Living in Fear of Migraines
Last updated: October 2021
Most people simply don't understand migraines. They think they get "headaches" too; what's so different about your headaches? Why would you actually live in fear of them?
Fear of the next migraine attack
Well, talk to anyone in the migraine community, and they have many reasons to answer that question. We often fear not only when the next migraine will strike but when it does…
- What plans will you have to cancel?
- Will it put you in the hospital?
- What will my boss and co-workers say about another sick day… do I even have any left?
- How long will this one last?
- Will the medicine work this time?
- What will I miss with my family – dance recitals, birthday dinners, vacations?
Unable to be who you want to be
A lot of it boils down to not being able to be the mom/wife/boss/(insert your meaningful role here) that you want to be. It can feel like you're missing out on your life because some days you are. But living with migraines doesn't mean that you can't get past the fear… even if you can't get past the migraines.
How to handle fear
Over the decades of debilitating migraines, I've developed some strategies for facing and overcoming this fear. I'm still very much a work in progress, but I'm sharing them with you in hopes that they can help you too.
It may sound odd, but I find it helpful to "worst-case scenario" my fears. If I'm worried that something will happen – like a migraine causing me to miss my friend's wedding – I will acknowledge the fear and then figure out a solution to the worst-case scenario.
For example, I will figure out:
- How I can coordinate getting the gift to her?
- What I can do separately to help celebrate like take her out to dinner?
- If I have a role in the wedding, think of a backup option to fill my role.
Are any of these ideal scenarios? Definitely not. However, it helps to develop solutions to my fears.
Then, what I do next has been key for me. Once I have a solution to the worst-case scenario, I recognize that it actually has not happened and may not happen at all. Leading me to my next strategy…
Pay attention to what I'm focusing on. What you focus on gets bigger. So, I ask myself, "Are the thoughts that run through my mind most often supporting me? Or are they bringing me down?"
If they're bringing me down, keeping me stuck in fear, then it's important that I commit to changing that thought. It is, of course, so much easier said than done sometimes, but it certainly is possible and worth the mindset work.
Celebrate the wins
Last but not least, is to celebrate the wins! Celebrate the days and the special occasions that don't have a migraine. It may be the best and most fun strategy that I have.
Anytime I don't have a migraine – especially for a big event that I may have been worried about – I celebrate it as a win. Many people may take it for granted, but any migraine-free days are worth celebrating. For me, celebration looks like being more present in the moment, dancing on the dance floor, going for a walk outside simply because I have the ability to do it today.
These are just a few of the strategies that have helped me in my journey. I admittedly am just one person in the migraine community, though, so please share what has worked for you in the comments below.
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?