack appears? It is for these reasons that it takes courage to be spontaneous and to answer the sense of urgency we feel to inhale life and all it has to offer.
When life is migraine-centered, in a good way
Having migraine is NOT a choice we get to make. How and whether we manage the condition proactively and intelligently IS a choice. Being rigid, flexible, and spontaneous all at once is a worthy pursuit, a tall order, a fluid process, and ultimately impossible to achieve. However, striving for that balance will result in our being engaged in managing, rather than passively suffering from, migraine. And doing so puts us in the driver’s seat of a condition that can make us feel out of control so much of the time. Ultimately, this approach can lead to a decrease in the frequency of attacks. And that is something worth celebrating.
In the comment section below, please share how the dynamics of rigidity, flexibility and/or spontaneity are relevant in your life with migraine. We’d love to learn from you!
Which are you most sensitive to?