Keeping Hope Alive in a Chronic Migraine World
Holding on to hope is a challenge when living with chronic migraine. No matter how often I have an attack, I can never get used to the severity of head pain, intense nausea, and pain caused by lights, sounds, and odors. It is always like the first time every time. Having this experience over and over again multiple times per month is draining. Not just physically but emotionally. I want to remain hopeful but it's difficult keeping it alive when it takes so many hits.
Keeping it positive
Chronic migraine is extremely isolating. Between the days spent in bed or confined to the couch and the lack of a social life because it's hard to keep commitments, I spend a lot of time alone at home. Keeping my mind busy enough to avoid spiraling into a depression is hard tenuous work. Over the past eleven years, I have had some very dark moments where I let hope slip away. Making it through those times has put a lot into perspective for me and forced me to look at life differently.
Whenever I find myself feeling sad or overwhelmed, I remind myself that what I accomplished despite living with chronic migraine is worth celebrating. I have raised three wonderful children and am still married to the love of my life after 22 years. Companies and organizations have asked me to speak or participate in their events to share the patient perspective on life with migraine. And I have the most amazing and supportive migraine family. Focusing on what is positive instead of the negative allows me to hold on to hope.
Appreciate the small things
Migraine is a thief that steals our dreams, goals, careers, education, and relationships. Having so much taken away from me I was forced to see and appreciate the smaller things in life. Being able to spend time with my family, taking a walk, or sipping coffee on my deck all have new meaning for me. Even if all I accomplished was brushing my teeth, washing my face and changing out of my pajamas, I give myself a pat on the back. They may seem insignificant but these are things I can still do. That gives me hope to keep moving forward.
Outside of life with migraine, there are many things I can be grateful for. I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, healthy children, a vehicle to get me to appointments, and health insurance to help pay for my treatments and medications. If I didn't have any of these comforts life would be unimaginable for me. Knowing this keeps me hopeful and thankful that they are here.
Finding purpose in the pain
For years, I could not see what my purpose in life was. Migraine had eaten away at my confidence and self-worth to the point where I did not see any value in myself. It wasn't until I started blogging and becoming more active with patient advocacy that I found that my pain had a purpose. It gave me a unique voice and platform to speak openly and honestly about life with migraine. Using my story and experiences has allowed me to become empowered within my disease.
Being involved in advocacy events, writing for Migraine.com, blogging and speaking at events has given me so much hope. I may never become episodic again but I am grateful that I found a worthwhile passion that can actually help make a difference in how migraine is seen and discussed in the world. It's good knowing that my voice matters and is appreciated. That gives me the greatest hope of all because it may help change the lives of others.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?