Ball and chain wrapped around person's waist as they struggle with pain and isolation.

The Weight of Migraine

It’s hard living with chronic illness especially one that causes pain. There are thousands of us who do just that every day of our lives. We fight the invisible illness called migraine.

Migraine isn't just head pain

As I sit and write this I am suffering from a migraine, but I am strong and will persevere as I do quite often. It can be challenging to explain to a non-sufferer just what we are feeling and experiencing. Many times it goes beyond the pain, nausea, and other symptoms. We experience guilt, shame, and loneliness among other feelings that we all to often internalize.

Guilt

Why do we experience guilt? We did not intentionally bring on a migraine attack, or set ourselves up to experience a day-long series of prodrome symptoms. I suppose it’s because we feel that we’ve disappointed those around us. We had to break plans with friends or family, or even call out sick at work. That is where the guilt comes in. We put too much responsibility on ourselves I’m afraid and that’s just not healthy!

We are the ones who must suffer through these attacks. We are the ones who get isolated from the world around us. It’s a choice we like to make, but we have to do what we do to make it through our attacks.

Shame and stigma

I don’t know why we experience the shame that some of us do, but we do nonetheless. It is part of the stigma that belongs to migraine and other invisible diseases. We do not have visible signs that we are hurting and suffering through an attack for the most part.

We tend to hide our attacks and it’s symptoms from those around us. The thought of trying to explain what we experience is exhausting. Many times the explanations we give fall on deaf and unsympathetic ears anyway. Finding something relatable to use as a description is very difficult for us to even when we are at our best. There are so many facets to a migraine attack it’s just too much to try and even explain.

Loneliness

One thing that many people understand is loneliness. Nearly everyone has had a time in their lives that they can recall feeling alone. It could be actual isolation or just feeling alone in a personal situation.

Depression

The difference is for a migraineur the loneliness and isolation we feel can turn into depression. That is just another invisible layer that frequently gets added on top of a disease like migraine and other chronic illnesses. Sure there are drugs you can take to help combat these feelings, but they, in turn, can create other difficulties in your life. I suffer from depression, and I try hard every day not to carry the weight of guilt, shame, and loneliness around. It is not easy. It’s hard not to hold myself accountable for what’s going on in my body, but I know I’m not alone. I know I will persevere.

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