Migraine’s Worst Side Effect: Missing Out
Last updated: September 2023
I could make a laundry list of the side effects that show the ways that migraine is a debilitating condition:
- Crippling pain
- Relentless and unexpected vomiting
- And on….
But none of these things compares to the very worst side effect of migraine: missing out.
From births to funerals
This insidious disease forces us to the sidelines, into our bedrooms, away from our loved ones, where we must watch the world turn only as a spectator and not a participant.
We miss out on raising our children, the ladder climbing of our careers, and the enjoyment of vacations and birthdays. We miss… being there.
We miss out and come up short for our families, loved ones, and coworkers. Even though it’s never a choice, we are left wrestling with feelings of such guilt and certainty that we’ve let down those who matter most.
And even if we have the most understanding people in our world, who truly don’t fault us for not showing up, we HAVE come up short and let ourselves down.
No choice of our own
This is not the life we wanted. Not the existence we ever would’ve chosen. It is lonely. It is painful, both physically and emotionally. It is rough, and it is a long journey.
As much as I generally like to put a positive spin on things and find the gifts in the rubble, this time around, I have to admit the reality of this hardship. There is no getting around it.
Migraine means missing out
Migraine means missing out. It just does. And it gets old. Brene Brown had a special about the shame of not showing up in life. “Wouldn’t we regret it if we didn’t show up?” she asked. “YES!” For migraineurs, our lives are full of regret, anger, and sadness. But for us, of course, it’s not an option. It’s forced upon us. We become known as “that” family member who never comes and always cancels - a title no one wants.
I have seen firsthand that our hardest challenges gift us with our greatest and most important lessons. And while it is true that I missed out on a lot as a young mother, I was there for the most important things. And because I had to live moment to moment due to the pain, I learned to live in the present.
Migraine means living in the moment, too
Migraine means we can’t plan ahead. We handle what we are capable of handling from moment to moment. Some days that means a full plate, other days, that means clearing the slate. This kind of life results in learning how to be very communicative. It resulted, too, in my having very real relationships. There are no “fluff” friendships in my world. There’s no time for that.
The connections I share with friends and family are strong and powerful. My children, now young adults, are dear to and close to me.
And now, after living with the condition for 45+ years, I can feel the grit and wisdom that migraine has carved into me and my loved ones. It has made us more compassionate and grateful. It put me on a different journey from anyone else in my life, but it also deepened me and made me see the world in a unique way. Isn’t it interesting that a condition that caused me to miss out on so much ultimately helped me become more present and grounded?
Has migraine made you miss out? Have you found your way to living in the moment and being present? Share your journey with us in the comment section below so we may learn from you!
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?