Time is a precious thing when living with migraine. Time holds value to everyone, but there is a special significance it carries to those of us who have chronic illnesses. Making memories, sharing special moments with friends and family, enjoying family traditions and celebrations... they all hold a great deal of importance to us. With the unpredictability of migraine, time has the potential of slipping away from us.
Migraine attacking life
For people with migraine and chronic migraine, time is frequently lost. When an attack hits us we almost immediately lose the rest of the day and oftentimes multiple days at a time. While in the middle of a migraine attack, we lose time when we:
- unable to take care of ourselves or our families.
- cannot go to work or school, falling behind on projects or missing deadlines.
- are unable to do chores, cook or run errands.
- miss our kids school, sport and extracurricular activities and events.
- have to cancel plans to see friends.
- miss out on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
Another way time is lost is through memory loss. As a person living with chronic migraine, I find that my memory is deeply affected. I lose track of what happened a week ago way too often than I would like to admit and that is a scary feeling. Often I find myself forgetting what I was getting ready to do in the middle of a task. It can take up to fifteen minutes to remember what I wanted to do. I feel like bits and pieces of me are slipping away little by little every time I forget something. I used to be more accurate, punctual, dependable, and reliable. Now I find that I am becoming less of those things.
Missing out on these events and losing blocks of time can make us feel guilty, anxious, isolated, and overwhelmed. Being unable to be fully functional can cause feelings of inadequacy. We want to be present for everything that goes on in our lives but there will be times when we just can't. How are we supposed to cope with feeling like everything is out of our control? Personally, when this happens it triggers my depression causing an avalanche of negative emotions. Coping can feel like an impossible task but it can be achieved.
Practicing self care
When you find yourself feeling bad about not being able to attend to all of the things you would like to, remember to be kind to yourself. One of the most important things to remember is your intent. You never intend to be sick, therefore, you do not intend on missing what is important to you or your family. There are simple and effective self-care tools that you can use when you begin to feel overwhelmed by guilt or anxiety.
- Begin using positive affirmations to help you release, heal and transform guilt, forgive yourself, and let go of the past. “Guilt is a totally useless emotion. It never makes anyone feel better, nor does it change a situation”. Louise Hay, You Can Heal Your Life.
- Try to incorporate five to fifteen minutes twice a day to meditate in order to cleanse your mind, body and spirit of any negative thoughts and emotions you may be subconsciously holding onto. There are a lot of great meditation apps that you can download for free onto your smart device to help guide you.
- If you find yourself forgetting about important dates or appointments, utilize the calendar and reminder apps on your phone or use a daily planner to keep track of everything coming up. You'll also have a record of what you already did if you happen to forget about it in the future.
- Remember to breathe. When we are stressed we often hold our breath or breathe very shallowly. Taking the time to breathe in deeply through your nose from your diaphragm and exhaling through your mouth for several minutes will reduce anxiety, stress, and even begin to lower your pain.
Coping with lost time
Losing time due to migraine and chronic migraine is not something we can always control. What we do have control over is how we cope with that lost time and how we allow it to affect us. Learning to practice self-care will begin to lighten burden of feeling guilty about not being there for our friends and loved ones while we are sick. Migraine may steal a lot from our lives but it doesn't have to steal our joy, hope or positive outlook on life. Our health may impose limitations on us but there is no limit to how happy you can be.
When it comes to planning vacations or other events where travel is required, how much does migraine factor into your decision-making?