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Losing Time

Losing Time

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.

Memory loss

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.

Feeling inadequate

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.

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.


  • GSDmom
    2 years ago

    You hit the nail on the head. Oftentimes when I’m dealing with the pain, time is moving on without notice and things I have wanted to do and needed to do like you stated: chores, cooking, cleaning, stuff to get done in order to live, does not get done.

    And, soon the day is gone and time has slipped by and it feels like only a few minutes?! Missed days, missed everything, missed life, missed living…

    Migraine is a common thief of our life. We just have to learn how to be happy and try to cope in spite of it all.

  • Jaime Sanders moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi GSDmom! Thank you for your feedback. Living with migraine certainly makes getting things done hard. A lot is missed out on when in the middle of a migraine attack. I agree that we must learn to find happiness and use healthy coping habits. Keeping a hopeful perspective is important!

    Jaime – Team

  • Major Migraine
    2 years ago

    This article is so spot on!! When my migraines are more under control and I can attend university, I have a huge problem with memory loss and time loss. I still miss plenty of days when I am enrolled and it is so difficult to make those up. Not only because I am a geology major with many labs, but because when I get a really bad migraine it erases about a weeks worth of memory. I can’t even count how many times I have had to relearn geology/calculus/chemistry/physics concepts while trying simultaneously to learn the new concepts. I also was a double major in Spanish, actually did almost a while year in Spain, and trying to think in and understand another language with a bad migraine is so difficult. Been working on my BA for about 11 years now, ugh.

    That is only the education side of time and memory loss. The time lost with friends and family is so much worse. Luckily my family have gotten used to/understand after 18 years of it and just enjoy the time I can spend with them.The hardest thing for me are my nephews, who I love like my own. I can’t handle very much time with them and when I can, it is with me asking them not to play with that you or make that sound or jump up and down. Basically, asking them by to be the 2 and 5 year olds they are. I even yelled at the 5 year old one time…I was horrified and my sister wasn’t too happy either. I am not having children, thanks migraines, and it hurts to not spend all the time I can with them.

    Ok, that is enough depressing information. This site has made me feel understood and not alone in so many ways. Thank God my mom found it. Thank you all for sharing too.

  • Jaime Sanders moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi Paula and thank you for your comment! Time and memory loss are hard to cope with. I can’t imagine how difficult that has been for you while going to school. But kudos to you for sticking it out despite having to relearn things over again. You have tremendous spirit! As for your nephews, they’ll understand that you cannot play with them as you would like. Children are resilient and very empathetic. Maybe you can start special quiet time activities to do with them. I’m sure they will appreciate having those special moments with their aunt.

    I’m grateful that your mom found us for you and that it has been a great help for you. It’s always important to feel understood and I’m happy that we can provide that for you. Thank you for being a valuable member of this community!

    Moderator, Team

  • John1381
    2 years ago

    Feeling inadequate is an aspect of migraine (well, my reaction to it perhaps) has been a huge part of the last few years for me. I have been on my knees howling at how useless I am because I can’t cope, unfortunately smashed my face in too (under control now). It is only recently that I am beginning to accept it’s the multitude of migraine symptoms that are the biggest influence on why I feel so inadequate.

    As a note of encouragement to others on here it has taken time for me to accept what is happening and that although I thought I knew about migraine and and the techniques to cope it is only recently that I have been able to be a little easier on myself. In part the articles and members comments on this site have made a huge contribution to helping me be gentler to myself.

    Thanks for your article and I send kind and gentle thoughts to all who are distressed. It’s not your fault.


    PS I stood on a rusty nail two days ago and got an infected foot that coincided with a crippler of a migraine, it was very exciting being in pain top to tail!

  • Jaime Sanders moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi John! Thank you so much for your encouraging words. Learning how to cope with the multitude of symptoms that come with migraine can be draining and can wear down our confidence and self-esteem. We have to learn to be kind to ourselves and to remember that having migraine isn’t our fault.

    I am happy to hear that our articles and the member comments have been a source of hope and encouragement for you. I hope that it continues to help you and thank you for being a valuable member of this community!

    I’m sorry to hear about your foot though! I hope it heals up quickly and that your migraine has ended. Take care!

    Moderator, Team

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