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Laying Back Into The Stream, And Letting The Sadness Be

As someone who spends a lot of time in their head (pun only somewhat intended), I have found myself going over the fact that migraine can be a very lonely and isolating disease over and over lately.

Migraine can steal our joy and happiness

For many of us, migraine can have a way of stealing our joy and happiness, and sometimes there isn’t much we can do in the way of preventing that pain or standing up in spite of it. Sometimes we are sad and totally out of energy to fight or laugh or smile anymore. It can be tough to look around and see people posting on social media about their best selves and smiling when we don’t feel like we can relate.

Can’t help feeling lonely

That is how I feel today. In my mind I know I have family and friends who love me, a wonderfully bright and beautiful community here at to share and learn and grow with, and many kind folks in the world around in my peripheral, but my heart feels heavy and alone. Part of that has to do with the throbbing pain that so often keeps me halted while feeling like others nearby don’t understand. Part of it has to do with feeling so, so tired that I have trouble taking full care of myself.

I know I am not alone, but I feel lonely. Many here in the community know all too well that loneliness. Well, today I want to say, to myself and to many here, it is okay. It is okay to feel lonely and sad and there is not always a need to ‘work’ at changing that all of the time.

Tendency to put on a bright face

Many folks who know me, know that I am a ‘go-getter.’ I like to sign up for the tasks and roles that are vacant and needing a leader. I like to participate, volunteer and be present for lots of things. I am usually someone who swims upstream and against the current. I like to push forward and smile, even when it is difficult to.

Somehow though, I don’t feel like fighting right now.

Lately I have been letting my pain, sadness, and loneliness sit with me awhile. I have been laying down when I am tired, and taking breaks when I need them without succumbing to the lies of these massive feelings of guilt. I have been learning to accept more and more that being sad and feeling lonely are not these ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ things that so many messages in society can make them out to be. Feeling lonely and sad are just as human and acceptable as feeling joy, and it is more than understandable to not feel so great when dealing with chronic pain!

Letting go

One of the best memories I have as a child was when I learned to float on my back in water—before when I learned to swim it was always work! Ugh, kicking, waving my arms, trying to stay above water, it was all exhausting. I remember the distinct feeling of being able to lay back in the water and just float for the first time, letting the water carry me gently wherever it decided. That is the feeling of letting go that I am finding more and more with migraine.

I am learning to let go of the tendency to always try to ‘push’ back against the physical pain and emotional toll that migraine can take, sometimes it is relieving just to let go. Recently I just laid down and cried for a long time from the pain I was in, and in some ways it actually helped me. I didn’t try to keep it all in, or put on a brave face, or say I was feeling okay when I was not feeling okay, and that was good. I am learning to re-evaluate my language and experience of migraine to feel empowered, even when I am not fighting. We are human, and not machines or fictional invincible characters, and in this human experience it is perfectly alright to acknowledge that our pain is what it is.

Being kind to ourselves

Our doctors can make us feel unheard, our pharmacists can make us feel like drug seekers, our workplaces can make us feel like burdens. So many areas in our lives as folks living with migraine are unkind, I think we can afford more than ever to be kind to ourselves and take the rest we need, and not feel like we always have to fight.

Things I do instead of pushing through lately

Instead of going out to meet up with friends when I clearly have not the energy or stamina to do so, I have been practicing inviting just a few folks over to sit and drink tea and talk or watch something low-key.

Instead of working myself to my wits end, I have been practicing taking the time I can and need on weekends and evenings to rest and recover.

Instead of putting on a brave face and smiling, I have been practicing saying how I really feel to folks who ask how I am feeling or how my migraines are.

Instead of telling myself I can push through, I let myself lay down, cry, and even get angry about my migraines much more—while I don’t want to be consumed by negative feelings, I am learning to accept that I am no less of a person and no less strong by telling the truth of how I feel.

Instead of feeling guilty for spending so much time in my bedroom, I have started to feel thankful for having such a wonderful, safe, fortress to call a bedroom with a comfortable bed to lay my aching head.

Have you ever felt like you just needed to ‘let go’ for some time when dealing with migraine? What did that look like for you? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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.


  • laurahildebrand
    7 months ago

    Love this quote!
    “Feeling lonely and sad are just as human and acceptable as feeling joy, and it is more than understandable to not feel so great when dealing with chronic pain!”
    Thank you for sharing!

  • dahliagardener
    7 months ago

    Lovely article. Thank you

  • MelanieM moderator
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much for your feedback, we are glad the article was meaningful to you! Thanks for taking the time to let us know. ~Melanie Merritt ( team member)

  • Holly H.
    7 months ago

    Thanks for being real, Kyky. I don’t know about y’all, but grace and mercy from other folks can be in short supply. I was just having a conversation today that people in this apartment building feel justified in commenting on the look on my face, demanding that I smile, etc. (In recent months, my eyebrows are pulling up, adding to the scrunched up eyes.) I have replied a couple of times, that I am not in a bad mood, but this is the face of someone with a neurological disorder in a lot of pain just getting her mail. But explaining is often interpreted as complaining around here, so when I do venture out of my apartment, which is very seldom, I’ve about decided to say, “I’m doing all right.” I did that this morning, and she looked at my face, and still made a negative judgment and commented that I just needed to make the best of things in life. Sheesh, I was just taking my garbage out.

    What I wrote a couple of years ago still holds true: Be Kind and Gentle To/With Yourself! Being kind and gentle with ourselves includes acknowledging the losses and feeling our feelings. It also includes not berating ourselves with “should be/should have,” “if only,” and “could/should have been.” Celebrate Every Little Accomplishment! Being a senior, I’m telling you, this is huge. If you did the dishes, that is an accomplishment. Shoot, taking a shower on an especially wonky day brings on a congratulatory, “Whew, I did it.”

  • Derek
    7 months ago

    This is a fantastic post. You are so right about how we need to stop feeling guilty for feeling sad. I have learned (finally) that we need to be kind to ourselves first. And that means being ok with how we feel because of what we have to deal with.

    And I loved this in particular, because it is so very accurate:

    “Our doctors can make us feel unheard, our pharmacists can make us feel like drug seekers, our workplaces can make us feel like burdens.”

  • glassmind
    7 months ago

    So glad you are finding healthy ways to “let go” … to adapt.

    I grieved initially as I let go of things, but have learned to love the new things filling thier places.

    Movie theaters? Nope.
    Tame film at a friend’s house? Yep

    As to lonliness….soooo lonely in midst of an attack. My pets will often cuddle with me which is a fantastic comfort amd theraputic (unless they pin me too tight lol).

    But most humans find it hard to just stay with you when all you are doing is lying still sufferring.

    During one recent attack, a family member was visiting (I live with just the pets). When asked “Is there anything I can do?” I said, “Yes, please just sit still or lay on the bed with me. Your presence is a great help and comfort.”

    They initially wanted to also stroke my head, pat my hand, etc, but allodynia hinders such instinctive comforting techniques. They wanted to read me a book, but phonophobia prevents this from being a comfort. They though reading to themselves on a smartphone would help pass the time, but when I rose with nausea or aggitation, that “dim” screen was a dagger to my mind.

    Finally, they settled to just laying beside me. Quietly. Motionless.

    I was so very grateful.

    To not be alone. To know someone was with me. To know if I had a need, this person was there (to get water, more medication, etc)

    To be able to reach out and touch a hip and verify that I had not sunk into an abyss of non-exsistance where migraine symptoms are my only reality.

    The power of presence is phenomenal.

    Folk will sit by the bedside of someone in a coma, but it is as hard to sit with someone having a migraine. You’re pretty sure they will recover. There is little you can do. And there is much you cannot do.

    To that relative who laid for hours with me doing nothing, I am so grateful. It was as healing as any therapy could have been and even more so for my spirit.

  • glassmind
    7 months ago

    Thank you to that person for letting go with me.

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