Man behind camera with flashing stars surrounding him

Blaming My Job Rather than Me

If this past year has told me anything, it’s the importance of health. (It’s so hard not to be introspective right now!) Both in a literal sense and in a self-health, mental health, and bodily awareness sense, which I’ve never really had before. It’s hard to push migraine thoughts out of my head when I’m sitting with myself every day with few distractions to speak of. It’s even harder to ignore triggers when you aren’t drinking with friends, driving around at night, or eating foods in social situations.

I’ve had to do a lot of internal reworking

I used to blame my migraines ("mygraines") on a lot of external factors. Back in the "Old World" (or the world pre-COVID), I chalked up migraine issues as the burden to bear to do what I loved. When I used to work as a yearbook photographer, I would drive, often for hours, to rural schools so that every kid could get a nice school picture. I love working with kids and photography. It was the best of both worlds. I would set up all my photography equipment, rain or shine, and photo away. This involved sitting through hundreds of flashes. I INTENTIONALLY chose a photography job that involved rigging lighting umbrellas and shooting with a bright flash all day. Which, naturally, can be a migraine trigger of mine! It’s something I haven’t really shaken.

I didn’t look out for myself or migraine

This was the price of loving photography. Sure this wasn’t the same sort of camera work I was used to. I couldn’t really capture still life and manipulate cinematography and composition with yearbook photos… But it was close, so I found the best way to work through it. That being, with live, sometimes painful, flashes. I worked for them for months, subjecting myself to all sorts of triggers, but I worked through it because I felt like I had to. Then I blamed external stimuli rather than the contrary.

Now, with this time of introspection, I've realized that I spent so much time blaming myself for reacting to stress, triggers, and pressures rather than listening to what my body needs. Have I become too soft? Perhaps, but I rather choose to believe that I’ve entered a new phase of migraine — one in which I take care of myself more than ever before.

The world won’t bend to me, but I work within it

There’s hubris that comes along with any disorder. The natural resilience to that feeling of inevitability. The idea that as long as I don't address it, I can win! If only it were that easy. If I’ve learned anything this season, it’s that my triggers aren’t going anywhere. Distractions in life only pushed the realization out of my peripheral. If I want to live a satisfied and full life, some things do have to give, as much as it breaks my heart. Does that mean I have to give up photography? Or night driving entirely? Is that what my body wants? It may be. Will I try to wear sunglasses for as long as I can before I have to give more things up to the cruel temptress that is migraine pain? Absolutely. Plus, I’ll look cool as hell doing it.

At the end of the day, the peace of mind of self-healing is more cathartic than causing my own pain.

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