Five Ways to Create a Normal Life
Have you ever felt like life will never be normal again? You've tried dozens of different treatments and nothing seems to make a difference. The dream of a normal life feels out of reach and you begin to think about giving up. You become cynical, resigning yourself to a life of mere survival, stumbling from one attack to the next.
So let’s be honest.
This can happen to any one of us. Sometimes when we say that we’ve tried everything, what we’re really saying is that we are tired of trying everything. We’ve had quite enough failures already and just want to coast. We want to stop thinking about migraine every waking minute of every single day. We just want to be “normal” for once.
We don’t have to give up.
As tempting as it is, giving up isn't a reliable way to regain our sense of normalcy. A “normal” life is still possible, even with migraine. It won’t require you to give up, quit trying, or give in to some half-baked urban legend in order to get relief. It won't require that you try every single treatment option either. You can have “normal” while you are still searching for relief.
Living a “normal” life with migraine
Take a look at these five strategies for creating a sense of normalcy despite migraine. Maybe they will spark some new ideas for you to try.
#1 - Incorporate accommodations into each day.
I use a variety of ice packs to manage the headache pain of migraine. I also use FL-41 tinted glasses and wide-brimmed hats to manage light sensitivity and noise-cancelling headphones to cope with phonophobia. I could use these tools as an excuse to avoid public interactions. Instead, I use them in public much like a paraplegic would use a wheelchair or a blind person would use a cane or service dog. They are simply the tools I must use if I am to function in the world. I can hide away from the world or I can participate in it. I choose to participate with accommodations in tow. Surprisingly, the reaction from healthy people has been one of support and understanding. They would prefer to spend time with me, even with my head wrapped in ice, my eyes hiding behind dark lenses, and my hearing protected from the most obnoxious sounds.
#2 - Indulge your passion.
What do you love? Is there a hobby or cause that lights you up like a Christmas tree? When was the last time you indulged your passion? Are you using migraine as an excuse to avoid the joys of life? I remember thinking, “When I get migraine under control, I’m going to…” That “when I get better list” was pretty long. I finally discovered that indulging in my passions actually decreased my pain. With a little creativity, I learned how to make accommodations that made it possible to do the things I love even with migraine. Plus, I finally had something to look forward to when each attack broke. I stopped waiting for that miracle and gave myself permission to find joy and satisfaction where I could. Sure, there are still some hobbies I can’t do because they are triggers. Instead of moaning about what I couldn't do, I started looking for the things I could do.
#3 - Take advantage of the good days.
It can be all too easy to spend those pain-free days catching up on all the work you missed because of migraine. We all have obligations. Sometimes, though, we need to take that good day and do something just for ourselves. All those things you dream of doing “someday” when migraine isn’t in control shouldn’t be put off. Take advantage of one of those good days by doing what you love.
#4 - Take a break when you feel good.
It’s hard to stop the busy-ness of life when that to-do list is still a mile long and growing. Because we are forced to retreat from our obligations when migraine attacks, it can feel irresponsible to stop when we are feeling well. Taking that break is exactly what we need to do. “Normal” life includes taking breaks, enjoying time off from work, and relaxation. In order to restore our sense of “normal” we need to emulate that behavior. Let’s face it, living with migraine is stressful. We deserve a break from all that hard work.
#5 - Relax your expectations.
“Normal” is a relative term. It can be easy to fantasize about a healthy life, but rarely does our imagination come close to reality. Healthy people have bad days, too. Their lives may look good from our perspective, but problems are a fact of life. No one escapes life without challenges that threaten our sense of “normal.” No one really lives a “normal” life. We’re all just trying to muddle along the best we can. So take it easy on yourself.
Have you shared your migraine story with us yet?