When The Guilt of Migraine Gets To Be Too Much
Last updated: May 2022
If I were to be honest, for decades I wore guilt like a well-worn coat. Guilt that I couldn’t hang out with my friends. Guilt of not being the wife I thought I should be. Guilt about not being there for my children like other mothers. Even guilt that the things my doctors suggested weren’t helping. The list goes on and on, and I’m sure all of you who live with migraine can easily add to it!
Overwhelmed with guilt
The reality is that the guilt so many of us feel as a result of living with a chronic disease can be overwhelming. At times, even too much to handle. My guess is that many of you can relate all too well.
Misplaced guilt with chronic illness
Guilt serves a great purpose when we’ve done something wrong, when we need to put something right. However, when it comes to living with an illness that we didn’t cause and don’t want there is NOTHING GOOD about guilt! It definitely still serves a purpose, for sure, but unfortunately, that purpose isn’t a helpful one. Misplaced guilt causes emotional stress, strips us of a sense of value, and destroys our self-esteem. It impedes our desire to persevere, makes us more liable to punish ourselves, and suffocates relationships with others. When we feel guilty about being ill it makes us look at ourselves through a distorted mirror. And because of that, it impacts every area of our lives!
A change of perspective
Those who live with migraine, or in fact any chronic illness, know all too well that there are things we can’t do anymore. Things that others may take for granted, but which for us are no longer feasible. It can feel like looking out a window into the outside world, but never being able to step outside. However, there is so much more to us than the things we cannot do, and so much can be impacted by our perspective:
- We can focus on not being able to go outside with our children or attend an event. OR - we can choose to focus on building great memories at home by doing a puzzle together or playing a family game.
- We can ponder on the unfairness of not being able to go to a movie theater with our partner or friends. OR - we can decide to have a movie night get-together at home with everyone’s favorite snacks.
- We can make “I’m sorry” a part of our fixed vocabulary. OR - we can say, “I am not able to do ABC, but I would love to do XYZ if you’d like to!”
- We can focus on regret and negativity. OR - we can remind ourselves of all the things that we are gifted with and can still do!
Migraine is not your fault
The bottom line is this: migraine disease is NOT your fault! For some of us, we need to say that to ourselves daily! It’s absolutely true that migraine can devastatingly rob our lives. However, it’s also absolutely true that no matter what you are going through your life still has purpose and value! You are still gifted, you can still show love to others, you can still make a difference in someone else’s life. It’s time to let go of this well-worn coat that drags us down like a ball and chain. We can choose to shrug off guilt and instead…embrace something new. We can choose to remind ourselves that migraine can rob us of much, but that it doesn’t take away our value.
You are more than migraine
So as you look at the regrets you have in your life, caused by living with this disease, make a choice today to allow a new perspective to take hold. Tell someone you care about that you love them. Find ways to build treasured memories from the things you are still able to do. And most of all, never forget that you are NOT your disease – you have value, you have purpose, you are courageous, you are unique, you are a survivor, you matter, and you are stronger than the guilt that tries to weigh you down.
How about you?
Do you find yourself weighed down by guilt about the things you can’t do? How might you change your perspective and shed that well-worn coat of guilt? What are some of the things you can still do which bring you and your friends and family joy?
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?