Person lifts arms and smiles as bursts of light emanate from her chest.

Happiness Is... Life Without Migraine?

Happiness is… well… life without migraine! For those who live with the disease, or love someone who lives with it, that’s really a no-brainer, right? If I were to make my list of what happiness is, it would likely include things such as these:

The truth about migraine

That’s my wish list. Well, part of it at least! But if we look closer, is that really it? Does my happiness depend on not having migraine? Am I – or you for that matter – really held captive in life by a disease that is still a very, very long way off from a cure? Migraine is often seen by those who live with it as a robber, a life-stealer, a monster.

When I asked friends to describe it in one word some of the answers were: crushing, isolating, debilitating, torture, devastating, destructive, unbearable, jackhammer, chaotic agony, and unimaginable. Bearing that in mind, are we doomed to unhappiness and lives without purpose? The question is all too real, and one that many of us struggle with for years, or even most of our lives.

Honestly, I hold out hope that my children and grandchildren will see that day when everyone with migraine will be able to have an effective AND tolerable treatment plan. However, after decades of living with the disease myself, and the consequences of a lifetime taking medications not primarily designed for migraine, I’m trying to have a slightly different perspective. What really is happiness for me, and is it possible to change my perspective just slightly and see life with migraine in a new light?

Happiness is…. so much more!

Personally, I’m trying to stop giving this “monster”, this “thief”, anything more than it has already taken. My happiness is NOT up for grabs and if that means I need to redefine things somewhat, then that’s what I’ll try to do. I wonder if perhaps a revised wish list could look something like this.

Happiness is:

Happiness is… an inner joy

In short, happiness for me is more about discovering an inner joy rather than that ever elusive “magic” treatment or “cure.” That inner joy comes from many things including the knowledge that I am not alone. The challenges I face are not unique and my symptoms are not “all in my mind.” That inner joy comes from knowing all of you and the knowledge that together we are stronger and can face tomorrow. It is found in the realization that I am not a weak person who can’t handle life, but rather I am strong, courageous, persevering and of infinite value. These are truths which I now hold onto as tenaciously as a lifeline in a storm, and they are truths for you too.

Even in the middle of running a marathon that never seems to end, there are glimpses of beauty. A stranger’s kind words, a selfless spouse who is always there, a doctor who refuses to give up. There are rare days when the pain seems to magically lessen, priceless moments spent with family building memories, a friend who calls at just the right time. There are stunning rainbows even in the storm that sometimes take my breath away, and as I learn to focus on them rather than on the struggle, happiness embeds itself in my heart and suddenly I realize that I can face tomorrow and whatever the future holds.

So, what does happiness mean for you? Do you find yourself in a holding pattern, just waiting for things to improve, or are you able discover joy in the middle of life with migraine? Where have you seen rainbows in the middle of this storm?

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