Migraine’s Negative Impact on the Support System and How to Rebuild It - Part Two
In part one of this article, we discussed ways that migraine challenges our relationships, while illustrating why a strong support system is key for those who have this disease. Here, we’ll share some strategies for building and strengthening our network of friends and family and invite you to give your ideas on the topic so that we can learn from each other.
Strengthening your support system
Migraines can take a toll on our support system. Frequent pain can lead to frequent cancellation of plans and can test even the strongest friendships. People with migraines need support due to the emotional impact of the disease but creating and maintaining friendships takes energy – something we don’t always have.
It only takes one
Instead of trying to cultivate and manage numerous friendships- try focusing on just one. Find someone that you think is particularly compassionate and flexible. Establish with them upfront that you will likely need to cancel plans frequently and that they shouldn’t take this personally. Lay some groundwork to help them understand what migraine is all about. Perhaps send them an article or two on the condition.
Push yourself to stay in touch with that person in ways that work for you. Perhaps send texts every few days to let them know you’re thinking of them. Maybe you can’t get together often, but sending texts (or emails or making a quick phone call, whatever works best for you) can be a great way to show that you are interested in their lives. Additionally, if it’s possible for you, set a regular date to get together. Be it weekly or monthly, perhaps aim for a window of time that belongs to just the two of you with the caveat that you will likely have to cancel more often than not. That way, you won’t feel guilty when you do, but it will be a lovely surprise if you are able to make it.
Come to Migraine.com and other sites. Look for online support groups on the topic. Join the community and share your story. Connecting with others online who are dealing with the same challenges every day can be so therapeutic as it helps to remember you are not alone in navigating this disease.
Consider counseling. Having chronic pain is incredibly tough. Taking the time to develop a relationship with a trained therapist can help develop tools and strategies to navigate this hard reality. This doesn’t have to be someone you see regularly, but it can be someone who you create a relationship with and can then call upon when the going gets tough.
Capture the good times
Migraine has a way of effectively snuffing out our perspective. Find a way to capture your moments of wellness to remind yourself of the times that you have felt more balanced. Be it through video, journaling, or pictures – be sure to capture the better times to remind yourself that they are in your reach. It can be so easy to forget how it felt to be stable when we’re down for the count. When you’re in a balanced place, perhaps try writing down your answer to this question: If you could share words of support and guidance to yourself when feeling your lowest, what would you say? Save the answer to look at when you are battling an intractable migraine.
Please share in the comment section below any ideas you may have about how to strengthen and/or rebuild one’s support network. Your input is much appreciated and provides a great way for us to learn from each other.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?