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Has migraine made me weaker? Part 2

In “Has migraine made me weaker? Part 1” I concluded that migraine has not made me literally or physically weaker overall, but rather has changed the ways I use, care for, and challenge my body. But also gnawing at me is the question of whether migraine has made me weaker in terms of my character: am I emotionally weaker? Do I have less worth? Less validity? Are my skills waning within the brain fog? Am I less reliable as a friend, partner, or family member? AM I THE WEAKEST LINK???

There is no doubt that I cry more often than I did before migraine entered my life without an invitation. The onset of an attack sometimes brings disappointment and pain that makes my face crumple within minutes. Though I’ve gotten much better at enduring the pain without heaping piles of dark emotional thoughts on top of it, sometimes I feel pretty certain that the neurochemical process of the attack is purely responsible for the buckets of salty water leaking out of my face. And crying = weakness right?

Well, that’s what our culture likes to tell us, especially humans of the little boy variety, but there’s plenty of literature out there suggesting that there is strength in vulnerability; that being in touch with our emotions, and expressing them, is a healthy, cleansing process that can help us come out on the other side… stronger. This has certainly been my experience. Any time I’ve tried to bottle up that sadness and drive it down into some locked vestibule, the more likely I am to feel angry or irritable. But after a good cry, the anger and irritability is gone, replaced with feelings of honesty, exhaustion, and peace. So really, by training myself over time to be more in tune with my emotions, having a good cry as needed, I have become stronger.

I do sometimes feel less worthy, and less valid because of the presence of migraine in my life, but I think this has so much more to do with societal expectations around what makes a quality citizen than it has to do with my personal character. Sure I can’t do my full time teaching job anymore, so sure, I’m not contributing to society on a daily basis in a conventional full-time-job sort of way, but I am slowly learning to let go of these definitions of success and worth. The phrase “your paid work is not your value” is pinned to my bulletin board, and I try to remind myself of this often.

But if my value is not in my paid work, than where does it lie? Certainly not in taking care of others, because my body is too unreliable to do that on the regular. Certainly not in being an excellent conversationalist, because the ups and downs of life with migraine make that difficult sometimes. So then what makes me valuable to others and to myself? To answer this question I like to ask these questions as well…

What makes my friend’s helpless, dependent, gurgling, pooping baby valuable?

What makes my elderly grandfather who sits around, plays cards, and plunks out the occasional tune on the piano valuable?

What makes my friend, more disabled than me by migraine, who is often unavailable for weeks, valuable?

The answer is hard to put into words, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with love. I love these people. They mean the world to me. I do not, could not, would not ever value them less or think them weak because their abilities are constrained by their age or health. They are beautiful human beings who bring me hope and joy just by their very existence and presence in my life, however occasional it might be, and together we are part of bigger communities that sustain each other using our combined skills and abilities. We are interdependent beings, and it can be easy to forget that when individualism is the status quo.

I am not the weakest link. I am me. I have value. And just as my body has shown resilience to migraine (good job surviving an onslaught of crippling pain, body: you’re pretty amazing) so has my character, because I am more resilient than ever.

To everyone doing their best despite frequent disabling pain and learning to navigate lost or changing abilities, bravo. Living with migraine is harder than it looks, and in my eyes, you are stronger than ever, inside and out.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • cfranks
    3 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s such a relief to hear others talk about the vulnerability and weakness they feel during and after attacks. Particularly during attacks where abortive medications aren’t working, I find my self curled up in the fetal position in hysterics, wondering “why me?” while my husband just sits there feeling helpless.

    We are not lesser as humans because we experience crippling pain. Thank you for reminding us of that.

  • Hari Emani
    3 years ago

    “You might be ‘weaker’ as a measure of brute strength. That does not diminish your intrinsic value.”

    Thanks Anna for sharing your experience and views.

    Your comment helped me to realize my self worth, and what I can contribute to the society, rather than looking at what I am suffering or struggling.

    Also helped me to look deeper inside me and understand the strength I posses, the hurdles I overcame, and start living a normal life.

    Thanks again.

  • esse
    3 years ago

    Anna – thank you so much for this post. Feeling very low at the moment after years of trialling meds which haven’t helped and worrying that I am a ‘burden’to my loving partner. Your comments have made me realise that I have suffered and mastered my pain on many occasions when most people would be in bed being waited on. Yes, I cry very easily too – it releases that worry and emotion we inevitably carry with us having this únseen’ disease.

  • Maureen
    3 years ago

    So many thoughts… I cry alot, the good kind and the bad. Often it is a prodrome symptom and has nothing to do with anything but as a sign that migraine is on the move. But I really do cry often as an emotional response in the good times and the bad. Look up steam systems. Pressure reducing valves are NECESSSARY for safety! Without them, there would be dangerous explosions. I firmly believing in crying:)!
    But when you talk about “the weakest link” like that is always a bad thing, I think you might be missing an opportunity to focus on some serious treasures in our universe. The fragile and precious, the delicate things, the babies and elderly, the disabled and ill are the wealth of the world. Our care of them is what makes us different from savage beasts. We don’t throw away runts, and those who no longer “produce.” We honor and protect…or we ought to anyway. You might be “weaker” as a measure of brute strength. That does not diminish your intrinsic value. Jewels, artwork, and historically significant items are guarded and protected in special environments, not told to “suck it up and get back to work.”
    And also, the “weakest link” on that professional sports team still made it to the pros didn’t he/she? By my estimate, Anna, you’ve made it to the big leagues;)Good Job!

  • Anna Eidt author
    3 years ago

    “You might be ‘weaker’ as a measure of brute strength. That does not diminish your intrinsic value.”

    Hear, hear!! Thanks Maureen. You’re spot on.

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